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On the last track, we examined the steps necessary to replace the Anger Management clients' predetermined rules of the road with less stress-inducing rules: discussion; attitude change cards; debate; and relaxation exercise.
I have found that many times, altercations between drivers would not have happened if one driver had not seen the other make a visible show of aggression and hostility. Often, my Anger Management clients say that they were already hyper-vigilant and when another driver displayed any anger, they went on the defensive.
On this track, I will include techniques to help Anger Management clients who respond negatively to other drivers: These three are: "General Principles"; "Jekyll and Hyde Visualization"; and "Giving Warning".
3 Techniques to Avoid Responding Negatively to Other Drivers
Technique #1 - General Principles of the Road
To help Terry prepare for the next time he meets a belligerent driver, I gave him a list of "9 General Principles" so he would be less taken off guard:
Technique #2 - "Jekyll and Hyde Visualization"
Emily was a 32 year old Anger Management client who reported tailgating as one of her stressors. Emily stated, "You can tell what another driver is feeling when they tailgate. Some are just simply asking to pass while others, when they flash their lights and honk their horns, demand to pass. That’s when I get angry, scared, confused, and then everything kind of takes off without my permission." To help Emily deal with her fear and anxiety about tailgating drivers, I asked her to try the "Jekyll and Hyde Visualization."
I asked Emily to envision the other driver as a good person, a Jekyll, but by being on the road had turned into a Mr. Hyde. The highway and its various aggressive attitudes acted as an elixir which had turned the mild mannered citizen into a raving monster. A few weeks later Emily related this story to me, "I was on the highway, going at a reasonable speed. I see another driver coming up fast behind me, flashing their lights, honking their horn, the works. I did like you said, and told myself, ‘They’re not trying to hurt me, they’ve just been turned into something they’re not.’
I had a chance to pull into the middle lane and I did so they could pass. Once that car passed, another one was right on its tail, and then another and another. Five cars I saw tailgating each other with not more than two feet between them. A few minutes later, there was a traffic jam. About a mile up the five cars had smashed into one another when the first driver braked. That could have been me if I had refused to let them pass."
As you can see, by visualizing the other driver as a good person out-of-control, Emily avoided responding negatively to the situation and thus avoided an accident. Think of your Emily. Could he or she benefit from the "Jekyll and Hyde Visualization"?
Technique #3 - Giving Warning
Emily stated, "On the highway, I actually feel safer because there are more opportunities for me to move over and just avoid a crazed driver. But when I’m on normal streets and someone’s tailgating me, I have nowhere to go. I get even worse if I have to turn or slow down because I’m afraid the other driver won’t have enough space to stop themselves. I’ve often passed my turn so I don’t have to deal with being hit."
To help Emily, I gave her the following List of 7 Techniques that will remind the other driver that she is a human being:
By using these guidelines, Emily reduced her anxiety about tailgaters and thus reduced her potential for unsafe driving. Think of your Emily. Could he or she benefit from "Giving Warning"?
On this track, we discussed techniques to help Anger Management clients who respond negatively to other drivers: "General Principles"; "Jekyll and Hyde Visualization"; and "Giving Warning."
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