How did your fear of driving start? Can you recall any particular frightful incident involving you or someone close to you? Have you heard of terrible experiences from someone?
Whatever the cause of your fear of driving a car, that particular scary experience has snowballed into a major crisis – a driving phobia. You may be suffering from palpitation, sweating, lightheadedness, short and irregular breaths, quivering hands, or feelings of losing control or thoughts of crashing.
These symptoms are a cumulative effect of the actual fear of driving (which is a tiny portion, to begin with) and the fear of having these symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s become a vicious cycle that keeps escalating.
The Vicious Cycle of Fear of Driving
- The first stage in this cycle is the actual fear of driving caused by any incident, real or imagined. A mere remembrance brings with it slight symptoms of sweat, trembling, or any of the ones mentioned above.
- In the second stage of this fear cycle, you begin to fear that the symptoms will escalate. This fear of symptoms makes you even more afraid of driving, thereby worsening your symptoms.
- In the third stage, you give in to your feelings of fear and give up driving. You avoid the situation.
- In the final stage, you experience a sharp fall in symptoms of fear because you have given up the idea of driving. This sends out a signal to your subconscious mind telling it that the way of reducing the anxiety of driving is to avoid driving. Your belief that you fear driving gets reinforced.
How to Overthrow This Belief That You Have a Fear of Driving?
The only way to break into the fear cycle, get hold of it and eliminate it from your subconscious mind is to de-link the feelings of fear associated with driving and re-link it with pleasant and happy feelings instead.
This process can be successfully executed with a technique discussed below that reprograms the subconscious mind.
Signs of Driving Anxiety
- Live with anxiety or panic attacks while driving, with symptoms such as trembling, sweating, palpitations, dizziness, inability to take a deep breath, feelings of unreality, or thoughts of losing control, dying, or going crazy.
- Tired of the anxious, scary thoughts they have while driving.
- Dread the morning commute because of their driving anxiety or hate to drive alone (have you ever woken up with a knot in your stomach?)
- Have difficulty driving on highways or feel afraid because you can’t get off when you want to.
- Are uncomfortable on or avoid bridges while driving.
- Take prescription drugs to ease their anxiety about driving.
- Given up promotions or career advancement because of their fear of driving.
- Miss out on the joys and opportunities of life, shared family moments, and events that require travel.
Technique for Overcoming Fear of Driving
Sit back and relax on your couch to perform this exercise for overcoming your fear of driving. It works by replacing the feelings of anxiety with those of peace in your subconscious mind.
Think of something enjoyable and beautiful. Recall a day when you felt happy, relaxed, and secure. Maybe it was on holiday with your family, at the beach lying in the sun, or when you first held your newborn.
Pick up something from your memory and relive those wonderful feelings, the smell, the touch, the sounds…
The key is vividness. Recall your blissful feelings vividly.
Now, just for a length of two seconds, imagine yourself driving your car. Go back to your memories immediately. Drift into those feelings again.
After a minute or so, once again, imagine yourself driving your car for no more than two seconds.
Revert to your blissful and “safe” memories immediately, before allowing fear or anxiety build up. Continue this cycle for about 20 minutes.
What’s going to happen is your brain will reprogram itself to associate feelings of peace and happiness with driving. The old programming will be broken. You shall be a different person within two weeks.
That was how to overcome the fear of driving using a brain reprogramming technique. You can easily overcome the general fear of driving through this technique.
But you need to go deeper and find out precisely what you are scared of while driving. And we will work a way through that too. Find out – is it a general fear of driving phobia, driving on freeways or bridges, a dread of busy intersections, anxiety of how to park on crowded streets without smashing a light…?
How to Overcome Your Specific Fear of Driving
Once you find out what exactly scares you while driving, sit next to an experienced driver among your family or friends, and observe how they do it.
Now apply the technique that we discussed above right there as your partner drives through the scary bridge, intersection, freeway, or whatever that gives you the fear of driving.
For example, consider that you have fear of driving on freeways. Watch your partner drive effortlessly and skillfully on the highway.
Absorb the situation. Sit back, relax, and think of something that makes you feel happy, relaxed, and peaceful. Close your eyes if need be.
Draw from your memories and fill your mind with those feelings. Not so difficult when you are in the passenger seat with your eyes closed.
Now once every minute, for two seconds each, open your eyes and imagine yourself in the driver’s seat driving the car. Continue this cycle for 15-20 minutes or until the feeling of fear dissociates with driving on the freeway. Open your eyes and continue to imagine yourself driving with those feelings still in your mind.
Now switch places with your partner and practice. You’ll feel much better than going it all alone. You can overcome your fear of driving on freeways or bridges or anything else in this way.
What is your fear of driving over bridges anyway? Isn’t the bridge going to collapse? All you need to do is look straight ahead and follow a straight line behind the other cars in front of you. If you do this, you won’t hit the sides or crash into the separator. Practice the reprogramming technique, and you’ll be fine.
Take it step by step. It’s a wise thing to do, especially if your fear of driving tends towards phobia. If you have a fear of driving over bridges, first drive over tiny ones.
Then drive over those that are about the length of 1-2 blocks and more. Finally, proclaim your victory over the fear of driving over bridges by driving over really long bridges spanning the water. If you have a fear of driving on freeways, take the first exit after ramping up.
Next time go further. Initially, stick to the rightmost lane. As you gain in confidence, go one to the left.
You can find more of such techniques in the Driving Fear Program. Hundreds of people like you have overcome their fear of driving with this program.
The author himself has gone on from being a timid driver to an adventurous one, and he wants to share his tips with you.
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- AARP – How to Overcome a Driving Phobia
- ADAA – Overcoming the Fear of Driving
- Scientific American – How to Conquer Your Fear of Driving