I have anger management issues. It is a condition that I have been aware of for years, but I have been trying to hide it, especially to my wife. I do not want her to be scared of being around me or, worse, leave me because of it.
In truth, I started going to group counseling sessions ever since my wife told me that she was pregnant with our first child. I knew that a baby could be a handful, even for a level-headed person. How could I make sure that I won’t snap and yell at the baby if they won’t stop crying other than beating my anger management issues to a pulp, right?
Six months in, my therapist said that I had been improving a lot, and I could tell that she was right. I was slightly annoyed with my wife’s varying food cravings during the first or second month of her pregnancy, but the more I got therapy, the more I managed to calm down and take care of her. If there was one thing that I needed more help with, though, it’s road rage.
Anger On The Road
Before getting married, I used to engage in yelling matches with strangers in other cars. Sometimes, it was because they cut me off while I was trying to change lanes. Other times, it was because I thought they were looking at me the wrong way. There was even a time when I got out of my vehicle during a traffic jam to confront another motorist who flipped the bird on me. If the enforcer did not jump in on time, I possibly had a fistfight in the middle of the road.
How did my wife not see all that when we were still dating, you might ask?
Well, the trick was to go out after or before the rush hour. If we had a dinner reservation at 6 P.M., we would already be out of the house one or two hours before that. My wife assumed that I did not like being late, but the reality was that I did not want her to see me get angry in the car over petty things.
Nevertheless, with our family about to expand permanently, I could not bear to think of losing control while my wife and child were present and getting them in trouble due to my anger management issues. Hence, I asked my therapist how to avoid road rage when driving with family members. She advised me with the following ideas:
Count To Ten When Someone’s Driving Upsets You
The first thing you should realize is that other people are not as conscious about their behavior as you may be. Many drivers do something stupid on the road without knowing that it can upset their fellow motorists. In that sense, you need to count to ten to prevent anger from bubbling up inside you.
Did it immediately work when I tried it? Of course not. Luckily, when I slipped up, I was alone in the car. I could not remember how many times I counted from one through ten while cruising along the freeway, but I eventually stopped feeling like picking a fight with anyone.
Try Not To Meet Another Motorist’s Eyes
It seems familiar for male drivers to size each other up even on the road and prove which one’s the top dog. This starts with eye contact, and then someone smirks mockingly for no reason, and the other steps on the gas pedal, showing how fast their car could be. The situation could either end with an impromptu drag race or an altercation. At least, that’s what’s happened to me one too many times.
When I mentioned it to my therapist, she said, “Why don’t you try not meeting other drivers’ eyes?” It would be like nipping the problem in the bud, considering fights would not have ensued if people did not have eye contact on the road. I followed my therapist’s lead immediately after that session, and I had a smooth drive from the clinic to the house.
Avoid Honking Too Much
I admit to being impatient sometimes, especially when I was driving. I wouldn’t say I liked waiting for motorists to make a turn slowly, although I knew that they could be newbies. If there was an unexpected holdup in the middle of the road, I used to honk too much too fast. That was my way to ask, “Why are we stopping now?”
However, I realized that my excessive honking resulted in other drivers yelling profanities in my direction. I picked fights with them before, thinking they were insulting, but I understood later that I started the rudeness brigade. There was no better example of a cause-and-effect relationship than that.
I could not claim that my anger management issues had gone kaput for good. I still had urges to fight with someone on the road sometimes, but the difference was that I never acted on it again. Hopefully, when my first-born child comes into the world, I would have a better grip on my emotions.