Road rage is a common feature of today’s life, but can be relatively easily managed. Some writers argue that it is mislabelled as rage, and is anger. That is not always the case, because people are frequently assaulted by a driver in a fit of rage. Any driver can become angry, but if a person has core anger it can quickly and easily degenerate into rage. Research shows that controlling people are more likely to suffer from road rage than others, and that means there are many people subject to it. Narcissistic people think that they own the road. They find it difficult to soothe their rage, but like all others they can become aware and change. Alas! This seldom happens.
To prevent or ease road rage, learn how to stay in the moment, pause to think, and postpone judgement. Perhaps you are in a hurry and a car in front of you is moving slowly and you find your irritation and anger rising by the minute. If you can access your empathy for the driver it will soothe your anger. For example, the driver may be elderly and fearful or over-careful. Self-talk is always good in these situations. You could say to yourself that someday you, too, will be elderly and perhaps fearful, when you would appreciate sympathy and understanding for elderly drivers. Remind yourself that you are no better than others, that they have paid their road tax and are entitled to use the road. More thought and more understanding brings calm and prevents unwarranted anger.
Mike Fisher makes some practical suggestions for avoiding road rage, such as making the interior of your car comfortable and putting on soothing music. Another way of avoiding irritation is to leave early for your destination and drive at a leisurely pace. The AA route finder or Sat Nav. are useful in giving distance, which allows you to manage your time and avoid stress. Putting in the destination on the Sat Nav. the previous night reduces stress also. Practising courtesy on the roads and making allowances for others will give you a good feeling about yourself, and will makes you feel in control. The car is a very obedient companion. If you have cruise control use it. It might save you some penalty points at least, but it will help you avoid competitiveness and anger. Positive self-talk and mindfulness are as helpful in avoiding the stress of road rage as any other type of anger. Be content in the world you have created – a clean car interior, soothing music and adequate time to reach your destination.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
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