Monday, January 23, 2012

Rubber band, anyone?

Have you ever heard the advice to keep a rubber band around your wrist and snap yourself when you realize you're having negative thoughts? I guess it's supposed to make you associate physical pain with those thoughts and unconsciously train your brain to stay away from that line of thinking. Is that right? I don't know. Behavior modification techniques always seem kind of silly to me.

Anyway, remember one of my new year's resolutions to have as the foundation of my interaction with other people to be that they are smart, kind and important? I remember it. I do. I am remembering it when I am actually talking to other people, and when I'm considering saying "hello" to someone that I know and happen to see accidentally, like in the grocery store or something (which is a thing I find very hard to do).

And yet these are the kinds of things I find myself thinking about strangers throughout the day:
  • Dolt!
  • Dork!
  • Idiot!
  • Putz!
  • Shmuck!
  • Moron!

Most of the time these smart, kind and important strangers are guilty only of being in front of me, or are in some way blocking or delaying my left turn, merge, or attempt at parking. Or causing me some other sort of inconvenience.

(But seriously, people, is it SO hard to have your things ready to go before it's your turn in the bank's drive-thru lane? Why do you wait until you're in the #1 position to find a pen, endorse your paycheck, and fill out a deposit slip?)

While I do catch myself thinking these unjust, road-ragey thoughts, I haven't yet figured out how to stop them from coming. Snapping my wrist with a rubber band seems painful and unpleasant.

There must be a better way. I do want to change my thoughts about other people. I know it can be done. Probably my heart has to change before my thoughts will.

I will work on figuring out how to love and respect strangers who get in my way or annoy me for no good or apparent reason. So far, it's very hard.


  1. I can't help but notice that your list is a lot more G-rated than mine.

  2. I wanted to "like" Wendy's comment, but there's no "like" button.
    Once I heard someone say that in order to help control their own road rage, they would imagine that the annoying driver was ill, on the way to the hospital, having a baby, etc... so that he could feel compassion rather than judgement. It doesn't really work for me, but thought I'd throw it out there.