How Counseling Fixed My Road Rage

I used to be one of the calmest persons in the world. There could be an earthquake happening, and I would remain seated in my chair and say, “Oh, please, nothing awful will occur to us.” But then, my dad decided to teach me how to drive when I was 18 years old, and everything changed.

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I honestly did not know that it was possible either. I mean, I lived in a small town my entire life; there were only less than 300 people. And even if there was traffic, people were still waving and saying hi to everyone in their cars and letting others pass them by. However, my dad said, “You are going to college soon. You need to learn how to drive for yourself, especially since your going to a big city.”

That reality scared me initially because I knew how different my dad was while driving in a small town and the big city. Whenever he was back home, he was the nicest person, too, but once he entered the freeway, he was like a madman weaving in and out of cars, honking at everyone to let him pass. I thought that was barbaric, to be honest. I used to feel like there was a better way to get where you wanted to go, especially on a multiple-lane highway.

Road Rage Mode On

The first time I experienced road rage, I was alone in the car, on my way home for the holidays. It was also the first time I drove on the freeway without my dad to yell for me. While I was nervous, I told myself that I was a big girl already, and I could handle it independently.

So, I was cruising steadily on the highway. I felt calm because there were not many cars at the time. Everyone else must have gone home earlier to beat the traffic, and I was happy about it. That was until another car sped past me, clipping my side mirror.

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The driver drove so fast that he managed to break the mirror cleanly from my car. The traffic police saw that and signaled us both to stop.

As I slowed the car down, I was in shock as I didn’t know how to approach the guy. Should I be mad at him? How could I school my reaction? However, all my blood went to my head when the man came out of his car with his brows furrowed as if he was ready to start a fight. I thought, “Screw it. You picked the wrong girl to mess with today. You would not be able to get out of this in one piece.”

I hopped out of the car and started berating the driver for being so reckless. The law enforcer tried to pipe in a few times, but I did not let them even get a peep. I was talking nonstop for five whole minutes until I ran out of breath and had to inhale. I was just livid at the other driver for not looking apologetic at all.

That was the start of my road rage. It made me feel like I had to stop being nice whenever I was on the road because the others might not be nice all the time. If someone honked incessantly behind me, for instance, I would honk back with the same intensity. If someone did not allow me to overtake, I would go faster, roll my window down, and give them the middle finger.

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Road Rage Mode Off

I got the biggest scare of my life on the road when I bumped into a brand-new car in front of me. The reality was that it was my fault. I was too busy flipping through songs on the radio that I did not notice my foot letting go of the brake pedal. I only realized it when I heard the crunch of broken glass.

The other driver signaled me to pull over so that we could talk about it. I did as he asked, but I was focused on thinking of how I could insult the man more and get away with fixing his car. However, the guy got out before I could, and I saw that he had a gun holstered on his waist. That made me feel like ice-cold water just got poured over my head.

I ended up apologizing immediately and gave the driver my insurance agent’s number so that we could settle the matter and I could have his car fixed. Shaken, I went back home and told my parents that I needed counseling for my road rage stat. I did not want to find myself in that position again.

What I Learned

It turned out that I did not have anger management problems. Instead, I had some anxiety that I expressed through anger. It was weird, I know, but that’s what it was.

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With the counselor’s guidance, I managed to handle my anxiety better. After all, my biggest fear was getting victimized on the road. The more I did counseling, the less I felt the urge to pick a fight with guys twice my size.

How I wish I learned about my anxiety sooner.

Counselor Tips On Handling Road Disputes

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My dad had some of the craziest road stories. He said that a younger guy on the freeway kept trying to race with him in broad daylight one time. He held a steady pace initially, not minding the guy, but the latter kept moving from side to side and pissed off my dad, causing him to rev up to get away from him. However, the guy could not take a hint and did the same thing. Unfortunately, his sedan was no match for dad’s sports car, and the guy ended up hitting the road barrier.

Then, another time, dad was apparently sitting in the traffic with the rest of the people during a rush hour when he noticed that the two cars in front of him kept honking each other. It was evident that they were only doing that to each other because no one else was honking. As it turned out, the driver, who was two cars away from dad, was taking his sweet time inching forward, even if everyone was doing that. The guy right in front of my dad was pissed because of it. After 30 minutes, the guy in front got out of his car and knocked on the other man’s window. Long story short, they had a brawl in the middle of traffic, much to everyone’s dismay.

Of course, I could not also forget the time when my dad was mistaken as a robber. He said that the police started chasing him as soon as he veered off the main highway. Dad assumed that they were going after someone else, so he began to weave in and out of cars to avoid seeing all that drama. However, the police interpreted it as his way of running away from his crimes. They had to Barricade the next exit to make my father’s vehicle stop. They only let him go after two hours of calling everyone that Dad was with the entire day, ensuring that he was genuinely not the culprit they were running after.

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From A Counselor’s Standpoint 

 Whenever I heard my father’s stories when I was a child, I was impressed by all of them. I happened to be a fan of action movies at the time, so it made me feel like my dad was a star. I was like, “Cool, Dad! What other kickass stories do you have for me?”

Back then, I did not think that such situations could have been traumatizing for my father and the other drivers who witnessed or experienced them. After all, cars are considered a necessity for most – if not all – of us, even though we all know deep inside that they can also be uses to take our lives. While it sounded dark even in my head, that was the reality.

Imagine if my dad was hot-headed when the man in the first story tried to pick a fight with him on the road, he could have pulled over to the side and started punching the guy in the face. Worse, he could have had a gun and used it on the stupid driver.

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As for the second story, the fistfight could have been worse, too. The two guys could have taken out baseball bats or even guns from their cars and started whacking or shooting at each other. It was cool in my dad’s mind, but if a young mom with a baby witnessed that up close, she could have been scared out of her mind because things could have escalated further.

Regarding the car chase moment that my dad experienced, the robber they mistook him for turned out to be a petty criminal who robbed a deli downtown. However, I could not fathom what would have happened if it was a big-time criminal, and there was a shoot-to-kill order for that guy. Instead of shooting the actual offender, they would have shot my father during that chase, and I would not be here.

How To Handle Road Disputes

  • Do a quick meditation before leaving the car. As you park your vehicle on the side, feel free to do a two-minute meditation to make your anger subside. Doing so will create more room for reason in your head.
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  • Walk out of your car at a calm pace. There is something about a person’s posture that can heighten or reduce someone’s anger. For instance, if you walk aggressively, others may assume that you are ready for a fight. However, if you walk slowly and match it with words like, “Let’s talk about what happened,” it may keep the other person from trying to fight with you.
  • Make sure that there is a law enforcer present before confronting the other driver. Having a law enforcer as a mediator tends to make most people calm, especially when they know that there’s someone in the scene who can put them to jail for misconduct or another violation. This is for your protection, as well as the other person.

Final Thoughts

Road disputes are inevitable, no matter how good or the kind you are as a driver. However, it should never turn into a brawl or another form of violence if you don’t let emotions push logic out of the way.