Is Traffic Driving you Mad?

How to create a more peaceful driving experience using Radical Acceptance Skills

By Wendy Douglas, LCSW, MSPH
Is Traffic Driving you Mad

If you’ve driven in Los Angeles, chances are you’ve encountered your fair share of angry, frustrated drivers.  In fact, you might be one of them.  The tension and anger you experience while driving just isn’t worth the toll on your mental health, especially if you are someone who spends a fair amount of time in your car.  In fact, getting upset with other drivers may escalate your emotions and actually make things worse.  Taking a deep breath and using radical acceptance skills can be instrumental in changing your driving experience.

Make the commitment to these 6 simple rules to permanently transform your driving experience:

  1. Stop emotional honking.  Honking out of frustration only causes tensions to mount.  Laying off the horn may take some restraint but it is a key factor in keeping your cool. Use your horn only when absolutely necessary – to avoid collisions and warn other drivers of danger – what the horn is for anyway!
  2. When possible, let others go first.   Allowing others to have the right of way will take the fight out of driving.  Hang back and stay away from angry showdowns.  Remind yourself that it really doesn’t matter if that other driver gets there first. This will help you to keep tensions to a minimum.
  3. Stop name calling.  Speaking rudely to others drivers while driving, even if no one hears you, will only cause you to get more worked up.  Start talking to other drivers kindly, as if you were talking to a friend, face to face.  This should take the bravado and anger out of the aggressive talk.
  4. Leave early.  Give your self plenty of time to get where you’re going.  If you aren’t worried about being late, it’s easier to accept unforeseen traffic jams and road blocks.  Also, set up your map before you start driving, not after.  And while you’re at it, don’t text and drive!
  5. Accept it when you’re late.  Realize that once you’re leaving in your car, there is usually not a whole lot you can do to change the time it takes to get to your destination.  Radically Accepting your arrival time by using Waze or Google Maps is key. Learn to take a deep breath and surrender yourself to the moment.
  6. Use driving time to catch up on news or listen to music or podcasts. Making your time useful will reduce impatience.

Remember, behavior change takes conscious effort and happens in incremental steps. After all, it truly is about the journey, not the destination.

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Radical Acceptance is a Skill Taught in our DBT Groups

If you are someone who is highly sensitive and struggles with emotion regulation, this group might be a good fit.  Also, if you have frequent interpersonal conflicts or simply want to be better at managing your relationships, DBT would be very helpful.

Wendy Douglas, LCSW, MSPH

Wendy Douglas, LCSW, MSPH

Wendy Douglas, LCSW, MSPH has been practicing DBT for 14 years. She was intensively trained in DBT at Harbor UCLA in 2006 while she worked at L.A. County's Edelman Westside Mental Health Clinic providing DBT services for more than seven years. She completed her Advanced DBT Training under Shari Manning and Kate Comtois in 2017. She holds a Master of Social Work from UCLA and a Master of Science in Public Health from Tulane University in New Orleans. Wendy founded San Fernando Valley DBT in 2012. She currently has private practice locations in Beverly Hills, Sherman Oaks, and Woodland Hills where she specializes in seeing teens and adults with emotion regulation disorders. Wendy is also a certified Anger Management Therapist. She currently sits on a DBT Team with a number of other experienced therapists and offers DBT trainings for therapists all over L.A.
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