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The Fear of Flying

The fear of flying is one of the more common and well-known phobias. So much so that most major airline companies offer and provide a fear of flying programme to help people overcome their fear once and for all. This is often facilitated by an explanation of how planes work and then followed by a live flight to give people gradual exposure to flying in the effort of helping them overcome their fears.

Tackling your fear The good news is, this works for a lot of people and the success rate is typically high. But there is a portion of people who fail to get the results they most desire. In this article, we are going to break down and explain the often-overlooked factors that determine success or failure. For people with a real phobia of flying, they can understand how a plane works and they can know that the plane is safe but it isn’t enough to help them release the anxiety and panic that they feel. The best place to start is by locating what is really causing the fear because each person has a specific trigger… Here is a list of the most common triggers:-

  • Something going wrong and the plane crashing

  • Feeling trapped and out of control

  • The feeling of landing or taking off

  • The fear of turbulence

  • The fear of negative past experiences repeating themselves

  • The fear of having a panic attack

  • Just thinking about the thought of flying is scary

  • Fear of death

What Causes Flying Phobias? Here are some common causes of flying phobias:

  • Negative experiences of flying in the past, such as a bumpy flight

  • Gradual accumulation of negative experiences that we didn’t like

  • Having a panic attack one day on a flight

  • The negative impressions from movies we once watched

  • Unrelated causes such as claustrophobia or the experience of feeling trapped in other life experiences/circumstances

  • Having children and not wanting to risk any chance of death and not being there for them

These triggers then lead to internal thoughts and feelings. The thoughts are usually catastrophic in nature and the feelings range from unpleasant to terrifying. If we were to slow down the internal process, it unfolds as follows: 1. External trigger (ie. plane door closing)

2. Triggers internal negative thought (ie. OMG I can’t get off or thoughts of plane crashing)

3. Triggers fear response (manifesting as adrenaline, beating heart, tight chest)

4. Triggers an emotional reaction (ie. OMG THIS IS BAD panic) 5. Triggers more catastrophizing thoughts (ie. Oh no something is wrong, I’m in danger, what if… ) And the cycle repeats itself at an intense speed. Now if I was to ask you… If that feeling of anxiety/panic wasn’t there anymore, and you were certain that it wouldn’t return, would you then be able to fly in a plane? The chances are you’d say yes! That’s because it’s more to do with how it makes us feel on the inside than the flying itself. And this is exactly what we can change. There is hope for the many people who don’t get the immediate results they most desire with flying courses. Those who can’t seem to overcome their phobia of flying through exposure therapy, and those who can’t bring themselves to get on a plane because of their phobia have found themselves stuck within that internal process. The good news is that this internal process can be changed without the stress of exposure therapy. When it has, the first measurement of progress will be when you can think about flying in the future with calmness and even a level of excitement rather than anxiety.

Want to learn how we can help you eliminate your phobia for good?

We can do this without the stress of exposure therapy, coping strategies or tedious years of therapy. The most extreme and lifelong phobias have been eliminated with this method. You can find out more here:

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