WHEN DRIVING DRIVES YOU MAD…AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO RESTORE SOME PEACE ON THE WHEEL
Since I moved to Brunei Darussalam almost 4 years ago, there is one conversation that I seem to be having with people more often than not. Driving around Brunei can be quite an experience in itself. Ask anyone over here about how they feel when they get into their cars and they will tell you about being anxious, angry, rushed, frustrated about seeing so many people driving recklessly on the roads, children sitting in parents laps, without harnesses or seat belts on, people on phones texting, tailgating, speeding, road rage…the list goes on.
Despite government efforts to improve our road conditions and implement stricter fines, accidents in Brunei continue to raise at an alarming rate, which makes us feel unsafe on the roads. But I am not writting this to give you my opinion as to what I think the government or other people involved should be doing, as I have very little influence over that. My purpose in writitng this, is to help you take ownership of your feelings and responses whilst on the road, which is a big part of the overall driving experience.
So what is it about driving that turns perfectly rational human beings into temporary maniacs?
When it comes to driving in our roads, we show no mercy, it shows a really ugly side of humanity. But why? It could be that because we are hiding behind the wheel, we are anonymous and therefore feel that we can behave or say anything we want. It could be that our ego takes over and we believe that we are far better drivers than others on the road, and make no allowances for those who are perhaps just starting to drive, or make mistakes. I can tell you, I have made mistakes on the road, and who hasn’t?
We allow anger to build inside ourselves, but the way I see it, anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get hurt or die. We need to understand that the person anger hurts the most is ourselves.
So what can we do to remain calm on the road?
Don’t give in, there are always going to be circumstances outside of your control, that you can do nothing about. There are however, some things within your area of influence , such as maintaining a safer distance with the car in front, leaving a few minutes earlier so you don’t feel rushed, not speeding, respecting traffic rules, etc.
Set the intention before getting in the car that you will have an enjoyable drive, that you will make allowances for people’s mistakes, as they will for yours, and focus on the blue ski and the beautiful greenery, whilst keeping an eye on the road of course! Don’t focus on the traffic jam, or the misbehaviour, but instead listen to music that you like, or your favourite podcast.
The best way to deal with road rage, is to laugh it off, because you need to understand that the attack is not personal, they don’t know you. So instead of taking the bad behaviour to heart, realise that they must be in a mood because of their own reasons, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Pay attention to your breathing, and if you feel that your heart starts to race and you start to feel under pressure, simply take a deep breath, as breathing affects your heart rate. You will immediately feel more calm and relaxed, and most probably won’t feel the need to scream or react to whatever is going on the road.
So next time you are driving, remember these simple strategies:
1. Understand that there are always going to be situations on the roads where mistakes and misconduct will happen. Don’t give in to those situations behind your control, and focus on driving safely.
2. Before getting in the car, set the intention to enjoy your drive to your destination and notice the beauty around you. Play some music or a podcast you enjoy, sit back and enjoy your time.
3. Separate yourself from the road rage behaviour. Don’t take the attack personally. Consider what’s happened to make the person behave in this way. Laugh it off to take the seriousness out of the situation and notice how ridiculous the other person’s anger is. If you laugh you can’t be angry!
4. Breathe. Take a deep breath in if you feel anger or frustration building up, hold it and then release. Notice how much calmer you feel, sit back and enjoy your driving!
If we want to begin seeing some changes on the roads, we must begin by taking accountability for our own responses on the road. As Ghandi said, be the change you want to see in the world. So, you want safer roads, then set an example, let others go in first, smile more and be more accepting of others. Change does not happen overnight, but if we all try to do something about improving the safety in our roads, rather than just wait for someone else to change and improve it for us, then we will make a difference to the way we feel, to the way others feel, and you will be amazed at the results!
Please share these thoughts with anyone you feel may benefit from it.
Your friend and coach,