Anyone Can Struggle With Anxiety (Part 1)
3 Ways to Overcome Your Worries
In 1998 I flew from Wichita to Phoenix on America West Airlines. We hit some turbulence going over the Rocky Mountains, the most severe I’ve ever experienced. Some passengers screamed and others prayed out loud. What probably lasted 15 minutes seemed to go on for hours. Our 737 eventually landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. After this experience I thought I was fine, but I was wrong.
A few months later, I was scheduled to fly again. Before this flight, flying was fun. However, since that experience, my excitement had turned into anxiety. I worried about being on a flight with severe turbulence again. I lost sleep. My mind became consumed with thinking of ways to avoid travel by plane. Without knowing it, I was feeding my anxiety of flying. Many people, without knowing it, make their worries much bigger for three reasons.
1. Ambiguity: We keep our problem uncertain and unclear. It’s like driving in the rain with broken windshield wipers where you can see outside, but the water on the windshield makes everything fuzzy. The first step in solving any problem is to admit that you have one.
2. Negativity: Anxiety loves when we focus on the worse case scenario. She will dump me, he will laugh at my proposal, I’ll get fired, I’ll get cancer, the plane crashes, we get robbed, we go bankrupt, or we get stranded in a foreign country without identification.
3. Avoidance: We avoid addressing our problem. We don’t ask for advice or help from those with the ability to assist us. I’ve had clients avoid opening their mail for years to avoid dealing with their financial problems.
How I Fed My Fear of Flying
- I lived in denial that I had a problem. My embarrassment led to my problem staying fuzzy. (Ambiguity)
- I told myself that my next flight would be just as bad or worse, and I convinced myself that next time I would have a panic attack. (negativity)
- I did whatever I could to avoid flying. I avoided asking for help or helping myself. (avoidance)
I still get anxious when I fly, but cope much better. I do pretty good at starving my worries.
3 Ways I Starve My Flying Anxiety
1. Clarity: I don’t let myself forget that this is an issue for me. I’m open with friends and family that I have anxiety with flying.
2. Positivity: Instead of thinking about the worst case scenario, I focus on the good stuff. I think about fun activities when I arrive, making memories with family, and even having enjoyable conversations on the plane.
3. Engagement: I started to research flying and talking to buddies who are pilots. I read parts of a book on the subject called Flying Without Fear. I talked to my counselor friends about my anxiety. My friend Nate, who is a pilot, flew me from Wichita to Branson on a Cessna while I sat co-pilot.
What is something you worry about? Maybe being assertive with your boss, meeting new people, or searching for a new job provokes anxiety? Having a game plan will help. Pick a current worry and stop feeding it.
“I never worry about action, but only inaction” – Winston Churchill
Question: What do you honestly think about this information? Will it help, or is it just a bunch of hype?