Planning your honeymoon - but dreading getting there? These tips will help - promise! By
Work out the cause of your fear
Most phobias have a trigger point - that is to say, when your 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 decided you needed 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.
The best place to start with tackling your fear, therefore, is to explore its origins. What are some of the events from the past that made your mind link fear to flying?
Whether you were hoping for an exotic location for your wedding, are planning your honeymoon or hoping to jet off somewhere glamorous for your hen do, if you or your betrothed have a fear of flying the chances are that is either seriously impacting your plans or stopping you looking forward to certain elements of your big day.
With a new life ahead of you, now is the perfect time to address that fear - and here's how.
Create a new stimulus response
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.
The key is to think of, or imagine, a time when you felt completely calm and relaxed - for example, 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.
Adjust your image of flying
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?
Notice what happens to the fear when you play with these images.
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.
Change the meaning of flying
When the fear of flying starts, what do you say to yourself? Notice your 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?
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.
Get in touch with both parts of the brain
Did you know that one side of the brain deals with logic and the other side deals with emotion? If you access both at the same time whilst focusing on your fear you will find the emotions reduce.
The way to do this is look straight ahead while thinking about your fear of flying, then allow your eyes to move slowly from left to right passing between the bridge of your nose. Keep repeating this left to right process and you’ll notice your phobia reduces in intensity.
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.
Tips by Christopher Paul Jones, AKA The Breakthrough Expert, who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias.