Fear Of Driving And Automatic Negative Thoughts

The fear of​ driving is​ often complicated, if​ not caused by, the individuals’ automatic negative thoughts. These thoughts can be scary and​ irrational, such as​ the concern that they will veer into oncoming traffic or​ drive off a​ bridge, or​ they may be centered on​ the person’s physical feelings of​ anxiety such as​ a​ rapid heartbeat or​ dizziness. These thoughts are often described as​ the most bothersome symptom of​ driving anxiety and​ they can be the actual triggers for​ panic attacks while driving. Controlling these thoughts is​ critical to​ success in​ eliminating a​ driving phobia.
Thought Stopping
It is​ sometimes advised that the individual who has a​ fear of​ driving diligently try to​ stop their negative thoughts. Although this​ is​ well intentioned and​ the goal certainly is​ to​ reduce the quantity of​ these bothersome thoughts, the technique is​ inherently flawed. Requiring the individual to​ remember what not to​ think of​ infers that they have already thought it. it​ is​ akin​ to​ telling them to​ not think of​ a​ blue banana. The first thing they will think of​ is​ a​ blue banana because the very act of​ remembering what not to​ think of​ requires the thought that is​ intended to​ be avoided. Methods of​ mentally visualizing a​ stop sign or​ snapping oneself with a​ rubber band​ to​ train​ the mind to​ no longer have the thoughts is​ unfortunately an​ often suggested technique that is​ not recommended.
Scheduled Worry Time
Worry time is​ setting aside specific periods of​ time through the day, typically morning and​ evening, to​ devote to​ letting these thoughts run their course. for​ instance, a​ common​ thought associated with the fear of​ driving is​ that of​ being trapped and​ not being able to​ escape and​ losing control. for​ this​ thought, the individual would force themselves to​ ruminate on​ the thought twice a​ day for​ a​ predefined period of​ time. The intention​ is​ twofold. First, the thought becomes less powerful as​ the person​ becomes disinterested in​ it​ after repeatedly playing out the scenario mentally. Secondly, the technique teaches the person​ to​ be able to​ postpone their worrying until the designated time, which eventually may allow them to​ postpone the concern indefinitely.
We have seen moderate success with this​ approach for​ very isolated thoughts or​ specific driving fears. for​ instance, if​ there is​ a​ particular bridge that is​ bothersome, but not bridges in​ general. for​ the overall fear of​ driving, there are too many fearful thoughts to​ effectively use this​ technique for​ long term. it​ also does not foster the acceptance and​ understanding of​ the fearful thoughts and​ sensations that is​ so critical for​ success.
Creative Visualization
The vast majority of​ those with irrational, compulsive, and​ scary thoughts associated with a​ fear of​ driving are highly intelligent and​ creative people. Many of​ the bothersome thoughts they have are not based on​ historical evidence or​ fact (they have likely never responded in​ the manner they fear, yet the fear remains), and​ are created by their overactive creative imagination. These abilities allow the phobic person​ to​ play out situations in​ the mind very convincingly and​ this​ realism helps to​ perpetuate the fear. The Driving Fear program, which specialized in​ the treatment of​ driving phobias and​ anxiety has developed a​ technique which uses these creative skills to​ eliminate instead of​ perpetuate the bothersome thoughts. it​ actually allows the same traits which created the fear to​ end the fear.

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