Self-Talk and Its Impact on Driving Anxiety

Think positively, think proactively

It’s easy to fall prey to negative thinking when you’re trying to overcome your fear of driving. Some people with the condition are solely focused on curing their phobia. However, it’s also important to address your old, unhealthy ways of thinking.

What Is Negative Self-Talk?

Negative thought patterns feed your anxiety and can even influence the way your body reacts to a stressful situation.

In psychology, this is called “negative self-talk.” The concept of negative self-talk is based on the idea that by thinking and saying overly pessimistic things, we limit our belief in what we can do. So, for example, if you constantly tell yourself you’re too old to go back to school, you are less likely to be proactive and to seek ways to accomplish your goal.

An article from Psychology Today describes four types of self-talk which can hinder you in your efforts to become a more successful, positive person.

How Does Self-Talk Affect Driving Anxiety?

Imagine that you’re sitting behind the wheel in a car. You put on your seat belt, start the car, and then…what? At that point, most people start thinking about where they are going and what they have to do when they get there.

A person with high driving anxiety is more likely to start thinking about all the bad things that can happen on the way to his or her destination. Thoughts like “What if I crash?” and “I can’t do this!” are common. Ruminating on ideas such as these is unhealthy and distracting.

Instead of focusing on every little negative possibility, you should start thinking calming thoughts. Tell yourself that you can get where you need to go. Remind yourself of all the success you’ve had as you recover from your fear. Sometimes it even helps to look around and think of all the people who are completely at ease when driving. If they can do it, so can you.

Before you even start the car, you may want to go through some soothing mental exercises. Yoga and other forms of meditation offer a number of highly effective relaxation strategies. You can practice deep breathing techniques or use mental imagery to picture a tranquil, pleasant scene before driving.

It helps to learn to recognize your pessimistic, irrational thoughts so you can deal with them directly. You know that calling yourself a failure or saying you never do anything right is over the top. Feeling guilty about your weaknesses is unnecessary and unproductive. You have to think about what you can do to grow more comfortable driving, and tell yourself that you won’t give up.

Naturally, some days will be worse than others. It’s perfectly normal to experience some recurrent anxiety, even after treatment. Remember that you are a work in progress, that everyone has bad days, and that you should always strive to be better. The key is to keep trying and maintain a positive mindset.