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How can I control my nerves on my driving test?

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Hi Mark,

I have been reading your driving test nerves and fear of failing articles and a lot of it has really fallen into place for me.

I am a good driver during lessons, but on test day, my nerves are crippling and block my brain from making judgments or decisions of the littlest kind. I really want to overcome this challenge and be able to pass my test. Can you help?

This question was submitted by 'Linsey'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Linsey and thanks for your question. And I'm glad you liked the 'How to Pass Your Driving Test' article.

Just to recap, as I outline this in the article, I took my driving test twice, the first time when I was seventeen. I was desperate to pass and I sat with this robotic guy (the driving examiner). My nerves failed me and led me to fail the test.

The frustrating part was that I knew I was good enough to pass and should have done with no trouble at all. I turned eighteen and cared less about whether I could drive or not, almost as if I had lost interest.

The day of my second test rolled around almost unnoticed. It was a beautiful spring morning. I enjoyed the light and the sunshine and really didn't feel I cared that much about whether I passed or not. And…I failed that test too, dismally.

No, not really! (I love to play with expectations.)

No, I passed that second test because it didn't even feel like a test.

When we focus on outcome too much, we forget to be in the moment and enjoy the process. So, being in a sports final is great, but if all you are doing is thinking about the glory, the winner's cup, the prize money, the sponsorships deals, then all that focus on outcome can stop you focussing on the process, right now, of actually playing your sport. And this goes for any 'performance' activity.

It sounds negative, but it would be a better attitude to feel that 'this second driving test is just a rehearsal for the third test' than 'I must absolutely pass this second driving test'. This can be likened to refusing to wear a really squeezingly tight vest that has no room for manoeuvre and makes you breathless in favour of wearing something that actually is comfortable and gives you wriggle and breathing room.

People who go through life feeling things must happen may seem like 'positive thinkers', but in a sense, that strategy may be too tight to allow them to 'breathe' properly.

Even back when I was 18 (a time getting more and more distant!), I was getting interested in using my mind to help change my approach to things that caused me problems. I read a book on self-hypnosis, used the techniques, and found I felt so different that second time around, to the extent that I enjoyed the whole experience and passing was just like a side effect of that enjoyment. When you get to that point, it feels like a totally different experience.

I suggest you listen to 'Overcome Fear of the Driving Test'.

All the best,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - June 14th, 2015 in

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