Fear of Flying?

Several years ago I was flying from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Atlanta. The plane loaded, the door closed … and the plane didn’t move.

The passenger seated next to me pointed to a man about three rows forward and on the opposite side of the aisle. She asked, “Do you think he’s having a problem?”

When I looked in the direction she was pointing, I saw the man and noticed he had his hand on the armrest like it was the last thing on earth he was going to touch. He was having a real “white knuckle” experience, and the plane hadn’t moved yet.

Then a flight attendant announced a delay due a mechanical reason, and the aircraft door was opened. Passengers were told they could deplane and expect to re-board in an hour. I followed the “white knuckle” flyer off the plane and, as we reach the terminal, I asked about his problem. He explained that he had a great fear of flying, and I asked if he’d like to enjoy the flight, instead of fearing it.

We sat down near a window and I asked him to close his eyes. I knew an airport lounge was not a place where he ought to display a highly-emotional experience, and I suggested to him that he could learn the reason for his fear of flying in a calm, quiet way. Then I suggested that he go back to a time that was connected to today’s fear of flying and just experience it in a calm way, letting go quietly of any emotion connected to that experience. He did, without explaining it aloud, and we were done.

Soon after, the flight was called for re-boarding. When he stood up, he exclaimed, “Let’s get on. I’m ready to fly to Atlanta!” He boarded with a big smile and was relaxed for the entire flight!

Do you have a fear of flying? Or of something else? Get in touch. I’ll be happy to help you. Just click on “Contact Gus Philpott” at the upper right.

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