Who is driving your bus?

Here is a very creative way to not only learn about emotions/coping skills/self regulation, but help identify how and when to use them.

A fellow mama and FASD advocate, creator of Team Love – a group for connecting families living with FASD – made this resource after being told about a bus metaphor for emotions.

Let’s Get on the Bus!

Where are you going and who is going with you?

From the site: Ross Psychology

The bus metaphor falls under ACT Therapy (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). It describes the ways internal experiences (i.e., thoughts, emotions, urges, memories, etc.) seem to drive our lives. The metaphor asks us to consider a life in which such experiences do not determine our decisions, but instead sit in our minds as would passengers on a bus.

Accordingly, the bus represents the mind and the passengers symbolize different internal experiences. You are the driver, who can exist separately from the content spewed out by the passengers.

For instance, the driver can notice a passenger telling him he is ugly, but the driver does not necessarily have to believe the comment to be true. As the driver, we make important decisions about the speed and direction of the bus; we generally have a sense of where we might like to go and the pace at which we might like to move.

Simultaneously, passengers may express opinions loudly and aggressively, while others may sit back quietly. Some passengers may even behave frighteningly by running to the front of the bus and yelling directions at you. 

Impatience may insist that you “HURRY UP!”

Fear may scream, “Turn here! Don’t go there!”

Self-Sabotage may yell, “Turn around! The bus will fail to get through those bumpy, unpaved roads.” 

Depression may convince you to “pull over and stop driving for a while.”

Over time, you start mindlessly adhering to the passengers’ demands. What often escapes our awareness is that these passengers (i.e., thoughts, feelings, memories, urges, bodily sensations, etc.) cannot actually touch you or the mechanics that move the bus. The problem does not lie in their presence, but instead in mindlessly believing in and abiding by their declarations and demands.

The secret to managing the passengers is not to only listen to the “good” ones; instead, the trick is to acknowledge the content of all the passengers as merely part of the bus ride.

The Bus Analogy

Reflecting on the ride.

Team Love mama introduced it to her daughter, and this is what she had to say:

SHE is driving the Bus…and by using that as an analogy, we have been able to guide her through her days with a lot more ease and understanding of the skills she has. She can be heard singing through routines now “Get on the Bus, Let’s Get on the Bus” and she is feeling so empowered. 

I created this printable for her to use for different parts of our day and she is truly taking it seriously and using it. But as we all know, this is a tool for today, this week, this month…who knows how long it may or may not work. But for today, we are celebrating baby steps of awareness and use of coping skills. 

We are using it for different “places”…so for “Errands”, “Church”, “The Weekend”, “Pillowland” and we will do a sheet up and have a conversation around who she would like on the bus, what coping skills she may need and who needs to stay at the back. 

Today, she was just verbalizing it and using it while we were shopping…we forgot to do a sheet but she was able to talk it through with me when we got there.

It is a perfect framework for conversations around things that overwhelm her. Transitions, busy places, out of routine type days…and she is loving the analogy…empowers her as the driver.

I think this is a fantastic tool to add to your toolbox. I don’t think there is an age limit on who can use this resource! So let’s get on the bus and share our journeys!