Fear of flying: How to banish your phobias for good
-Mar 23, Christopher Paul Jones, Mind -
Fear, anxiety and phobias all cause stress, which is one of the major culprits lurking behind premature ageing, as well as a number of serious diseases. The good news is that you can learn the tools to overcome these fears – which will not only make you happier, you’ll feel calmer as well as less anxious and stressed.
Let’s take a fear of flying as an example: Studies attest to the fact that more people are hurt falling out of bed each year than from flying, so why is fear of flying on the increase?
Because most phobias are not conscious or logical.
When I work with clients, dealing with the root cause is where I find it makes the biggest difference in reducing a phobia, rather than having the client constantly fight it themselves.
Also, fear of flying can also manifest itself in different ways depending on the person. This is why what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. The ‘one size fits all’ approach generally fails for this reason.
Here are my top five tips to help you overcome a fear of flying:
(1) Find the Cause of Your Fear
Most phobias have a trigger point when the mind first linked danger to flying. Say you’re a young child and you experience a turbulent flight; in that moment your mind links flying to danger. Or it could be that you watched a TV programme which showed a plane crash and in that moment, you decide you need to avoid flying.
Even watching how your parents reacted if they were scared of flying could have taught you the way you think you should react. Very often people are not aware of the triggers, but they are still affecting your beliefs and choices.
The best place to start therefore is to explore its origins.
(2) Challenge Your Beliefs
It’s worth asking yourself what do I need to believe in order to feel afraid of flying?
Then ask yourself how true is that belief?
What do you choose to focus on when you have the fear?
What do you focus on when you don’t have fear?
It’s also worth finding someone you respect, who has a different belief to you about flying and asking them what they believe and focus on.
(3) Creating a New Stimulus Response (Anchoring)
There is an old saying that love and hate cannot exist in the same place. This is also true for feelings like fear and calm.
By creating a new trigger linked to positive feelings and emotions, and using this trigger whenever your phobia appears, you can dramatically reduce the impact your fear of flying is having on you.
How do you do this? The key is to think of, or imagine a time when you felt completely calm and relaxed i.e. sitting on a beach or being around people you love.
Now imagine going back to that time and notice all the images, feelings and sounds that go with this event. When you have fully connected to this positive event, squeeze your fist to create a link between the emotion and the gesture, and as the emotion fades release your fist.
Keep repeating this as many times as you like and then test it by squeezing your fist. Notice what you feel. If it’s strong enough, just the act of squeezing your fist will bring back that calm feeling.
See my video here:
(4) Change the Meaning of Flying
When the fear of flying starts, what do you say to yourself? i.e. the plane might crash, I cannot do this or something similar. Notice the internal voice. Who does it sound like? How deep and how loud is it?
Once you have become aware of that voice, change the tonality with the Mickey Mouse voice or akin to someone really boring and slow. Does it feel different?
What would happen if you added a comedy soundtrack or a circus tune? How does that affect its impact?
Let’s take a look:
(5) Tap Away the Fear
A popular method to stay relaxed in the moment instead of focusing on your phobias is known as tapping; TFT, EFT, or Meridian tapping. By tapping on a number of acupuncture points whilst thinking about your fear you can drastically reduce it.
Tap each of these places in order for about five seconds each while thinking about flying.
Hand – Take two fingers and tap on the part of your hand that you would use to do a karate style chop.
Fingers – Tap each finger either side of the nail.
Eyebrow – Tap just above and to one side of the nose, at the beginning of the eyebrow.
Side of the Eye – Tap the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.
Under the Eye – Tap the bone under an eye about one inch below your pupil.
Under the Nose – Tap the indent between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip.
Chin – Tap midway between the point of your chin and the bottom of your lower lip.
Collar Bone – Tap the junction where the sternum (breastbone), collarbone and the first rib meet.
Under the Arm – Tap the side of the body, about four inches below the armpit.
Top of the Head – Tap with your fingers back-to-back down the centre of the skull.
Keep repeating this until the feelings have gone.
Some people also like to repeat an affirmation like, “even though I have a fear of flying, I totally and completely accept myself.” Use it if it works for you, although it is not compulsory.
Take a look at this in depth here:
And remember, a phobia is not something you catch like a cold. It’s something you have to do, even if up until this point it has been unconscious.
If you change your thoughts, feelings or images, you will feel different. If you change more than one thing, you should feel even better. Practise these tips and see how you get on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher Paul Jones, aka The Breakthrough Expert, is a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias; from a fear of public speaking to anxieties around work, Christopher has helped 100s of people ‘let go’ and get their lives back. He even cured his own morbid fear flying, to the extent he was able to take a sightseeing flight through the Pyrenees – strapped to the OUTSIDE of a helicopter! Check out his website here.
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