Anger is an emotion that we are highly resistant to releasing. Once we are caught in its grasp we hold onto it by repeating the angering incident over and over in our head. Research has shown that people who suffer from chronic anger are almost three times more likely to have a heart attack than the average individual and this is according to the American psychological association.
However, our experience with anger doesn’t have to be this way. We can gain the upper hand of this emotion by changing the way we think and altering our emotional responses to it. When it comes to road rage, notice if your hands are gripping the steering wheel in an unusually tight manner. If they are, gently relax your hands while maintaining control of the steering wheel.
Notice your breathing. Notice if your breathing is free and easy or if you’re holding your breath and your breathing is shallow. By not breathing properly, we can amplify the physical sensations associated with aggression that can contribute to dangerous driving. It’s important for you to breathe deeply through your nose filling your lungs to their capacity and then exhale completely through your mouth. As you exhale allow your body to relax into a comfortable driving position. Repeat this often as necessary to help reduce any physical tension you may experience behind the wheel.
What we are listening to on the radio while we are diving is important as well. Often times, our mood will reflect or be affected by the words and style of the music we are listening to. Hard music with a driving beat often times will stimulate and agitate while music with a soothing melody will relax us. Soothing music is always preferable to listen to if you are feeling agitated while driving.
Whenever possible, make sure that you have fresh air ventilation circulating in the car. Circulating fresh air can have a calming effect. It is easy and common to feel a sense of isolation from our environment when driving behind the wheel of our car. We are separated from everyone around us and we lose touch with their humanity and view the other drivers as objects in our way intent on preventing us from arriving at our destination.
Often, we take their driving behavior personally, as if they were intending to block our path. This is not usually the case. Imagine for a moment, if you will, the annoying driver in front of you is actually a beloved relative, say your favorite grandmother. How would you be feeling towards them now? Can you think of a loving experience you shared with that individual at one time?
Notice your body’s reaction to this thought. Notice how your thoughts affect your feelings about the others around you when you do this. You may find you driving becoming more relaxed and your ability to focus grow stronger.
No matter how many obstacles you come across on your journey, whether you have a car cut in front of you or a driver driving unreasonably slow, you are always in control of your thoughts and actions and you can protect yourself and those around you by driving in manner that is safe and responsible.
Remember everyone around you is loved by somebody just as you love and were loved by your favorite relative. Feel those protective feelings as you are driving on the road.We have all experienced an aggressive driver, a sudden stop, an erratic gesture or other discourteous experience from another motorist. We’ve all been there, everyone you see around you has experience this for themselves at some point as well. Keep this in mind. Any frustration that you are experiencing on the road has been shared by others around you at some point during their own driving experience.
Will this frustrating experience really matter a week from now, is it worth arriving at your destination angry? Is it worth the risk of being involved in an accident?
Use this experience as a catalyst for changing your thoughts to change your mood to have a better day.
When driving and feeling some frustration, take a deep breath slowly through your nose and gently exhale through your mouth and tell yourself “I am in control of my thoughts and actions and my safety and the safety of my passengers is foremost in my mind as I bring us to our destination safely.”
For more information on anger management, log onto LAtherapist.com. To listen to free anger management sample downloads, log onto Anger Management.
3 weeks ago