A Surprising Reason for Fear of Flying


Word OK written using jigsaw puzzle pieces

Self-esteem is the overall evaluation we have made of ourselves based on experiences and feelings accumulated over the course of a lifetime. This self-evaluation is psychologically crucial for each of us, given that our success in life and the realisation of our personal potential depend so much upon it.

That is why people who feel better about themselves, more comfortable in their own skins, with better self-esteem, are better equipped to face and overcome the responsibilities and challenges that life throws at them. And of course those with low self-esteem are more likely to limit themselves and even fail in life.

Each individual’s self-image develops bit by bit as time goes by, each stage of life contributing to a greater or lesser degree with its experiences and emotions, to create a general sense of self-worth or lack thereof. As children we discover we are beings separate and distinct from others, and that there will be people who accept us and others who will for whatever reason reject us. It’s those earliest experiences of acceptance and rejection that start to form our concept of how much we are worth or not worth.

Later on, adolescence is a critical time in the development of self-esteem, when we all need to start forging a clear-cut identity and learn more about our individual potential. During this period we also need social support from others whose values coincide with our own, to gain confidence in facing the future. This is the transition from the protective cocoon of the family to independence and getting by on our own. If an individual has developed a strong sense of self-esteem, it should be relatively easy to navigate this transition and achieve adult maturity. But those with little sense of self-worth run the risk of seeking the security they lack via means that seem easy and gratifying but are ultimately destructive.

Low self-esteem is connected with distorted thinking, in which individuals have a highly inaccurate self-image, yet very perfectionist self-expectations. For all of us, it is very important in life to know ourselves and to gauge our self-esteem, so that if necessary we can reinforce it both to better advance in life and to face any fears we may have (fear of flying being one good example). We should think about our virtues and positive qualities and abilities. Are they sufficient or strong enough? Should we work more on them? In future posts we’ll offer suggestions and strategies on how to bolster that self-esteem, and with it, begin to conquer our fears, both on the ground and in the air.

image | Horia Varlan