Car screamer can't control his road rage
DEAR AMY: I'm in my early 50s. For the past few years, I have been experiencing increasing bouts of road rage, especially driving home from work. When traffic's light, I'm happy and drive safely. But when the road's crowded or when I see dangerous moves or my personal peeves, my temper flares. I think this started after my Saturn died and I ended up with a sportier car. I actually scream to let off steam, loudly enough that I think others can hear. Last week I found myself doing 75 mph in a 45-mph zone after a taxi sped up and tried to cut me off (he won the biggest jerk contest). When I get out of my car, the anger goes away. I think pressure at work is stoking it. I'm ashamed of my behavior, but I haven't figured out how to stop. Reciting mantras ("I will not get angry, I will not let others get the best of me") hasn't worked. Do you have any suggestions on how to calm down? Therapy is not an affordable option right now.
Car ScreamerDEAR SCREAMER: Even though you say you can't afford therapy, a professional evaluation and a couple of sessions could do you a world of good before you hurt yourself or someone else.
In the short term, try to decompress from the office before you enter your car at the end of the day. Perhaps you could work out or take a yoga class, take a walk or simply have a snack and read your favorite section of the paper. Relaxing for as little as 15 minutes before entering your car should help.
Practice breathing and meditation techniques during times when you typically experience small frustrations. Successfully deep-breathing (not screaming) your way through a minor traffic tie-up will give you the experience of successful control.
Listening to favorite podcasts or music in the car (not raging, noisy DJs) could keep you entertained enough that you'll be more lighthearted and in less of a hurry.