One of the four main components of the fear of flying coaching method I developed almost a decade ago — the Balanced Flying Method — takes a look at the ‘underlying’ emotions that are likely to be contributing to each person’s anxiety surrounding flying. The underlying causes vary from one person to the next, as the mind and body carry the emotional weight of past events. The emotional impact of these events is often dissociated from consciousness, which makes the emotions even more powerful when they’re triggered in the present.
TV and movies are a problem. Sure, it is all good entertainment and a way to pass some time. But, unfortunately, TV and movies hold much more power over us than many people understand. Over the years in my practice, I have seen many people negatively impacted by the subtle messages delivered in movies and TV shows.
Fear of flying is a complicated phobia. One of the most difficult parts of overcoming fear of flying is allowing the possibility of having a different experience of flying. The people I work with in my psychotherapy and coaching practice often start our work struggling with detaching themselves from their previous associations to flying. Inside their minds, they have seen their worst nightmare play out many times. The story has already been written, as far as they’re concerned. They are simply waiting for reality to catch up.
This is why I put together the Balanced Flying Method™. As I’ve posted about in the past, this method is a comprehensive approach to shifting people’s complete perspective on flying. But how is one able to allow flying to be a different experience than the script they have already written?
Let’s take turbulence for example. In one’s conscious and unconscious mind, turbulence is something to be scared of. The fearful flier has already created in their minds what’s going to happen next. And it’s always scary. No one ever tells me in a session, “Yeah, it’s just turbulence (shoulder shrug), no biggie. We bump around and then we keep going. Nothing to worry about.”
The reason fearful fliers don’t say something like this is because the experience of flying has been decidedly something to fear. When a turbulent moment arises in the plane (and often in life), the question always is, what’s going to happen next? They are left with no control, and having to sit in the unknown. A very uneasy scenario for the fearful flier.
But what if you could write a new script? What if you could see into the future and you knew, for an absolute fact, that no matter how bad the turbulence got that you were going to make it okay to your destination on your flight? What would that turbulent experience be like then? Would it be fun? Would it be annoying, but not scary? Would it still be scary? If so, why? What would turbulence be like if you could break the negative thought association and allow it to be its own experience, disconnected from fearful assumptions?
Part of what I find helpful with people who I work with individually is taking the time to learn about their negative scripts with relation to flying, and using the Balanced Flying Method techniques to re-write and experience different scripts (there are also online videos for the Balanced Flying Method through my website, so I don’t get the opportunity to work individually with everyone. But with the people I work with one-on-one, we get the benefit of changing these associations).
So back to the title question…surviving turbulence. The trick to overcoming fear of flying is allowing yourself to accept different versions of the experience. If you’re willing to disconnect from the scary scripts, there is room to allow different and more calming experiences. Keep in mind that the script in your mind doesn’t have to be the reality, and that by changing the script, you can change your experience.
Anxiety really does suck. Ask anyone going through the difficulties of being invaded by anxiety. It sucks the life out of you. I’ve seen many people in my practice who come in struggling with the effects of anxiety — the chronic worrying, rumination, difficulty slowing down physiologically and/or mentally, trouble socializing in many cases, difficulty with focus, migraines and headaches, irritable bowel flare ups, trouble sleeping, or falling asleep too early often, and more. By the time the day is done, they are exhausted, partially from their day, and then even further just from the mental and physical gymnastics that anxiety brings.
…To do things you don’t want to do.
I’m sure everyone has had these moments from time to time, at least. Whether it’s a project or task for work, paper or studying for school, cleaning or organizing at home, or dealing with any other range of burdensome responsibilities you don’t want to deal with, the procrastination bug sets in and getting started on anything at all feels daunting and overwhelming.
So, what are some ways to create motivation for something that you have really little desire to do in the first place?