We all have triggers – those people or situations that constantly spark feelings of frustration or anger. We can avoid some of our triggers, but if you’re easily frustrated by other drivers, your sister, or a colleague, avoidance is difficult (and not healthy). A helpful way to build tolerance for bad drivers or challenging people is to make a series of predictions.
Getting easily frustrated by other drivers is probably the easiest place to start making predictions. Defensive driving is all about assuming that others will make mistakes and being prepared for all eventualities. If you’ve ever taught a teenager to drive, you’ll know how often you have to point out that other drivers may not indicate, may not stop at a stop sign or a red light, or may suddenly do a U-turn in the middle of the road. Experienced drivers can often predict when someone wants to turn right without indicating or when someone is looking for a parking spot without any consideration of who’s behind them. In other words, if you put your mind to it, you can predict a lot of the behaviour that frustrates you. To increase tolerance when driving, see how many times your predictions come true. Celebrate successful guesses and feel your frustration decrease and your tolerance increase.
If your child is consistently irritable when they’re tired or hungry, no doubt you’ve already created strategies for keeping your own anger at bay at danger times, which are all based on the idea that you know when they’re not at their best. And if a colleague, extended family member or friend pushes your buttons, you can also prepare yourself by making a prediction about what they will say or do that would usually annoy you. Smile inwardly when your prediction comes true. See how others’ actions hurt less when we stay in observation mode – just observing other people in a non-judgmental way.