Five Ways to Tame Your Road Rage

Five Ways to Tame Your Road Rage
by Beverly Flaxington
(Used with permission)

There’s a big difference between observing reckless vehicular behavior and reacting to it with rage. It’s perfectly normal to be alarmed at poor driving and hopefully to respond defensively. But some of us get furious at times. We honk our horns. We slow way down with them right on our tail to “teach them a lesson,” or we pull up beside them, roll down our windows, and yell.

roadrage2If this rings true for you, here are a few strategies that can help you overcome your road rage.

It’s all about you. Whether you like it or not, we all–unintentionally–view every experience through our own lenses. Every thought we have, every experience we go into, we color with “me.” It’s not that we try to do this or that we’re bad people. It’s just that we have no choice, because we’re unaware of what we’re doing and how we’re behaving. When you feel another person is an “idiot” on the road, what you’re really doing is making a judgment about how that person is acting in relation to you. Sometimes just being aware of your “me filter” can give you a new perspective and help you avoid an emotional outburst that you’ll later regret.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your filter isn’t the same as theirs. We often don’t notice that our own filters–the ones that shape our view of the world–aren’t the same as the other person’s. In fact, we instinctively believe that everyone else does (or should) view the world the same way that we do! They should be as careful, considerate, and smart behind the wheel as we are. We don’t realize that if we didn’t have our opinion of what we should expect, or what others should be doing, we wouldn’t feel road rage. We would simply respond with quick thinking and a feeling of gratitude that we–and they–are still safe.

You can’t change anyone else. One of the reasons we rant at drivers is to “show them who’s boss and teach them a thing or two.” Guest what? You can’t. You can’t teach another driver how to drive better if you’re simply reacting to their behavior. Before you get into trouble yelling at another driver or getting out of the car to give him or her a piece of your mind, remember this simple truth. It really does help with impulse control.

Watch what’s happening. If you’re confronting, or about to confront, a bad driver, see if you can step outside the situation mentally and observe yourself. It’s interesting to see how robotic we are in such situations. See the other person’s fear, anger, or other reactions, and what you’re doing to contribute. The act of dropping your need to be right, right in the middle of the exchange, is an exhilarating experience.

Confront thoughtfully. If it’s absolutely imperative that you talk to the other driver–say, because his behavior is putting others in danger–think about what you want to accomplish before you open your mouth. That way, you’re more likely to get your real message across, instead of merely conveying the underlying emotion (anger, frustration, outrage, etc.).

As a final note, please know that doing any or all of these things doesn’t mean you excuse the other person’s behavior or even accept it. These strategies will just help you be more productive, since you can’t change the other driver (and you really know it). Reacting, on the other hand, will only serve to make you emotionally, mentally, and physically upset.

* * * * *
bevflaxingtonMakeYourShiftbookcoverBeverly Flaxington is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA), hypnotherapist, and career and business advisor. Her book, Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior, won a Gold Award from Readers Favorite for the best new book on relationships. She is also author of three business and financial books, as well as her latest title, Make Your SHIFT: The Five Most Powerful Moves You Can Make to Get Where YOU Want to Go (ATA Press, 2012). Learn more about her at www.the-collaborative.com.

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About Sandra Bell Kirchman

My passion is for fiction, especially fantasy fiction. I have been writing nearly all my life, since the age of 7 when I produced a 5-page novel called "Angus the Ant" - self-illustrated. Since then, I have written and published a fantasy novel called "Witchcanery," which has won several awards and has met with some acclaim from readers around the world. I've also edited and published an anthology for the writers at my site FantasyFic.com, called "Birth of a Unicorn and Other Stories." Both books are available on Kindle; the latter is also available on Nook. Both books are sold as hard copies at most major online outlets. One of my later ventures was horror stories; surprisingly, since horror stories scare me, I find I have a special affinity for them, especially in flash fiction format (under 1000 or less words). Currently, I am working on two WIPs, one a sequel to "Witchcanery," which several readers have made me promise to write; the other an apocalyptic novel called "The Road to the End of the World." There are several examples of this latter novel in my blog "Fantasyfic," formerly known as "Wizards and Ogres and Elves - Oh My!" Fantasyfic is on hold temporarily, while I work almost exclusively on Puppy Dog Tales. My other blogs keep me hopping. One is a roundup of news and some fun pieces from around the world. It is listed under the name of "News, Views, and Gurus." The current blog is my pet favorite, if you'll pardon the expression. I'm an avid pet parent and animal lover. My three little Shih-Tzus are the joys of my life...and so is my husband, but I don't write about him. Anyhow, my blog "Puppy Dog Tales" is a work of love, featuring my doggies and other pets around the world. I'm a devoted advocate of animal rights and especially backing the cause of animal rescue shelters. My wonderful husband and I live in a very small town in southeastern Saskatchewan on the south side in a rustic, cedar-sided home. Our property is almost a whole acre, and is gracious and pretty (which is not easy to be in one package). All five of us are happy here.

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