Many years ago I lived in San Francisco. I worked just south of the city and my commute was a bear some days. On this particular day the traffic was really thick and I was agitated. I was hungry and tired and I was getting really close to my exit, albeit at a snails pace. I could have gotten out and walked home faster than the cars were moving. I had attempted to distract myself with music and looking around at other cars.
Suddenly, this car comes from out of nowhere and races past me on the shoulder and kicks up a bunch of debris. I was stunned and pissed. So mad, in fact, that I got into the shoulder and began chasing them (illegally). I was getting so close to this person's car that if they suddenly slammed on their brakes we both would have been toast, but I didn't care. This person was not going to cut the line that we had all been waiting in and I was going to let them know that it was not okay.
All of a sudden I snapped out of it and realized what I was doing. I put on my signal and got back into traffic. I was shocked. What was I thinking? What was I going to do when I caught up to that car? Who was the lunatic going to be at that moment? Definitely me! Then, I thought, what if they had a gun, what was I going to do then?
I see this kind of behavior all the time on the road. People honking their horn as soon as the light turns green, yelling at and racing around other drivers. In that moment those people (of which I used to be one!) think that the person they are yelling or honking at are the problem and think that their behavior is not only warranted, it is normal. Meanwhile, the rest of us, or I will just speak for myself, are looking at them thinking that the person honking is the lunatic.
Maybe you can relate? Have you ever realized that what you were doing or saying was not rational, like you just snapped out of it midway or realized it after the fact? I know for me that parenting can bring out that side of me. I have had the experience that I am mid raising my voice, while simultaneously asking myself why I am so upset over something so small, and yet not stopping myself either.
What the heck is going on here? It is complicated, and I would love to share what is happening when situations like that happen. Have you got time for a chat next week? Let me know what works for you. In the meantime, though, I want to share a strategy that I use to this day that is in the least good for a laugh. Now, when I am driving and find myself getting agitated, I try to picture that the driver that is in front of me is my favorite Grandma, Grandma Alice. I talk to her and tell her that I understand that she has to drive slow because she's not able to see as well and she's not in a hurry. I tell her I get that it is safer for her to come to nearly a complete stop to make a turn. I still lash out, and then I apologize to Grandma Alice and it makes me feel better. Hope that is helpful. Looking forward to connecting.
Peace, Erin "driving the kindness highway" Mac