Some Unusual Ideas To Help When You Are Angry Driving
If you search for ideas about how to “stop my road rage” you will find several articles about this with ideas such as do some deep breathing, set the cruise control, or to always act as if someone is with you. I found many great ideas when I searched to see what is already out there.
The ideas I talk about below though, are a little unusual. And, keep in mind that they are intended for those of us that fall into a middle-of-the-road category when it comes to getting angry behind the wheel – we get irritated, we probably swear, we might even throw out some hand signals but we aren’t about to hurt someone. If you get THAT angry, please talk to a counselor and find ways to help yourself feel less angry. Life is precious, always be safe.
These ideas have come from many discussions with clients and friends and family. This is a serious topic, but sometimes it helps to take a less serious approach to a problem. And hey, each of these ideas has worked for at least one person, and if you can use it or adapt an idea to work for you, that is a great thing!
Humor and Imagination
Humor is a fantastic coping skill. For lots of people, including me, it can lighten up a situation and help you manage anxiety, depression, stress, and yes, even anger. Using your imagination can be a great coping skill, too, and both can be used in multiple ways while driving to reduce feeling so angry. And these are simple and allow you to keep your attention on your driving
Here are a few ideas:
Drawing from my love of Harry Potter, my favorite idea is to get yourself a wand. I am not encouraging anyone to use this as a weapon in any way but instead to make yourself laugh and lighten a tense moment by imagining yourself casting a spell or hex. If another driver does something that upsets you, imagine you have the ability to cast a banishing spell to get that person far away from you. Or you might choose to say “Riddikulus!!” and imagine the person transformed into something hilarious, and well, ridiculous. If you are also a Harry Potter fan, I’m sure you can imagine many other ways to use this idea! A note of caution from the person who has used this many times, keep your wand below the windows – you don’t want your actions to be misinterpreted as actually having a weapon.
Remember Cruella DeVille? For some reason, that image of her driving has stuck with me all these years since I first saw 101 Dalmatians. And when I get angry behind the wheel, sometimes I would remember that image, and of course, laugh. At some point I started using it on purpose to settle myself down. She was so extreme in that scene, teeth gritted, hair flying and wild eyes! Once you are laughing it can really help you remember that there is no reason for you to be so extremely upset in that moment, either.
Change Your Thinking
Emotion comes from how we perceive a situation. The anger people feel when driving is a result of what your thoughts and beliefs are about what is happening. Whether you call it perception, opinion, belief, or even judgment, if it is strong it is going to result in strong emotion, too.
I have found that if I change what I am thinking about a driving moment, I can immediately change how I am feeling.
For instance, we hear a lot about texting, talking on the phone while driving and other forms of distracted driving. It is very easy to automatically assume that this is what is happening with another driver when we notice a problem. It’s important to remember that this isn’t always the case.
Anger is a very distinct physical feeling to me, and I use this as my cue or reminder to rethink what is happening. When I feel it, I think “I don’t REALLY know what is happening for that person right now.” And then I list off possibilities – they may be a student driver (which reminds me that I was learning once and to give them a lot of space); they may be terribly upset about something (you never know what another person is going through, right?). In a moment like this, if you can imagine more possibilities about what is going on for that person than your first assumption, you can probably reduce your level of anger, too.
There is a certain amount of anonymity in driving, and this often means that we behave in ways that we never would if we were face to face with that person. Changing your thinking, or using humor and imagination can help you to moderate how you are feeling, so you can act more like your true self…and not like Cruella DeVille.