Traffic on the highway!
A traffic jam is an incantation. A traffic jam is an explanation. There is no need to further describe what this means. Try to calculate how many times a week you will not only find yourself in a traffic jam during your journey, but also how many times you will use ”traffic jam” in your explanation of the journey. The traffic jam comes to serve as an apology. For a delay, for a bad mood, for a change in behaviour, for a reluctance to talk. You say, "I'm stuck in traffic" and you don't have to explain further. The term “traffic jam” will provoke a completely identical reaction in all of us.
We're in this together.
Try to remember the last time you found yourself in a traffic jam that thwarted your plans. Maybe it was this morning, on the way to work. Maybe you're in it right now, so you have time to read this article.
A traffic jam does something interesting to us. While each driver is individual and behaves differently on the road, this is not the case in a traffic jam. We all behave the same there. Everything stops and it doesn't matter where we're going, how fast we need to be there, how much time we have or what our goal is. Suddenly it doesn't matter. None of these considerations apply anymore, and everything suddenly submits to slowing down or even stopping our journey altogether. And like a wave of a magic wand, we are all involved. There is nothing we can do but wait.
How does it feel?
Helplessness. This is the thin red emotional line that connects all the vehicles in the traffic jam. We can't do anything, we can't influence anything, we can't get out of place. Helplessness is one of the most challenging emotions we face in life. Usually, there are no coping strategies that we can pull out of our defence register to relieve us. We can't do anything. And reconciling with NOTHING is extremely difficult. Our psyche usually responds to helplessness with a different emotion. Just as we do anything to avoid the traffic jam, our psyche will do anything to avoid helplessness. Some replace it with rage. And so, they get upset in traffic, honk their horns, gesture nervously, and some even get out of the car. Some may respond in the opposite way, with fear or regret: "I had it so nicely planned, and I won't make it again, whatever." We can also observe feelings of guilt: All these emotional expressions are actually perfectly fine. It would be strange to have no emotions when something surprises us or while encountering an obstacle.
My emotions - my thing.
Whatever we experience in the traffic jam, the emotions are ours and we have a right to them. And we've probably had the experience that even the longest traffic jam will eventually start moving. So, we can pass this experience on to helplessness.
We hope that even the most helpless situation in our lives will eventually find direction and movement in other, not so demanding emotions. And for our psyche to survive, just as we do in the traffic jam.