This Driver Is Making Me Late and Frustrated! Is He My Teacher??
The other day I was making the hour drive from my hometown into the big city of Madison, WI. Most of it is a four-lane state highway so I can cruise right along. But this day there was road construction that had several miles of the road closed down to two lanes. I had an appointment and I didn’t have time to waste. Sure enough, I ended up behind someone who thought they should drive at least 10 miles per hour below the speed limit. Not only were they making me late, they were making me frustrated. “Hurry up! You don’t need to go this slow!!”
Can you relate?
I managed to pause and notice what I was thinking and how I was feeling. Suddenly, I remembered a tool from the Prepare step in my Immunity to Negativity FormulaTM
Other people don’t make you upset, you let them make you upset.
It’s a blunt way to say that we are responsible for our own reaction and ultimately we have the ability to choose how we respond. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but how often do we remember it when we need it? This slow driver was giving me an opportunity to remember that I had a choice. I could prepare my mindset by remembering this tool and seeing them as my teacher.
Flipping how we think about someone who’s making us frustrated can sound crazy at first. Society and my survival instinct were telling me that I had every right to feel upset with this driver. But deep down I also knew that feeling frustrated wasn’t going to change the situation. I couldn’t pass them in this road construction. I couldn’t make them go faster. If I was late, I was late. Arriving stressed was my choice.
This is where the Prepare step pays off. Time and again, I’ve learned that it takes courage and effort to take responsibility for our own response; internally (how we feel) and externally (what we say and do). It’s normal and easier to blame someone else (the other driver!). It can be a big mindset shift to realize we can override our natural reaction and take back our power instead of letting someone else control how we feel.
I guarantee you that life is going to give you opportunities to practice this tool this week. See if you can pause and notice these moments and see the other person as a teacher who is reminding you that you can choose how you respond internally and externally.