“ I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear”. Rosa Parks
How it all started for me
It was in the 2003, I believe, that I realized the beginning of a problem I had. You see, growing up, I never liked heights places or spaces including buildings and high mountains. I also had some other anxieties but as I grew older, I outgrew or overcame most of them. Some of them however remained quite solid, waiting for the appropriate time for expression. For me, that time came after good friend of mine was involved in a near fatal accident that left him paraplegic.
After this event, I began to question my own abilities on the road even though I was a very good and careful driver. A thought here, a thought there and slowly, my driving scope became smaller and smaller because of fear and dread of the road. At it’s peak, I was completely off the highway. It seemed as though the fear and anxiety had grown into this monstrosity. But, I did manage to get myself back on the highway again and did well. However 6 years later, I was back to square one! What happened? I thought I had overcome my anxiety issues but apparently not. And this time, it seemed much worse than the first time.
Enough is enough
As I began, again my journey to recovery, I was so determined that this was it. Enough is enough. I was tired of being anxious, tired of driving anxious, tired of it controlling my life. I was going to deal with this problem at the root. Fear and panic were not going to define me. And fear and panic were not returning back to me again.
Dealing with anxiety at the root.
Here are lessons I learned on resolving anxiety for good:
Most negative emotions tend to start with the thinking process. In anxiety and fear, there is what is called catastrophic thinking or ‘what if’ thinking that builds on itself and escalates until your thinking spirals out of control. So recognize when this is beginning to happen and challenge your thoughts and replace them with more adaptive thought processes.
Address phobias in your kids. Many adults are tormented by fears that stem from childhood experiences so its important to recognize these fears and anxieties in your kids and defuse them or get the appropriate help.
The body often follows the mind. A common incident that brings this to light is what happens when we have a vivid dream. The body reacts as it would in real life. So if the mind is in turmoil or distress, it begins to affect the body and health. Don’t let your stress or anxiety become chronic. Protect your health.
It is so important to fully resolve your issues. Why? Because anything not fully resolved stands the chance of a relapse and sometimes comes back worse. In my case, I felt I had not fully resolved my driving fears the first time and did not address them as soon as they started to reappear – leaving room for recurrence the second time. Recognize when your symptoms start to rise up again and immediately address them before they become full blown and out of control.
Face your fears. Avoidance is the worst thing you can do to yourself because it empowers the negative emotion. Yes, it is uncomfortable to face them but you gain so much strength by taking the first step against fear. The first time I got back on the highway, I honestly thought I’d pass out. I wanted to park my car on the side of the road in defeat but I kept going, very slowly and despite the discomfort. Sure enough, little by little, my comfort level on the road increased. Don’t quit. Stick with the process and watch your anxiety back down.
I recognized that if I was going to ever come out of this, I needed to take drastic measures at the root level. So after staying off the highways for a few years, I am back to driving on the highway again. Though still a work in progress but a whole lot better. I am not limited in my driving. I am not consumed with fear or dread when I think of getting on the highway. I get to places faster now and there is nothing like the feeling of freedom again.