Friday, August 7th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Stay In Your Own Lane


Isn't it nerve-racking to be driving along and have the car next to you begin drifting into your lane? What is even worse is to have them suddenly jerk into your lane and cut you off. There is the fear that we are about to wreck because this driver is not paying attention. He may even be texting or talking on the phone. It is like the driver doesn't respect us or even see us. So what do we do besides yell? We honk!

This allegory can be applied to relationships. There are people in our lives who carelessly or intentionally drift into our space. We may "honk" by saying they have offended us or crossed a boundary. Some people do not change even after we honk. Then there are times when we do not do anything. We do not say "ouch" or honk. The offender may not even know that they have offended us. We just put up with it while fuming inside.

So, how do they drift? They get into our lane by trying to control us by not respecting our values, our needs or our boundaries. They are in our lane when their actions cause us to feel we do not have a voice when it comes to decision-making about finances or life choices. They question our decisions in a judgmental and condensing way that says to us that they think we are not capable of making our own decisions. It seems our lives are dictated by another's desires and not ours. They control us by anger, money, and/or over-powering us intellectually thereby, making us feel stupid. When we do speak up, our voice is either not heard or validated. We want to shout, "Stay in your own lane."

They get into our lane by trying to control us
by not respecting our values, our needs or our boundaries.

In some relationships, our partner gets into our lane by trying to protect us. They treat us as though we cannot make our own decisions or do what we want to do. They want to take over and do it for us. While we know their intentions are good, it makes us feel that they think we are not capable of taking care of ourselves or that we are not mature enough. We want to shout to them, "Stay in your own lane!"

What makes us vulnerable to a lane drifter? We are definitely vulnerable when it is our desire to have everyone like us. They might get angry or upset with us if we honk by sticking up for ourselves or honoring our boundaries. Consequently, they might not like us and abandon us. When giving away our power by not protecting our lane, it is as though we do not respect ourselves, so how will that other person ever respect us? So, honk!

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700