Wishing you could fly off to somewhere sunny – but terrified of getting on a plane? You are not alone – and there is a solution!
Christopher Paul Jones, AKA The Breakthrough Expert, who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias has shared his top 5 (quick and effective) 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 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. What are some of the events from the past that made your mind link fear to flying?
2.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.
3.Change the Image of Flying
The part of the brain that deals with visual memory is highly active when you see something for the first time. With everyday events this will fade over time, but this is different for a phobia.
Neurological imaging has shown that visual memory is just as active when you think about your phobia, as when you felt it for the first time. One of the ways to change the impact of your mental images is to scramble them. What would it be like if you made that image small? What would it be like if you drain the colour from it?
4. Change the Feelings
The thing that often gets over looked when people try to tackle a phobia, is the emotions that go with it. If you get scared, locate the feelings in your body, how heavy or light are they? What colour do you associate with them? What happens if you put more focus on the feelings? Do the feelings feel like they have a direction? See what would happen if you made the feelings move in the opposite direction. Speed them up, change the colour to white or gold and notice how that may change the level of fear.
5. Tap Away the Fear
A popular method to stay relaxed in the moment 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.
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.
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!