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Act Like Myself, Anger, Appreciation, Brain Skills, Emotions, Peace, Prayer, Relational Circuits, relational skills

You don’t have to be on the road very long before you witness aggressive, careless drivers who appear all-too-eager to get where they are going. I don’t know about you, but I frequently feel as though I must strap on football gear before I leave my driveway, wearing a helmet, neck collar, mouth guard, shoulder pads, gloves, and the proper protection to navigate the roadway. Road rage is a real problem. People are injured and killed every day because of unregulated, non-relational, impulsive, out-of-control drivers furiously and foolishly trying to rule the road.

Some of the latest statistics say 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive drivers. Males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit road rage and half of the drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive driver admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves. 

These statistics tell me people are triggered, the relational circuits of way too many drivers are offline, and young males with undeveloped frontal lobes are reacting instead of responding rationally with clarity and self-control.

Personally, I have noticed that I start to feel threatened when a driver aggressively tailgates me. My survival circuit kicks into gear as my body tenses, my mind races, my adrenaline rushes, my breathing increases, and my attention turns to “that problem” who is invading my space and threatening my family.

When this happens, I can return aggression with aggression. Or I may be passive aggressive and “appear” to be a good driver when, in reality, I am playing chess with the distressing driver trying to make his/her life miserable by ensuring he or she cannot pass me. Maybe I slow down my speed to further agitate the driver. I know some of you are nodding your head at that one! I do not recommend either option. Here is another alternative.

First, I am thinking the Biblical mandate for dealing with road rage is Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (NIV) The key phrase is, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you” because, frankly, we cannot control cars and drivers on the road.

Another option could be, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Some of you reading this can identify with the “sons of thunder” who want to call down a holy fireball from heaven on all the bad drivers. The temptation is real, but there is a better way.

I want to propose we view the road as a mission field of sorts. Some people have forgotten who they are. These folks have temporarily lost themselves and need some help. Often, drivers who act out are telling a story and giving us a glimpse into their world. There is a painful lack of peace there. These folks need the fruit of the Spirit reflected in our driving styles. They also need prayer, forgiveness and tender responses to their weaknesses. Let’s look at several key skills that help us better navigate this treacherous terrain.

First, we use Skill 2 – Soothe Myself, to take a breather and calm ourselves. Deep breaths and calming will go a long way to set the tone for what happens next.

Second, we use Skill 12 – Act Like Myself, to stay relational. We take the proper steps to restore our relational circuits, and we remain the person God created us to be. Here we activate appreciation files by thinking and feeling what makes us smile.

With Skill 12, we engage the brain’s “Captain” to steer the emotional control center. We simulate different responses and choose the one that best fits the heart God has given us. Here is the brain region that thinks through various options and chooses the one that best reflects our values. The Captain predicts negative outcomes, so we decide what happens next that is consistent with our needs and identity rather than simply reacting. Rather than turning into the Incredible Hulk on the highway, we say, “I think I better take a moment to calm down because I am becoming angry.”    

Now that we are relationally grounded, we interact with Immanuel using Skill 13 – See What God Sees to find some peace. With clarity and focus, we can intercede for the driver, his/her passengers, and other drivers. At this point, we become a portable prayer wagon praying for people on the road. In many cases, road rage is a byproduct of fear and unprocessed pain because people feel threatened, so we can pray for God’s comfort to touch those who are afraid.

Whether we are the driver or innocent bystander to heavy emotions on the highway, these steps can de-escalate tension on the turnpike so that peace prevails.

Learn more about the 19 skills with the THRIVE-at-Home package containing online courses and teaching videos with nearly 30 hours of content by Dr. Jim Wilder along with questions and application on the skills to make relationships work.

Speaking of skills to make relationships work, we want to know if you are interested in bringing the 19 Skills to your church or city so let us know if you want to learn more about hosting an event!



[1] safemotorist.com
[2] The frontal lobe which governs rational thought and predicts negative outcomes does not finish developing until the mid 20’s.

[3] Matthew 5:44

[4] Jesus gave the title Boanerges to James and John who were ready to call down the thunder on the Samaritans in Luke 9.

[5] Read these blogs to learn more about this step, read Joy Starts Here and visit kclehman.com for more information on relational circuits.

Posted in Skill Thoughts

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