Modern Musings by Trishna Buch
I need to learn how to stay calm in difficult situations, because—so far—it is a lesson that I have not managed to get my hands on.
Just this morning (the day of writing) I was driving to work and was attempting to merge onto the freeway. There was a bus that was driving in the right lane at the time of my attempted merge and we approached the merge at the same exact time. Instead of slowing down or speeding up to let me in—as is the considerate and correct thing to do—the driver decided to remain next to me, so it became extremely difficult for me to merge. I had to slow down tremendously and put on my hazard lights so the cars behind me knew I was slowing down. Needless to say, I was quite annoyed for a while.
But then I started getting annoyed with myself for letting one incident and one person—who I don’t even know and will probably never see again—ruin the good mood I was in. I have been told by family and friends, and I may have even read it in a book or article somewhere, that I cannot control how other people behave. Therefore, if someone does something I do not like, I should focus on how I react to that behavior. This would have been the perfect approach to use this morning. Instead of getting annoyed and angry at the actions of the bus driver, I could have chosen to remain calm, accept that I can’t expect everyone to follow the rules and be considerate on the roads, and moved on. However, this is easier said than done—at least for myself.
I have noticed that the majority of my irritation comes out when I am driving. I tend to feel personally affected when people drive dangerously or inconsiderately when they are around me. I am the type of person who prefers to drive the speed limit, not only because I want to avoid a speeding ticket, but also because it’s the safest option. However, I have noticed that many other people on the roads do not seem to understand the importance of speed limits. I have been driving 45 miles per hour, on a road where the speed is 45 miles per hour, and have seen people pass me by at increasingly fast speeds. “They are definitely not going 45” is what I’ll always say. And, though their speed has nothing to do with me, it still causes me slight irritation when I see someone speeding. But what’s worse than speeding, is when someone will tailgate me or cut me off because they do not seem to have any concern to follow the rules of the road. My irritation, I think, comes from the fact that those drivers are putting themselves and other drivers at risk with their rash behavior.
I know that I cannot control the behaviors of other people and yet, they tend to affect me in negative ways. For example, if someone I know makes a disparaging comment towards or about myself or someone I know—instead of ignoring their words—I get irritated. If someone acts entitled or expects to get their own way—instead of letting them be—I get annoyed. If someone says something I don’t like—instead of understanding that not everyone has the same opinions as me—I will attempt to change their opinion.
And this is not a good way to behave. There are approximately seven billion people in the world and it is guaranteed that I will come across several people who will say something, do something or behave in a manner that irks me to no end. I need to learn how to respond to those people, by ignoring their behavior. I cannot expect people to change, but I can control how I respond to their behaviors.
I’m young and still learning. It’s all a work in progress.