Drivers That Keep Us Stuck
In psychology there certain things called drivers that keep us stuck. Most of us have one or more of them, but we are unaware of them. They are “be perfect”, “hurry up”, “try hard”, “please others”, and “be strong” They are the enemies of productivity. They create the exact opposite of what we want in our lives; they fill our lives with lack of accomplishment, vulnerability, and inter-personal difficulties: the last things we want. They can cause damage to our feelings, our relationships, our self-esteem, and even our health. They can wreak havoc with our business. But when we know what they are, our self-talk can tame them and even banish them. Take a look at these drivers and see if any of them apply to you:
The Be Perfect Driver
The idea that we and other people should be perfect is pervasive in our society. It is encouraged by the” perfect” people we are bombarded with constantly in the media. We berate ourselves and expect to come out 100% perfect, no matter what the task. Often, if we don’t think we can be perfect, we do nothing at all. If we are less than perfect at something, our self-esteem may take a beating. Since no one is perfect at everything, and most of us are generally less-than-perfect at most things, it becomes a lose-lose-lose-lose situation. It can be paralyzing and debilitating, and it can keep us from achieving the things we want most. Alcohol, drugs, or overeating are often side effects of someone suffering from the be perfect driver.
As with all drivers, the solution consists of recognizing that this is a problem in your life and responding to it by saying to yourself, “It’s okay to be less-than-perfect, it’s okay to be human, and it’s okay to make mistakes.” Eventually, this positive self talk-will lead to feelings of confidence and allow you much greater productivity.
The Be Strong Driver
The be strong driver lets us know that some of our feelings and needs are unacceptable or even despicable. This driver regards any need as a weakness to be overcome. The driver says to you that you must do it all yourself, and you must not ask for help from anyone. Feelings of sadness or hurt or loneliness – the “weak” feelings – are unacceptable. They are humiliating feelings which we must do everything to hide. These feelings often begin in childhood when feelings of softness or vulnerability were punished or ridiculed. When these children grow up, they begin to treat themselves in the same manner.
The response to this driver is to first recognize it, of course, and then to say, “It’s okay to have feelings and to express them. All feelings are acceptable and they are acceptable in front of others (with the exception of violence).”
The Hurry Up Driver
The hurry up driver pushes us to do more and more, faster and faster. This becomes a trap that makes us impatient with ourselves and others. You can frequently see this when you’re driving your car. Bad behavior on the part of other drivers is often caused by the hurry up driver. It can impede our productivity at work with us making tight deadlines and then either not being able to meet them or meet them at the risk of our health and our relationships. We can all agree probably that this driver is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. People are in a hurry regardless of what they’re in a hurry about.
The correct response to this driver is to recognize that too much speed can cause you to make impulsive, inaccurate decisions that will only create problems in the long run. The truth is that the most effective action is the one that has been thought through.
The Please Others Driver
The please others driver demands that we are approved of above all else. People driven by this tyrant can feel anxiety and depression and intense fear of rejection even from people who are not important to them. These people have difficulty asserting their own needs. There often are unaware of their own feelings and resentment until it builds up to a point where there is an incident. As you can probably see, this can create all kinds of problems in business like over-promising and under delivering.
The response to this driver is first to understand that a good relationship has an inherent give-and-take aspect to it. The self talk here would be,” It’s okay to please myself.” This is not selfishness, this is self respect. It doesn’t mean that you won’t please others. It means that pleasing others is a choice, and pleasing yourself is also an option.
The Try Hard Driver
The fifth driver is the try hard driver. At first, trying hard seems like a good thing, right? The problem is that this driver doesn’t allow you set limits on your trying. There’s a difference between trying hard and trying too hard, and, again, it has to do with setting boundaries. If there are no boundaries about how much you can help, how many things you can do, how soon you can do them, etc., then the important things become obscured by all the things you’ve committed yourself to do. There’s simply not enough time for everything.
The solution again is in our hands – we can choose not to overextend ourselves. We don’t have to work on five committees or take on five projects. The self-talk here is to just say no. It starts with recognizing our own limits and then letting others know what they are. We can allow others help us, and we can relax sometimes.
Drivers are a paradox. We think they’re helping us, we think we are behaving correctly. In actuality, they cause us to accomplish little or nothing, probably much less than if we took a step back, saw them for the negative forces they are, applied some self talk, and took control of the situation.