My Road Rage Is Out Of Control
I apologize for the length of this post. I have a tremendous problem with road rage. My road rage stems from other drivers who are inconsiderate or who do not drive properly.
Over the past week I have been involved in two incidents involving road rage. In my entire driving career there have been 5 road rage incidents that have involved me arguing with another driver and countless others that involved erratic driving during the incident.
Today I was involved in an incident that I want to be the very last one. Road rage affects my emotions and scares me due to the dangers I present to innocent drivers and the people that my anger is targeted at.
I wish I could draw the following as it is complicated to explain: I was driving north on U.S. 441 between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (roughly four miles apart). The road is two lanes in both directions divided by a river. Due to a rockslide in the southbound lanes of the highway in Pigeon Forge, both southbound lanes were closed and one of the northbound lanes was converted into a southbound lane for a mile or two before southbound traffic was diverted back over the river into the normal southbound lanes after the rockslide.
Due to this fiasco, traffic in the northbound lanes was backed up tremendously all the way to Gatlinburg. Here lies the problem. After driving through the city limits of Gatlinburg I quickly encountered a line of cars backed up in the right lane. I continued in the left lane for another three miles or so (I know from previously driving on the same stretch of the road where the left lane ends), passing probably over a hundred cars with one or two behind me. A mile before the left lane ended, I pulled up behind two Ford pickups both from Louisiana who were straddling both lanes trying to block traffic in the left lane.
I honked, and after a while bluffed going around them. When the left lane finally ended, I merged, to the detest of drivers in the right lane. I tried to maintain composure but after driving the rest of the way in single file traffic into Pigeon Forge I quickly sped up to the first truck with my window rolled down ready to confront them, a man and his son.
They didn't respond. I drove ahead and confronted the second truck. I barely cut off a minivan which I feel horrible about to reach the second truck, but I could not control myself. The other truck contained what I assume to be the man's wife and daughter. The lady already had her window rolled down and was giving me the finger. We started yelling at each other, with me trying to make her understand the concept of merging.
After not getting anywhere we eventually rolled up our windows. Another driver who was mad at me in a Chevrolet Suburban was tailgating me, and I tried to confront him too but he refused to respond. I then pulled into a pharmacy parking lot to calm down and the incident was over.
After all of this mayhem I felt horrible about not being able to control my anger. Though I am responsible for my aggressive driving after encountering the two trucks, I cannot see how I was in the wrong by staying in the left lane until it merged with the right lane. Incidents such as these cause me tremendous stress because I don't know how to respond to them.
I am an excellent driver, and have not been involved in any accidents. I use my turn signal, obey traffic signals, stay in the right lane except when passing, and obey the speed limit. I cannot seem to control my anger when other drivers do not do the same, and I am worried someday something catastrophic may happen. I want today to be the last time. I want to be able to drive calmly but I don't know how to do it anymore.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hi David, and thanks for submitting your story on this site. It's great that you want to manage your anger better, so that the road rage doesn't continue. It is clear that your behavior doesn't match up with how you want to be, which is why you are looking for help. You know you're better than that--not to mention the fact that you want to avoid a catastrophe.
If you're really serious about this, you'll do everything I recommend. I don't have to tell you how dangerous your road rage problem is for you and others--you seem to be very aware of that.
I see that you submitted your story on the road rage web page, so I assume you read the suggestions on that page. If not, be sure and do that.
Also, I suggest you deal with your anger by trying to get back to the cause. For that purpose, try the journaling techniques on this page, which will perhaps help you get in touch with where your anger came from. I strongly encourage you to do this. I think your anger has a history, and you need to know what it is in order to heal it.
Then, I suggest you use these imagery processes for emotional healing, if that seems to apply to your situation.
On a daily basis, to better manage your anger, do the anger journaling process on this page.
And finally, before getting in the car for any trip--no matter how short--do these exercises:
1) Picture yourself driving with total courtesy toward other drivers. Watch yourself staying calm when other drivers do things that bother you. Visualize yourself breathing deeply, even with a slight smile on your face. This will help, if you do it.
2) Then imagine yourself doing all of the above, but this time instead of picturing it, you are imagining it happening.
These are powerful tools that will help you to heal and change your behavior. Like any tools, the more you use them the better they will work for you.
Believe in yourself, David. Make up your mind that you want your behavior behind the wheel to match with the good person you are inside. How other people drive is none of your business. Keep your focus on your driving and your own emotions.
My very best to you,