I’ve had a number of crazy commutes in my day. One of only things that gets me extremely pissed off these days is having to sit in traffic.
Sitting behind a wall of red lights is never fun. Though years of having to wade through the masses, I’ve learned how to control my anger.
I’ve found road rage to be one of the most extreme forms of anger that the every day person can relate to.
Master your road rage, and the every day anger you encounter will pale in comparison. Master your road rage and you will harness an incredible energy.
Master your road rage, master yourself.
My struggle with road rage
I started having serious issues with road rage after driving for a while and realizing the real danger I’m in while driving.
As I mentioned before, I was in a serious car accident back in 2003.
The car was completely totaled and I got fucked up.
It made me realize the insanity of driving every day. Every day we get on the road and are flying by huge vehicles that could crush you in an instant.
All it takes is one guy either not paying attention or someone who decides to stop following the rules of the road to completely mangle your body.
The lack of understanding about this issue is completely insane. We have people who are freaking out in America about guns and how they put all of us in great danger, but they’ll jump in their car every day and swerve in and out of traffic.
Ever since my accident, I go into a hyper vigilant aware mode when driving. Usually it takes me an hour or so to come down from this. While most people are hypnotized during their commute, my fight or flight response is going into maximum overdrive. I had to learn to control this because it’s not healthy to be that way for a prolonged amount of time.
My Daily Commute
As I’m typing this, I’m looking out my window to I-76 in Philly. I-76 is a notoriously shitty highway that is filled with traffic every day. I don’t care what time of day it is, it’s a danger zone.
Every day I get on 76 and take it to the Vine street expressway, which is kinda like a highway right through center city Philadelphia. From here I get on I-95 north. 95 is a major highway that runs along the east coast. It’s kinda like 76 but with 4 lanes and shittier drivers.
I’m absolutely floored with how insane some of the drivers are on my commute. Coming home on 95 is a crap shoot. It’s either completely packed with traffic at a stand still or moving nicely with daredevil drivers who are moving across all lanes like complete psychos.
Although I’m likely to die in a horrible crash, driving home on 95 does offer breathtaking views of the city which is a small perk.
Why we get angry
I don’t think that road rage has much to do with the perceived danger we’re in. It has way more to do with someone getting over on you.
When we’re driving, we’re surrounded by people. Normally when surrounded by people there’s an apprehension to starting shit for no reason.
Assuming you aren’t a complete sociopath, there’s a degree of empathy for your fellow man. The person sitting across from you in that coffee shop is another human being.
When we’re driving, all the people around us are shielded in metal boxes. To a degree, this de-humanizes everyone on the road. We don’t see them as people and thus have little empathy for them.
That guy who is trying to merge into your lane? Some random box who is trying to get ahead of you.
The woman passing you on your right? Another metal box who thinks they are better than you.
Recognizing this is the key to mastering road rage.
Next time you find yourself getting angry at another driver, remember that it’s a human being in there just like you. People make mistakes while driving. Best to forgive those people because we’ve all made mistakes driving.
It isn’t personal
When people do shitty things on the road, we tend to take it as a personal attack. Most of the time, it’s not personal at all.
The road is a chaotic scene that forces people to make moves. Sometimes these moves are right in front of you and make you stop. It makes us angry, but it’s all part of the game.
You have to fully accept that things like this will happen every time you go driving. This mindset can be applied to everything in life.
This one guy who I worked with would rage out every day. He never learned that each day the same thing would happen, and that it was his job to deal with it. He took everything personally and would get butt hurt on the regular.
This is a key to life. If you can learn to stop taking everything personally, you’ll be better able to manage your second to second emotions.
Rage meter building
I like to imagine a meter that I fill with my rage every day as a depository for energy to use for projects.
Essentially I will take anger I build during the day and channel it into constructive means. It just so happens that the angriest I get is during my commute, so it’s a perfect oppurtunity to transmute road rage into energy.
Every time some prick cuts me off, a part of me is glad. I think to myself, I’ll direct this rage into one of my projects that I have to do. At the very least it will stop me from getting tired and will give me a little charge in the moment.
Ever see one of those posters for showing how much money is contributed so far for a cause? I like to keep a mental image of one of them for my daily rage.
Every now and then I’ll reference it and throw some more road rage in. Through the day I’ll take rage out of the meter and use it for something constructive.
The Thought Process
My process for processing my road rage goes like this:
- Let the rage emotion in and let it wash over you. Fully accept it and try to locate the precise area that it hurts.
- Take a second and let it sit there.
- Realize it most likely isn’t a personal attack against you and that your fellow human just made a mistake.
- Forgive your fellow driver and agree to let them go on their way.
- Resolve to use your rage at a later time for something constructive.
- Let the feelings pass and calmly go about the rest of your trip.
After practicing this over and over each day on your commute, you’ll start to make it second nature. This will drastically make your commute less stressful.
Stress kills, but is necessary. Doing this practice will leave you ready to make quick moves, but not stressed by the actions of others. It’s key not to dwell on people’s mistakes, but to accept it as part of your trip.
You have two choices to make, either flip out every day by crazy people in traffic, or use the situation to your advantage.
You’re going to be sitting in traffic anyway, may as well use it as an opportunity to master your emotions and motivate yourself for what you need to do for the day.