The power of choice at work on the road
How many times this week have you been on the road and observed, or worse, been involved in road rage? Why I am mentioning this is simply that through the power of choice you can lower your blood pressure and pulse rate as well as lowering your threat to get involved into a nasty accident. I have been on the road a lot lately and it just never seizes to amaze me how some drivers risk themselves and others for whatever obscure reason.
It is so easy to get sucked into the vortex of road rage. To begin with there is a reason why you are on the road. When traffic does not flow and you have to be somewhere at a certain time there is pressure that can build up really quickly. The tipping point is when someone then cuts you off or drives too close this individual is tickling your lizard brain and when it engages the gloves come off: Fight or flight mode is on! Depending on your emotional condition this can get ugly in mere seconds.
The problem is that road rage is based on this old human protection mechanism and that is why it is so dangerous: Rational thought can no longer happen easily. Ironically the lizard brain (the part of the brain called amygdala) is designed to protect us from perceived or real threat. But it is so primal that it takes a lot of exercise and will power to actively disengage it.
There are ways to circumvent letting the lizard brain hijack your rational thought:
- Key to getting out of road rage is basically not getting into a situation like this in the first place. Drive defensively. Speed kills; I have been a volunteer fire fighter and can testify to this.
- If you are being engaged by someone who does not wave with all his fingers at you, look away. Make no eye contact! Look ahead and continue to drive safely.
- When you see someone that obviously must be on fire or perhaps has someone in need to go to the hospital, make room and get out of the way. Remember that you are not the police and thus should not act if you are a rule enforcer. I am being cynical here but you truly never know what the reason is why some folks need to be going much faster than you.
- This one may surprise you: Make sure that you plan ahead where you need to go allowing you with enough time to get to where you need to go. Nothing is worse than for you to feel the pressure to be some place. Rest well and sleep long enough. When your body and spirit is well rested it is less prone to wake up good old Mr lizard brain.
Remember that ultimately it is your choice to either engage or not engage in road rage behavior or its avoidance. No one has that power over you; this power is granted by no one else but you. What will your choice be in the future?