Learning to overcome your fear of driving might be the best thing you will do the entire year. For most of us, driving is a necessity. Sure, you can rely on the public transportation system most of the times, but there are some moments when you can’t.
You might want to travel to a secluded area you can only reach by car, or you might want to help your friend move. There are a lot of moments when driving is extremely helpful.
And after all, you passed your driving test, so you know how to drive. It would be a shame to let fear control your life. In the following article, I’m going to explain how you can overcome your fear of driving.
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Why People Fear Driving
Fear of driving is more common than you might think, but the good thing is that it’s a problem you can solve. But you have to understand your fear of driving before you can solve it. There are multiple reasons why people are afraid of driving.
People who suffer from occasional panic attacks are often afraid of driving because they fear experiencing a panic attack when they’re behind the wheel. That’s totally understandable.
These people are not actually afraid of driving. They are afraid of having panic attacks while driving, which is totally different. The best solution for these people is to deal with their panic attacks first and hone their driving skills later.
Other people might have had panic attacks while they were diving, which leads to a deep fear of driving. They might continue to drive but do so on their terms. They might avoid highways, bridges, or tunnels. They might avoid driving during rush hour and might avoid making left turns if they can.
The best solution for these people is to treat their fear of driving and learn the cause of their panic attack and treat that as well.
Fear Of Driving As Performance Anxiety
People who associate their fear of driving with performance anxiety learned how to drive and got their license, but in most cases, they didn’t drive too much after that moment. These people lack confidence in their driving abilities.
Most of the people who experience this type of driving fear worry about accidents and are afraid they’ll drive so poorly they will attract the attention of the drivers around them. The thought of attracting negative attention from other drivers and inconveniencing traffic make them more afraid.
Some might be afraid they will drive too slowly, or that they won’t start the car fast enough when the light turns green, inconveniencing the drivers behind them. These people might fear that the other drivers’ honking will make them anxious, which might cause them to make a mistake or stall the car.
Whenever they think about driving, these people imagine being trapped in traffic surrounded by loud honking while the crowd yells at them for not driving better.
Fear Of Driving As A Helpful Signal
In rare instances, fear of driving can be a helpful signal. This happens when the people experiencing it have a history of driving poorly and causing accidents.
If you’re not confident in your driving skills and you have a history of being reckless or agitated as a driver, your subconscious being afraid of driving might actually be helpful. Training with a professional or driving in light traffic might help you overcome your fear.
What Causes Driving Fears?
What causes people to fear driving? Why would those who studied and trained for their driving license give up driving all of the sudden? Here is a list of the most common causes of driving fears.
Negative Experiences – Past negative experiences are the most common cause of driving fears. But not only those who have been involved in car crashes perceive their experience as negative. People who have been the victims of road rage, those who got lost in foreign cities, and those who had to drive through bad storms can fear driving because they believe those negative events might happen again.
Driving Outside Your Comfort Zone – Some people are not afraid to drive on familiar routes, but they will refuse to drive to new locations. These people might be afraid of getting lost, getting stuck in traffic, running out of gas, or not finding a parking spot. Sometimes, the fear of something bad happening might not be as great as the fear of it happening in an unfamiliar place where nobody will help.
Fear Of Losing Control – Some people fear losing control of their car. They feel pressured to accelerate because of the other drivers’ honking, but they are not mentally prepared to do so. The moment they accelerate, they clinch to the steering wheel for dear life and their heart starts racing. These people are constantly afraid of losing control and swerving into another lane or outside the road
Fear Of Fatalities – The exaggeration of danger and the underestimation of one’s driving ability is the cause of anxiety for many drivers. Fearful drivers lack faith in their fellow driver’s abilities, and they mistrust their own as well. They have an active imagination and every fender bender becomes a gruesome car crash in their minds.
Learn to overcome your fear of driving and feel confident behind the wheel
Negative Thoughts Lead To Negative Emotions
You passed your driving test, you have already proven you know how to drive. But you were afraid to drive, so you might not be very experienced. That’s alright. Driving is a teachable skill. You get better as you do it.
Even though people are different, most of those who fear driving are afraid for one of the following reasons:
You fear driving because you are afraid you might cause an accident.
You fear driving because you are afraid you might hurt yourself or other people
You fear driving because you don’t feel confident in your driving skills
You fear driving because you are afraid you might damage your car
You fear driving because you think you don’t concentrate enough
You fear driving because you think you can’t react fast enough to prevent an accident
It’s a good idea to write all your fears on a piece of paper. Be honest with yourself and write down everything that makes you afraid of driving. Writing down your fears will help you overcome them.
You should understand that fear is just an expectation of negative things that are going to happen in the future. Fear does not exist in the reality we are living in. The negative things you think about yourself and your behavior generate fear.
The problem with negative thoughts is that they create negative emotions such as fear. Your negative thoughts seep away your confidence, which leads to more fear and so on.
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Become Aware That The Fear Of Driving Is Only In Your Mind
Now that you are aware why you’re so afraid of driving, create a list of all the things you might learn to enjoy about driving. Use specific things that apply for you, and add some positive recommendations. Writing your thought as a progression you can easily follow might help. Here are some good examples:
I enjoy driving because I earned my license and I know how to drive
I like driving because it helps me to travel from one place to another
I enjoy driving because I am confident I control the situation at all times
Even though I take a few extra seconds to change direction, I always make sure it’s alright to do so
I trust myself, so when I have any doubts about what’s ahead I will slow down safely
I will start driving in a parking lot to regain my confidence. The free space allows me to gain driving experience without any problems.
I will drive in familiar areas to increase my confidence
I am confident enough to drive anywhere I want because I can control my actions and really enjoy driving.
Creating a list of positive things you might experience when driving might seem silly, but it can actually be extremely helpful if you read the list on a daily basis. Our brains work by creating synapses. Repeating something will create a pattern which will strengthen the synapses our brain uses, so our brains will be more likely to rely on the new synapses.
Here’s a quick example of how that works.
When a baby is hungry, he or she gets a tummy ache so the crying starts. Once the crying starts, the mother provides food. After a while, this happens again. The baby gets a tummy ache, so he or she will start crying, which will summon the mother to provide food. The synapses in the baby’s brain start making the connections between the events, so the baby learns to cry when he or she is hungry.
Now, this might be a simplistic example, but the same thing happens when you’re an adult too. Your repetitive behavior quickly becomes a habit because the brain starts relying on the strong synapses developed over time. That’s why you have a favorite route to work and like buying things from a specific shop. Once upon a time, your brain associated the route and the shop with positive experiences, so it developed strong synapses for them.
Simply put, the things you do frequently alter your beliefs and perspectives. We believe what we think of ourselves, so our thoughts matter more than we might think.
Reading the positive things on your list over and over will slowly program your mind to believe them. Several studies proved that you can make affirmations work for you.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you overcome your fear of driving
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Driving
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was originally developed to help people overcome depression, but it quickly became useful in helping them overcome their fears. Even though CBT is more often used to help people overcome their fear of spiders, germs, or of the darkness, it can help you overcome your fear of driving as well.
The idea behind CBT is to gradually work yourself up to face your fears. For example, if you would be afraid of using public restrooms because of your fear of germs, the first stage of CBT would be to stand in a public restroom alongside someone you can trust or a therapist to acknowledge your fears.
As you would gradually become comfortable with staying in the restroom, the therapist might suggest touching the sink, the paper towels, or the doorknob until you’re comfortable with that too. This allows you to gradually increase your comfort zone until you can use the restroom.
Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Driving
CBT can be used for driving, as well. You should find someone you’re confident in and comfortable with and ask him or her to be in the car with you. The first step is to sit behind the wheel and starting the car without actually driving it. Feel the wheel, turn the headlights on and off, change the radio stations, and use your signal lights. Repeat the movements until they feel natural.
For the next step, you will have to ask the person you’re with to drive you to a parking lot or a deserted area of your town. Once you get there, change seats and get behind the wheel. Ask your assistant to handle the handbrake if necessary, and start the car. Drive around the parking lot a few times until you feel comfortable behind the wheel.
Once you feel comfortable, you can drive on quiet roads, and then slightly busier ones, and so on until you feel confident enough to drive anywhere.
Understand That Driving Is Not As Hard As It Seems
One of the problems many people who are afraid of driving have is that they look at a busy street and wonder how the drivers manage to handle the traffic. Busy streets are noisy, cars are changing directions all the time, and they might look scary indeed.
But the thing is, once you’re in the car, you don’t care about what the fourth driver in front of you is doing. He or she might turn right or left, but that’s not your concern. It doesn’t matter how chaotic the traffic is. When you’re in the car, the only drivers that matter are those in your front, back, right, and left.
Follow the traffic rules. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving in Washington, Paris, or Moscow, or if the road is busy or clear, following the rules should be your first concern.
Whenever you’re concerned about the traffic, stick to the basics. Apply the brakes and stop when you need to. Drive slow. Do not drive as slow as to inconvenience those around you and cause accidents, but you should only drive as fast as you can handle.
Drive defensively. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Take your time when changing lanes, and ignore those around you if they start honking.
Take Small Steps
If you’re afraid of driving, it’s always a good idea to start driving in open spaces. Parking lots and abandoned parts of your city are ideal for this purpose. You need to get comfortable with the car, and you need to get the hang of its brakes, turns, and acceleration.
Once you feel comfortable enough to drive around the parking lot without any problems, you can start driving in light traffic. No matter how well you drive in parking lots, you need to get closer to the reality of traffic. Finding light traffic might seem difficult at first, but you can always drive early in the mornings and at night.
Sunday morning is perfect for this purpose. Wake up early on Sunday and go for a drive. Most of the streets will be empty, allowing you to hone your skills. This will help you practice your orientation skills and dealing with street signs.
If you don’t feel comfortable while driving, you can always take some driving courses. Learning good driving habits with the help of an experienced instructor can help you get rid of the bad driving habits you might have developed over time. In addition, taking driving courses can reduce the fear you experience and increase your confidence behind the wheel.
Taking small steps is an effective way to overcome your fear of driving
Hypnotherapy Can Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Driving
Hypnotherapy can treat phobias, and it’s effective at treating fear of driving as well. Even though hypnotherapy has a bad reputation from being misused for entertainment purposes, it can help you reclaim your independence and win overcome your fear of driving.
Hypnosis is especially useful for addressing deeply entrenched behaviors such as smoking, sleep disorders, and overeating. The great thing about hypnosis is that it’s very effective at reducing anxiety and breaking down dysfunctional patterns.
Fear of driving starts as a form of anxiety. People who fear driving often suffer from a form of anticipatory anxiety. If they know they have to drive on the other side of town the following day, they might spend their night awake going over their route. Other people might be afraid of driving altogether. They want to drive, and they acknowledge that driving would improve the quality of their lives, but they are not confident enough in their driving skills to attempt to drive.
Hypnosis can help you overcome your anxiety. While under hypnosis, you can identify certain triggers of your anxiety, which can help you avoid them. The hypnosis session might also help you understand how anxiety is affecting you by guiding your attention to specific symptoms.
Hypnosis Helps You Improve Your Confidence
Most people who are afraid of driving are not confident enough in their driving skills. One of the advantages of hypnosis is that it can help you improve your self-confidence and self-esteem. Learning to trust yourself and your abilities will help you get back behind the wheel and drive again.
Hypnosis Helps You Overcome Your Mental Barriers
Sometimes, you really want to drive. You have a driving license, so you know how, but you believe you won’t handle yourself well in traffic and you avoid doing so. Every time you want to drive, you come up with an excuse not to do so. You tell yourself that you’ll try another time, but you never do.
You set up some mental barriers, and they are keeping you from driving. As long as you postpone driving, your anxiety will continue to increase, and your barriers will become stronger. Hypnosis can help you break down your mental barriers and overcome them.
Hypnosis helps you overcome your fear of driving
Hypnosis Helps You Help Yourself
Hypnosis sessions tap into the power of positive reinforcements. With the help of positive reinforcements, hypnosis helps your brain create new synapses. Listening to a hypnosis session on a regular basis will help your brain switch from the old synapses which feared driving to the new ones which encourage you to drive. Over time, instead of feeling fearful, you will feel confident when you think about driving.
Hypnotherapy will help you get in the car and will encourage you to feel comfortable when doing so.
The Benefits Of Using Hypnosis To Overcome Your Fear Of Driving