Flight or Fright


Do you suffer with a fear associated to flying?  Gripped with anxiety before you even leave your home, dreading the onslaught of sweating, shaking and nausea, ever present when a trip abroad, or even a short internal flight, is imminent? 

This week I had the pleasure to chat with a client, I had helped with this very issue, about how things are different for him now.

In my work as a development coach I’ve come across many variations of fear-based emotions associated to getting on, or being on a plane and though most I speak to believe their fear is irrational, they have continued to suffer, often in silence, for many years, believing that on one can help.  This client was a prime example of this.

There are many reasons why a fear around flying develops, some more obvious than others, but as our unconscious mind is hard-wired to protect and serve; on constant look-out for danger, ready to act in any way possible to ensure our safety, knowing intellectually that a fear is unfounded cannot alone eradicate the fear.

Working with the unconscious mind, to re-programme the perceived dangers, finding out what happens before the fear presents itself, and then scrambling those internal processes to form new behaviours is what really make the difference.

This particular client, who had flown around the world from a young age, was able to pin point the moment the fear entered his life but this isn’t always necessarily the case, and isn’t a requirement to eradicating the inappropriate emotions either.

During our consultation, we worked together to discover the process that his unconscious mind went through, when, specifically the fear began to rise, and how this manifested itself physically; increased heart rate, heightened body temperature, sweaty hands, the need to hold on to the arm-rests, and stiffening of the upper torso were just some of presenting fear symptoms.

By utilising the full story of his fear, understanding it on a sensory level, and then using a technique to scramble this well-rehearsed story, he was very quickly able break his internal, unconscious programming.  

Where my client had previously been unable to even speak about flying without feeling a level of the fear he experienced in the true moment, he was now able to chat through his next flight experience, like it was a walk in the park.  We tested this further, discussed various scenarios that would have previously had his unconscious creating all sorts of discomfort for him, all without a glimpse of the symptoms we had witnessed less than an hour before.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the tasting, and when I asked this week about a recent internal flight; not the first since our fear consultation, my clients’ response came as a bit of a surprise, even to me.

This fear, which had gripped my clients’ flying life for over thirty years, was not only gone, the consideration of it being a problem was not even on his radar.  With a non-plus shrug of the shoulders he responded ‘yeah, it was fine, we both know we sorted that out months ago’.

Jacqui Greene