Having a fear of driving can be very debilitating and affect your lifestyle in many ways. If you are afraid to drive you are in good company because there are millions of people that have driving phobia which places restrictions on their lifestyles. Although you suffer from debilitating symptoms when you try to get behind the wheel there are many ways that you can overcome fear of driving.
Like other fears that you have which are connected to panic and anxiety, the fear of driving is part of this cycle and the mental and physical distress that you suffer when you fear driving a car can be reversed like other fears associated with anxiety. Moreover, palpitations, difficulty in breathing, profuse sweating and the feeling of dizziness may also sweep into you when your anxiety attacks. If you are feeling these signs whenever you are on the road, you may want to learn how to overcome your fear and have a normal driving experience.
Some of the following tips should be helpful with helping you overcome fear of driving:
How Fear and Anxiety Can Fool You
The fear or anxiety you feel when you get behind the wheel does not mean you are crazy. Instead it is an indication that something triggered your fear of driving and your anxiety has taken over and fooled your brain into producing fearful thoughts associated with driving.
See if you can recognize exactly what makes you afraid to drive. For example, you may have been in an accident or perhaps you had a panic attack while driving. These types of experiences condition your brain to think fearful thoughts, so the key is to reverse this process to prevent being fooled by the fear and anxiety that dictates your life. If you know the root cause of why you are afraid to drive you can take the actions required to change the conditioned response that results from something that occurred in the past while you were driving.
In these cases it’s as though your subconscious mind has taken one event and painted all of your driving with one broad brush, completely losing perspective on all the times you’ve driven and been perfectly safe. In NLP and hypnotherapy we use techniques like the Rewind Technique, Timeline Therapy, and Trauma Reversal to decrease the response to that single event, and then continue to use reframing and mental rehearsal in the hypnotic state to recondition your mind to responding to driving as safe, familiar and comfortable.
Don’t Fall into the Avoidance Trap
Don’t give in to your fear – It is easy to simply give in to your fear and avoid places that make you anxious. However, that changes nothing as the problem will not fade away by itself. It is OK to be afraid, it is OK to feel anxious but it is not OK to avoid the problem. In order to overcome your fear of driving, you must first be willing to face it head-on. Yes, it will take time, effort and energy on your part but the rewards are well worth it if you persist.
You may be under the impression that driving schools are for beginners. The fact is that many driving schools have programs to help people overcome fear of driving. They recognize the fear as a real issue that must be dealt with and they provide professional instruction that helps people push through their fears on the road.
Focus on Your Destination
Focus on your destination – Focus your thoughts on the final destination, not the process. For example, if you are trying to merge into a highway, it is easy to get overwhelmed by everything that is going on around you:
“Omg, all the cars are travelling so fast, how am I supposed to merge into them!”
“What if I make a mistake and cause an accident!”
“I am shaking so badly that I think I might lose control!”
Do not think about what is going or not going to happen, it does not matter at all. Focus on the destination, focus on what you need to do. Need to merge into a lane? Give the appropriate signal, check for an available spot, filter into the lane. Do not obsess with what might or might not happen. Just like you did when you didn’t have the fear. I help my clients learn to take a casual, “nonchalant” attitude toward driving again.
Due to new innovations in technology it is possible to overcome fear of driving through a computerized simulation that allows you to practice your driving skills without actually getting behind the wheel of an automobile. The simulation process can create real life driving situations which allow you to practice the situations you fear in a safe environment. The system is relatively new and quite costly so you would need to check on location and availability.
As I mentioned above, hypnosis and NLP techniques are almost custom ordered to resolve fears and phobias. These techniques are designed to change how the mind/brain creates perception and perspective on the events in your life, pulling them into their proper perspective rather than over magnifying them. And whether you are aware of a specific event that started your fear or not, the subconscious mind can be reconditioned to once again feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
I work with a lot of fear of driving — more than I ever thought I would. After the fear of public speaking its the second most prevalent fear in my practice. I see much more fear of driving than fear of flying. I’d be happy to talk with you and see if I can put you back in the driver’s seat.