I HATE driving.
Not because I lived most of my life in LA where there are many aggressive drivers on the road, or because we have to drive at least 20 minutes to get anywhere.
I hate it because of traumatic experience I had in a car 9 years ago.
I was driving with my mom on our way to a local trail for a hike New Years Day when we were t-boned by a speeding car.
Our car rolled and we were stuck inside in the middle of a major road while we waited for firefighters to pry open the doors.
When the firefighters and paramedics arrived, we were strapped to a hard plastic stretcher before being taken by ambulance to the hospital. They said that due to the severity of the accident and force of impact on the driver's side, we had to go.
In the emergency room, nurses surrounded me, asking questions as they cut off my clothes to check for any injuries. They then moved us from room to room, testing for signs of internal bleeding and head trauma.
The paramedics said if the car had hit my side by just a few inches to the left, I'd be paralyzed.
But that didn't happen. Instead, my mom and I were very lucky and we walked away.
I didn't want to drive for a long time after the accident. I had a difficult time just being a passenger in a car.
If a car came up too quickly on my side, my hands would start sweating, heart pounding, and I'd lose sight in my right eye. It felt like this would be my life now - unable to go anywhere because I was too terrified to drive.
I realized a big part of my anxiety was my negative thinking. Constantly thinking, "I hate driving. I hate being in the car. This is bad," made me fixate on the negativity and why I hated driving, which brought my mind back to the accident.
1. Become Aware of Your Thinking Patterns
I didn't one day suddenly start thinking, "I need to start reprogramming my mindset to be more positive." For me, I just got tired of my current reality. I didn't like being anxious and having panic attacks in cars.
That wasn't the life I wanted, and I didn't want to be the person who was afraid to drive.
2. Acknowledge that You're Being Overly Critical of Yourself
It doesn't have to be a major negative thought, it could even be the self deprecating thoughts you have about yourself. Yet, think about if a person treated someone you love this way.
Would you stand by and let them talk that way? Then don't do it to yourself.
3. Decide You Want to Make a Change
Some people enjoy being negative and cynical. It makes them feel safe from their place of judgement, like they can anticipate the bad in life and that justifies their behavior.
If you don't see a problem with a negative mindset, then that's your choice. No one can make you be positive.
But, if you find being negative makes you unhappy, consider if it could also be making those around you unhappy.
If you won't change for yourself, are you willing to try for them?
4. Reprogram Your Brain to Turn Negatives Into Positives
I like to do this by focusing on what I’m thankful for. "I'm thankful for this safe car, and that I have the funds to take care of it and give it fuel to take me places."
If I'm feeling especially anxious I’ll even lie to myself and think, “I love driving.” I then try to think about what aspects of driving I do like.
“I get to see the beautiful California scenery, I’m in a reliable car, and driving gives me freedom to get out of the house.”
When you find yourself starting to think negatively, pay attention to when you’re feeling that way. What emotions are you feeling? What could be causing those emotions?
Instead, focus on what you’re thankful for, and remind yourself that these negative thoughts are preventing you from having more positivity in your life.
5. Spread Kindness & Joy to Others
Start small. If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, baby steps forward are still steps in the right direction.
Taking a moment to do a small favor, do something fun with someone you care about.
Or, do an act of kindness can help give you a boost and break the negative cycle of thinking. Reach out to a friend or a loved one and tell them why you’re thankful for them.
Just do something that’s a step forward.
6. Make Time for You
In the airplane safety video at the part where the oxygen masks are demonstrated, they tell you to put your mask on first.
The same should be applied in your daily life – put your mask on first.
It can be difficult to focus on positive thoughts, especially if it feels like life just keeps punching you in the face.
But, cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. Take a break from what you’re doing to do something that brings you joy, or at least shifts you out of a negative mindset.
7. Reprogramming Your Mindset to Be More Positive Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Like anything worth doing though, if you keep at it, and continue to take steps in the right direction, you’ll get the results you want.
I’d be lying if I said I love driving now. BUT, I’m working on it!
I don’t have panic attacks anymore while driving and each drive I make is a small win for me.
While reprogramming your mindset to be more positive, check in with yourself and make sure you’re being kind to yourself.
Keep doing it, and it will eventually become a positive habit.
If you found this post interesting, you might also enjoy this post where I talk about how to work smart in your business.