Who’s my driving?
Drivers! Driving us to distract us
What might yours be?
Driver theory [Kahler, Capers, 1974] came from psychologists Taibi Kahler and Hedges Capers noting there are five sets of behaviours people play out when they get stressed that can reinforce a self-limiting ways of being in the world.
Our driver behaviours help us keep in an old and familiar pattern of coping but at a price [see my lifejacket explanation on my About Counselling section]. Every time we experience a driver behaviour we distract ourselves from not feeling ok in ourselves. And when we do that we screen out other more empowering ways of getting our needs met with ourselves and others, of solving problems in the here and now.
See which ones sound uncannily familiar to you. Who do they sound like when you were growing up?
Most people have one or two main drivers but some have a spread of more. We all have a mix of them to some degree.
The difference between being excellent, considerate, perservering, resilient and quick and a driver behaviour is this element of compulsion, of feeling ‘I’m only ok if I …. be perfect/please others/ try hard/ be strong / hurry up.
Next time you catch yourself in a pre-programmed moment and feel ‘if I don’t behave like this, well what do I do? who am I?’ there are permissions you can give yourself to free up your energy in the moment.
If you have a Be Perfect as and when you catch yourself feeling compelled to be perfect you can tell yourself you’re good enough as you are right now. No one is perfect, no one.
If you have a Please Others you can tell yourself you can please yourself. To give to others without giving to yourself is not sustainable. To give to others you need to come from a place of plenty and if you give, give, give to others without giving to you, you’ll be depleted.
If you have a Try Hard instead of spending your energy trying to do something you can give yourself permission to do it. There’s a real difference between trying hard to do something and doing it.
If you have a Be Strong you might have grown up deciding not to feel your feelings, you can express your wants and needs to others. Bottling up your feelings, trying not to feel them or wanting others to mind-read your needs takes up an enormous amount of energy. It takes a different kind of strength to admit you have needs and communicate them.
If you have a Hurry Up you can take your time. Next time you catch yourself in a rocket-boosted moment, you can say ‘aha I’m in a Hurry Up, I’m going to slow this down and experiment’.
This isn’t about Being Perfect, it’s about cultivating awareness. We all have these behaviours. Knowing about our drivers is about awareness. It’s about nurturing a curiousity with the way we’re being so that we can free up our energy and be less pre-programmed with ourselves and others.
Driver behaviour is thought to be about keeping us safe in the environments we grew up in. Drivers are seen as a way of coping with messages or injunctions [Injunctions, The Gouldings, 1975] we might have received from our parents about how not to be in the world. Injunctions are the ‘Don’t’ rules we may have been given growing up. These powerful rules can be modelled without words or even awareness. Our Drivers are thought to be helping us against the ‘Don’t’ rules, so it’s a good idea to have a look at those too, so you get more of a picture about your survival strategy. I’ll be saying more about Injunctions, the magical Don’ts, in my next article.