fear of flying

three years ago, coming back from a stressful visit to germany, i experienced the most terrifying nine hours of my life. i had an intense attack of fear of flying, the culmination of increasing unease i had experienced over the last few years whenever i was in a plane.

last week, i was in an airplane for the first time again, and i was fine.

i’d like to share with you how i got there.

i journaled about it. one of the things i reflected on was the effect of that fear not just on me but also on those around me. that is always a good motivator for me to get moving. in this case, i reflected on the fact that many important people in my life live far away, and how my not coming to visit them would affect our relationships.

talking about it
i shared my fears with someone else. that was very helpful. my friend’s words were that i could just trust that eventually the fear would go away. that was one of those “right thing at the right time” moments – it was exactly what i needed to hear, it was comforting, and i did feel that trust.

“i will fly again!”
i did not allow myself to think that i would never fly again. that was out of the question.

good company
i made sure to be with a trusted person on this first flight “after”. of course my husband was just about the ideal person for that. and i told him about my fears – i did not have to deal with the added burden of shame or shyness that would prevent me from sharing this.

being in the moment
i made sure to be fully present for the flight. distraction may work for some people but not for me. so i watched intently as the plane sped up, noticed the pressure of the lift-off, watched the clouds. having just started to read eckhart tolle’s the power of now certainly was an incentive for doing that.

more than one layer of “now”
when feelings of fear came up, i didn’t look away. that was a particularly interesting experience and reminded me again that what we call “the moment” or “now” is actually a multi-layered phenomenon. there was the “now” of the fear, which i felt in my body – slightly sweaty hands, butterflies in the stomach – and then i realized that beyond that were thoughts and images that had triggered that fear.

these images and thoughts (“oh my god, there’s nothing holding us up, what if we fall down?”) were not rooted in the moment, they were about something that was not happening – and something that was extremely unlikely to happen to boot.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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