Fear of Flying

by Rawia Liverpool on April 24, 2013

 Are you afraid to fly? I certainly was. I don’t quite remember at what age I developed this fear of flying but I did notice that it got progressively worse after having children.

"Fear of Flying"

Becoming a mother made me think more about this fear as I didn’t want any of my children to inherit my fear of flying or anything else that might hold them back from living life to the full.

Although I am able to manage this fear while on a plane journey, it did influence my choice of destination when we were planning our family holidays. Any destination that would involve a long flight was out of the question. The only long flights that I have taken were those of the necessary kind like a new work posting, a wedding or visiting a sick loved one. I often envied people who always said that the best part of the journey for them was the time they spent on a plane.

“It is so exciting!” they would say to me, “Don’t you think so?”

“Definitely not!” would come my shocked answer.

I always thought that there isn’t much I could do about this fear until I learnt about NLP. NLP has made it possible for me to be able to have a reasonably relaxed plane journey, to stop fretting and worrying weeks before the upcoming journey and to be comfortable with the fact that I have techniques at my disposal that will instantly calm my nerves should I experience any signs of panic.

The interesting thing about fear is that it is quite personal. What I mean by that is this:

"Fear of Flying"

Not everyone who is afraid of flying experiences this fear in the same way. This becomes evident when we use NLP questions designed to get to the root of the fear.

For example, the root of my fear of flying was linked to a fear of heights. The awareness that I am suspended in mid air, thousands of kilometres above ground, was extremely unnerving. Even a simple NLP technique that involved replacing this negative image that I held in my minds’ eye was enough to make me instantly calmer. It is really the thought here that counts.

For some people, like my sister, the underlying fear is being in small closed spaces where, it is not possible for them to get out at will. They feel the same way in a lift as in a plane.

Some individuals become afraid of flying following a negative experience while on a plane. A client of mine developed fear of flying after she heard the news about 9/11 while flying back home from a holiday in Turkey. That was when she experienced her first fear. Since then her fear got so much worse that she needed tranquilizers before she could board a plane. In this case playing around with the submodalities of the images she created in her head in relation to flying was helpful.

Another client I worked with experienced fear of flying for a completely different reason. His had trust issues. He had a problem with placing his life in the hands of a complete stranger, the pilot.

“Are you afraid of riding on the train?” I remember asking him.

“No” came his quick response.

“Is that because you are friends with the train driver?”

“No, he is a complete stranger to me.” my client said.

“So you are trusting your life in the hands of a complete stranger!” I said with an element of surprise, “why not on a plane?”

“Wow! You are absolutely right!” he said with a smile. “I never realised that I indeed have been trusting strangers with my life on a regular basis and am still alive and well.”

This simple belief change was enough for my client to get rid of his fear of flying, just like replacing the picture in my head of a plane suspended in mid air with that of my living room, was enough for me to fly comfortably and without fear.

"Fear of Flying"

What are the reasons underlying your fear of flying? What thoughts, pictures, sounds or feelings do you associate with this fear? Did you  ever stop to consider those? You might find a clue that will help you get rid of this fear or at least control it instead of being controlled by it.

Have a pleasant flight!

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