Road Rage…What Can You Do About It?

by Doc Orman, M.D.


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What can you do about road rageSo far this week, we’ve explored what causes road rage to occur—temporary insanity—and why, despite its utter senselessness, it keeps happening over and over again—automaticity.

 

Today, I’m going to explore another important issue regarding our options for dealing with anger and road rage.

In my last post, I suggested we always have the choice of whether or not to follow our automatic, triggered tendencies.  While we all possess this awesome power of choice, there are far too many people today who refuse to exercise it.

Why is this so?

Road Rage Is Not Limited To Just The Road

The truth about most people who experience road rage is this form of anger is not an isolated phenomenon.  Yes, it’s much easier to fly into a rage when you’re alone in your car, far removed from direct personal contact with your perceived offender.

But people who experience road rage are more likely to get angry over other trivial things in life.  According to road rage expert, Dr. Jerry Deffenbacher, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Colorado State University, high-anger drivers exhibit both cognitive and behavioral traits that make them more prone to anger in a global sense.  Specifically, high-anger individuals tend to:

  • Be more judgmental about how others behave;
  • Get angry faster and more intensely;
  • React more impulsively;
  • Have more frequent angry outbursts away from the road;
  • Drive faster, drive more aggressively, and have more accidents themselves.

Not Open-Minded

In my experience, people who are prone to frequent bouts of anger are not very open-minded. They tend to have very fixed opinions and beliefs, and they have a hugely inflated sense of their own importance.

They also lack insight into the true causes of their anger.  Mostly, they will blame external, outside forces as the exclusive causes of their anger.  But if you’ve been a long-time follower of this blog, or if you subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, you know that external causes are only half the story.

As Dr. Deffenbacher points out above, internal factors, such as judgmental thinking, negative thinking, lack of impulse control, and other aggressive behaviors also have a great deal to do with the angry feelings high-anger people experience.  Without much insight into, and open-minded acceptance of, these important internal factors, there is very little likelihood such closed-minded individuals will ever become free of their rage.

On the other hand, when people take full responsibility for both their intelligent thoughts and behaviors as well as their inane, inappropriate ones, they can learn to recognize their moments of triggered, automatic insanity and begin to take steps to overcome them.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s three posts on road rage.  Please feel free to leave your own thoughts, or any other comments below.

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