Are procrastination and fear of failure keeping you stuck in your efforts at driving anxiety recovery? The secret is, you may just need to give yourself permission to fail.
In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
I just got schooled. I don’t like being schooled, but I just learned something that totally applies to driving anxiety recovery. I’d like to share it with you in the hope that it will help you, too.
I’m experiencing anxiety about learning a new skill I undertook two years ago. It has nothing to do with driving anxiety recovery. It’s a totally different area. But, the fear around learning this new thing is exactly the same fear I felt when I was recovering from my driving anxiety.
It’s the fear of failure.
I asked a group of Facebook friends how they push through fear of failure. Here’s one of the comments I got back:
There’s two types of failure. One is scary and the other feels great.
The good one is when you try something and it bombs. This teaches you what doesn’t work and moves you a step closer to what does.
The bad type is when you never do anything and you don’t move forward or learn anything at all. That’s bad failure!
He’s basically saying that trying and failing is a good thing. Real (bad) failure is when we do nothing. Try nothing. Learn nothing. In other words, becoming paralyzed into inaction, doing nothing at all, is the only real failure there is. And that’s the secret to driving anxiety recovery — when we fail by trying something that totally bombs. That’s how we learn what works by learning what doesn’t work. Wow!
Do You Need to Give Yourself Permission to Fail?
I needed to hear the comment above because it makes me remember when my life was ruled by driving anxiety. I was so scared I’d fail if I did anything out of my driving “comfort zone,” which was very, very small. I already felt life a failure, and I was afraid I’d feel even more like a failure if I tried some new driving situations and couldn’t handle them.
Eventually, I realized I needed to give myself permission to fail if I was going to succeed in my driving anxiety recovery. I needed the freedom that comes with trying something new and not being very good at it at first.
I encourage you to give yourself this same permission to fail about your driving anxiety recovery. The Driving Peace program is about reprogramming our brains, training ourselves to react in new ways to the things that scare us about driving. And that means learning — and using — new skills. Which means that we’re going to fail sometimes. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s even a healthy sign of progress.
The Kind of Failure That Makes You Grow is The Secret to Recovering From Driving Anxiety
Let’s say that you have anxiety driving on highways. You’re terrified of them, so you avoid them. Eventually, you may not be able to drive on highways at all.
You may end up so afraid of not being able to drive on highways that…you can’t drive on highways! You’ve reached the state of paralysis that fear of failure eventually leads us to: we give up trying altogether.
What you need is to go on the highway…and totally suck at it!
You need to give yourself permission to be the worst highways driver in the whole history of highways.
It’s okay if you can only make it to the next exit ramp before you have to get off. It’s okay if you can only drive 100 yards before you have to pull over into the breakdown lane. It’s even okay if you drive to the on-ramp and simply cannot make yourself turn onto it.
Because at least you tried.
You may not have done it well or for very long, but you did it! You learned something. You did something different. It may feel like failure, but it’s the good kind. The kind that teaches you. The kind that makes you grow.
Driving Peace co-creator Andrew Cunningham talks about how we use fear of failure to criticize ourselves in Part II of the program:
Accepting Failure as Part of Your Driving Anxiety Recovery
Recovery from driving anxiety or any other kind of anxiety really comes down to learning how to face our fears. The only way to do that is to try new things — new behaviors, new attitudes, new reactions. It really is that simple. We make it complicated in our minds, but it’s not. This is what the Driving Peace program is all about.
Learning something new is scary, because we’re afraid we’ll fail. But trying something new and not being good at it is not real failure. In fact, giving ourselves permission to try something new and fail is actually the secret to driving anxiety recovery. The only real failure is when we give up and find excuses to stop trying at all.
I’m going to keep pushing forward with my new skills even though I’m afraid I can’t do it. I’m learning that doing nothing is the only way that I can truly fail.
What are you going to do this week to confront your fears?
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Also, what are some other things we can all do to confront our fears? Please leave your comments below.