If your partner or friend who’s been drinking too much insists on driving with you on board, notice your reaction: Do you hesitate because you’re afraid of upsetting the other person and therefore you’d rather comply?
When we’re not aware of the psychological forces that motivate us, they can wreak havoc in our lives. This is a situation where the desire to comply in order to get along can endanger your life.
Accommodating others is reasonable as long as we are not risking harm or motivated to do so by the dread of the anxiety associated with non-compliance. But when acquiescing to pressure compromises your own safety and well-being, it is not worth temporarily appeasing an out-of-control or inebriated person. It does not show respect for oneself or others.
So it’s important to develop the ability to withstand the anxiety of standing up against forceful demands. When an intoxicated person pressures you with “I’m fine; just get in the car,” you don’t need to convince him or her of anything. Walking away and being safe is what’s important.
If the person is really drunk and could endanger others on the road, it takes additional courage to take the keys or call the police. You may save not only someone else’s life, but the drunk driver’s life as well. It’s better for the intoxicated person to go to jail and experience embarrassment than to live with the consequences of having injured or killed someone.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD