Don’t just fake it till you make it.. Fire it till you wire it!

Experiencing a panic attack or high levels of anxiety while driving can be a terrifying and debilitating experience. It can shake your confidence behind the wheel and make you hesitant to get back on the road.

However, adopting the “fake it ’til you make it” mindset can be a powerful tool in gradually overcoming driving anxiety and regaining control.  Firstly, what does ‘Fake it till you make it’ actually mean?  Generally, it means to portray yourself like the person you always wanted to become. To challenge yourself to perform a task which you are not confident at. Or to bring yourself out of your comfort zone in order to achieve your targets.

An alternative phrase and one I prefer is “Fire it till you Wire it”.  This phrase more accurately points to the neuroplasticity of the brain.  Our capacity to grow and re-wire our brains through new or challenging experiences is available to us throughout our lifespan.

Let’s explore how this approach can help drivers who struggle with anxiety either on particular roads or at any time while driving can rebuild their confidence and get back on track.

  • Recognize that the fear and anxiety you experience while driving are valid emotions and can manifest as physical symptoms. It’s important to understand that driving anxiety (vehophobia) is not uncommon and can happen to anyone.


  • Take Small Steps: Don’t over challenge yourself. You wouldn’t go into a gym for the first time and expect to lift the heaviest weights. You would probably injure yourself, get put off and never go back. Desensitise gradually with baby steps. Micro-stress with gradual exposure to the areas that trigger you. All the time telling yourself that you are in control. (Even when you don’t feel that way).  Do a little every day.  Gradually increase your exposure to the areas that trigger you. Rest and repeat. (Just as you would when training for a fitness event).


  • Practice Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques: When anxiety arises while driving, deep breathing exercises can be incredibly helpful in calming your mind and body. Practice slow, deep breaths from the belly area. Counting in for 4 and out for 6.  Combine this with relaxation techniques like visualisation to promote a sense of calm and control.  (We will look into visualisation in more detail soon).


  • Reframe Negative Thoughts: Challenge negative thoughts that contribute to driving anxiety and replace them with positive affirmations of your choice. Your brain hears what you say! Instead of focusing on worst-case scenarios, visualise arriving at your destination via the road that you have been avoiding reminding yourself you are in total control. Say this out loud! (Remember anxiety and excitement feel exactly the same as they come from the same place. Reframing anxiety as excitement really is about faking it till you make it).


  • Reach out to a supportive network of friends, family, or get professional help. It’s possible alternative help such as a CBT therapist or hypnotherapy may compliment your road to recovery.


Recovering from driving anxiety is a gradual process that requires patience and self-compassion. “Fake it ’til you make it” can serve as a guiding principle, reminding you to believe in your ability to overcome challenges and gradually regain confidence on the road. By taking small steps, breathwork, gradual exposure, reframing negative thoughts, and seeking support, you can reclaim your independence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top