Thoughts on Road Rage and where anger comes from

I was driving home a few months ago and had an interesting revelation. Like most of you I suspect, I take the same route home every day. It is different than how I come to work, and I am sure there is some psychological term for that but that is maybe a subject for another time. Anyway, I am going home and as I said, I go home the same way just about every day and after doing this now for almost 20 years my pattern is predictable, south on 99, on to Beltline, get in the left lane as quickly as possible, stay in that lane as long as possible, exit in I-5, then exit on 126, again get in the left lane as quickly as I can and stay in that lane till 42nd street. Sounds strange when you type it all out, but if I do it that way then it is the fastest way to get home.

Well, a few months ago, I was on my way home tooling along in the left lane and was going faster than the posted limit, but as is always true, no matter how fast you drive, there is always someone who wants to go faster and sure enough here comes someone roaring up behind me. I always try to be a courteous driver, and will usually move over as quickly as I can and let the car go by, except in this case, I didn’t see a safe opening in the right lane to move over, so I stayed in the left lane and passed about 8 or 9 cars till I could move, and then move over. The driver behind me immediately goes past but as he does that, you can guess what happens. Yep, he signals me that I am number one, using a different finger than I would, so maybe I misunderstood but you get the idea. Then he moves right in front of me before speeding away.

This entire encounter took less than a minute, that is about how long I slowed this person up, but he was furious and I am thinking to myself, we live in an angry world, or we seem to anyway, why is that? I am not angry much these days but I have to confess there was a time in my past that I was angry a lot, particularly when I owned my fifth wheel company. It seemed like everything set me off, and I did not keep it to myself either. I am ashamed looking back at that for a number of reasons, but I learned two things from that time, first thing was that my anger never accomplished anything productive, it never made one bit of difference in our ultimate outcome, it just made people not to want to be around me. The second thing I learned about that is where anger comes from, and that has been one of my biggest life lessons.

Almost always, anger comes from fear. I was angry all the time because I was afraid all the time, it seemed like every hour of the day or night I was worried about something, making payroll, paying our bills, setting up dealers, hiring employees, mostly I was terrified of failing, going broke and out of business. Well you know what, all that happened anyway, and me getting angry, and for that matter fearful, didn’t change that outcome one single bit, I lived through it, started over and moved on. Life didn’t end, I didn’t die.

The next time you get angry, ask yourself what you are afraid of and if the often unknown but seemingly dire consequence is worth the pain you inflict on yourself and those around you. Ask yourself if it even makes a difference, it usually won’t, so don’t be afraid, and don’t let anger rule you.

Have a great and happy day.


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