Christopher Paul Jones, otherwise known as The Breakthrough Expert specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias. As holiday season approaches, he talks to ShinyShiny about how to overcome the fear of flying
“Our logical brains tell us flying with airlines like British Airways is the safest way to travel and crashes are rare. However, things like missing planes and threat of terrorism means fear of flying is on the increase.
When I work with clients, dealing with the root cause is where I find it makes the biggest difference in reducing a phobia.
The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach generally fails for this reason because fear of flying can manifest itself in different ways depending on the person.
Here are my top 10 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 flying with danger, perhaps a young child experiencing a turbulent flight or watching a TV programme showing a plane crash.
Even seeing 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 therefore is to explore its origins. What are some of the events from the past that made your mind link fear to flying?
(2) Challenge Your Beliefs
It’s worth asking yourself what you need to believe in order to feel afraid of flying?
Then ask yourself how true that belief is?
What do you choose to focus on when you have the fear?
What do you focus on when you don’t have fear?
(3) 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.
(4) 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. For example by making the image small or removing the colour from it?
(5) Change the Feelings
The thing that often gets overlooked 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? See what would happen if you change the weight or colour of those feelings and notice how that may change the level of fear.
(6) Change the Meaning of Flying
When the fear of flying starts, notice the 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.
(7) Change the Perspective of Flying
Another tip is to imagine watching yourself on a plane ride.
Imagine floating above the event and watching yourself on the flight. As you look down at yourself notice how you are acting. What could you learn that would help change the flight for the better? What could you teach yourself that would help you relax and make the journey more enjoyable?
(8) 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:
1. The part of your hand you would use to do a ‘karate chop’.
2. Either side of each fingernail.
3. Just above and to one side of the nose, at the beginning of the eyebrow.
4. The bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.
5. The bone under your eye.
6. The indent between your nose and upper lip.
7. Midway between the point of your chin and your lower lip.
8. The junction where the sternum, collarbone and first rib meet.
9. The side of the body, about four inches below the armpit.
10. Tap with your fingers back-to-back down the centre of the skull.
Keep repeating this until the feelings have gone.
(9) 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.
(10) Take Control of your Emotions
I always find it useful to remind my clients that in order to feel afraid, they have to believe something. In order to reverse these feelings and feel good, they also have to be doing something with their internal thoughts, feelings and images.
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 Pyrennees – strapped to the OUTSIDE of a helicopter. http://christopherpauljones.net/. Twitter: @breakthruexpert