Road rage is so easy to slip into.
I was driving home the other day when a woman started crossing the road without looking in both directions, completely oblivious to the fact that I was just metres away from her. She was only focused on the cars coming from the other direction.
Needless to say, I put my brakes on and held my hands up at her in awe - that she could be so, I don’t know, stupid I guess, to cross the road without looking.
And she sensed the patronising attitude that was seeping out of me, and although she tried to explain that she wasn’t actually going to carry on crossing the road, my judgmental face must have said it all and as I drove off I could hear her swearing and shouting at me, supposedly for being so unreasonable.
I shook off the incident very quickly and couldn’t understand why she’d started swearing at me like that. And then I remembered something I’d heard about road rage - that momentary feeling of annoyance that arises because we all of a sudden forget about all the times that we’ve made similar mistakes and instead focus on the other person's flaws. We forget that when it was us in the wrong, we hoped that we’d be quickly forgiven by the other motorists. It was just a mistake after all. Please be nice to me, we think to ourselves.
The same rings true in our relationships. Our partner could slip up and make a mistake, and our initial reaction can be accusatory, patronising and we can even berate them for being so ‘stupid’. This can automatically put them on the defensive, because they’re now feeling attacked and this then leads to relationship rage on both sides, when perhaps all they really wanted and needed in that moment, was some compassion and recognition that we too have made similar mistakes and because of that, we’re not going to come down on them so hard.
I wonder how different the outcome would be that day, had I shown a little more patience and smiled at that woman who crossed the road, showing her some compassion for being nothing more than a little distracted. We’ve all been there. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have become angry or started swearing at me.
How different would the outcome be in our relationships, if we showed more understanding and compassion for our partner, based on the fact that we too make mistakes and will probably continue to make mistakes for the rest of our lives. And what we really want when that happens is forgiveness and understanding. So that we can breathe a sigh of relief and try to be better next time. We'll also end up having a lot more love and appreciation for our partner if they have shown us this forgiveness and compassion, instead of the opposite.
If you’d like help with dropping the relationship rage and replacing it with a little more understanding and forgiveness, then click here to claim one of five free relationship breakthrough sessions that I’m giving away this week. Because life is so much more enjoyable without the rage ;-)