Understanding your own behavior is something we tend to not make a concern, but really thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it does make an impact on your outlook on life.

You know when someone is following too closely in your car, like really close, close enough that you start to worry, what do you do next? Do you tap your brakes? Do you slow down? Do you speed up? Do you start swearing at the other driver? Before moving to Germany, I would have probably done each and every one of those things, but what good does it do? It gets you more worked up, less focused on your driving, more concerned with that A-hole and all the horrible things they’re doing, and it probably makes you feel, well, not good. After they eventually are no longer riding your bumper, then what? Are you immediately transformed into a happy, calm person or are you still holding on to some of that anger and frustration?

After moving to Germany, I discovered that if I followed someone else too closely or they were going considerably slower than I, that they would actually, wait for this, pull over and let me pass. The first time I was involved in this situation, I was the follower. I can’t remember what was going on, but I’m guessing we were driving on some back curvy roads that only the locals can go fast on and that everyone else drives really slowly on. Following someone who is going 10-20 mph slower than the speed limit is frustrating. Guess what happened when they pulled over and let me pass? It ended. Neither one of us was frustrated with the other. I was appreciative that they recognized it and did what they could to fix the situation. I felt less stressed, so much so, that when I was the slow car the next time, I pulled over. The car that passed me waved a thank you. No, it wasn’t the middle finger; it was a legit thank you. All my stress from that drive disappeared.

One of the most valuable things I learned through my divorce was you cannot change or control someone else’s behavior, but you can control how you react. Think about your behavior. Does it benefit you? Does it benefit someone else? If it’s not positive, can you change your behavior, can you react differently?

One year ago I was on what I thought was going to be a nice break from life, a mini-vaca with one of my girl friends. I stayed at her house for six days, and our friendship ended shortly thereafter. I was so scared by her passive-aggressive behavior that I actually cried myself to sleep. I got yelled at for drinking the coffee she made. “How was the coffee? I only ask because I was the one who made it and I didn’t get any of it.”  Her dogs caused some damage to a stuffed animal, and she went ballistic, yelling at the dogs and her husband; the husband joked about it later and asked if I could take the dogs with me when I left. She said “The dogs stay; you can go” to her husband.

I knew I wasn’t going to change her. I knew I didn’t like how she made me feel or how she treated others. There was more passive-aggressive behavior after I left via the interwebs, and I started getting hooked up in the drama until one of my friends told me to let it go. In the end, I took her advice and ended the friendship because it was not healthy for me. I was sad to see that chapter in my life come to an end, but neither one of us was benefiting from that relationship.

It’s okay to let the other car pass you. It’s okay to let go.


Teri Gray

Teri has a bachelors degree in German and Mathematics and a master's degree in Education. She spent eight years teaching at Boys Town High School for at-risk youth before moving to Germany, where her husband was stationed with the military for almost five years. She has three children 10, 5, and 3. Teri knew everything there was about parenting before she had her second child, who continues to shatter every mold ever created and test her on a daily basis. Teri hails from Omaha, Nebraska, but currently resides in the Seattle area. Her favorite forms of therapy are baking, cooking, and running. Honesty and hilarity are integral parts of her personality.