Fix the feeling …. and the ‘fault’ will take care of itself

“You did this wrong – that wrong – and all the other things wrong!”

It is all too easy to slip back into my old habit of ‘fault finding’ rather than really delving into the thoughts and feelings of the Driver.

Unravelling the complexities that motivates behaviour is fascinating to me. I really need to understand more from them… Fixing the feeling takes care of the ‘faults’ without a person feeling criticised or feeling resentment towards me.

There is no effort involved in implementation either, because the incentive comes from within. It is certainly more effort to ‘fix a feeling’ rather that just say,

“You are driving too slowly through this crossroads! You have priority – come on!! get a move on! You are doing 13 mph and there is no one around at all!! You can’t keep doing this you know! You have got to sort this out. Come on – I will talk you through it”

I will admit this one took me quite a while!!! To start with I did not mention anything at all about the junction. I began by asking what he liked about his drive so far, and asked specifically about a few things that I knew he had done very well indeed! It turns out that this Driver needed to explain to me (or maybe they needed to hear themselves say) a few things like:- “I need two seconds thinking time!” and – “Oh yes – like it says in the HWC ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule’! [I must admit, I am not used to New Drivers quoting that to me!! 😃 ]- “I loved it when I parked up at the side of the road here because I did it differently this time. I planned it backwards… I looked at the raised kerb really far ahead …. hahahhaaaaa yeah! about 2 seconds ahead of me and worked backwards from there. I knew that van was behind me too. That is why the stop was so good and smooth. Everyone could anticipate my actions too! AND my braking was perfect!! 😃 “.

A little further into the conversation I heard myself asking, “why do you think they put the road signs that far away from the crossroads or roundabout etc?”

“Oh yeah!’ came the answer “sort of two seconds thinking time! Makes sense!””I like being predictable and I hate it when other people confuse me! I need to plan it ahead of time”It turns out that this particular Driver needed to find his solution. His words. His descriptions. His working out. His phrases and thoughts to fix his fear of unpredictable people at junctions.

That was his feeling – fearful of other drivers pulling out at the last minute. There were many discussions and elaborations during that session. His actions led to a multitude of improvements across the board in things like:

  • appropriate approach speed towards and through junctions
  • selecting appropriate gear before hazards (including bends and roundabouts)
  • looking and planning well ahead
  • scanning and being predictable to other road users

I could not unleash the power of that Driver unless he felt comfortable enough to explore and explain what was going on. I am not suggesting that we don’t have exactly the same results with our Drivers by identifying the faults and explaining what to do to correct them… what I am saying is that, in my opinion, I gain so much more by fixing the feelings rather than focusing on the faults.

A Facebook Post From One Year Ago Behavioural Change at work…

This was one year ago – The stages of behavioural change in evidence during a Driver Training session with a new driver… So enjoyable when you let the Driver take control of their session and their learning is exponentially accelerated. 🙂

As a follow up to last weeks post about D’s session focus being on mirrors; I thought I would add a little more to it, as a follow up.

People tell me relentlessly that “Learners never choose a topic or goal for their sessions”. I acknowledge that it can be a long slog for some to feel safe/comfortable to do this. With some techniques though, it is exhilarating (for both ADI AND Learner) when they do naturally take that control .

That is what happened today – even though D does have substantial pre-existing anxiety issues, which does have a massive impact on her when discussing session topics and when giving me feedback and reflections. D was vocalising her Goals with ease (mini goals within the session).

She Chose a route, telling me she would focus on her mirrors (even naturally chatted about what happened and her massive achievements).I asked her which version of the route(s) she would take…. and she even volunteered for a hill and roundabout that has been her nemesis for some time!! She grinned at herself when naming her route!!

The thing that I had never mentioned (Risk agreed) during her ‘mirrors’ session was ‘blind spots’ [or “life saver” checks as I would prefer them to me named}. It would have been overload – and as it was, D expanded her initial Goal to include the mirror named Gertrude too!

Once all agreed and she prepared to move away – she did the most significant blind spot check announcing;” I’m checking over there because I can’t see the alley-way in the mirror… and I know I’m supposed to do that anyway. All my other Instructors moaned at me about them…. but I never found the need until now!! Now I totally get it!!It helps my anxiety to be honest!! To know what is happening around me! I feel so much safer”

She was so efficient with her mirrors during the whole session and even added blind spots in almost every instance to boot!

Another part of her session was the Pull up/Reverse on the right which she had never attempted before… the observations were impressive there too… so natural!!

The “Action” and “Maintenance” sections of the Trans Theoretical Theory of Behavioural Change were in evidence today following on from last week hahahhaaaaa!!! 😃😃😃

It is true though – the learning was there because she initiated the action, the purpose and factualised the rewards!

What a day! Joy for me amongst the current health concerns!! I loved it!

**** Original Post***

“The mirrors were christened (once again) with new names today:

~ on my left meet Wall-E
~ In my centre meet Bob

In order to locate Wall-E we used a small post-it note to highlight efficiently where to look.
The Driver directed me left a bit and right a bit to help her with the placement of the post-it note on the black plastic window border and slightly on the window glass too.

Now she could flick her gaze efficiently towards the yellow colour!
Problem solved!
My Driver found it hard beforehand to actually visually search for that mirror so far from her normal sight line... this was one of her 'barriers' to looking at the left door mirror is the first place.

The right hand mirror only got named because 'it' was being looked at independently even though we had agreed to leave it until a later time to add to the other two once "I have my new habit of looking"...
... being 'nameless' felt a little odd because I was calling it 'nameless' 😃 [Not my place to name the nameless!!! 😃 😃 ]

~ Gertrude was eventually introduced on the right

Seeing as we were only talking about this last week on here (Coaching and Client Centred FB Group) it amused me 😃

I am happy to report that there were so many light bulb moments about 'the benefits to me!!!'

[Please note the pics are web images not mine from today 😃 ]


How to use the ‘inner treadmill’?

By Fiona Taylor

During a conversation with a Dog Trainer recently, I brought up the subject of an episode of The Dog Whisperer (with Cesar Milan) that I saw years ago.

The episode was all about ‘fearful dogs’; and amongst other things I found inspirational during that episode was a statement that Cesar made;
“It is easier to cure a dog that suffers with aggression than it is to cure one that is fearful.”

What has all this got to do with Driver Training you may well wonder? … well let me relay where my mental journey led.

I made massive connections during the TV program all about fearful drivers and similar ‘treadmill exercises’ we have engaged in. Cesar’s TV Program focused on a dog that was terrified of noises; especially loud ones. The program made brilliant use of a treadmill to keep a dog ‘in motion’ while they played the triggering noises through a sound system. Initially, the dog cowered and halted because the fear was overwhelming but the treadmill meant that it ‘had’ to keep moving… after only a couple of seconds the dog continued to walk, though you could tell that is was distressed momentarily, but not overwhelmed as we had seem previously.

My dog trainer friend was saying that is is a brilliant technique because while the dog was moving; it wasn’t able to focus on the ‘scary thing’ for too long… it had to concentrate on one foot in front of the other. Keeping them moving is how to literally ‘get them moving forwards’ to overcoming the problem!

The reason that the dog was taken to Cesar was because it was suffering a great deal and needed help. It would sit and cower in terror, and refuse to move! Over some repeated sessions on the treadmill, the dog was desensitised to most noises, and was able to function and enjoy doggy life and walks with its owners. It was a joyful TV episode for me!

I found it fascinating to realise this is a principle I had used on many occasions with both full licence holders and new drivers. Once the Driver has explained during detailed ‘Coaching Conversations’ what happens, before during and after they drive we both have a clearly defined understanding. Sometimes the solution has been a simple one – and exactly the same principle as for the fearful dog… “just keep moving”!

Exactly HOW that Driver decides to ‘mentally keep moving forwards’ can be where the fun begins! Some have found that doing a hazard spotting [ultra simple commentary drive] has been the solution. They found that relaying the hazards to me helped them feel like they were in control. Others that ‘telling themselves’ what hazard was next helped them keep moving forwards. It helped them look much further ahead so that their mouths could keep up with their brains! It seemed to interrupt one ‘fearful thing’ becoming the overwhelming, halting focus; because the next ‘hazard’ was already there to be acknowledged and dealt with.

The process seemed to reinforce the fact that the Driver had already mastered basic car control and that anticipating real hazards was easy as long as they keep their eyes and brains moving to integrate action. They were dealing in a paced manner, everything that had previously overwhelmed them.
It seemed to ‘slow their world down’!
They were no longer overwhelmed.
Everything became predictable.
Predictable is manageable.
Ultimately it soothed their ‘inner-fear reactions’ to the driving environment.
Even unforeseen emergencies were effortlessly dealt with. The great part of that was stopping at the side of the road to reflect… and watching the dawning realisation that they had dealt with it all independently.

The ‘inner treadmill principle’ is a really useful technique to apply to Driver training… to recognise that a ‘fear’ can often be a cyclical issue where a Driver goes over and over and around and around the same thing! It means that we, as a team, can break the cycle into forward, purposeful motion. The fun is to work out together, what form the ‘inner-treadmill’ comes in.

A review from an Emergency Response Instructor Trainer

This is a review from an Emergency Response Instructor Trainer (non-local Trust) that I am proud and pleased to have received a couple of days ago:
“ “Fiona, I have been following your posts with interest for some time now. Recently I decided to contact you for a chat and guidance of how posts like your one on the “Behaviour-Intention Gap” could apply to the blue light training environment.

I have been working in the blue light industry for 12 years and noticed that the training delivered is very rote and covers levels 1 and 2 of the Goals for Driver Education. These two levels cover behaviourism only.
A lot of emergency instructors know about the Goals for Driver Education unfortunately the biggest factor that is missing within our world of training is levels 3 and 4; these two levels cover the higher order cognitive skills.

I approached Fiona, because of her immense knowledge and skills in the area of Coaching, this would give me a better understanding of how to use this subject within the blue light training world.
Fiona discussed in great deal about “THE BEHAVIOUR-INTENTION GAP”. This is the area where coaching can have a huge impact on an individual’s intended behaviour and how they actually behave in the moment.
My aim was to deliver this session to other emergency response instructors.

Having delivered this session twice, the interest shown by the other instructors was incredibly positive.
It made them identify the missing link within their own training, of which for the majority was the need to address the higher order cognitive skills which can raise an individual’s self-awareness and responsibility.

The link between someone’s intended behaviour and their actual behaviour can only be addressed through coaching and letting the individual work out how to fill “The GAP” through their own self-awareness.

Coaching is something that would benefit the world of emergency response training, my ultimate goal is to try and make a difference, so that all instructors can see the benefits and the difference that it can make in the reduction of crashes caused through operational driving.
However, to do this I need an effective coach, Fiona this is where I will be using you a lot more in the future! Your expertise as already made a great difference to myself and some of the driving instructors that I train and work with.
Thank you for filling “THE GAP!””

[Anon – Emergency Response Instructor Trainer] 2nd May 2020

This person contacted me in response to some of my previous training antics with ‘blue light’ trainers and various Facebook posts.
From what I am learning from both Trusts is that there is scope for developing the training from within to maximise standards and personal development of each individual blue light driver.

I am proud to have been able to offer even a little guidance and direction. A fascinating world that I have had a tiny glimpse into! Thank you for this wonderful review. I appreciate the time it took for you to write this; especially right now as you must be rushed off your feet with training.

How my Career has diversified and blossomed because of my BTEC Level 4 in Coaching for Driver Development…

No photo description available.

‘Me, my BTEC Level 4 in Coaching for Driver Development, and how my Career has diversified and blossomed because of it’.

A question that I am asked frequently is regarding the benefits of paying out for the BTEC Level 4 in Coaching for Driver Development.

It seems that many people focus on their barriers not their benefits.

ADIs are justifiably cautious of finding financial, educational and personal benefits following their initial outlay. Like any other continued professional developmental plan – the investment needs to be seen as a worthwhile. I understand that!

I have never avoided being honest about my own reasons for investing in my BTEC 4 back in 2011. The truth is I was bored and frustrated with the job; I had had enough; and after a mere 7 years as an ADI!

As far as I could see it, my options were to:

a) Get out and retrain in another profession
b) Invest in some further training that would unlock some exciting new pathways

Let me fast forward to present day where I have multiple job roles all underneath the ADI banner.

I have around 14 different ‘job roles’

– including:
Classroom based Driver Intervention Courses like Speed Awareness
BTEC 4 delivery
through to Fleet training and DriverMetrics,
Standards Check Training and Part 3 rescue
as well as selling my Car & Diagram Sets (which have been dual branded with Tri-Coaching Partnership’s TCIT Product for over two years)

I thrive on the diversity of the career that I have worked so hard to develop. It has not always been easy of course. Currently my working week is full of variety, reward and inspiration.

I am writing now about the shock realisation about just how far I have developed because of a sensitive initiative I was invited to be a part of.

I am extremely conscious about that ‘sensitivity’ issue as I write here, so please forgive me for being vague in my descriptions below.

This started a few months ago and is not local to me. I must keep it vague for various reasons – coloured flashing lights would be the singular clue I would offer.

I was approached because of my reputation, my integrity, my previous Facebook posts (like this one) and my skillset including:

*My BTEC 4 Coaching for Driver Development knowledge and
*Experience with Full Licence Holders and CPD for ADIs
*My passion for Coaching used for driver development
*My understanding of Behavioural Change benefits/courses
*Deeper Learning, and where ‘it’ comes from
*Using the Goals for Driver Education Matrix (GDE) as a tool
*Knowledge that thoughts, feelings and beliefs affect Driver
behaviours profoundly
*Acknowledgement of the gap between an ‘intended behaviour’
and an ‘actual behavioural outcome’ and that there can be

It would appear that ‘Influential People’ had been observing my posts and Tri-Coaching Partnership email topics.

I was approached, and of course, I jumped at the opportunity to lead the ‘training’ as they called it.

The invitation was to ‘discuss’ future ‘ideas’, ‘possibilities’, ‘interventions’, and ‘training solutions’ with those Professionals who deliver that Specialist Training I mentioned above.

It was fascinating to be there; to hear about obstacles and inside information. I do not for one minute imagine I am a self-imposed expert, though I can see that being an ignorant outsider gives me a fresh and open perspective.
Their profession might be seen in a similar way to ours – where initiating change within that establishment is fraught with obstacles.

The first meeting went very well (That is the feedback I had at the time plus via a colleague who heard independently about it afterwards
But what if?………

But what if I had not taken that chance in 2011 by attending the BTEC Level 4? It would not have launched me into the career path that I am now on – in full swing of experiencing now!
Would I still be as frustrated and un-stimulated as I was then? I think so.

What in your future might you regret if you put off advancing your Personal Development any longer?

Could the BTEC 4 your launch pad?

Could the BTEC Level 4 be the platform and Tri-Coaching Partnership (me included) be the support network that you could use to get you to the job diversity and satisfaction that you deserve?

Is the £30 per week a long term Goal for you to invest in… or a barrier?
How can you sidestep your barrier?

Maidstone, Kent – BTEC Level 4 with me and Elton…/storeFr…/showProductDetail…

Milton Keynes, Bucks – Btec Level 4 with me and Kev…/storeFr…/showProductDetail…

Tri-Coaching Partnership

Fiona Taylor – website (under reconstruction!)


Can You Change Someone’s Else’s Mind?

In my mind’s eye – ‘Conversations in person, on Social Media or even TV debates look similar to this picture. Strong personal opinions that each is desperate to change in the ‘other’.

Some examples might be about:

“I want to take my test soon”

“Coaching vs Instruction”

“Lanes on approach to Roundabouts”

“Trump” [or Brexit] etc etc

“Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does” is all about how we are more likely to achieve this – but only with consent. If we are going to be able to change someone else’s mind – we need to accept that we may have to change too! THAT is the difficult part for most of us.

The article does go on to explain way better than I could, how it is not by bombarding people with facts that changes their minds; but an adult ‘openness’ or acceptance of the possibility of change in the first place – coupled with a ‘get out’ clause!!

The ‘get out’ is where we do not want to ‘feel wrong’; and we will naturally avoid that at all costs 😊.
We need to approach with an understanding that the adult will be more open to adapt their opinions “given that there is new information” now. They need to be given space to evolve.

My own experiences over the years – for example delivering Speed Awareness Courses, or discussing Coaching for Driver Development is that if we approach someone with respect and give them the “get out” so that they do not loose face; a new opinion may be established from within.

The trick is to find their ‘get out’ as well.

If you are interested in the best description; please click the link to the original article here:


A lovely article – designed for kids but appropriate for all of us I think

‘Dear Kids, Love From Your Brain.’ What All Kids Need to Know About the Brain

'Dear Kids, Love From Your Brain' - What All Kids Need to Know About the Brain


Kids do great things with the right information, and any information we can give them about how to become the best version of themselves will lay a sprinkling of gold dust on their path to adulthood. They have enormous power to influence the structure and function of their brain in ways that will build important skills and qualities, such as resilience, courage, confidence, and emotional and social intelligence. First though, we need to give them the information they need to perform their magic. Here’s what all kids need to know.

All great things need a few good instructions and your brain is up there with the greatest things of all. If your brain could talk, here’s what it would want you to know.

Dear You,

I love being in your head because it’s magnificent and because I’m the centre of attention up here. We’re going to be together forever, you and I, so here are some things you should know about me.

First, some basic info.

I’m made up of about 85-100 billion very small building blocks called neurons, which are brain cells. If you were to count them one by one, it would take around 3000 years. It would also take a lot of patience and a distraction-free zone because it would be dreadful to lose count at like, 84 billion.

I’m kind of complicated, but fabulous. There are lots of different parts to me – a thinking part, a listening part, a memory part, a feelings part, and many more. Being able to do something well depends on the connections between neurons inside the different parts and between the different parts. You can actually design me to be the best brain for you. Brains can change, and you’re the superstar who can change me.

The secret to making your brain the very best brain for you.

Every time you think, feel or do something, the messages travel along the neurons that are connected to that thought, feeling or action. This forms a pathway in the brain. Whenever you do that action, feel that feeling, or think that thought, the messages travel along the same pathway. Whenever you do something over and over, that pathway becomes stronger and stronger. The stronger the pathway, the stronger that part of your brain, and the easier that behaviour, thought or feeling will be.

Here’s an example. When you first learn to ride a bike, you wobble and fall – a lot. That’s because the ‘riding a bike’ pathways in your brain aren’t very strong yet. The more you ride, the stronger the pathways get, so the easier the ‘this is how you ride a bike’ messages travel around to the parts they need to travel to. Over time, the pathways gets stronger and you become a genius on the bike. Nice.

This can also happen in ways that aren’t so great for you. If you keep doing something that’s bad for you, like eating loads of sugary treats, or yelling every time you get angry, the ‘I need sugar,’ pathways, or the ‘I’m going to yell’ pathways in the brain will become very strong and will drive you to keep craving sugar or yelling.

You have enormous power to develop amazing skills and qualities and to get better at the things you want to be good at.

Whatever you do a lot of now, you’ll be great at.

During childhood and adolescence, your brain is primed to learn things well. This is why it’s easier for kids to learn a language than it is for adults – because the brains of kids and teens are wired to learn, with plenty of neurons ready to organise themselves into strong, beautiful pathways. =

Use it or lose it.

There is only a limited amount of space up here in your skull, so to be the most effective, most powerful, best brain for you, I keep the pathways you use a lot, and fade the ones you don’t use as much. This makes sure there’s enough space and brain energy to build the pathways that are important for you – which are the ones you use a lot.

For example, if you learn a foreign language, the ‘learning a language’ pathways will strengthen and develop quicker and stronger than they would in adulthood. If you don’t learn a language, these pathways will fade away, to leave room for the pathways you want to use more. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to learn a foreign language – absolutely you’ll be able to! It just means that it won’t be as easy to do as it is during childhood and adolescence.

Your thoughts can change your brain too – so make them good ones.

Thoughts can release brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and electrical impulses that can also create pathways in your brain. These pathways will influence your feelings and behaviour. This is why it’s so important that your thoughts are healthy, positive and strong. When you think brave thoughts, ‘I can do that’, or ‘whatever happens I’ll be okay,’ those thoughts form a pathway. The more you think those thoughts, the more real they’ll feel. Brave thoughts (‘I can do this’) lead to brave behaviour. Calm thoughts (‘Breathe in … Breath out …’) lead to calm behaviour. Anxious thoughts  (‘what if something bad happens?’) lead to anxious behaviour. Remember, thoughts, feelings and behaviours don’t need to match. You can feel anxious and think brave, or feel anxious and do brave.

But how do the messages travel between neurons?

This is why I love being your brain. You’re a thinker, and that’s an excellent question. Messages travel from one end of the neuron to the other end with electrical impulses. Your brain creates enough electrical impulses to power up a small light bulb – so don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t powerful! Once the message (the electrical impulse) gets to the end of the neuron, it has to jump to the next neuron. Neurons don’t touch – there’s a teeny space between them. The message jumps across the gap to the next neuron by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Having the right balance of neurotransmitters is important because it can affect your mood, how well you sleep, how well you learn and remember, how stressed or anxious you feel, your motivation – so many things.

I know what you’re thinking … ‘So how can I get the right balance of neurotransmitters?’

There are three powerful ways to make sure your neurotransmitters are at healthy levels.

Eat well. Healthy, nutritious food makes me (and you) excellent.

Being a brain is busy work, so you need to fuel me up with good food – oily fish (salmon, tuna – tinned is fine), eggs, blueberries, chia seeds, cabbage, avocado, soy. Don’t scrunch up your face. They’re delicious. If they don’t taste that delicious to you, it’s because the pathways aren’t there yet. It can take about seven tries of a new food to be okay with it. So let’s make a deal. Try the foods at least 7 times. If that sounds gross, try licking it a few times, then seven times when you chew and swallow. This will help to strengthen the ‘this food is okay’ pathways, and the food won’t taste so disgusting.

Get your body moving.

I don’t have legs. You know that right? So I need you to move. Exercise increase the neurotransmitters that help you feel happier, less stressed, less anxious, and the ones that help you focus, learn and remember, and think positive thoughts. Scientists have found that a neurotransmitter called GABA can help people to stop thinking negative thoughts that make them worried, sad or anxious. We all have those thoughts from time to time, but you want to be able to stop them when they’ve outstayed their welcome. Exercise helps to get GABA to healthy levels so it can help manage anxiety and negative thinking. Exercise is a brain booster. I love it.

Get plenty of peaceful zzz’s.

I do some of my best work while you’re sleeping. I help you deal with your emotional ‘stuff’, I help you understand what you’ve learned, and I strengthen your memories. It’s also when I can get creative because I’m not having to take care of other things that keep me busy when you’re awake, like walking, talking, listening, balancing.

Do mindfulness. Brains love it like a favourite thing.

Brains love mindfulness – probably even more than we love pictures of furry baby animals. Mindfulness helps brains to be calmer, braver and stronger which helps you to be calmer, braver and stronger. Here’s how it works. Mindfulness strengthens the pathway between your thinking brain (the prefrontal cortex) and the feeling brain (especially the amygdala), making it easier to calm big feelings. Mindfulness can also improve concentration, learning, mood and sleep. Over time, it can help you to feel less stressed and anxious, happier, kinder, more able to focus and more in control of your feelings. There are a lot of awesome apps that can guide you through mindfulness. Here is one (it’s free), and there are some other ways to be mindful here. Try for at least 10 minutes a day. It will help you to be more of a legend than you already are.

I have a thinking part and a feeling part.

The thinking part, the prefrontal cortex, is at the front of the brain. Let’s call it the thinking brain. It’s responsible for thinking things through, paying attention, solving problems, making good decisions, calming big feelings, learning and much more. The feelings part is more towards the back. Let’s call this the ‘feeling brain’.

When something happens that’s good for you (like succeeding at something difficult, trying something new and challenging, doing something brave, exercise, spending time with people who feel good to be around), the brain releases chemicals (dopamine) that help you feel good. Dopamine is the ‘that feels good, let’s get more‘ chemical. It’s job is to drive you to seek more of the things that are good for you.

On the other hand, when the brain identifies something that might be a threat (and not being allowed to do something you really want to do might count as threats), your brain surges your body with chemicals so you can fight the threat or flee the threat. This is the handywork of the amygdala – an important part of your feeling brain. The amygdala is like your own fierce warrior, there to protect you. When you’re feeling big feelings like anxiety, anger or sadness, it’s likely that your amygdala thinks that there is something it might need to protect you from and is sending messages to the other parts of the brain to act a certain way. This might be to fight the danger (maybe by yelling, screaming, arguing, fighting, or saying ‘stop!’ or ‘no!,’) or to flee the danger (perhaps by ignoring, hiding, or lying to get out of trouble).

Brains are smart, and yours is magnificent, but all brains can read things wrong sometimes.

Let’s get something straight – there are no bad feelings. All feelings deserve to be there, but sometimes what you do with your feelings can land you in trouble. The feeling brain and the thinking brain need to work well together, but it doesn’t always happen this way. When feelings are big, the feeling brain can overwhelm the thinking brain and send it ‘offline’ for a while. This is the work of the amygdala – that fierce warrior part of your brain. If you actually are in danger, having your amygdala take control can be a great thing. If there is a wild animal coming at you for example, your amygdala doesn’t want you to think too long about whether the animal is lost, hungry, angry, or how it got it’s fur looking so fab. It just wants you to get safe, so it sends the thinking brain offline until the ‘danger’ has passed.

Here’s the problem. Amygdalas are do-ers, not thinkers, so they’ll act first and think later. They can be a little overprotective and can take control even when there’s nothing to protect you from. An example of this is when you’re not allowed to do something you really want to do. Your amygdala might hear that as a threat and send the thinking brain offline. When this happens, you might not think clearly about the consequences of what you’re doing, or whether your response is necessary. If your response is to, say, yell or scream (fight) or lie (a type of flee), that can mean trouble.

None of this means you can blame your brain when things go wrong. If your brain gets into trouble, you’ll get into trouble, so you have to be the boss of your brain. Feel your feels, but be smart about it. Things will always work out better when your feeling brain and your thinking brain are able to send strong messages to each other but to do that, you need to keep your thinking brain strong. Mindfulness and slowing down to think of the consequences are ways to do this. If you feel as though your amygdala is taking over and your thinking brain is about to tap out, strong, slow, deep breaths and mindful clouds will help to keep it online.

Mindful clouds.

Get comfy and imagine your thoughts and feelings are forming into little clouds in front of your head. Let them float around gently and when your ready, blow them away. As you blow the cloud away, feel some of that angry energy or sad energy leaving you. Keep doing this as different thoughts and feelings appear. It’s okay if the same ones keep coming back. Just watch them in front of you, let them float around, then blow them gently away.

Breathe. In. Out. Lovely.

Strong, steady breathing is like a lullaby for your brain. Breathe out to get rid of all the air, then in for 3, hold for one, out for 3. Do this a few times to bring your thinking brain back online so you can calm your big feelings, make good decisions and be awesome. It doesn’t mean your big feelings won’t be there anymore. You might still feel sad, angry or anxious, but you’ll be more able to respond in a way that is strong, brave and better for you. A brain in high emotion is a very busy brain, so it might struggle to remember strong, deep breathing if that isn’t something you’ve done a lot of. It’s important to practice when you’re calm, so the pathways can strengthen. Here are a couple of ways to practice.

Hot cocoa breathing: Imagine you’re holding a cup of hot cocoa. Breathe out, then smell the warm, chocolatey smell for 3, hold it for one, then blow it cool for 3.

Figure 8 breathing: Imagine drawing a sideways figure 8 on your arm, your leg or anywhere that feels lovely. Breathe out, then as you draw the first belly of the 8, breathe in for 3, when you get to the middle of the 8 hold it for one, then as you trace the second belly of the 8 breathe out for 3.

While we’re on the feel-goods, let’s talk about addiction.

Addiction is something that happens in the brain and it can happen to anyone. It comes from the same mechanism that helps us feel good when we do the things that are good for us. You’ll remember we talked about dopamine, the ‘I want more’ chemical that’s released when you get something you want. Addictive drugs release two to ten times the amount of dopamine that healthy things like facing challenges or being with friends do. This means the feel-good rush is more intense, quicker, and more reliable. But there’s a problem. Addictive drugs cause so much dopamine to be released that the brain becomes overwhelmed. The only way brains can deal with the blasting of dopamine that comes with drug use is to release less dopamine. Think of it like turning down the volume on a stereo that’s blasting you with noise.

Here’s the problem – with less dopamine, it becomes harder to feel good. The only way to get those feel-good feelings is with more of the drug, so the drug becomes more wanted and more important than other healthier things that used to feel good. When the effects of the drug start to wear off, the person goes into withdrawal. Withdrawal feels awful and makes people sick, anxious, depressed, angry. To stop this awful feeling, people have to take more of the drug. This is how addiction happens. As your brain, I’m there to look after you, but you also have to look after me by not letting things into your body that are going to hurt me. Let’s make a deal. I’ll keep helping you to be excellent, and you stay away from addictive drugs – they’re bad for both of us.

The Social Brain.

People feel safer, stronger and wiser in groups because it’s how we look after each other and share information. I’m constantly on the lookout for information about who feels good to be around, who doesn’t, what people might be thinking of you. I don’t always get it right. Like I said, I’m super smart but I can read things wrong sometimes. When this information is positive, it feels good – great actually. When it’s negative, as it is when people are excluded, rejected, humiliated or bullied, the information gets sent through the same pathways as physical pain. This is because pain motivates us to act, and when something feels dangerous, like being excluded, rejected or bullied, the brain sends out messages to get us to act – to either look for support or to avoid the threat. It’s really important to think about the impact you might be having on the brains of people around you. You’re really powerful – we all are – and kind kids are the coolest kids of all.

I learn best if you take small breaks.

I LOVE learning, so when you expose me to new things or face a challenge (a good one not a stupid one), I reward you with feel-good brain chemicals. I’m designed to be curious and to snap to attention when things change, so I do my best learning when you take small breaks. While we’re talking about learning, your sight, hearing, speaking and movement have their own memory banks. If you’re learning something, the more different ways you can learn it the better. So, listen, write, touch, and say what you need to learn. If you can, act it out. And if you act it out, do it in front of a mirror so I can see, because I think you’d look fabulous doing that.

And finally,

You have extraordinary power to shape your brain in ways that will help you to be good at the things you want to be good at. Don’t worry if you make mistakes along the way because it’s how I learn, strengthen and keep you shimmering. You’re a magic maker, a king, a queen, a legend. Write it on a note and stick it on your mirror. There is so much ‘awesome’ in you. Be brave enough to believe it, and know that with time, effort and patience, you can get better at anything. We’re an amazing team you and I. Thanks for believing in you.

Love from,

Your brain.

Fear – and ‘taming’ your inner-self when driving

Ok – The Chimp Paradox book. I know not everyone has a passion for reading, this post is in reference to that book.

Brief summary of book is at the bottom of post just in case you want

to read that bit!

My Driver today relates very well to the book as she has a very ‘enthusiastic’, jumpy, paranoid, terrified, and somewhat troublesome Chimp! 

Today she was doing her commentary drive, and as a suggestion by me, was looking WAY way way further ahead than she has become accustomed to.

Recently I have noticed her ‘view’ ahead had become much closer; and her hazards much near
er. It was triggering her Chimp into ‘fight or flight’ mode!

Her summary after her super successful and highly skilled drive was:
” I loved that!
It was weird how my Human was using the top half of the windscreen, and my Chimp

was just monitoring the bottom half calmly!”

I asked her to explain a bit more…

“Well my view ahead and the potential hazards, road signs and road layout etc is all in the distance – and

to see what is there is up in the top half of the window. My human is looking there.
It leaves my Chimp to calmly monitor the bottom half of the window. I mean – that is where the sudden need to do an emergency stop; or deal with an un-imaginable problem will be! I can leave my Chimp to detect it! I (the driver) can relax, knowing I can trust my Chimp to ‘notice’! My computer just ‘does my feet’ for me if I have to stop!

That feels great!!”

Giving names and solid roles for these daft Chimp, Human and Computer fractions of herself has given her confidence a massive boost!


For those that like the “Inner Game” style books; this would be relating to “Self One and Self Two”!


Mental ‘pictures’ to give form and structure to the processes involved in driving can be very useful! Thanks Mr Steve Peters for the book. (Audio file for me of course)

The Chimp Paradox Book (Micro summary)
There are more, but lets focus on 3 inner parts of ‘a driver’.

The Computer

The Human

The Chimp

The computer is an automated system. Breathing, digestion are basic things our ‘computers’ do. Basic car control eventually is done by our computer. Eg our feet just know how to stop the car once we have

been driving a while.

The Human is in control of thinking and complex processes and planning. Concentrating and making decisions; advanced skills and perceptions.

The Chimp in terms of evolution is much more primal. More basic. It is very strong so it can easily overwhelm a human. A human can easily manipulate and control a Chimp by using an advanced cognitive power.
A Chimp has a sensitive and hair-triggered fight or fight reflex! Run from danger! Fight to protect the family members!

The book gives us and our Drivers these focal points to develop upon – arming a new Driver with inner strength to develop and ‘tame’ their Chimps; freeing their Humans, and delegating more to their computers.

The new ‘Non-Slip’ backing for my little cars

This new backing adds greater stability to the cars during Driver Training Sessions.

If you are interested OR want to know more Click Here

“Sharing the Risks” – Risk Management Section of Standards Check

This is a response I gave on Facebook to an ADI who was making sure he was maintaining his skills and knowledge regarding an aspect of the Standards Check Form.

The section he was referring to was this:
“Did the trainer ensure that the pupil fully understood how the responsibility would be shared”.

My answer was:

“This area, in my opinion, is not about the use of dual controls and those basics solely at the beginning of the SC. What I think a good idea is to swap or replace the word “Risk” for our own word(s). Often people choose “hazards”, “Dangers”, “Problems” etc. Once an ADI begins to get to the nitty gritty of the principle behind the SC Competency in their own terms… it begins to make more sense to the individual ADI who can then begin to incorporate it in their lessons in their own way. 

This risk section, to me, is about how the role of each person (Learner and ADI) changes throughout any given driving lesson. For example – on an example lesson, the main topic for development may be a manoeuvre (recap on SC obviously). There are issues and tasks to allocate to each of us on the way to the practice area… eg pupil might say – “No I don’t know the way – can you give me directions” Or “I know the way, so I can plan my own route”. Technically one aspect of risk is covered. Other areas to be addressed are then about any other issues that the new driver might want help with on route (eg obsvations or talk through, or help with XYZ).

Once at the practice area, the roles and shared tasks might once again change – where the pupil might ask for more support while they practice the manoeuvre etc.

It may change once again while discussing the next topic or the drive back to TC or home etc OR if one of those ‘random’ things happen where you encounter the weird scenario that no one could plan for eg road closures of the normal route back.


Another aspect of Risk to be noted is the part where you might help in ‘odd ways’ eg – ADI uses the clutch  (with duals) to ‘help’ complete a manoeuvre while pupil’s responsibility is the steering and the safe observations. It needs to be clear to the learner who does what and why!

One principle is that when people know ‘which bit or bits’ they are responsible for there is less confusion and a clearer mental picture of what is expected of them (and the ADI) at any given time. That will change often throughout every driver training session.

I just realised you asked what I (we) do on a daily basis to monitor this section… my apologies for the lengthy reply that may not be hat you were looking for – but I wrote too much to delete!!! What I do is reflect upon where I got it right. Where the pupil and I knew who was doing what. And when I did not get it right where there was confusion. One time I got it wrong recently was when I assumed the pupil knew the route… not a massive issue but it did leave the pupil feeling like they made a mistake by not knowing. I feel the error was mine by not checking who was responsible for the route planning.”

Basically, the Risk section is about minimising potential dangers in the example above, and dealing with them efficiently when safety critical incidents occur… but that is another section on the SC1 Form.

I like this section of the Form, though it does throw up strong opinions and suggestions from ADIs; especially on Facebook. I believe the trick is to understand the SC1 Form in your own terms, and then make sure you apply your attention to making sure your examiner sees you doing well.