This weekend while taking a workshop, I learned about two different types of people. There are cars and trains. Cars are people who are flexible because they can drive down various roads, do off roads, drive around others, and drive on multiple types of road conditions and pavements. Trains are people who have to drive on a track. They are not so flexible because they can only go in one direction. They can go backwards but only with some support of the train masters who work at the stations. They can jump tracks, but this causes quite a considerable amount of stress and casualty. They can switch tracks but basically, they are going forward.
There is nothing wrong with either character trait but it is important to recognize which type of person you are as you begin or continue to build self-awareness or a sense of self.
Many people who have been traumatized in life, become trains. It is part of the survival skills system that we create to feel safe. A train track is connected to something, overall it is rigid and strong. This means boundaries, stability, safety and having some power over your life. This would show up as someone who has a vision of what they want for their future. While they may switch tracks along the way, they are still very clear where they are going. It means when they do go backwards a bit, they need someone there to help guide them and show them what is needed. Perhaps this would be a teacher, tutor, older and wiser friend, parent, spouse or partner. When an obstacle gets in front of the train, the train has to make a very quick decision.
I was on a cross-country Amtrak quite a few years back and while we were sleeping, our train came upon several cows that had taken over a section of the track. Unfortunately, to the demise of this herd, it was either them or us. Having lived on a farm, I know that a cow is not going to move at the sound of a horn. You literally have to get out there and smack their behinds and yell at them to move. As we were going quite fast and they came upon us suddenly, the train conductor had to think quickly. Stepping on the brakes would have meant people flying through the air.
Train people are planners, goal setters, organizers, leaders, timekeepers, budgeters, and the like. Impatient.
An obstacle for a train character trait is almost always quite the disaster. You get settled into your seat and going in your direction and don’t like dealing with obstacles. However, as life would have it, they are always there. Realizing you have this personality, it is important to know it, love it, share this with others so they are aware of your boundaries and needs and develop skill sets on how to manage this without losing friends and lovers.
Cars are people who have come from more easy-going households and find life is not so difficult to take. When stuff happens they get out-of-the-way or find ways to get around it. Cars take the roads as they come. They don’t necessarily need maps and atlases in the back of their cars and if they have them, it is only for the rare occasion. Cars can stop faster than trains can because they aren’t always going at quick speeds. Trains have many cars behind them, cars are on their own. Less to deal with, smaller amounts of concern. Cars can handle multiple cars on the road – lots of people in life.
Car people take the day as it comes, can switch agendas easily – if they have to have one, wait till the need arises before they act, are spontaneous, adventurous, and the like. Patient.
Car people have to work with the train people and be able to understand that not everyone is able to have the luxury, mentally speaking, to be of free will. Train people have to work with the car people by learning from them, allowing themselves to let their hair down once in a while and enjoy the ride. There are pros and cons to each of these situations, neither is the right way to be. From learning from our opposites and not staying stuck, it helps us to be more balanced in our life.
Which one are you?