The road is one of the best places to practice Acceptance. You’ll often be out driving, likely on your way to work or home after a long day, and then somebody cuts into traffic or switches lanes, runs a traffic light, etc. And that sparks lots of negative thoughts and judgements—what an idiot! He could have killed somebody?! Can’t she see me? He should get a ticket! She could have hit that pedestrian! That almost got me into an accident. Why can’t people pay attention to what they’re doing? Those people are such terrible drivers. And so on.
You might start imagining what you’re going to say to the cops when they interview you about how this horrific accident unfolded, or maybe you’re imagining what you would say to that driver so they know they were wrong. Or you simply picture yourself smashing your car into their car. After all, they were asking for it.
That driver, somebody you have no control over, somebody who is oblivious to you, just took control of your mood, and you gave them that control.
How could you not get anxious after spending all of that time focusing on car crashes? Why wouldn’t you be depressed after imagining accidents and people getting hurt?
And what will you get out of all of that? Anger, depression, helplessness.
When somebody does something on the road you don’t like, accept it. Don’t make your life a reaction to what you can’t control. You want to drive safely. Great. Then do that. You can do that no matter what happens around you.
The behaviors of other people are just behaviors. When your brain throws up an intrusive thought like, “Hey! He could have hit us!” just respond with: “Maybe.”
This was an excerpt from The Acceptance Field Guide: Navigating anxiety and depression in an uncertain world, which explores how to practically apply the concepts of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to overcome anxiety and compulsive behaviors in your daily life.
The Acceptance Field Guide is available for $2.99 on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Field-Guide-Navigating-ebook/dp/B006W950CG/