by Carly Mayer, M.S.
Imagine this: You’re stuck on the expressway trying to get off at the bridge and the line to exit is long, really long. You wait your turn and finally, after what seems like forever, get up to the front of the line. You look to your left and there are 3 cars nudging their way into your lane. They did not wait on the long line of cars waiting to leave and just pulled themselves right in front as if the fifty cars behind them were invisible. How do you feel? What is going through your mind?
Well, I’ll tell you what I felt. ANGRY. I waited my turn and they’re supposed to follow driving etiquette and do the same! It’s rude to just put themselves in front of others and they are wrong! What a rude person!
Except this was not helpful for me, not at all. Telling myself all of this was only going to make me angrier and was certainly not going to stop them from cutting me off or suddenly break up the traffic. Regardless of how many cars rudely jumped in front of me, I was most likely not getting home anytime soon. Chances are, this would happen again. So, instead of focusing on how wrong and rude they were, I decided this was a perfect time to work on my own “road rage” to see if I could change it to just “road annoyance.”
Yes, it would be nice if these people followed driving etiquette and waited their turn, but that does not mean that they have to and even though I would like them to wait in line, it does not mean they will. Yes, they may be wrong and it may be rude, but it does not change the fact that I am making myself angry about this situation and it is only causing me distress. Even if this is a rude act, it does not make them an entirely rude person. What if I turned around and my best friend was driving the car that was cutting me off, would that suddenly make them completely rude? Absolutely not.
Reminding myself of these preferences as opposed to demands and the fact that a person is not defined by one act helped me to see that I was being irrational and making myself angry. Although I think it’s safe to say that I could use some more work. So please, if you see me on the road, jump in front, I could still use some practice.