To overcome flying fears, start with a good look at what you've been doing when you respond to your fear.
Fearful fliers who continue to fly usually oppose their anxiety. They try hard not to feel afraid. Unfortunately, as the Panic Trick suggests, they usually end up feeling worse for their efforts, rather than better, and the fear continues to grow over time.
People who want to overcome flying fears also try to help themselves by striving to feel "in control" of various aspects of the flight experience. Since, as a passenger, you don't control anything about the flight, this striving for control will make you more afraid, not less.
My patients have tried such things as:
* monitoring the weather channel during the days before a flight
* pretending they are not on a plane, or forcing themselves to think about something else
* playing loud music on their headphones, in order to prevent themselves from thinking about the flight
* snapping a rubber band on their wrist
* tensing up their body, and holding the armrest in a death grip
* trying hard to appear unafraid
* watching faces of the flight attendants for signs of fear
* sedating themselves with alcohol and/or tranquilizers
* wearing "lucky" clothes, avoiding "unlucky" days and flight numbers, and engaging in a variety of rituals
In each case, their efforts to rid themselves of fear of flying, and to feel "in control" of the situation, made their fears stronger and more persistent.
Smoking is not allowed on the airplane, but feeling afraid is. It's uncomfortable, but okay, to feel afraid. Flying is a come as you are experience. People get more upset when they try to control their fear of flying, and feel more peace as they allow themselves to accept whatever feelings they happen to have at the time.
If you experience this fear, or any fear you consider "irrational", the best way out is to practice accepting the fear. Work with the symptoms, rather than against them, and allow the feelings to subside over time.
A good first step is to make a list of all your responses to fear of flying. Make a list of what you do on the plane, and what you do ahead of time, in anticipation of a flight. Then consider that list in light of this article, and see if using the AWARE steps might offer you a better response.
© 2010-2023 David
Carbonell, PhD. Anxiety Coach® is a registered mark.
P.O. Box 256539, Chicago, IL 60625
Last updated on October 11, 2023