Harley Street therapist, Christopher Paul Jones, shares his simple plan to help us get over flying phobias
Summer is only a few months away which means holiday season is fast approaching. However for some, the pre-holiday excitement is tainted with one of the most common phobias: a fear of flying. The unnatural sensation of boarding a metal aircraft to be taken above the clouds can be daunting, which is why we caught up with Harley Street therapist Christopher Paul Jones to find out his 10-step plan to help you overcome a fear of flying without the need for any prescriptions or white wine spritzers.
Most phobias have a trigger point, when the mind first linked danger to flying. Even seeing how your parents reacted if they were scared of flying could have taught you the way you think you should compose yourself. Therefore the best place to start with overcoming your phobia is to explore the origin of the fear.
It’s worth asking yourself what do I need to believe in order to feel afraid of flying? Then ask yourself how true is that belief? What do you choose to focus on when you have the fear?What do you focus on when you don’t have fear?
When the fear of flying starts, what do you say to yourself? Is it something like: 'I can't do this'? Notice the internal voice. Who does it sound like? How deep and how loud is it? Once you have become aware of that voice, change the tonality, perhaps to someone really boring and slow.
Another tip is to imagine watching yourself on a plane ride. Imagine floating above the event and watching yourself on the flight. As you look down at yourself notice how you are acting. How are you breathing and moving? What could you learn that would help change the flight for the better? What could you teach yourself that would help you relax and make the journey more enjoyable?
Neurological imaging has shown that visual memory is just as active when you think about your phobia, as when you felt it for the first time. One of the ways to change the impact of your mental images is to scramble them. What would it be like if you made that image small? What would it be like if you drain the colour from it?
The thing that often gets overlooked when people try to tackle a phobia, is the emotions that go with it. If you get scared, locate the feelings in your body, how heavy or light are they? What colour do you associate with them? What happens if you change the weight or colour of those feelings?
There is an old saying that love and hate can’t exist in the same place. This is also true for feelings like fear and calm. By creating a new trigger linked to positive feelings and emotions, and using this trigger whenever your phobia appears, you can dramatically reduce the impact your fear of flying is having on you.
A popular method to stay relaxed in the moment is known as tapping; TFT, EFT, or Meridian tapping. By tapping on a number of acupuncture points whilst thinking about your fear you can drastically reduce it.
Want to find out more about EFT? Here's everything you need to know
Did you know that one side of the brain deals with logic and the other side deals with emotion? If you access both at the same time while focusing on your fear you will find the emotions reduce. How can you consciously access both parts of your brain at the same time? It's actually pretty simple. While picturing in your mind a trigger for your fear (maybe you're sitting in your plane seat and the seatbelt sign flashes on) then slowly move both your eyes from left to right. Go slow at first then try a little faster and feel the fear start to reduce.
I always find it useful to remind my clients that in order to feel afraid, they have to believe something. They have to say something to themselves, make a picture in their mind and have feelings that go with it. They even have to breathe and move in a certain way. In order to reverse these feelings and feel good, they also have to be doing something with their internal thoughts, feelings and images. If you change your thoughts, feelings or images, you will feel different. If you change more than one thing, you should feel even better. Practise these tips and see how you get on.
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