Don’t blast my chimp


Someone blasted their horn at me when I was going round a roundabout. I may have been in the wrong lane, I didn’t think so but then I was not used to the layout and the markings left a lot to be desired. The loud noise did nothing to improve my driving but did get me annoyed, very annoyed.

At no time was I anywhere near him or his car. At no time was there a chance of an accident or anyone’s life was in danger yet he felt the urge to give me a blast anyway. The purpose of a horn is supposed to warn other road users but instead has become a way of venting your spleen. If I was king for the day I would ban them.

I really was quite upset with his inconsiderate actions but then I had been reading ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by professor Steve Peters and I realised that it was not the rational me that was getting annoyed but my inner chimp. I had been wronged and in the law of the jungle I wanted to lash out and put him straight.

Of course he was miles away by then, he had taken a different direction and had probably long forgotten about me. Blasting the horn had transmitted the feelings from his chest to mine.

I decided to let my inner chimp have its say. I let it tell me how it felt and what it would like to have said and done to the driver who had become my enemy by then. We went through an imaginary argument together, one which I clearly won by belittling my opposition with some cutting and clever remarks. It ranted on for about ten minutes, sometimes in my head and sometimes out loud until it eventually calmed down and let my more rational self take over.

This was a new thing to me. In the past I would have internalised my anger and let it fester for hours, if not days and weeks. Letting my chimp rant on got it over with much more quickly and by the time I got home I was my usual calm self again.

Calm enough to write about it without setting my chimp off again.

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