Daily Stretch #15: don’t become a victim of other’s anger

My bike ride ended amazingly today. But it was this close of going south.

Biking long distances, on the road, is a journey full of surprises.

A truck driver assumed the light was green when he started a left turn. Fortunately, he stopped looking at his smartphone screen right on time. And pulled the break when I was about to jump off my bike.

A group of kids was riding in the opposite lane of a bike path. One of them decided to overpass the rest. He didn’t look ahead when switching lanes. I was approaching him at 24 MPH. I took my chances and headed to the grass. And avoided a crash.

There are two safety rules I follow when riding on the road. Be predictable to others. Anticipate -and react to- other’s people unpredictable behavior.

I always talk about how our ability to adapt is critical to growing in our personal and professional lives.

Well, it’s also critical to survive the road. Not just to elude accidents, but not to allow anger ruin your ride.

Today’s Stretch: don’t become a victim of other’s anger

Situations like the ones I described earlier are more common than not. As a biker, I’m used to being a constant victim of other people’s distractions.

That’s also true of drivers and pedestrians. But cyclists are an easier target. Especially when it comes to people’s anger.

We all have a hard time accepting our mistakes. And we all make mistakes on the road. When accidents happen, most people don’t check how the other party is feeling. The immediate reaction is to blame the other side.

Who wasn’t paying attention? Who was wrong?

Remember my safety rules? Being in a constant state of defense and anticipation puts us on the brink. Any small mistake releases our anger.

We cannot control how other people will react. Even if it was their mistake, they are free to blame it on us. They can choose that path. Even if it’s not fair.

What you can control is your reaction. If you made the mistake, be accountable, don’t blame it on the other side. If it wasn’t yours, hopefully, you didn’t get hurt. Feel good about being safe and continue your ride.

People will blame you even if you are innocent. Some folks have a hard time accepting their own mistakes. Don’t let their anger ruin your ride. Or your day.

It’s not fair. But life is not.

Don’t get stuck. Give them a smile, not the finger.

Today’s stretch: don’t become a victim of other’s anger.

Overcoming excuses

A smile is the best way to neutralize anger. People don’t how to react to it. Angry people get caught by surprise when you smile back at their blame. It’s like disarming an anger bomb.

My wife told me this trick. I’ve witnessed it’s effectivity over and over.

Don’t get caught in a battle. No need to tell them to f@%k o##. Anger spreads like a wildfire. Don’t become a victim of it. Avoid becoming angry too.

I make mistakes sometimes. And I smile. I run into many car drivers that I wonder how they’ve got their licenses. And I smile and wave.

Believe me, it’s not only effective to neutralize angry people. It will also make you feel good.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to smile back. The only thing I want is to continue enjoying my ride 🙂

Before You Go

Change happens one stretch at a time. Each day I post one exercise to help you grow beyond your comfort zone.

Improve your change fitness:

This Is Why You Should Give Others A Smile, Not The Finger was originally published in Be Yourself on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.