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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

How do you stand solid when others try to pull you out of your lane?

It doesn't feel good to be pulled out of our own lanes into territory that is not ours.

You'll know you are being pulled out of your own lane when you start to feel responsible for someone else's happiness, or you take ownership for whether or not someone feels successful at work, or you resent being the only one who is doing the hard work of keeping everything on an even keel on the home front.

You're out of your lane when you allow yourself to become responsible for providing transportation for your parents, even when it infringes on your teaching schedule. Or you use all of your good energy caring for trauma patients and have none left over for your young child, who needs your help with her homework. Perhaps you bend for the new relationship, in ways that feel compromising, even though you have waves of feeling smothered.

You'll also know you are out of your lane when your in-laws invite you to bring your young children for a visit but then you feel uber responsible to keep everyone happy, the house as clean as it would normally be, and your kids from jumping on the guest beds and screaming at the top of their lungs (even though they are way off their nap schedule...)

Somehow, when others pull you into their lanes, your job becomes disproportionally large, while theirs diminishes in size.

And it often ends with resentment, anger, frustration, broken relationships.

What to do about it is easier said than done.

Stay solidly grounded in your own lane.

Consider these steps...

Start with noticing itchy feelings and take stock. It is easy to ignore itchy feelings at first, but they grow and become itchier. Annoyance becomes anger, resentment can turn into an explosion. Those feelings are there for a reason and are important sources of information that remind you about something that matters. Don't ignore them. Notice, get curious.

Re-familiarize yourself with your own lane. For many people, perhaps you included, it is easier to dabble around in other people's lanes than to do the hard work of getting to know our own. What am I responsible for? What is actually my job in all of this? What can I control? What work do I need to do?

Be compassionate with yourself about your strategies for letting yourself be pulled by others. Others pull us, but the truth is that we often are easy to pull. We want the safety of doing what others expect, the love that we believe is ours if we "fix", the approval we are sure to get when we make things "right." We can choose to be gentle and forgiving of ourselves, as we learn to recognize why we do what we do.

Be courageous about speaking your truth. This is where the rubber hits the road. Learn to say "no." "Not yet." "I know you can do it." "I'm sorry you are uncomfortable." "I believe in you." "I can't fix it for you, but I can listen as you talk it through."

Staying solidly in our own lane takes awareness and confidence. And it also allows us to actually do what is ours to do, control what is ours to control. And by doing that, we show up as our best selves for those we care about.

Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.


Hello, I'm Ricka.

Ricka Kohnstamm Executive & Physician Coach Profile Photo

I'm a Nationally Board Certified (NBC-HWC) Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach. I specialize in working with physician leaders, corporate leaders, non-profit executives and their families to navigate complex work and personal issues so they can strengthen their relationships, heal, and feel hopeful about the future again. 



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