Do you know that it’s not thoughts that cause anxiety? The same thought evokes different feelings in different people.
The thought “I’m wary of driving over bridges” makes you anxious but for someone else it might set him up for a little challenge. Let’s take an example to understand this better.
Consider you are playing baseball and are positioned in the outfield. The game is down to the wire and one more pitch will give your side the game.
The atmosphere is tense. The batter cracks the ball high and the next thought you get is “It’s coming to the outfield!” Another outfielder has the same thought, “It’s coming to the outfield!”
But the feeling that this thought evokes in you is different from his. He feels elated thinking, “Wow let it come to me, I’ll catch it, we’ll win the game and I’ll become a hero.”
And what’s your feeling? Anxiety. “Oh no, I hope that doesn’t come to me.” Same thought, different reactions. It’s the same with the thoughts you get while driving.
When you get anxious thoughts while driving, you allow feelings of anxiety to be generated in you. If not nipped in the bud, anxiety quickly consumes you.
Your fear of driving only worsens when you give reactions like, “I’m going crazy… I’m going to get a panic attack… I’m gonna lose control… I’m gonna pass out… I’m gonna crash…”
All scary and irrational thoughts. What if you could give a different reaction like the other outfielder in the baseball game? Can you do it? You can, if you are aware enough to catch anxious thoughts before they spiral into a full-blown anxiety attack.
Give a different reaction to the slightest hint of “butterflies in the stomach”. Instead of saying “I’m gonna get a panic attack,” say “Let me face this, this is exciting!”
Instead of entertaining some negative thought just say to it, “Let me deal with you later. Right now I’m busy driving my car.”
If you get a thought “Oh no,” just say “So what? Can’t I handle this?” If you are driving over a bridge and get anxious about veering off into the water, just say “What a stupid thought!”
Simply flipping your negative thoughts into positive or challenging ones will turn your attitude by 180 degrees. Almost instantaneously you’ll get back to the job at hand.
It needs a little bit of practice but very soon you will be able to dismiss, laugh away and flip your negative thoughts. It is that simple.
Anxious thoughts deceive you into believing that something is very wrong. But once you master the technique, you’ll realize that it’s no big deal.