How to beat driving anxiety with hypnotherapy

Being able to drive can be one of the most liberating and beneficial skills a person can have. While we may take it for granted very quickly and mundane journeys become the norm, most people won’t forget the sense of freedom that instantly washes over us once we have a set of keys in our hand and a license in our wallet. We can suddenly access anywhere we want – no longer limited by public transport or the taxi services of parents and friends. 

For some though, driving or even the thought of it can bring on an overwhelming sense of fear or anxiety. It may be that passing the test is the stumbling block, and with every test that is taken, a sense of failure and worry escalates. While failing on minor points may be brushed off by some, it can build up and weigh on our minds, making us a less confident driver. As a result, more mistakes are likely to occur.

For those who have a license under their belt, these feelings of fear or anxiety may have been triggered by being involved in or even witnessing an accident. It may stem from an incident that was encountered with an angry driver, or perhaps those that seek help are the angry person – turning into someone they dislike and know is dangerous behind the wheel.

The fear and stress associated with driving are more common than many of us will realise. The challenge is that these feelings can become cyclical. The more we worry, the less confident we become, leading to us becoming a twitchy and tense driver. High levels of stress make for unsafe driving – becoming hesitant or overwhelmed by the circumstances. In turn, we are more likely to irritate other drivers, have horns blasted at us or even angrily tailgated and aggressively overtaken. All this leads to a greater sense of failure, fear and worry. And we are back to the beginning of the cycle again.

Hypnotherapy helps to maintain a level of calm and confidence. It empowers you to remind yourself of your skills that enable you to navigate any situation.

Hypnotherapy has long been a solution to these driving challenges. It has the ability to soothe these crippling feelings, and in time, you can become a confident and capable driver once more. And, the stress and pressure of learning to drive or passing the test can also be assisted with hypnotherapy. This treatment is not solely for those already with a license.

Hypnotherapy for driving anxiety

The way it works is by initially spending some time finding what may have triggered this concept of inability. Most of us will sit behind the driver’s wheel on our first ever lesson and feel equally excited and anxious. Unless we have had some previous driving experience, we are all in the same boat and as a rough guide, our confidence has the capacity to be similar. And yes, if we are an anxious person then this will, of course, impact our experience differently from someone who is generally quite sure of themselves.

But on the whole, we start off equal. So, what is it that leads some people to develop a deep fear? What has happened to make them feel uncertain? 

It could be as simple as someone making a comment. The power of other people’s words can be strong – particularly if we admire and value their opinion. One little comment such as, “No let me drive. I prefer driving than being your passenger,” can plant a little seed of doubt. That seed can then grow into a concept that for whatever reason you believe you are a bad driver. However, it might be that actually, this person just isn’t a good passenger. We all know those people – they are so used to being behind the wheel that being a passenger is uncomfortable for them.

The footwell of the passenger seat becomes their imaginary break or they flinch as a bush comes close to their side of the car. In the mind of an already nervous driver, these indicators give signals: you are not good at this. 

Or perhaps they are a little more obvious: when approaching a stationary vehicle, do they grip the sides of the seat or the dashboard as if bracing themselves for impact? Do their senses tell them that whoever is driving hasn’t slowed down enough and they are about to crash? They may make other comments indicating anxiety:

  • “How fast are you going?”
  • “Did you see that car about to pull out?”
  • “Careful, the light is turning red.”

Calm passengers make for good passengers. But getting a calm passenger can be a bit chicken and egg. It boils down to: do they trust the other person and their driving?

If not, then the behaviours will start. They will feed any sense of inability the driver may have. And so, a tense journey will ensue. One potentially with more near-misses and stresses than would have been if everyone had remained positive and calm from the outset.

Equally, if this passenger has experienced many of these journeys before, then giving them the reassurance they seek will be a challenge as they have witnessed these near-misses which only fuels their perception that the other person’s driving cannot be trusted. And so, we see another cycle form. One that someone else fuels and contributes to.

Hypnotherapy helps to maintain a level of calm and confidence. It does not aim to make you a ‘cocky’ driver that overtakes on tight bends. In fact, quite the opposite. It empowers you to remind yourself of your skills that enable you to navigate any situation. Through hypnotherapy, you can rehearse tackling a particularly stressful part of your journey. Maybe even one where a crash has taken place, or an incident occurred. 

Passing a driving test

For those wanting to pass a driving test, hypnotherapy can support you by presenting scenarios that the client then navigates and overcomes. By repeating key phrases, we can help to embed practices. If, for example, a client comments that they always forget to check their mirrors before pulling out, we can weave this into their scripts so that it becomes rooted in their subconscious and an automatic part of their driving. Safety is always at the heart of the work we do in this area, so our focus will be on empowering someone to carefully consider the situation they find themselves in and navigating it with a sense of care and confidence. 

Generally, people come out of hypnotherapy sessions feeling incredibly motivated and inspired. This is because so much of the therapy will come down to the driver’s confidence: confidence that they can take on the roads. Confidence that they can overcome challenges. Confident that they can pass their test. 

This careful confidence then rubs off onto their passengers who, in turn, are likely to be calmer. This careful confidence can help the driver to reassure themselves that they are doing a good job – to let the comments and actions of a nervous passenger not affect them. And, like the nerves, this confidence can become cyclical. Careful confident driving results in them driving better, and so they experience fewer near-misses. In turn, they become surer of themselves and their abilities. They are now a careful confident driver and are able to enjoy the freedom and benefits that driving can bring.

Hypnotherapist Matthew Krouwel also explores driving anxiety and how hypnotherapy can help in his article.

And if you’re ready to make a change, you can search for a hypnotherapist quickly and easily. Browse profiles until you find a therapist you resonate with, and send them an email.

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Written by Jessica Chapman
Jessica Chapman is a therapist and teacher with a passion for the outdoors and being creative. She enjoys assisting others in making positive changes to their lives alongside working on her own aspirations.
Written by Jessica Chapman
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