Like many folks, driving in traffic tries my patience. One strategy often bandied about in Buddhist circles for dealing with one’s impatience in traffic is to consider that the person who just pulled out in front of you, for example, might have done that because they have some medical emergency and are in a rush to get to the hospital. This thought elicits compassion.
A problem with that perspective is that it’s usually factually incorrect. 9,999 times out of 10,000 the person pulled out in front of you, not because they had some emergency, but because they just didn’t care how their behavior affected you.
A better strategy, I think, is to work toward cultivating metta for even those who cause problems for us.
From Majjhima Nikaya 21 – Parable of the Saw
“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.’ It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.
“Monks, if you should keep this instruction on the Parable of the Saw constantly in mind, do you see any mode of speech, subtle or gross, that you could not endure?”
“No, venerable sir.”
“Therefore, monks, you should keep this instruction on the Parable of the Saw constantly in mind. That will conduce to your well-being and happiness for long indeed.”
The point here, I think, is not that we should allow others to do us harm, but rather, cultivation of metta/lovingfriendliness accrues to our own benefit, even in (especially in) trying circumstances.