Hereditary Road Rage

How bringing mindfulness to our shadow selves can help us grow and lessen our chances of passing our anger on to our children.

There are many things I hope our daughter inherits from my husband and me. I hope she inherits his sense of humor and gift of compassion. I hope she inherits my passion for feminism and for baking. I hope she is smart, kind, and brave.

There are plenty of things, however, I hope that she does not inherit from me, ways in which I hope she is better than me. Case in point: road rage.

It may not be full-fledged road rage. I don’t do anything (I hope) to put our lives in danger. It’s more of an internal, inside-the-car, fuming. This internal road rage has definitely made an appearance since I moved to DC almost nine years ago, and it has been growing ever since. How could that person cut us off? Why is that driver going SO SLOW? What in the world is that pedestrian thinking trying to cross the street right now? And one of my DC favorites, WHY ARE YOU DOULBE PARKING WHEN THERE’S A PARKING SPACE ONE CAR AHEAD?!?

It’s like each traffic offense is a personal affront to me and a threat to my world as I know it.

This anger, paired with my baby girl’s hatred of the carseat, is enough to make any trip with the two of us a real treat. We should definitely sign up to drive for Uber.

But seriously.

I realized this weekend, after a particularly aggravating car day, that if I don’t do something about it, my travel-induced anger is going to be bred into my growing daughter. It’s likely that it is already feeding into her car screaming. And the last thing I want is for my baby girl to be angry all the time, whether in the car or not. I don’t want her to think that the appropriate reaction to any situation that causes impatience or frustration or fear is anger.

So I decided that I need to work on it.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” — Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections

There is a concept that comes from the psychologist Carl Jung known as the shadow self, which is essentially the part of ourselves that is most dark and often unconscious, and this shadow self most often comes out in projections onto others. What irritates me about another person is a pretty good starting place for self-examination and growth. For example, my anger at someone who cuts me off could be re-interpreted as my recognition of my own inconsiderate and sometimes dangerous choices. My frustration at a slow driver, I think that one is just good old impatience.

I say all this because anger and frustration can often point us to our own growing edges. I do want to be more patient. I do want to be more aware, more safe. I do want to be more considerate. I do want to be more peaceful. So this is my intention: next time I am frustrated in the car because of the actions of others, I will take a breath and find a way to wish for myself to be more patient, safe, considerate, and peaceful. And in that moment, I hope I can feel empowered; because I can’t change the other crazy drivers on the road, but I can change myself. And hopefully, my intention to work on that change in myself will nip that hereditary road rage in the bud.

So that my daughter will be more patient, more considerate, and more peaceful than I am.

That is my deep wish for her, that she may be less judgmental, more courageous, more compassionate, and more loving than I am. That she will be a better person.

Because I am certain and grateful that baby girl is making me a better person.


Originally published by Katy on her blog, www.goodenoughgal.com on April 18, 2016.

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