Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Counting Idiots

     We've all been there. Some idiot pulls out in front of you, doesn't know how to use the median correctly, goes 20 in a 40 zone, or weaves in an out of traffic with blatant disregard to other drivers. Your blood starts to boil. Steam starts coming out of your ears. Your hands instinctively reach for the horn or attempt to expose a particular finger to the road terrorist that is ruining your commute. 
     It is unfortunate that in those instances, while you are yelling and blessing out the offender, you only look like an idiot yourself, screaming and losing your temper and possibly putting your own life in danger. Maybe times like those call for taking the scenic route instead. Copied below is a great article by Leonard Holmes about what he recommends you do in those moments of blind rage. Instead of screaming and cursing the other driver, write him off as an idiot and carry on. Herewith, Mr. Holmes' tips.

"Reports of road rage incidents are becoming more common as commutes become longer and highways become more congested. My own commute of 45 minutes to work each way can be stressful. I’ve reduced the stress that I experience in at least three ways:

  • I carpool one day a week.
  • I listen to audiobooks (from audible.com and other sources).
  • I count idiots.
This article will focus on the third technique, since not much has been written about it.
I’m sure that you’ve encountered drivers whose driving puts others at risk. Drivers who tailgate or who speed and weave in and out of lanes are examples of this. Road rage sometimes gets out-of-hand when other drivers react to this behavior. I’ve worked with clients who have followed discourteous drivers to their destination and started a fist fight with them.
Cognitive techniques for managing anger and other emotions usually includes modifying one’s expectations of others. If I have the expectation that “Everyone should drive defensively” then I am likely to get upset when I encounter drivers who don’t drive defensively. If I can soften my expectation, then my reaction will also soften. A more reasonable expectation might be along the lines of "It’s good to drive defensively, but I know that there are some idiots out there."
This is where "counting idiots" comes in. If you have a problem with road rage, try this technique when you drive:
1. Remind yourself of the expectation "It’s good to drive defensively, but I know that there are some idiots out there."
2. Keep a running count in your head of how many idiots you encounter on that trip.
3. Once you’ve labeled a driver as an idiot (along the lines of “There goes idiot number four.”) switch gears mentally and focus on the road ahead, the book you are listening to, the radio, or your passenger.
Labeling can be a powerful tool. Once we’ve labeled a thought we are no longer thinking it. We have stepped back a step. It’s much easier to let go at that point and to focus on other things. Try this simple but powerful technique to make your commute less stressful."

Stay safe out there, friends. Remember there are idiots everywhere, but that doesn't mean they have to ruin your commute. 

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