If You’re Afraid to Fly, Here Are 6 Things You May Be Doing Wrong


If you suffer from a fear of flying, it can really affect how you plan your life. For example, sometimes you might want to travel for pleasure, to see family, or may be asked to for work. But no matter how motivating the cause, when it’s accompanied by deep-seated fear, it can be extremely limiting. Then if you finally do buy the tickets and face getting on a flight, you may find yourself using a series of strategies to cope with your fears and anxieties.

But we’re here to tell you that some of these “emotion-management” techniques might actually be hurting more than helping. Here are a half dozen examples:

Getting Hung Up on Your Own Thoughts

Maybe there’s a little inner voice that keeps telling you that it doesn’t make sense for you to get worked up over this, that hundreds of flights are leaving every day without incident, that flying is the safest means of transport, and so forth. But in the end, reason is hard pressed to overcome the other little interior voice speaking babbling the language of emotion – nervousness, fear, catastrophic thinking. But getting into a back and forth between the rational and the emotional can only make you feel more insecure and frustrated. So once you recognise that you’ve entered into this little game, don’t necessarily try to supress it, but neither let it overwhelm you, using a sense of mindfulness to focus yourself on the present moment.

Distracting Yourself so as to Not Think about Things too Much  

Another common mechanism is to shut down your thinking with various forms of distraction, whether watching a movie, reading a book, or whatever. And not only does this ultimately not work, but also make it harder to stay in touch with your own emotions. You need to learn to tolerate feelings which though they may be unpleasant are necessary to provide information about the world around you. So trying to distract yourself as a way of escaping this can lead to being unable to process your emotions effectively when the need arises.

Falling Back on Bad Habits as a Way of Managing Your Problems

When you’re nervous, your body looks for certain compulsive behaviors to connect with sensations other than discomfort. For example, if you’re a smoker, you may crave a cigarette to relax. Or maybe you’ll have the urge to “comfort eat” or some other impulse. Giving into immediate desires like this is akin the distractions we just mentioned – they become an external crutch to avoid working on your own internal regulation.

Trying to Excessively Control Your Body, Emotions & Surroundings

As we recently covered on this blog, trying to maintain an exagerrated sense of control can turn out to be one of your biggest bugaboos. Because when you try to have everything “under control”, you can lose sight of the fact that there are many, many (in fact, most) things in the world which don’t depend on you. And getting your body used to the unrealistic idea of trying to “control” everything, once you’re in flight and it becomes obvious that this isn’t possible, that can cause you even more stress than necessary. 

Searching for the ‘Off’ Button at all Costs

Some people perceive emotions as something uncomfortable, unpleasant and impossible to sustain, as in, “I can’t stand this” or “I need to get out of this”. If this describes you, then you may naturally be inclined toward wanting to make those feelings go away as soon as possible. However, what you should be doing is learning to tolerate a certain level of discomfort rather than trying to supress it altogether.

Not Addressing Your Fears Before Boarding the Plane

The last thing you want to do is get on the plane “cold”, without having previously attempted to manage your issues and anxieties about flying. This can provoke a panic attack at any moment, which is something you obviously want to avoid.

by guest blogger Crea Sentido Psicología