Get outta’ my way!

What happens when road rage and people pleasing collide

Photo courtesy of Alexander Possingham

Photo courtesy of Alexander Possingham

This morning I had to drive to a 6:00 am appointment. Since I am one of the fortunate ones who is able to work from home, I am not used to the daily grind that other commuters have to endure as they make their way into the city.

Perhaps that is why I was in a markedly better mood than most of my fellow road warriors.

What was interesting about this morning’s commute was my reaction to an obviously exasperated driver who decided to take their frustration out on me by laying on their horn in a manner designed to provoke a response. Rather than feel upset, I simply felt curious amusement.

“What must they be thinking to act in such an angry and aggressive way?”

In the past, I would have obsessively ruminated over such an experience - mulling over and over in my mind the fact that I had somehow been the cause of someone else’s upset. My whole day would have been defined by that event.

Crazy, right?

It seems crazy to me now, but back then, I loathed the thought of another person feeling angry, annoyed, or disgruntled with me. I hated it so much that it led to years of trying to please others so as not to offend. I thought that there was a way to control how other people thought about me and that the key to the controls lay in figuring out the right combination of doing and saying and being for each and every person and each and every situation.

I just had one problem.

My attempts at control were based on a misunderstanding.

I thought that feelings were directly caused by outside circumstances and people. I didn’t realize that our feelings are exclusively an ‘inside job’.

There is nothing we can do or say or BE that directly controls how another person experiences that ‘doing’ or ‘saying’ or ‘being’.

It’s simply not possible.

It is out of our control.

People can only feel their own thinking. And that thinking comes to all of us as formless energy that is then filtered through our own lens and given texture and dimension by our own senses and consciousness.

No one has the ability to directly control how anyone else thinks about or feels their experience of life.

And while that may seem disappointing to ‘unreformed’ people is actually a gift when viewed from another perspective: others have no control over what we feel, think and experience.

So, while in the past I could ruminate for hours on an upset driver...these days I know that their feelings are directly linked to their thinking in the moment, and not caused by a situation or another driver…no matter how it may seem.

There is such freedom in understanding how life is truly experienced.

It means that I am free to feel neutral rather than hurt when someone decides to honk their horn.

It means that I am free to feel mild amusement rather than upset at drivers only too happy to vent their frustration at others.

It means that I am free to feel compassion for the angry and aggressive drivers honking their way to work.

It means that I am free.

If you’d like to read more about people pleasing, pick up my new book: Women and Confidence: The Truth About The Lies We Tell Ourselves

LISTEN HERE to an interview Linda and I did last week for Dr. Amy Johnson’s podcast. We talk all things confidence.

And CLICK HERE if you’d like to meet my co-author who’s just done a fun video explaining a challenge she’s set for herself.

Lana Bastianutti