“Did you see how that jerk just cut me off?! This is my lane, why did he have to pull out right in front of me?!”
Do your passengers grind their teeth when you drive? Do you get so angry behind the wheel that you want to do something uncharacteristic to you, such as follow the other driver? Do you or others fear that your behavior behind the wheel may get you hurt?
If so, chances are that you may have road rage. This is not something that’s easy to change. Remember, you can’t change the other driver or what they do, you can only change what you do and your perceptions of the event.
Joe had problems with road rage that had been going on for years. He sometimes followed people who cut him off and once that led to him getting threatened at gun point, but still he found it hard to stop his behavior. He came to me when he realized it was becoming worse and worse of a problem as the days went by.
He had the perception that the other driver purposefully did these things to him and he took their actions personally. He felt disrespected, angry, and wanted the other driver to know how he felt. His actions became so dangerous that his wife refused to drive with him.
Joey and I looked at what his thoughts were that led him to road rage. He didn’t really know why he felt the way he did or why he got so angry. I asked him to tweak his thinking about how other’s behaved on the road and to not take it personally. I explained that the other drivers didn’t know him from Adam and had nothing against him personally. That there was a very good possibility that these other drivers may have been so wrapped up in whatever they were doing or thinking that they may not have even noticed him there. Or perhaps, they were having a bad day and acting out in relation to that and not him. Maybe there was some type of emergency and they were just focused on getting where they needed to go as soon as possible. Or maybe they were just jerks and bad drivers.
Joey was able to see how these scenarios could be possible and doing so helped him to not take others’ actions personally. We worked on this for some months and little by little his road rage began to improve. He had been thinking this way for 50 some years and it was not a thought process that could be undone overnight. He had some slips in the process with his road rage, but he used that to motivate himself to do better and not to give up.
“This isn’t about me,” is a great mantra. So often the things that drive us nuts are not about us at all. They’re about us interpreting things incorrectly. Someone may do something that you take personally, but they weren’t aware of you at all. Again, it’s that monkey mind playing tricks with us and our desire to be in control of things. Remember the Serenity Prayer and the fact that the only thing you can control is yourself.
Wishing you happiness, logical thinking, and serenity,