Is driving anxiety real? The answer is both yes and no.
If you suffer from driving anxiety then someone asking if it’s real can seem crazy. You’ve probably experienced symptoms when driving like sweating, your hands shaking and a racing heart. I’ve known people whose driving anxiety was so bad that it’s taken them years just to get the courage up to send an email to get help for it. The thought if actually sitting behind the wheel of a car, even without driving, is more than they can bear.
So how come other people find driving so relaxing? You may know people that drive for fun and see it as an escape from their worries and a way to get out of normal life and be free. They just don’t understand driving anxiety at all and can’t imagine why anyone would be scared of it at all. Some people even like driving cars quickly and taking risks on the road.
What’s the difference between these two groups of people?
Why driving anxiety is real to some and not others
There is only one difference between the two groups of people above:
The story they tell themselves.
Driving anxiety may seem very real to you when you experience it but the reason you feel so nervous, shake and sweat isn’t because of driving itself but the thought of driving.
The reason some people get so anxious when driving is that their mind is linking the thought of driving to words and images that are unpleasant. Those unpleasant things then manifest themselves as physical symptoms to encourage you to get out of the situation. Your mind is saying “Stop this! You’re going to get hurt!” even though there is no actual real danger there.
If you change those words and images then you change the way you feel about driving and the anxiety will go. Here’s a great example of that.
Fear and excitement are the same thing
Two people go to a theme park and are queueing up to get on a roller coaster (one of those queues that stretches all around the park and takes hours to get to the front of). As they get nearer and nearer to having their tun on the ride, a feeling starts to grow in each of their minds.
Person A is thinking “Wow, this is going to be great! Look how high it goes! Look how fast it goes! Listen to all those people screaming and having so much fun!”.
Person B is thinking “This is awful! Look how high it goes! Look how fast it goes! Listen to all those people screaming in terror, scared for their lives!
The only difference between those two people is the story they’re telling themselves. Person A is looking at all the positives and how they’re going to enjoy them. Person B is looking at all the negatives and how they’re going to dread it.
The interesting thing is that they’ll both be experiencing the exact same thing when on the roller coaster. They’re on the same ride at the same time sharing the same experience. Whether they are enjoying it or scared is simply down to how they’re perceiving the experience. This is because:
The only difference between fear and excitement is the story you tell yourself
That’s all driving anxiety is
It’s all about how your mind perceives what is happening and that’s why some people can love driving while others live in fear of it.
How do you change the story though? That’s a story for another post.