Don’t Let Fear of Flying Hold You Back – nor Define You

by guest blogger Psicoline

If you’ve ever been afraid of something that has led you to avoid it, let’s talk about how this happens and how it limits you in terms of the fear of flying.

Remember that trip with friends that you couldn’t make because you were afraid to get on a plane? Or the times you just couldn’t bring yourself to visit that city or country you wanted to see so badly because you were afraid of what might happen? If any of this sounds familiar, read on.

Aerophobia –  fear of flying – often means giving up plans, friendships, or maintaining physical ties, all because of the anxiety caused by both the flight and the preparation leading up to it. When something causes us anxiety, many thoughts invade our minds. Don’t forget, fear feeds on your thoughts, and they’re just that: only thoughts. And although you may sometimes feel they’re important, they are not reality.

Something physical happens with fears, that in order to not experience these feelings (dizziness, agitated breathing, palpitations, muscle tension, etc.), you avoid the thing that makes you afraid. But what happens if you do this? You end up maintaining the problem: you don’t accept that your fear is irrational, and that reality is far from what you imagine.

Your brain generates associations quickly, and this has a good and bad side. The bad side is that when you’ve experienced or seen something that could put you in danger, it leads you to anticipate that a similar situation will have the same consequences. What is the good side then? Your brain also learns how to interpret things in a different way, so you can overcome your fears. That’s why it’s so important to separate yourself from your thoughts and work with professionals if you need to, in order to generate a different narrative.

Let’s go back to the limitations of aerophobia. They’re not just about missing out on holidays and fun that so many of us look forward to. They also have to do with missing out on job opportunities; not going to see the people we love who may live far away; and even they can also affect people’s personal development. What do we mean by that? Fears can also limit the image you have of yourself.

Most of us need to feel capable, independent, or determined to keep our self-esteem and sense of self-worth, to good about who we are. But sometimes fears can prevent this. Your self-esteem is built from your life experiences; from the decisions you make; from your willingness to move forward and feel capable when challenges arise; and so forth. But when you feel that some specific thing or things cause fear, one of the strategies to cope with that fear is avoidance. But by avoiding exposure to any situation that has to do with that fear, you’re not making our fear go away. You don’t give yourself the chance to see that if you face the feared situation not all the things you anticipate will necessarily happen. And in the end, all this affects the way you perceive and value yourself. If you decide to not take a flight for fear of what you anticipate happening, you end up limiting yourself, essentially telling yourself you’re not capable.

Sometimes avoidance is the strategy you learned, and it’s the only resource you have to get by, but if you feel that it’s not enough and you want to work beyond that, there are solutions. There are always alternatives as well as professionals willing to help you understand your fear and give you the tools to overcome it. You just have to find a safe place where you can face your fear and make sure it doesn’t limit all those things that are important to you.

Your thoughts do not define you. Neither do your fears.