Enough with Your Self-Righteous Indignation

by Ashley on February 27, 2012

Let me preface this with a statement acknowledging that I get very annoyed in traffic and that I promise not all my posts will be gripes about driving. There’s a moral to this story, so stick with me.

With that said, anyone who knows me might say that I’m an aggressive driver. Road rage is not a foreign feeling for me. Though my dear husband might disagree, I think that I’ve gotten a better handle on it lately. Not perfectly, but at least slightly better than a year ago. (I’m moving in the right direction at any rate, yes?)

Despite my aggressiveness, I generally consider myself not only a good driver but also a relatively considerate driver. I use my blinker (before I start turning, what a concept), I’ll wave other drivers to pull ahead of me, and I stop at red lights. These are the bare minimum of courtesies, I know, but there are a number of drivers who do NOT stop at red traffic lights (or stop signs, or anywhere else it is generally expected that one come to a complete stop, look both ways, and all that jazz).

Given my long-held belief that I’m an efficient and polite driver, you can imagine my dismay when I accidentally pulled out in front of someone this week. I was stopped at a stop sign, looked for cross traffic that didn’t have to stop, and, seeing no one, proceeded into the intersection.

Never saw the guy … until he blared his horn at me for about 10 seconds.

Now, in my world of driver etiquette, the horn should be used as a warning, not as punishment or as an audible middle finger. This person was civil enough to slow down so he wouldn’t hit me, but he did want me to know he had to touch his brake because of my mistake.

I was embarrassed because I hadn’t seen him, but also incensed that he’d had the nerve to treat me that way when it was accidental on my part. It seemed that he was feeling superior because he was in the “right.” Then I realized, that person who is so self-righteous about the way other people behave – on the road, on the job, in my family – that person is usually me. I’m usually the one feeling indignant because I’ve been “wronged” in some way, no matter how miniscule.

So here’s my plan: I’ll try to keep some perspective in the future, especially because it’s quite possible that I’m making a snap judgment from not knowing all the information. Maybe the crabby waitress just had a fight with her fiancé, or maybe the brusque cashier has an unreasonable supervisor. I don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives, so why not give them the benefit of the doubt? It doesn’t cost much – a little patience and pride, that’s all. I could do with a little less pride anyway.

So I tried to think about why that guy would treat me that way. He didn’t know I was generally a courteous driver, that I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, or that I certainly wouldn’t have pulled out into the intersection if I had seen him coming.

Oh, and the reason I didn’t see him? I looked his direction all right. But I hadn’t seen him because it was dark and rainy. And he didn’t have his headlights on.

It’s all about perspective.

In what areas of your life could you use some perspective and humility?

“Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.” –Dandamis


Sometimes I hit the horn because the other driver’s actions have scared me half to death.

by Anne Wayman on February 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm. Reply #

We always know what we are doing or planning to do in the car, but the other drivers are never sure until we do it. I guess that’s why they teach defensive driving.

by Ashley on February 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm. Reply #

Love this post, Ashley-so funny and something we can all relate to. I’m actually a very calm driver, but that came from a corporate road warrior life. If I hadn’t learned to let things go on the road, I’d be dead from a coronary.
Oh-oh, does that sound too self-righteous? 🙂

If you’ll permit my Pollyanna moment, I work at not judging others. Sounds simple, but it’s really hard. We judge EVERYTHING-the way someone wears their hair, the clothes they wear and the way they drive. 🙂

When I do lose it or judge too quickly, I try to remember the moment I find out that they just suffered some tragedy and how small it makes me feel.

P.S. My Shoulder Satan loves the audible middle finger. I might have to steal that…er…borrow it. 😉

by Cathy Miller on February 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm. Reply #

Steal away, Cathy! And no, you don’t sound self-righteous at all for having learned to let things go. That’s exactly what I’m working toward. If you have any tips, I’m all ears!

by Ashley on February 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm. Reply #

Great story and wonderful post, Ashley. I don’t know how to stop judging people.. I guess I just imagine that everybody’s in my family. I kinda judge my family members too, but in a loving, joking kind of way. I don’t know if that helps or not, but I don’t judge folks nearly as much as I used to.

by Greg on February 28, 2012 at 5:21 am. Reply #

I think being nonjudgmental is inborn for some people and develops over time for others. I’m working on developing it!

by Ashley on February 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm. Reply #

I had a wise friend once tell me that anytime someone was rude or seemed to be in a hurry on the road, she just imagined that they must have really bad diarrhea and need to get to a bathroom ASAP! Ha! I still think of that and just laugh at rude drivers because of the picture I have in my mind. Thanks for another great post!

by Meredith Kelly on March 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm. Reply #

That is a wise friend indeed. Sometimes I tell myself that the rude driver might be about to lose his job if he’s late one more time to work. I seem to have more sympathy that way, but I might give the diarrhea idea a try next time!

by Ashley on March 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm. Reply #

Great post, Ashley! It’s so easy to get caught up in how we feel about situations – and how we should be treated.

I try (keyword TRY – this doesn’t always work) to remember that everyone has some type of battle going on (whether big or small) in their lives, and that often influences their actions and their words. IF I truly remember that in interactions – it’s easier to find more compassion in the way I respond.

So happy to learn of your blog!

by Tara on March 2, 2012 at 9:13 am. Reply #

So true, Tara, about the personal battles everyone faces. Compassion is one of the most effective ways for me to deal with frustrating situations. Thanks for stopping by!

by Ashley on March 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm. Reply #

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