I was driving around town the other day and almost witnessed a car accident. It was pretty wild, almost like slow motion in a way. I was coming to a light and there was a car to my left. There was nobody in front of us, so we were the first cars coming to the light. It was green, and then it turned yellow, so I started to brake. We were still a good ways away from the light when it turned yellow, so there was no need to slam on the brakes or anything like that. Very relaxed. Except that the other car did not brake at all… It was immediately apparent that s/he didn’t even see the light! The driver was still driving at a normal speed, as if there were no light up ahead. And this would’ve been fine except that the cars that had been waiting at the red light now had a green light and were ready to go.
I was stopped by now, watching it all. There was a line of cars to my right, and their red light had just turned green when our green light turned red. So the first car hit the gas to go through the light. And it was headed right at the car that had been driving next to me. I really need a diagram and it would be super simple, but basically I was witnessing a 90-degree collision in slow motion. I stayed present and pretty much just watched it, sending some good juju at the same time. But in a very relaxed, detached way. What else could I do? And this felt natural. Well, the first car finally realized what was happening and hit the brakes. And the other car realized they were about to hit this one that had screwed up, so they hit the brakes, too. And they came about a foot from hitting each other. And here’s where it gets interesting for us, since we like to take a closer look at the things that happen in life…
At this point, these two drivers are staring at each other, stopped in the middle of this intersection, totally shocked. I mean, ‘shocked’ is the word. There must’ve been lots of adrenalin pumping as well, because they came really close to hitting each other. And the first one was totally at fault. That driver finally hit the gas and went on through the intersection to safety, and traffic resumed as normal. I was watching the second driver, though, and he looked really angry. That’s how lots of people would have felt had that just happened. Hey, it was scary! Many people would yell at the person and call them nasty names, like “You a**hole!” Is that person really an a**hole, though? Let’s pause for a moment and think about that.
~Pausing for a moment to think about that~
When I really, really, really think about it, the answer is… I have absolutely no idea if that person is an a**hole or not! I do know, however, that if that person is an a**hole then there’s no way I can know it from this incident alone. Does that make sense? Because it’s very important, and it’s also true. And it might be the kind of thing where you see how you make assumptions about strangers in other areas of your life, too. And you are perfectly free to make any assumptions you want! I’ve noticed, though, that when I go around assuming that other people are bad people – as opposed to a driver that just screwed up really badly – then I tend to not have as good a day. I’m just not as happy. I’m not as at peace.
Let’s get back to that driver that didn’t notice the light. This person could be the worst driver ever. That could be totally true! And this person could be a really bad person as well. In fact, this person could be the worst human on earth. But what else could be true? Have you ever screwed up while driving in such a way that it could’ve been really bad, but it wasn’t? And it was more of a bad moment, a mistake that wasn’t characteristic of how you normally drive? I have. And I’ll bet you have, too. This could’ve been the only time that driver had ever not noticed a light. The driver could’ve just gotten the news of cancer in the body, or that a loved one had just died. This driver could’ve had a gun shot in the stomach and was driving to the hospital. I have no idea. If you really think about it, though, I don’t think a**hole fits.
And just to really make it clear, you are free to call them whatever you like! And you are free to think of them in any way that you choose. It is a choice, though. It’s not reality that I have to assume they’re actually a bad person and then carry that with me for the rest of the day. And I’ve noticed with myself and with clients that when we ditch that extra part, that a**hole assumption, then we tend to be more at peace. We feel better. And then we look back at our lives and see all the energy we used to put into being mad at these other people, these strangers that we probably never even saw again! Why not just stay present and deal with the situation without all the judgmental baggage? You’ll be a better driver, that’s for sure. If a car is in front of me and they’re not supposed to be, then I want to be as present as possible to hit the brakes. And then I want to leave that situation behind so I can have the most awesome day possible. Carrying around the story of, “Can you believe this a**hole on the road earlier today?” is generally not the best way to have an awesome day. Leave it behind! And if the wreck did not occur, then remember that in reality, nothing happened. And that’s very good news.
So play with this, folks, and give it some thought. Many of my readers have been there and done that as far as getting angry on the road goes. They just gave up at some point, and they’ve noticed that their lives are much more peaceful now. And many have not! And that’s 100%fine. You are the customer of your life. For those that are still playing the game, own it and have fun. You are not being judged here, not one bit. This is just a simple invitation to take a closer look, that’s all. We are getting more and more curious, folks, about ourselves. “Why do I really react so strongly when this happens? Interesting… Let take an innocent look at that.” Most of us say they react this way on the road because these idiots can’t drive very well and it’s dangerous. So again, it’s reality that when such and such happens, I have to get super angry. Well, that’s victim thinking and it’s a painful way to live. I am responsible for how I feel. I am the source of it. When we look closely, as we do here, we start to see that we actually have more choice in the matter than we thought. And that’s a very, very good thing. So happy driving, living, looking, noticing, etc. And as always, let me know if I can help.