Fear of Flying


When we hear the devastating news of another plane crash, naturally our thoughts and condolences are with those who tragically lost their lives and with their families, colleagues and friends.  However, upon hearing this, flying can start to feel a bit unnerving to some people, or if there was already a fear there, then the news of an air disaster could increase that fear of flying.

So what exactly is a Fear of Flying?  How does it start?  How is it that it affects some people and not everyone?  Can anyone be free from a fear of flying?

To summarise, here’s our response based on years’ of clinical hours working with clients who had a fear of flying and now feel free to fly again:

  • The ‘fear’ is not of the plane itself (ie, the plane cannot attack you or harm you). The fear is how you think about the plane, being in the air, being in an enclosed space, thinking that you’ll feel ‘out of control’ or having thoughts of terrorist attacks etc.  This is your own interpretation based on your own ‘reality’ of your world (the brain tends to generalise, delete and distort information that it receives).  The ‘fear’ is in your mind, created either consciously or unconsciously. 
  • We are not born to be fearful or afraid of planes or flying. The fear is something we have learnt, developed, or the result of encoding a trauma in the brain.  All of these can happen first hand (we experience this personally), second hand (we see or hear something happening to others or perhaps a parent has a fear of flying), or third hand (we watch the news and hear them tell us about a plane crash or similar disaster).  We then respond or react based on our own state of mind and we will process and store or discard this information accordingly. 
  • The ‘landscape’ or ‘structure’ of our brains differ from person to person. For example:

Miss A has taken up a new hobby of jumping out of planes and loves the thrill;

Mrs B is petrified of flying and has panic attacks just thinking about booking a flight;

Mr C flies regularly with his job and used to think of it as just another mode of transport until a particularly stressful time in his life resulted in him now experiencing fear and panic any time he flies.

So as you can see, it’s not the plane or the flying that’s the issue here…..it’s the individual unique response from each person, and one person’s fear could be another person’s passion.

  • We’ve found that those with a fear of flying share the same ‘programmes’. At some point in their life they have encoded fear(s) or trauma(s) which was or has become associated with flying.
  • For the brain to encode (or record) a trauma or fear, each of the following ‘conditions’ must be met:

– The fearful situation or event itself;

– Being or feeling trapped / where there has been perceived inescapability (eg, in a lift, cupboard, room, fairground ride, in an abusive relationship, in an armed robbery etc). Curiously, it’s not uncommon for those with a fear of flying to have experienced almost drowning at some point in their lives;

– What this situation means to that person at that time (fear/panic/terror/afraid/what if I might die); and,

– The landscape of the brain at that time (high stress / ill health / emotionally sensitive etc) – creating a more vulnerable landscape

  • The encoding of a ‘fear of flying’ can be as a direct result of being on a plane that experiences bad turbulence or an incident, or, it can be nothing to do with a previous flight (perhaps there’s a fear of the underground or a previous time when there was no control over a situation) and a ‘thought’ in the head can trigger an association with flying so that suddenly a fear of flying has now been programmed into the brain. With the increase in terror attacks or news reports through media, this may create or fuel an existing fear. I had a fear of flying for 31 years but I’d never even been on a plane!  Now I fly regularly all over the world without any fear or anxiety.

Let’s look at it like this…..

Think of the brain as a DVD player (they are not quite antiques yet!).  You’re running lots of different movies each and every day (some with the sound on and some with the sound off) – some make you feel happy, motivated, excited; others make you feel afraid, upset or sad.  In your DVD library, there’s one labelled ‘fear of flying’.  You tend to watch this in your mind’s eye really closely (quite often you are appearing ‘in’ the movie).  Sometimes even just hearing the word flying or airplane sets it to automatic play mode.  This is like a horror film, but you still keep on watching it if you think about flying, hear about flying or know that you may have to fly sometime soon.  In fact, you may have tried throwing it out, but it’s stuck. No matter what you do, it just won’t budge.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could unstick that movie, cut it up into lots of tiny pieces and throw it out for good, and, delete any similar movies alongside it too?  And rather than leave an empty space where you may consciously or unconsciously try and recreate that movie (because afterall, it’s what you’re familiar with even though you dislike it), you can insert a different movie….one that just makes you feel so relaxed and carefree when you watch it and the more you watch this new movie, the better you make yourself feel.

The fastest way to permanently remove that fear DVD is to target exactly where it is stuck.  As soon as we can unstick it, we have the power to remove it and then replace it with something better.

How do we actually do this then?  Talking about it won’t unstick it, it may just reinforce it.  Watching it more and more and more until you get bored of it, won’t unstick it, you’ll just switch off for a while but it’s still there, playing in the background, wanting to grab your attention.  Trying to watch another movie may distract you for a bit, but this still hasn’t unstuck it has it and it could play at any time when you least expect it.

The solution?

Delta waves!  These important waves generating an electrical chemical response, targeting the Amygdala (the DVD player) in the Limbic System (the control centre) in the brain, can be sent directly to target and remove the stuck DVD, releasing and then destroying it so it can never be watched again.  The memory may still remain but there’s no longer any negative emotion or fear attached to it.

Through advancements in Neuroscience, there is a methodology called ‘Havening’ that does just this.  It works directly with your neurology, targets the fear/anxiety/phobia/trauma/distressing memory/negative emotion, unsticks it and destroys it……..and incredibly this is all done with a simple yet powerful algorithm using just the senses to generate the electrical chemical signal that gets to work and frees you from your fear.  The whole process works within a safe ‘haven’; you just have to play that DVD at the start and then you can sit back relax and enjoy a trip in your mind somewhere else, whilst we apply this psychosensory method to make the difference.  And, even if you don’t consciously know which specific DVD’s from your library are the ones you need to target, there’s other ways to target and free you from your anxiety of flying too.

We all have our own movie library, with different screen sizes to watch them on and different sound systems (some even have special effects that may generate responses through other senses), and there may be more than just one DVD that needs unsticking and destroying.

Deleting a fear of flying using The Havening Techniques blended in with a couple of other methodologies for thorough and complete positive change, can, in the majority of cases, be achieved in less than 2 hours.  Everyone responds differently and where one individual may free themselves from their fear of flying in one session, another may take two sessions.  Often there can be other fears, high levels of stress, previous traumas etc that may influence and impact on the fear of flying, so it’s important to deal with these too.




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Chris has extensive experience in helping men and women overcome the symptoms of Anxiety, Panic Attacks, PTSD and so much more. You are not alone; help is available.