Driving From the Driver’s Seat

inner direction

There are two ways to approach work and life: outer-directed or inner-directed.

Outer-directed: We can be directed by what we perceive are other people’s demands of or wishes for us. Being outer-directed is like driving a car from the passenger seat: we let others drive us. Most of us are rather unaware of how much we try to meet the real or imagined, immediate or long-term standards set for us by parents, teachers, bosses, partners, family, and friends. Signs of outer-directed living include comparing ourselves with others and trying to live up to expectations.

Inner-directed: Or we can be directed by what we want for ourselves. Being inner-directed is like being in the driver’s seat. Signs of inner direction include self-awareness and self-confidence. Often, we are so used to following other people’s cues that we find it hard to know what we really want. We very well may misconstrue inner-direction as selfishness.

Many of us have a blend of inner- and outer-direction. Here are some tips to become more inner-directed.

  • Other people guide us. We need not throw away the guidance of others. We simply maintain the right to ignore or accept their perspective. We can learn most about what we want and what we don’t want by observing other people and the world.
  • Choose what feels good. Inner-direction feels good. Outer-direction that is out of line with our deeper intents feels bad physically, mentally, and emotionally. Always choose to feel good.
  • We can do things for others. If we do something because we think we hafta, that’s outer-direction. If we do something because we choose it, that’s inner-direction. Let’s think of other people’s requests of us as negotiations. We get to say, “Yes, I like that. I will do that,” or, “No but how about this instead?”
  • Inner-direction is not about going solo. We still live, play, and work better with others than by ourselves.

In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Steven Depolo cc

Leave a Reply