On a sunny afternoon, I expected to turn left at a red light. My cat eagerly awaited me, my stomach growled with impatience and quite frankly, my bed was calling my name. No one comes between me and my urgent need to get home ASAP. Besides it was Friday, and freedom was just around the corner. Little did I know I would sit through the light four more times before actually turning, because a wreck had taken place on the next street directly in front of my house. The tension grew and suddenly it happened: That awkward moment when you totally flip your shit in traffic. 

One New Years Resolution mentioned working on road rage. While the blame usually falls on my father for his short temper… my street for the horrible traffic… and stupid drivers for lacking common sense, the time has come to accept the problem at hand. No one is to blame but myself. During the last 6 months, I’ve consciously considered unique and creative ways to reduce road rage. Next, you will find tips and suggestions apart from the typical “Count to 1o” and “breath deep” bullshit.

1. Awareness

before you speak think

Road rage often thrives in autopilot mode. It’s easy to blame others in traffic for mishaps leading to your reaction if you fail to realize how rampant the problem’s become. Taking note of how frequently road rage happens not only holds you accountable but also creates awareness. An Anger Log documenting the date, time, and severity of the incident proves useful, because one must identify the problem if he or she expects to solve it.

In addition, remembering to pause before the explosion reduces tension. This worked for me! As a driver cut me off and I began to blurt out sarcastic obscenities, I paused. Who is this individual? Sure, he looks like a douche, but maybe there’s a reason he’s in a hurry? What if he’s experiencing an emergency? Empathy is a powerful tool. A gap proceeded between the incident and the trigger. Before I knew it, my ability to think before reacting sharpened. 

2. Listen to something besides music.

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Rap and Metal exacerbate negative feelings behind the wheel. Sure, it’s fun to crank the bass or scream along with Every Time I Die, but feeling riled up doesn’t make me feel happy. What I’ve learned is… listening to TED Talks alleviates aggressive behaviors as a distraction, while rap and metal unfortunately piss me off. Identifying triggers lets you know what to avoid; now, I only listen to those tunes at home.

Educational discussions (such as TED Talks) and Pod Casts divert attention from the pains of driving. As a Social Worker who performs 5-8 home visits daily, learning in the car provides a great source of joy. Other recommendations include NPR, How Stuff Works and even Guided Meditations.

3. Bubbles!!!

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A recent idea led to quite a bit of fun in traffic, contagious and humorous to say the least. When a driver stopped at the red light I expected to run right behind him, I felt my blood begin to boil. Timeliness is next to Godliness in my book, so I despise being late to home sessions. Frantically, I searched around the car for something to calm me down, reached under the seat and grabbed the bubbles. But it would be stingy to keep the fun to myself, so I rolled down all the windows as they glided majestically between cars throughout traffic. A few smiles in the vehicle next to me spread across the driver and passenger’s faces. One guy even honked and waved at me, laughing. So, rather than cave to such negative, impatient emotions, always take the opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive one!

In conclusion, my road rage may never dissipate completely. Identifying triggers certainly helps, but ultimately change takes dedication and time. Any other suggestions in regards to road rage are appreciated!