Famous Brazilian author Paulo Coelho once said, “what other people think of you is none of your business”. Powerful and wise words about staying in your lane.
How many times have you landed yourself in hot water, especially with someone you love, because you either couldn’t keep your mouth shut or you got triggered? Most likely both. Even if you didn’t say anything, you sure as hell probably thought it, and that little barb, if not dealt with, will fester and surface later, causing much pain and at the very least, annoyance.
Stay in your lane is fairly self-explanatory, but a lot of us have a hard time doing it, myself included. In other words “take care of your own business”. When you fail to stay in your lane and run into someone else’s lane, you can cause all kinds of havoc.
Stay in your lane or hit the wall.
In the racing car world, when a driver gets distracted, probably out of fear or tiredness, and focuses on avoiding a wall on the track he is actually trying to miss, guess what happens? He hits the wall. Many relationship breakdowns, arguments and problems, stem from being too focused on what the other person is doing or saying. In other words, not staying in your lane.
If you want to have great relationships, stop focusing on the other person’s problems or issues as you see them, and focus on yourself, otherwise guess what? You’re going to hit the wall.
Are your boundaries too porous? Boundaries are important, vital and needed. When you fail to stay in your lane, it’s because your boundaries are porous. What that simply means is, you are not secure in yourself. Your boundaries are leaky and let too much in and out. Without strong, healthy boundaries in place, you cannot stay in your lane, nor can you stop others from staying in their lane, if they start to move into yours.
Boundaries keep us safe, focused, and emotionally in check. Boundaries that are weak or too porous, mean that we care too much about what other people think about us, and care too much about what other people do. I have been guilty of this in many parts of my own life and it is a constant awareness process to stay in my lane. This is particularly true, the closer you are to someone. We all care what others think, especially those we love. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But when we care ‘too’ much, we tend to over compensate.
Love and support does not mean rescue and fix.
When you are too invested in what is happening for the person next to you, the person you are married to or in relationship with, it’s easy to fall into rescuer mode, especially for men. We are taught from a young age to be strong, both physically, mentally and emotionally.
When you see someone you love struggling, you naturally want to help them. It could be a situation, an emotion, a habit, a mindset, a behaviour, attitude, or a limiting belief, anything that you see in someone else. The problem happens when we jump in and try to ‘fix’ that person.
Fixing others essentially comes down to our own desire to feel needed. However, people sometimes need the space to work stuff out for themselves, and that’s ok. You’re not a bad person if you don’t rush to someone’s side, the minute you see them having a hard time with something.
When you become the rescuer, you also disempower the other person. Obviously if they are in danger, such as drowning in the ocean, by all means, do whatever you can. But even with that example, many people have themselves drowned during the act of trying to rescue someone else.
But I’m not talking about life and death situations.
Let them go.
Staying in your lane means letting the other person go. This doesn’t mean abandoning someone in their time of need. If you feel guilty when you see someone having a hard time and you don’t rush to ‘save’ them, you are probably a rescuer. Letting go doesn’t mean you stop caring, it means you can’t do it for someone else. It doesn’t mean you cut yourself off, but understand that you can’t control another. It is not to judge and believe you know what is best, but to allow the other person to be who they are, foibles n all. Letting go is freedom. Sometimes letting someone go does mean the relationship may end. But isn’t that better than holding onto something you’re really not supposed to be in anyway.
In my first marriage I tried to fix, rescue and repair. In the end, all my efforts came to nothing and we got divorced anyway. I thought I was doing the right thing, supporting, caring, forgiving. But I was doing myself a massive disservice. I was not strong enough at the time to say enough is enough. My boundaries were weak.
On the flip side, letting go can also mean a relationship can improve. A little space, a little time out, can work wonders.
If you are too focused and attached to what happens around you, allowing your emotions and responses to be dictated by someone else, you need to let go, detach, and pull back. This may feel uneasy at first, but once you get into the habit of not ‘jumping into’ someone else’s stuff, you will breathe better, sleep better, be better, feel freer and enjoy better relationships.
How To Stay in Your Lane
So this is all great, but how do you do it? To stay in your lane you must first start with yourself. What are your beliefs, values and attitudes about who you are and how you show up each day? Are you spending enough time alone? Are you looking after your own body, mind and spirit? Do you believe that you are enough, regardless of what anyone else thinks, feels or says about you?
When you become aware of and own your own emotions, thoughts, triggers, and patterns, you can start to make the changes you need to make to change them. This is how you stay in your lane.
I’ll end with a simple example from my own life. Recently my wife was having some hassles signing up for her new university course online. She was getting a little frustrated and a little overwhelmed at the process (it really was quite convoluted). My rescuer self, normally would have jumped all over that and tried to fix it for her.
A few times when she said she couldn’t figure it out, I simply encouraged her with something like, “don’t worry, you’ll get it.” I didn’t jump in and help. Eventually (actually the next day), I did end up saying “would you like some help with that?” But it wasn’t coming from a rescuer mode.
Her response was “yes please”, and she ended up working it out, but felt supported in the process (even though I didn’t actually do anything). Can you see the difference?
Had I have jumped in at the start, thinking I could fix it for her, I would have been doing both me, her and our relationship a disservice.
So the takeaway lesson is: back off a little.
Want to be the best version of you? Stay in your lane.
Want to be the man you know you can be? Stay in your lane.
Want to experience great relationships, sex, intimacy and connection? Stay in your lane.
Want to love and live with clarity, calm and confidence? Stay in your lane.
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