As many of you reading this are drivers (if not pedestrians) I thought it would be fun to write something utilizing a recognized symbol of the road so that everyone can relate. Whether you find yourself in a bustling urban intersection in Toronto or at rural intersection in PEI, you have come across somewhere in your journey the all too familiar, traffic signal. Commonly referred to as the ‘lights’, the traffic signal has 3 functions that when followed should keep us going about our day in a safe manner. The three colours of the lights; RED- stop, AMBER-slow down; ideally stop or use caution if you proceed through the intersection and GREEN-go ahead all clear, universally instruct us and undoubtedly prevent destruction on our streets.
In regards to anger I make correlation to the traffic signal and suggest that we obey and refer to the signal’s colours to avoid the destructive potential of anger.
Let’s start with RED. Globally this colour signifies STOP. Running a RED light increases your chances of crashing and causing significant damage. During a contentious moment where our blood pressure has gone through the roof or where we’re literally seeing red this is the time to STOP. Stopping gives time to think, calm down and devise another way to resolve the matter at hand.Most adults can recall a time when anger has got the best of us and it has resulted in a consequence that we regret. In retrospect had we recognized that the situation called for disengaging or stopping the flammable behaviour, the outcome would have more than likely been less consequential and more favourable. Hence when we feel ourselves becoming angry or getting reeled in it’s the opportune time to cease and desist and consider the danger that lies ahead. Think about other ways to navigate the situation.
The light just turned AMBER should I go for it or stop? Although AMBER is warning that the light will be turning red momentarily and we should ultimately stop, the colour inadvertentlysends a message to use caution if proceeding through the intersection. Although the likelihood of being involved in a collision isn’t at its highest the need to use discretion is great. In regards to anger when presented with a situation that knowingly has the potential to get out of hand,making a conscious choice to proceed or stop puts us in a better position to avoid a collision. Having time to assess the danger that could lie ahead vs taking the risk and engaging in conflict behaviour is ultimate autonomy. From a conflict management perspective even though I encourage people to err on the side of caution to live to fight another day depending on the scenario sometimes anger can be constructive and lead to positive change when controlled. Look in every direction when given the opportunity to make a well informed choice, consider the pros and cons carefully.
When the heated rash decision makingof RED is no longer an option and the uncertainty of AMBER has passed, GREEN represents safety and time to move forward. Getting the clearance to go forward is comforting knowing that the likelihood of collision is minimal. Considering that we all have had to wait at a RED or halt to an AMBER, GREEN is deserved and is permission to go. GREEN is calm and rationale and when in relation to anger the safest times to have those difficult conversations or confront those multi-tiered issues.
Although life can prompt us to act on any of the colours of the traffic signal we must choose when it’s optimal for us to move. Adhere to your signals!