FUEL FOR THE MINDFUL DRIVER: From Fear to Anxiety
Fear and short term worry are natural ways to solve real-life problems. They may slow down or stop certain life/daily activities to give time for healing or for us to find solutions.
It works similarly a cast on a broken leg. The stress of walking has been eliminated to give time for healing, then when the cast is removed, the leg has to readjust to walking. This may be more uncomfortable than expected, but if the cast is not removed in a timely manner, then the leg, instead of healing, will weaken.
The same applies for a fear we may have. When the restriction we adopted in order to heal is kept up past the point of healing, it will start to develop into an anxiety.
- FEAR = a response to a specific situation at the time
- ANXIETY = debilitating, in thought and action. It is no longer about a specific event at the time , but a projection of a possible event. It has signs of catastrophic thinking.
On the surface it seems to make sense. A “bad thing” has happened (and who wants to go through that again!) I have found that students and clients are very resistant at that stage to letting go of that way of thinking.
When we experience a fear, it is externalized i.e. when a tiger runs after me I better do something about that, now! But when I am chronically worried or actually anxious, then I am fighting my own emotional state. No real problem exists at that moment — I am creating it in my mind. That is actually really good news if we can recognize this distinction! But it feels so real to so many people that they lose sight of their external world. They view their world through their emotional pain and their lives take on distortions.
It is important to understand these differences. Most fears we are aware of we are able to handle on our own, but when we are dealing with any forms of anxieties, we need a trusted therapist. A therapist can hold the future vision free of pain for us until we can see it for ourselves.
I have deliberately kept the introduction to fear and anxiety unspecific as to the cause of the trauma. Traumas have many causes and even though most of my clients have been in a car crash of some kind, other traumas unrelated to driving can assert themselves while in traffic. The anxiety is a changed relationship to one’s self. That changed relationship of the Self, like a domino effect, can and will bump into other areas of our lives .
Social anxiety and obsessive/compulsive anxiety are a category of disorders in themselves. It is best that clients with these anxieties have an active support system in place while they are taking driving lessons. Driving lessons on their own, without a psychologist or therapist’s support, may make these condition worse.