So, on Monday evening I drove from my workplace in Grimsby to Guildford in Surrey. Then, yesterday, I drove back from Guildford to my home in Hull. I drove on the M25 during rush hour, the M1, M18 and M62 all in a day.
I am well aware that this is no big deal and millions of people do this everyday.
Those who know me well will understand just how much of an achievement this was . Through severe and sustained anxiety, fear and panic I had stopped motorway driving over six years ago just after my youngest Son was born. Prior to this, I had driven up and down the country for many years without a second thought. Suddenly, I would barely drive out of the East Riding, even then there were some A-roads within the area that made me so anxious I felt unsafe to be driving. If I found myself on the motorway as a passenger, I would spend the entire journey with my toes curled, being completely convinced that someone in probably a very large vehicle, was most definitely going to pull out at any moment and we would have no hope of stopping in time. If either of my boys were in the car it was unbearable. I would spend the whole time playing out worst case scenarios visually in my head… ambulances, hospitals.. the complete aftermath of an horrendous RTC with my family as the casualties.
It isn’t due to my bravery that I suddenly decided to get behind the wheel and drive the 230 mile round trip. I didn’t ‘feel the fear and do it anyway‘. I hadn’t had hypnosis or been through NLP or CBT or a mindfulness programme (well I had already tried all of these over the last six years and had still be unable to get onto the motorway).
It was quite simply the realisation of what is real and what is not, a new understanding. I now understand the inside-out nature of experience and when you have that understanding, nothing on the outside can provoke fear or anxiety. This isn’t to say that I drove for the whole five and a half hour journey home, through rush hour, without having any anxious thought or feelings. Of course I did, but, as soon as a recognised that my thinking had become busy, and that that’s all it was – my thinking I was quickly able to see that nothing in the outside world had changed in the last ten minutes of being on the road to cause this sudden moment of fear. The only thing that had changed was my thinking. On this realisation, my anxious feelings would quickly begin to fall away without me having to do anything. Then as I continued driving these thoughts appeared less and less and when they did appear I would recognise them more quickly and pay them no attention.
In fact, at one point, I noticed myself have a thought that “perhaps that lorry driver hasn’t seen me on his outside, he could pull out, my horn isn’t very loud to let him know I’m here, what if…”. I also noticed how quickly I had begun to feel the physical characteristics of the fight or flight response; sweating, jittery, headache starting, funny emptiness in my stomach. No sooner though, had I noticed that this feeling was completely and utterly created by one thought in the moment, did those feeling of panic and its biological correlates begin to fade. It really did feel amazing, I was driving along smiling to myself (I must have looked a little crazy to anyone driving by).
THIS is a prime example of the Principles in action. This is the power of Thought to create a seemingly real experience, the greater power of Consciousness enabling me to notice that my thinking was causing my feeling in that moment and the absolute power of Mind bringing me back to default – innate well being.