In 1998 I was on an extremely turbulent flight. Some passengers screamed and others prayed out loud. What probably lasted 15 minutes seemed to go on for hours. After this experience I thought I was fine, but I was wrong.
A few months later, I was scheduled to travel. Before this flight, flying was fun. However, my excitement had turned into anxiety. My mind became consumed with thinking of ways to avoid flying. Without knowing it, I was feeding my anxiety.
3 Ways We Feed Our Anxiety
We keep our problem uncertain and unclear. The first step in solving any problem is to admit you have one. Write down specifically what you’re worried will happen.
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 will crash, we’ll go bankrupt.
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.
“I never worry about action, but only inaction” – Winston Churchill
3 Ways to Starve Our Anxiety
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.
I no longer focus on the worst case scenario. Instead, I focus on the opportunity. I think about fun activities when I arrive, making memories, and having enjoyable conversations on the plane.
I started to research flying and talking to my pilot friends. I read parts of a book on the subject called Flying Without Fear. My counselor friends gave me advice on coping with anxiety. My friend Nate, who is a pilot, flew me from Wichita to Branson on a Cessna while I sat co-pilot.
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A Simple Solution
I had this poem hanging above my desk for many years. Read through it twice. If you take what it says to heart, it will lighten your load.
“Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence;
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.”
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