A lot of the women I talk to have fears around driving. They tell me they avoid driving long distances, driving on the motorway, driving at night or they feel nervous when they have to drive somewhere new, even in their home town. Do any of these common fears ring a bell with you?
This used to be my story too. When I passed my driving test I was already married to my husband Mike and of course, he’d always been the driver in our relationship. After I passed my test he continued to be the driver on most of our journeys together.
His Comments Did NOT Help!
Because I was a new driver and maybe because I was lacking in overall confidence, whenever I did drive with Mike as a passenger I felt really nervous and would make mistakes. I’m sure he was only trying to be helpful, but any comments he made just made me feel even more nervous. Eventually I would insist on Mike driving whenever we went out together, and I got the impression that was what he preferred too.
What happened as a result was I never gave myself the opportunity to become a truly confident driver, because that confidence comes through practice. Back then, it didn’t cause me much of a problem, but as I became a coach and started to need to travel for training and networking, it started to be a right pain in the ‘you-know-what’!
In fact, when I did my coaching training in 2009 I actually persuaded my hubby to drive me to Bristol and back every day of the course, just so that I could avoid a 30 minute drive on the motorway! It became clear that these fears were starting to cause me real problems.
Imagine A Different Way
In a moment I’ll be sharing with you my 3 easy steps for overcoming YOUR driving fears so that you can go anywhere you want, whenever you want. But first, I want you to take a minute to imagine what your life would be like if you were able to drop those fears. How would you feel as you were getting into the car and setting off on a journey? How relaxed would you be as you arrived at your destination? Close your eyes and really be in that situation for a moment…
Feels wonderful doesn’t it?
Since doing these 3 steps I’ve been driving further and further afield, I’ve begun to look forward to driving on the motorway (I know, I can hardly believe it either!) and I actually enjoy driving. If you’ve known me a long time you’ll know what a big deal this is.
Read on to discover exactly what I did and how you could get some valuable 1:1 time with me, to help you achieve that relaxed, easy feeling about driving.
So Here Are My 3 Steps to Overcome Your Driving Fears
I’m sharing with you what has worked for me and got me over my driving fears, so that now I’m happy to get any car and drive it, I look forward to motorway trips and offer to drive all the time. I still use all of these 3 steps at some time or another, as the ghost of an old fear rears its head briefly, but I’m finding that most of the time driving is just another thing I do in my life – completely normal , comfortable and easy.
Step 1 – be mindful of your breathing
Even now I notice occasionally that I’ve reverted to my old habit of holding my breath or taking very shallow breaths when I’m driving. We tend to do this when we’re fearful or extremely stressed and I believe that in my case, my body is just in the habit of doing this when I drive sometimes – like a memory stored in my body.
This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that there’s a proven link between mind and body. So a fearful or stressed mind causes us to shallow breath AND shallow breathing causes us to feel fearful or stressed.
Because I know that holding my breath will make me feel stressed, I make a conscious effort to take some deep belly breaths. You can imagine there is a balloon in your belly (not your chest) that inflates as you breathe in and deflates as you breathe out. Doing this sends a message to your mind that there is no need for the stress response and everything calms down.
Step 2 – tap the fears away
I use tapping every single day and it is the first thing I teach a new client. If you haven’t heard of it before, I’m talking about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which involves gently tapping on certain acupuncture points to relieve uncomfortable ‘negative’ emotions and transform our thinking.
It is based on ancient wisdom including acupuncture, and scientific research is now showing that by doing tapping in this way, we’re actually calming the amygdala – the part of our brain that processes emotions, especially anger and fear. This in turn reduces the cortisol (a stress hormone) in our system.
This is a good thing for helping you overcome your driving fears, because increased cortisol in the bloodstream causes faster heart rate, shallower breathing and sweaty palms, to name just a few uncomfortable symptoms!
I can almost hear you asking “So come on, how do I tap?”
Follow this process now and you’ll feel the difference:
- Start by recalling your driving fears and notice where you feel that fear in your body. Rate the fear on a scale of 0 – 10 with 0 being no fear and 10 being the worst fear you can imagine.
- Tap between your eyebrows with your fingers (about the same pressure and speed as if you were drumming your fingers on a table or typing on a keyboard). As you’re tapping, say ‘release and let go’ out loud.
- Now tap at the side of either eye (where you can feel the bone of your eye socket) and say ‘release and let go’
- Repeat, tapping under your eye (again, where you can feel the bone) and say ‘release and let go’
- Tap all across your collar bone area and say ‘release and let go’
- Squeeze your wrist firmly as you say release and let go’
- Now take a deep breath in and out
- Finish by saying ‘peace’ and think of a peaceful place
- You have completed 1 round of tapping, so now you can feel for that fear sensation in your body and rate it again on a scale of 0 – 10. It will very likely have gone down, although sometimes it will go up a bit first, as you’re focusing on the fear.
Repeat the process from 1 to 9 until you get the rating down to a 1 or 0.
Now you’ve experienced the power of tapping, you could do what I did, which is to sit in the car and tap on my fears! I would tap in the house before I went out, sit on the drive (in the car obviously) and tap, I would tap at traffic lights and set aside time to imagine my worst fears and tap on them.
Remember, you’re not distracting yourself from the fear, you’re actually calming your physiological response to the stressful thought and if you do that enough, you’ll break the pattern between the thought and the response and you won’t feel the fear anymore. You can’t tap too much, so off you go…tap tap tap!
Step 3 – drown out the negative voices
One of the reasons I used to get so scared, especially of driving on the motorway or to a place I’d never driven to before, was the constant barrage of negativity going on in my head:
I can’t do it
What if I have an accident?
It’s too busy, I won’t be able to get off the slip road – there’s no gap for me! Help, what do I do now???? Eeek that was close, I’m such a bad driver.
What if I make a stupid mistake? Look, I just braked too hard…bet I do something else wrong.
What if I don’t see a car when I’m overtaking?
What if a car doesn’t see me?
How will I know which way to go?
What if I get lost?
No wonder I felt awful whenever I so much as thought about driving on the motorway! Now I’ve got rid of most of my fears, so I don’t get these thoughts very often, but every now and then a sneaky one will pop up. My answer is to turn it around into a special question called an ‘Afformation’.
I’ll explain more about Afformations in a separate post, but if you can’t wait, you can get it all from the horse’s mouth by buying The Book Of Afformations by Noah St John*
Simply put, you take something you want and put ‘why’ in front of it to create an empowering question that will change how you feel. So with each of my negative thoughts I can find the opposite (what I want instead) and turn it into a question:
I can’t do it becomes…why is this so easy?
What if I have an accident becomes…why am I so safe right now?
There won’t be a gap in the traffic for me becomes…why is there plenty of space just for me?
Over to you now – write out the thoughts that plague YOU when you think about your driving fear, find the opposite for each one and then turn it into a ‘why’ question that feels empowering. My advice is to pick the one that feels best for you – mine is Why am I so safe? – and have that as your mantra whenever you notice your driving fear kicking in. The intention is to drown out the negative thoughts that you usually think so you don’t get yourself so worked up. I call it ‘the stuck record’ because I just keep saying it over and over again until I start to feel better. Give it a try!
These 3 Steps Changed My Life!
So now you have the 3 steps I used to overcome my driving fears and here’s how my life has changed since I did. A few weekends ago, I did something I couldn’t even imagine back then – I drove, all by myself to visit my friend Emily in York;
On 5 different motorways,
For the first time,
On a Friday!
And let me tell you, that journey was no easy ride. There were breakdowns, hold-ups, huge tailbacks and satnav misdirections…and yet despite it all I got there safe and sound. Alright, it was a lot later than I’d intended, but I DID IT!!!
I’ve also driven my hubby and me to Cornwall for a holiday, driven to the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff and repeatedly driven around Gloucestershire and Wiltshire with absolutely no issues.
It’s all up to you now. If you want to overcome your own driving fears and lose that awful feeling you get when you even think about driving somewhere new, at night or on the motorway, you’re the one who’s got to do the 3 steps.
A Bit Of Extra Help
If you feel like you need a bit of extra help then I’d like to offer you the chance to apply for 1 of 3 free ‘Ditch Your Driving Fears’ mini-breakthrough session (online or on the phone). You’ll get clear about what driving means for you, uncover your unique blocks that are keeping you stuck in fear and have positive next steps that will free you from fear for good.
I’m offering a limited number of these sessions each week, so apply now to be sure of getting your place. Simply >>click here<< to fill in the application form and select a date that suits you.
I’d love to hear from you if this post resonates with you in any way, so please leave a comment below.
And as always…
Enjoy life again, you deserve it!
*please note, I use amazon affiliate links so if you buy the book via my link I'll get a small payment as a reward for promoting it. I only promote products I genuinely use and find useful :)