Do you have a ‘back seat driver’ on board?

In my previous blog, I used the metaphor of a car journey for the journey of life. I mentioned choosing a route in a car because it was one possibly taken by our parents, which is a bit like having an invisible ‘back seat driver’. I wonder if that applies in life too. Do you have a ‘back seat driver’ in your life? Do you do some things because you are familiar with them, because they were part of your childhood or because you ‘ought to’, ‘have got to’, ‘must do’ or ‘because I’ve always done it this way’? Do you do things in a certain way because that was the way your parents did it? Can you hear one or other of your parents saying exactly the same thing when you speak, such as when you tell your children to do something? It’s not that it is a bad thing to emulate what parents did, or said, it’s whether or not we are now doing it without thinking, without actually considering what we are doing and then deciding it is something with which we are comfortable. If we haven’t made this conscious decision, we take the risk of repeating behaviour patterns which are no longer appropriate. We are also trusting that our parents were right. They were human too and will certainly, despite their best efforts, have got some things wrong (See P Larkin’s poem ‘This be the verse’ http://www.poetryconnection.net/poets/Philip_Larkin/1052). Some of those instructions we received as children may have been extremely useful and valuable when we were children but are they now? If we do think about those behaviours we may realise that we have a choice. If we believe they are still valid then we need to take responsibility for them and ‘own’ and continue to use them. Otherwise, how ‘adult’ is it to behave in a manner because someone has ‘told’ us to do so, or merely in imitation of someone else? If we believe these behaviour patterns are no longer appropriate we can ditch them. However taking responsibility for our words and actions comes at a price; being ‘adult’ means we can no longer ‘blame’ our parents. How scary is that? It will be scary if we have not previously claimed our behaviours as our own. So, are you truly yourself or are you a puppet? Do you have a back seat driver?