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Causes of driving anxiety and 4 ways to overcome them.

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Causes of driving anxiety and 4 ways to overcome them - Me again therapy

I’m Jodie, I’m a hypnotherapist. I help women anxious drivers to overcome their fear of the road, and I give them back their confidence to drive.

In this blog I’ll discuss The 4 ways I work with clients, how your thoughts are pointing out what could go wrong and what to think instead.

The 4 fundamentals to working with clients

During initial chats I discuss client’s behaviour to driving. When I say behaviour I mean what habits they have around getting into the car and driving. And let me be clear, avoidance can be a behaviour. Overthinking can be a behaviour. One which used to help them but now is more unhelpful causing them more anxiety.

I work with them and their well intentioned thoughts, the ones which are increasing their anxiety. Identifying which that have been running on autopilot, happening so much that they don’t even notice them anymore. These thoughts might be intrusive and loud, or they are maybe subtle and slowly guiding you into inaction. More importantly for some, is the tone of that voice, Is it yours? Is it kind, is it unkind? It might be the voice of a parent figure. It can get quiet aggressive at times, relentless until you take the action it wants you to take. Have you even notice how it stops the moment you do what it suggests?

I work with them and their feelings and emotions. If they have anxiety which has become out of control somewhere along the way, the subconscious mind has connected what is happening now to a fear that they have experienced somewhere else in their life.

For me, it was a past driving experience but for most it's a feeling or an emotion from their younger life. An emotion or a belief that was fixed at the time, still having an impact on them today. Releasing these emotions (without the changing the memories) can be incredibly useful to change the fear connection. Building their confidence to drive again.

I work with them and give them tools to control the physical sensations of anxiety. Where or how you hold emotions in your body. Breathing calm into driving panic For example, if you are afraid to speak in public you might feel as though you have a lump or a frog in your throat. Your anxiety might show itself as panic or a tightness in your chest. It's why heart attacks and panic attacks are often confused by people.

Don't believe everything you think - Me again therapy

Don't believe everything you think

This quote helps me every time I say it because our mind is so complex that it can help us, and it can hinder us. Remembering the No. 1 job of the subconscious mind is to keep us safe and free from harm. It will do that at any cost! It is persistent, it will sucker punch you when you feel at your lowest. It will tell you the worst thing it possibly could. By doing this it gets you to take action which will keep you safe. It gets you to stop the car, or get off the motorway. It gets you to stay home and although that doesn't get you to your destination, it does keep you safe and free from harm.

But what is most interesting about these anxious thoughts is that although they are well-intentioned. And at one point they may have served a purpose. Now, they are no longer supporting you. When you believed that you felt unsafe in the car it now only shows you evidence which supports that thought. I have no doubt that there are examples that you are a good driver. You are driving safely but because your subconscious mind is in survival mode it's only showing you danger! Glossing over any evidence of when it goes well.

You may even notice that you got home just fine today and are feeling pretty good about yourself and your subconscious mind might be like. Don't forget though we still couldn't do that road, that one’s terrifying! Before you get too happy, we are still scared! What if tomorrow an accident happens? It flat-out rejects the truth. You have told yourselves so many times that you can’t do it. The subconscious mind has banked all the evidence that this belief is true. Each time embedding the belief into the subconscious mind. That’s why logically you know you can drive, but the fear continues to exist. That feeling of being stuck getting bigger!

With practise, you can start to recognize these thoughts. You can start to challenge them. Deciphering the truth from the well-intentioned thoughts which (actually) no longer support you. The ones that are alerting you to danger which isn't there.

And I’ll let you into a little secret, hypnosis helps you to get there quicker. Hypnosis is described as a higher state of attention where behaviour, thoughts and beliefs can change through direct and indirect suggestions. Some find the change can take place quicker and for others it takes a few sessions for the change to take place.

Driving anxiety - Me again therapy

One of the most important relationships you’ll have during your life is with yourself. Being able to recognize these thoughts. Challenging them and deciphering the helpful from the unhelpful ones. Once you can do this you can celebrate the successes you are having. Having a relationship with yourself, one of self-awareness, compassion and kindness helps you to build confidence and resilience to not only drive, but see more wins.

Understanding your thoughts, their needs and knowing that you don’t need to believe them can be a great source of confidence. (It’s also helpful to understand why they are raising the issue – That’s another blog). Empowering you to extend your comfort zone and building self-belief and confidence along the way. This can be done both in your thoughts and/or in the physical journeys you are taking.

Ultimately, It’s about celebrating those small wins that you have. Once you can recognize the thoughts which are no longer helping you and you can thank them for their intention. Knowing you’ve got this, you slowly start to increase your belief in yourself. Understanding the difference between a thought that helps or hinders you.

Some people find that the thought inside their head. The damaging thoughts that says the cruellest thing to them isn’t even their own. Clients find naming the voice helps them to spot the helpful thoughts from the criticizing ones. I’ve had some clients tell me they sound like their mothers; some identify them as monsters. Some have described them as someone whose given up, it’s easier to point out the mistakes than search for the good.

Jodie Phillips D.hyp - Me again therapy

When you do this you start to believe in yourself. You build a relationship with yourself to understand what your anxious thoughts are telling you. You can understand what they are telling you. You can still act when there is real danger present This will be an automatic response. Your reaction will be on a subconscious level, there’s no need to worry about it. You can reassure them when they don’t need acting on. You can add in self-care or self-compassion through whatever methods help to ground you. Breathing techniques are great for this Breathe calm into your driving panic – Journaling is incredibly useful to recognize the same thoughts resurfacing even when they change and morph (in disguise) to get you to stay safe, because...

P.s they aren’t going go without a fight!

They’ve been doing this for a while right? If you want change you need to be as persistent as they are. Celebrating! Your wins – and this is where some of my clients struggle because its human nature to spot the problems. But the key to change is celebrating the wins.

I’m not asking for big wins. I’m asking for the small wins you can spot each day. When you get in the car, and you have these coping techniques like Breathing techniques or to recognize the thoughts and say thank you very much, but I’ve got this. You can reduce the physical sensations of anxiety because you’re now able to drive and drive confidently you start to see the wins everywhere!

These are the thoughts you’ll know you can believe in, because these thoughts feel good! They feel damn good, and you’ll know because all of these techniques I’ve described will become automatic. All now happening on a subconscious level.

If this resonates with you, and you are ready to recognise the thoughts, the voices, distinguish the helpful ones from the unhelpful ones and you are ready to start making some changes. Book a discovery call and start celebrating the small wins.

Jodie Phillips D.hyp - Celebrating client wins - Me again therapy

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