Relieving road rage

Relieving road rage

When I was a young lad in a snazzy sports car, I often drove a bit above the speed limit and had very little patience for those I saw as being in my way. Situations sometimes escalated, and no good came from it. In particular, it made driving a stressful, uncomfortable experience, often negatively impacting the rest of my day.

Today, I enjoy driving much more. The technique I’ve learned is to imagine that everyone else on the road is my friend. I imagine that I personally know them, and make allowances like I would for a friend. When someone cuts in front of me in a hurry, I speculate that perhaps they’re late for a work meeting, or hurrying to get to the hospital because their wife is giving birth. The truth is, I don’t really know why they’re cutting me off. It could be that if I met them in other circumstances, we would in fact become good friends.

Feeling angry is not a happy place to be. It’s uncomfortable, stressful. It often builds upon itself, making an otherwise nice day truly stinky. So choose not to do it. We have far more control over own emotions than we think. If someone does something you perceive as dangerous or a personal affront, take a deep breath. Don’t respond in anger. In fact, mentally wish the other driver a better day and a pleasant life.

Even if it’s obvious that the other driver is angry at you, don’t say or do anything to reciprocate. Don’t flip them off, yell or otherwise respond in anger. No good can come from those actions, and such escalation could lead to an accident and a really bad day for all involved.

Instead, take whatever actions are appropriate to keep yourself and your car’s occupants safe. Let the angry driver pass you, and perhaps slow down to put more room between you and them. Or when it’s safe, change lanes so you’re further away.

It’s not our role in life to judge the driving habits of others.While it may seem unfair that people “get away” with breaking traffic laws and treating each other poorly, I personally don’t think they “get away” with anything. Being angry is not a fun place to be. If it becomes a habit, it leads to more anger, confrontations, escalations and seriously dangerous situations. Best case, it’s a lousy way to live.

We really can’t do anything to control others anyways. Trying to enforce some sort of punishment, justice or control upon them often meets with great resistance. Remember, we only have absolute control and responsibility for our own actions, speech and thoughts. (The good news is, that’s enough for us to create wonderful lives for ourselves and loved ones.)

When other drivers break the law and drive unsafely, it’s the role of highway patrol officers and the courts to put a stop to it. It’s not your job, nor mine.

If this is an issue for you as it was for me, I invite you to make a concerted effort to change your driving habits. If you like, keep track of your daily progress on a calendar, with a gold star awarded each day you don’t respond to others in anger.

You’ll feel better for it.

Image courtesy Willposh.