road rage: how to keep calm on the road

I have pretty severe road rage. While I had access to a car over the summer, I found that I was not in control of my emotions enough to safely drive. Since early June, I have only driven two or three times out of necessity, or because my destination was a very short distance, like a mile.

So whether you’re more like me in your level of road rage or whether you’re more normal (😉), please allow these tips to guide you in keeping calm on the road:

general anger tips

be goal-oriented

Simply, you need to get to your destination and you need to get there safely. That’s the only goal. So while someone may cut you off, understand that it’s more important to continue pursuing your goal than to react to that event.

understand that morality is subjective

This concept will help you with any anger at any time, not just on the road. Your anger is rooted in your expectations and “shoulds” of others.

Really though, morality is entirely subjective. What you believe is right isn’t a universal right, no matter how right it is (to you)! Yeah, I know! It’s hard to believe for me, too.

Understand that what seems “wrong” about what they did may be “right” to them, and vice versa.

neutralize others’ actions

Truly all actions are neutral, but it’s the meaning we attach to them that make them good bad right or wrong. So when someone doesn’t let you in, do your best to perceive that as neutral in nature – because it is; you are just attaching a negative meaning to it.

give up control of others

No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to control the other driver’s actions nor their emotions. You can’t make them feel guilty for what they “did to you” (in quotes because, again, their action was entirely neutral and impersonal).

If you provoke another car, you are expecting a reaction from them. You want them to pay or hurt or be late or mad at you, but I’m here to tell you I’ve tried that many a times and it’s not going to work no matter how hard you try.

road-specific tips

sing to your music

If someone is making you mad, dial into your music. Make sure you are singing with it and listening to every word. Of course, it helps if your music isn’t lyrically or sonically angry.

consider an audiobook

I listened to Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar audiobook (CD!) in the beginning of the summer and it’s an amazing change from boring ol’ music. There are tons of other benefits from this particular book, too, besides distraction from the road.

turn your mirrors away from you

You may get to a point where you cannot have your car set up normally the way others do. You may have to turn your side mirrors and rearview mirror away from your line of sight. To stay safe, though, keep your rearview mirror accessible. I tilt mine slightly upward so when I need to check it for driving purposes only, I will just sit up a little straighter in my seat.

collect and repeat mantras, such as:

  1. good thing i’m safe in my car!
  2. good thing i don’t drive like an asshole!
  3. at least i’ll be able to sleep with a clear conscience tonight
  4. i’ll get there when i get there

If you want to read more about combatting road rage, there’s an entire chapter in the book When Anger Hurts: Quieting the Storm Within. (I’m linking to Amazon to be universal, but you should of course buy local when possible.)

To keep up with me, follow @youseemnormal on Instagram.

To read my last post about perfectionism and progress, click here.

Signing off imperfect but empowered.

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