We all have things that trigger us, maybe it’s running late, being around a certain person, or hey – maybe it’s Monday mornings. :)
Interestingly enough, when I ask people what triggers them, a lot of people say driving and traffic. For whatever reason the road can bring out frustration, impatience and sometimes road rage.
Last week I was at a stop light waiting for it to turn green. To the left, I watched the advanced green light come on and the driver didn’t go right away. And then still didn’t move. The person behind them leaned on their horn and wouldn’t stop. Finally the person went.
Not only was the blaring sound of the horn jarring but I could feel the anger.
Yes, it can be annoying when people don’t pay attention, whether they’re zoned out thinking about something else, or distracted looking at their phone (dangerous!) or talking to a passenger, don’t they know we have somewhere to be?!
But here’s the thing…
When we get triggered what is it REALLY about?
A lot of time it is displaced anger or frustration. Maybe we had a rough day, are tired and just want to get home. Maybe we have a lot going on in our life, maybe it is building or we are not dealing with it. And for whatever the reason, the road is the place where it gets expressed.
When someone cuts us off, when we keep hitting red lights, when we get stuck in traffic and just want to get home, when other drivers aren’t paying attention, these can all be triggers.
The good news?
This is the perfect time to practice mindfulness.
When I notice I am getting impatient in traffic, I have a choice. I can keep focusing on the traffic jam while not being able to do a thing about it, or I can accept it and relax. Being impatient won’t get me anywhere faster, but it will amp up my emotions and make my stress levels soar.
Is it really worth it?
Next time you’re at a stop light, what if you thought of it as a gift and opportunity to stop, take a few breaths and just be.
When we do get triggered by traffic (it’s inevitable!) and notice we are getting impatient, can we learn to laugh at ourselves?
Laughter is always a good anecdote when we notice ourselves taking life too seriously. I couldn’t help but laugh when I witnessed the angry outburst over the advanced green, last week.
Life can be tough enough. We face enough stress in our lives without having to unnecessarily add to it.
If we are gentle and kind to ourselves and to those around us, we remain closer to the peace and stillness we work to cultivate through our mindfulness practice.
Have a great week out there!