If you feel stuck with your fears and doubt your ability to overcome them, boy do I know that feel. I'm scared of lots of things (bees, the Bradlees logo, commitments of all kinds...), but let's just focus on driving. I spent 12.5 years trying to avoid driving whenever possible, and now, in 2 months of exposure therapy, I'm driving. It's annoyingly comical how much easier it is to do something than to avoid it. Sure, there's massive anxiety involved, but at least you're actually confronting the thing you fear.
I used to beat myself up a lot for not driving. I felt stupid for not being able to do this one dumb thing that seemingly everyone else does no problem. I'm a smart gal and I had taken driver's ed/driving lessons, hello! I passed my driver's test on the first try and parallel parked like a champ! But the thing I failed to acknowledge was that I never practiced driving in that 12.5 year interval. I walked everywhere, or took Septa, or relied on friends to get around. So how good could I possibly be at driving when I never did it?! Like, DUH.
The only time I took up driving briefly was after I got the job I have now (back in 2013), but then driving became part of my suicide plan. Obviously, I was not in a good place at that time and went inpatient shortly thereafter. But even as I embraced so many other scary things post-inpatient (living in the city, yoga, group therapy), my fear of driving was alive in a new way--I feared that driving would trigger my old suicidal thoughts. The brain is so fantastic at coming up with excuses and "logical" reasons for avoidance!
I say all of this to highlight the layers of mental crapola that made driving this huge pain-in-the-ass hurdle for the past 12.5 years. It just goes to show how berserk the mind gets in constructing walls of fear.
Ultimately, though, getting past fear IS POSSIBLE. When 2015 began, driving was not on my agenda whatsoever. When my therapist suggested exposure therapy back in January, I agreed to call Penn while fully convinced that it would never work for me. The day before I had to do my first driving assignment, I basically had a temper tantrum about how stupid it was and almost refused to do it. But I somehow pushed through and took a risk--something else I'm pretty scared of. It turned out that my anxious mind had not accounted for my past excellence in school (i.e. always doing assignments), my laser focus, my work ethic, and my resolve. So when "Uptown Funk" came on as I was driving (relatively calmly) to Penn last week, I was just blown away by the idea that I'm doing something that my anxious mind so strongly believed I couldn't--or shouldn't--do. Don't believe me, Anxiety? Just watch.
And if I can work toward overcoming my fear of driving, imagine what YOU can do!! <3