We use a lot of bus metaphors where I work. Who’s riding the bus? Who’s under the bus? Who had to take the bus because they wore the wrong shoes to the walk? (That was the funniest one, but a long story.) The one I want to talk about today is who’s driving the bus? I pose that question as a metaphor for asking yourself about who makes the choices that drive your actions.
During my coaching sessions this week, I heard some of my clients talk about their choices and consequent actions as though they were separate from them. They knew they were doing things in opposition of what they wanted, but had a list of reason/excuses as to why they weren’t able to do things differently. They were on the bus but someone else was driving it.
I was reading a blog by Todd Smith called Little Things Matter and he summed this up by saying that, “our lives are a mirror image of the decisions we make.” It is time we open our eyes to that fact and begin to take responsibility for our actions. If we are overweight, it is most likely because our eating habits support that. If we are not accomplishing our goals, it is because we are not doing the work needed to get us there. If we are mired in an unhappy relationship, it is because we choose to stay there. We are the ones who keep driving the bus to the place where we “don’t want to be”.
Well, that’s just great, you say. What am I supposed to do about that? I have tried to overcome these things before and keep getting the same results. To that I answer, let’s take some time to get to know your self a little better. Beneath the surface, lies the one who is truly driving your bus. Author and counselor Rick Carson calls this your Gremlin. Your Gremlin is Mr. Carson’s term for the narrator in your head that exists solely to keep you in a place of misery. In his book, Taming your Gremlin, Mr. Carson states, “Your Gremlin is not your negative thoughts – he is the source of them.” Becoming aware of these driving thoughts is the key to overcoming habitual behaviors. Knowing that you need to lose weight and how to do it is not enough. Your Gremlin will quickly set to the task of sabotaging any efforts you make towards progress. Before you know it, you will be back where you started and feeling not so great about yourself. This is exactly what he set out to do and he does it so well that you are not even aware of it.
As a coach, it is my job to help you become aware and challenge you to dig a little deeper to listen to the thoughts that drive your bus straight off the road and into the ditch. This can be a very difficult process but will ultimately bring you an amazing amount of freedom. Once you understand how your Gremlin works, you can begin to take the wheel and steer the bus according to what is important to you by making conscious choices based on your values. I value my health, therefore, I make healthy food choices. I value my self-esteem, therefore, I will not stay in an unhealthy relationship. I value living my life on purpose, therefore, I will work on and achieve my goals to doing the work I love.
How do I know if my Gremlin is driving my bus? A good way to know if you have lost control of your bus is to notice if you are making excuses as to why you can’t achieve your goals. If you are saying that you want one thing but are doing something that is leading you away from that, you are not in alignment with your values and goals and, therefore, are not driving your bus.
How can I learn to become the driver of my bus? Here are a few suggestions:
– Reading books on how to master your mind. These are some of the books I found helpful:
- Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
– Hire a coach to give you feedback and help you become aware of how your thoughts may not be in alignment with your goals and values.
– Meditate. Nothing helps to quiet your mind more. Meditation does not have to be sitting in a scrunched up position for hours. Try a walking meditation practice if you have trouble sitting still at first.
– Develop a “Watcher’. Other names for this are “Observer” or “Witness”. Rick Carson describes this as “simply noticing or paying attention” to your thoughts. By doing this you become separate from your thoughts and, therefore, more able to make choices outside of them.
So, who’s driving your bus? Do you notice a disconnect between what you want and what you are getting? Are you trying the same thing over and over again and getting the same result? Perhaps it’s time to get to know your bus driver. Knowing him (or her) is the first step to taking back your power, what you’ve had inside all along. You are not a failure. You are not unable to get things done. You are simply being driven by a driver you don’t see. So, grab the wheel and take control. I know you’re gonna look good driving your bus. Let’s get together and give it a try.
Yours in transformation,