About airplanes, fear and nightmares
So I’m afraid of flying….and when I say afraid, I mean terrified, scared to death. I swear to you my fear is next level…it’s not just nervousness like you, get when you are in an uncomfortable situation. For me, it’s like a nightmare…. It’s actually not just fear…it’s real phobia…
And I don’t exaggerate…I am nervous about it from the day I book a flight, I have nightmares (real ones, the ones that don’t let you sleep) about not being able to breathe on a plane, about plane crashing, about me going on a plane and get completely crazy…I don’t sleep for days before I have to go and, for me it’s like »run for your life« kind of situation…
But on the other hand, I love traveling and discovering different places. Since I was a kid, I was going around a lot, especially with my parents, so traveling has always been part of me….
Funny thing is that I wasn’t always afraid. I’ve actually been on a plane many times…but fear slowly start messing with my head and it got harder and harder for me to fly…
I actually don’t even know why I developed my fear…maybe because I was hearing about plane crashes, maybe because I am generally scared of dying and you know, you don’t have many chances of surviving when a plane crashes…
But I don’t want to talk about why and how I became scared of flying…(I even went to Sweden by train because I didn’t want to fly alone)…
I want to tell you what I did to beat the fear out of me….
It’s been two years since my last time flying and I knew it’s time to do it again. I didn’t want my fear stand on my way to do one thing I love so much. I truly believe that we only grow if we beat our fears. But when you are very scared of something it can be much harder than it sounds (I swear It literally felt like I’m in some horror movie, like Saw or something).
My fear was so crazy, that it got to the point when I truly believed that all my nightmares will come true. I thought I was seeing the future– they were so real. I know it sounds funny and crazy, but it’s like that with all of our fears – we know that they are irrational, we know they don’t help us in any way, we know that more than 90% of all our fears never come true..but..they are still there…and in order to beat them…we must dive into them….
One important thing: the fact of non-flying was just intolerable for me. It would deprive me of so many adventures and would hold me back, both personally and professionally. So I couldn’t just accept it and say f* it I’ll just never fly again…I had to do something about it…
So I before I went to this scary journey of mine decided I will mentally prepare myself for it…
I wanted to convince myself that my fear is irrational….I knew that planes are the safest transportation mode….but the statistics didn’t really have much impact on me (you know – there is still this 1%…).
So I left statistics alone tried with some positive affirmations. I was telling myself countless times a day:
»Your fear is not true, your brain is just playing with you«
»You have to do this in order to live a life you’ve always wanted«
»You have to take the risk in order to grow«
»You wish to travel more than you are afraid of flying«
»It’s only 4 hours flight, what is this compared to a day, four hours pass quickly«
…( I had few more, actually I had serious dialogues with myself about it…)
I visualized it…
I actually lay down on sofa or bed and was imagining how I was packing to go to the airport, how I do the check-in, how I fly, how the flight crew is nice, etc.
And every time I saw I plane I stopped, looked at it and imagine I’m on it (and told myself: look how smoothly it goes, it’s not a big deal).
I live close to the airport, so I’m lucky I see a lot of airplanes flying every day and that helped me to look at them taking off and coming down safely…
I read somewhere that it’s great to drive to the airport few times before you go (if you are afraid of flying) so that you use to the feeling and kind of »normalize it«.
I also watched videos on youtube from different vloggers who were filming their flights so that my visualization was easier….
I actually think this technique helped me a lot. Because when I actually went on the plane it was very similar to my visualization and I felt calmer and safer.
I focused on everything I liked about flying/going on the planes.
So instead of thinking about everything scary that could happen on the plane, I decided I will try to think about all of the things I like about it. At first, this was very hard, but I found few things…
- I love airplanes shops…like who doesn’t. They have the best perfumes, cosmetics, magazines and..sweets…oh, sweets. You find everything in those duty-free shops. I always buy myself some magazines we don’t have in Slovenia and some special chocolates. And a box of Pringles to eat on a plane…
- I love watching people…ok, that sound’s a bit creepy…but I really love watching people from all around the world and wondering where are they going…are they visiting family somewhere far away, are they are on their business trip or they are just some adventure seeking travelers who are going to explore some hidden, non-touristic places…I think airports have so many stories…and I like to guess what they are…
- Landing…the best part of flying… »ladies and gentleman we have just been cleared to land at the X airport…«…when the pilot say that I am like a happy child getting her favorite candy…If you were ever very nervous about something, you know that feeling of huge relief….
Redirection of attention…
This technique helped me the most when I was already on the plane. I actually try to do this everytime, even in everyday life, when I notice my brain is playing tricks with me and I’m thinking and wondering too much…
So I knew the best way for not thinking about all the scary things, is to focus on something else. And the best way to do that is to talk to somebody and really listen to what they are saying. What really helped me, was actually talking about traveling and places people already visited. It got me into a travel mode and I felt more comfortable and »relaxed«. Some prefer to talk about some topic that is completely different, but I wanted to talk about traveling and places, I don’t know, it made me calmer.
The other thing that helped me redirect my attention was reading a magazine, I found some interesting articles about some interesting people and read them. simple, but effective. Nobody can really talk to you during the whole flight so it’s good to have some other thing you can focus on. So the minute my brain started to playing tricks with me I just took an interesting article and tried to really pay attention to what it was about.
Just do it.
You know like Nike says: Just do it.
I knew the best way to deal with my fear was to just go and deal with it. Because once it’s over, you realize that the scariest thing is actually fear itself.
There is famous Slovenian proverb that says: fear is empty and there is nothing around it…
But we all know that…unfortunately what we know is not always what we feel…and to really beat our fears we have to face them…face to face…like looking a lion right into his eyes….
p.s. that doesn’t mean I’m now totally comfortable flying. I am still nervous and a bit scared. But I know that fear is only blocking me from doing what I want. And I hope that with every other flight my fear will become smaller and smaller…
I really want to know what are your biggest fears? And what do you do to beat them? You can follow me on Instagram and comment under my latest picture.
And if you have any questions, you can always send me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook) and I’ll be more then happy to help.