- 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.
Im sure that youve 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. Ive 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 ones 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 dont drive defensively. If I can soften my expectation, then my reaction will also soften. A more reasonable expectation might be along the lines of "Its 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 "Its 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 youve 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 weve labeled a thought we are no longer thinking it. We have stepped back a step. Its 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.
Last edited 2/06/06
Authors note - I actually count a$$holes, but some people prefer to count idiots. I've rewritten the article with this broader audience in mind.