Got road rage? Here's how to cure it forever.
I know forever is a big statement, but believe me-if you do what I'm going to suggest you do- it will never return.
I used to arrogantly assume I was level headed behind the wheel, but truth be told, I wasn't. I'm going to give you a painful example so brace yourself…
While driving down a one lane road recently, a car came speeding up behind me honking and flashing its lights.
I thought to myself, “gee mister, take a chill pill, we’re all in a rush.” I was feeling particularly cranky and although I hate to admit it, I lifted my foot off the gas and slowed down a bit just to teach him a lesson.
One block later as I passed an emergency animal clinic, I watched in horror as he frantically zoomed into the parking lot behind me.
Here I was trying to teach a stranger “a lesson” and he was rushing to get his beloved pet to the emergency vet. I burst into tears as my heart flooded with shame. Had I known what was happening, I would have pulled over immediately and let him pass.
Even yesterday as a woman slowly walked across the street in front of the cars ahead, I thought to myself come on come on, what’s the big hold up?
Then I noticed her struggling to juggle her baby and her bag. Agh, I felt guilty as hell.
After all the work I'd done on myself over the years, there I sat still falling down behind my own wheel when it came to patience.
So why do most of us do this?
I believe we forget to think the best of people.
It's easy to have patience when we know someone's story and care about them, yet when it comes to strangers we often think the worst don't we?
When my own 92 year old grandma would drive her car, she would pause at every intersection (stop sign or not), and honk her horn. As she put it: I'm just giving them a little toot to let them know I’m here.
My sister and I would double over in laughter- to this day we fondly remember those driving with grandma moments, yet I guarantee if one of us were behind an elderly woman we didn't know doing this, we'd think she were nuts.
Just last week I saw a man flying down the busiest street in town on his bike and I thought to myself: you nut, why don’t you use the sidewalk? Then as I passed him I saw that it was a friend and immediately thought oh wow, he must be in a hurry, I hope he stays safe on this road.
Another stark example of thinking the worst of someone when I don't know them, but having great patience when I do eh?
So I've begun playing with this idea of familiarity. If I don't know someone, I make up stories about them that give me patience.
Let me give you a few examples:
When a car starts speeding and getting a bit too close to me, I imagine all sorts of scenarios for them until I start to feel understanding.
Maybe they are rushing to the hospital. Maybe they have an emergency with their child. Maybe they just got word their home is on fire!
When someone in the grocery store is rude to me, I tell myself they must have all sorts of problems at home and I feel patience.
When a customer service agent is rude, I start imagining how rude other clients might have been to them all day until I feel filled with compassion knowing their behavior has nothing to do with me personally.
Am I being delusional?
Perhaps, but the peace and compassion I feel is worth it.
Life is hard enough without writing negative stories in our heads and reacting to them.
If compassion is our key to peace, I believe familiarity- whether real or perceived- breeds enough patience to actually find that key.
Image courtesy of LordGuardian.
Featured image courtesy of car-takumi.com