How to overcome a fear of flying

plane landing at skiathos

If you’re scared of flying then you’re not alone. Estimates vary but the common consensus is that 1 in 6 people suffer from a fear of flying. For some this can be a mild feeling of discomfort during particular parts of the flight such as take-off and landing. Some simply wouldn’t even consider boarding a plane, whilst others book the flight but suffer anxiety leading up to it. Peter Owen from Fly and Be Calm explains where the fear can come from and how you can overcome it.

How to overcome a fear of flying

Where does a fear of flying come from?

Fly and Be Calm – an audio course

The Fly and Be Calm Fear Eraser

How often will I need to listen to the fear of flying course?

Does the fear of flying course work for everyone?

How soon before the flight would I need the fear of flying course?

How to overcome a fear of flying

There is a lot of help on the market ranging from hypnosis tracks and books right through to extensive fear of flying courses. Most advice and help on this topic comes in two forms; one is information about the plane, what the different noises are and what to expect whilst on the flight. This information is often delivered by a pilot on a fear of flying course or in a book.

The other common approach is in the form of coping mechanisms; in other words tips and tricks on how to deal with the anxiety to stop it spiraling out of control. This can come in form of breathing techniques, mindfulness and other distraction techniques. By trying to focus on things other than the flight the mind is less likely to feed the fear.

When it comes to information about the plane, depending on how your fear is constructed and how intense your anxiety is it can help a little. For example if you get nervous when landing and this is largely because you don’t realise that the noise just before landing are just the wheels opening up, you may get benefit from this knowledge.

However, once your anxiety is properly “locked in place”, no degree of logic, rationality or persuasion seems to have any impact on your fear. In fact many can state that they know that flying is the safest form of transport but despite this knowledge the fear remains. Why is this? To successfully answer this we need to look at the evolutionary purpose of anxiety and how it is held and maintained in the mind.

Thomas Cook Airlines plane in the air

Where does a fear of flying come from?

To answer this question we must first discuss your subconscious mind where the problem actually resides. As many of you will know, the conscious mind is the logical, rational aspect of your mind which is used when learning a new skill or solving a novel problem. When you learn to drive a car for the first time, it takes a great deal of effort and concentration to keep an eye on what is happening on the road, how and when to change the gears etc. All this work is initially done by your conscious mind but as your familiarity of driving increases, the processes gradually become automated and are taken care of by your subconscious mind. I am sure many of you will be familiar with the experience of driving a long distance only to realise on arrival that you have no recollection of the journey. This is your subconscious mind at work.

Your subconscious mind is extremely powerful and by the process described above, allows you to automate everyday tasks. This leaves your conscious mind free to deal with novel problems and learn new tasks which it is much better suited for.

One of the key goals of your subconscious mind is that of protection and survival. It is a pattern matching machine and stores memories throughout your life. Imagine a 2 year old child gets on an aeroplane for the first time. She is completely calm but on take-off her mother has a panic attack. She hasn’t seen her mother like this before and becomes frightened herself. If this experience is repeated or if the initial experience is very severe, it is possible that her subconscious mind will come to the conclusion that the taking off experience is dangerous. In other words it has pattern matched it with danger. It doesn’t use logic or rationality about flying to come to this conclusion. It is merely a response to her mother’s fear to which her subconscious mind concludes that therefore so she must also be in danger.

Years on as an adult she may no longer have any memory of this event but her brain continues with the pattern matching; whenever she is about to take off her subconscious mind can see the pattern and responds with its protection mechanism – anxiety. In fact if the anxiety is very high she may not even be able to get on the plane, even if she knew the cause and knew that is was based on a misperception of danger.

Unlike a simple phobia of spiders, a phobia of flying can come in many forms including:

Fear of confined spaces

Fear of not being in control

Fear of take-off and landing

Fear of getting nervous and embarrassing themselves

Fear of turbulence

Fear of terrorism

Fear of airports

Fear of heights

Fear of aeroplane noises

If a person was locked in a cupboard as a child and now has a fear of flying due to it being in a confined space, no amount of persuasion, logic or knowledge about the aircraft will likely change the person’s fear response. They may even know how the fear began and that it is irrational, but despite this knowledge the fear is so bad that they simply cannot get on a plane.

Fly and Be Calm – an audio course

Simply being alive is dangerous to an extent and some anxiety is essential to keep us safe. Although your subconscious mind is incredibly powerful and works to keep you safe, it is very easy for it to produce an excessive amount of fear towards something really quite safe. This is why some of us can feel calm about the drive to the airport but terrified at the prospect of getting on a plane. In this instance it would make more sense from a survival perspective that if any fear is to be felt at all it should at least be directed at the drive to the airport. Better yet is the expectation that both the drive and the flight will both go very well, as this is by far the most realistic scenario.

Fly and Be Calm

If you are reading this it is likely that you are one of the many people who have a fear of flying but would like help to remove it. In other words you realise that your mind is producing a degree of fear towards flying that doesn’t match up to the actual danger involved and would like to reduce it to a more realistic level.

So how does Fly and Be Calm do this? It is an audio download that can be purchased and used instantly. It consists of several tracks of which the most important one to remove your fear of flying is the Fear Eraser.

The Fly and Be Calm Fear Eraser

In order for a change to be made to your subconscious mind, it must get past what is known to psychologists as the critical faculty. If the topic in question is emotionally neutral (i.e. has no obvious survival component), your critical faculty will refer back to past experiences and use logic to determine whether to accept or reject the new information.

When it comes to your fear of flying there is a strong emotional element to it. Whenever there is a lot of emotion backing an idea it becomes much more rigid and getting past the critical faculty is far more difficult. In many ways this makes sense and perhaps is useful from a survival perspective in certain scenarios. However with a flying phobia too much fear is being generated compared with the actual danger present. For any help to be useful it must be able to bypass the critical faculty and make the necessary changes.

This is where the Fear Eraser comes into its own. You must first bring up as much fear as possible at the thought of flying. The beauty of the method is that at this point it makes no assumptions; your fear could be of take-off, landing, turbulence, confined spaces or any number of other targets. It is your job to bring up the emotion and in doing so you are linking up your specific problem concept with the problem emotional state in your mind and lighting up all of the relevant parts of your brain in the process.

At this point your job is to rate the bad feeling on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most unpleasant. Note where the fear is in your body and exactly how it feels. Next go through the track and your job is to try and keep hold of the bad feeling as much as possible whilst simultaneously thinking about your specific fear and following the instructions.

Throughout the track a technique called “linguistic compression” is used in which useful suggestions are begin fired at the listener over and over again. In other words you are being told what you need to hear in a very concentrated manner and using language in a very specific way to optimise the amount of info which will bypass the critical faculty and reach your subconscious mind.

Whilst this is going on you must listen out for audio cues and depending which sound you hear you must tap with a particular hand or both hands together. This serves multiple purposes; first of all your critical faculty is being distracted by the decision process of which hand should be tapping. In other words it is far less able to protect the existing “concept to emotion” link from the bombardment of suggestions because a lot of its processing power is being used on the tapping process.

Your critical faculty only really starts to mature when you reach the age of 7 years old. At this age your ability to reason and use logic is growing and also you have an increasing store of past experiences to access when it comes to assessing new info. Imagine telling a 3 year old who hasn’t yet formed a critical faculty that there is a monster under her bed, she will likely automatically believe you and then become fearful.

Because of the way the language on the track is structured and the additional task of having to tap, in a way it puts you back into the frame of mind of a 3 year old who is very suggestable and open to new ideas without the usual blocks in place by your critical faculty.

As well as making you much more open to new ideas, the tapping process also accomplishes two more goals.

1. Pattern interrupts

As you read this it is likely that if you even think about flying or actually book a flight you will get an automatic fear response. Think of this as a pattern in your mind. Throughout the track you are asked to think about the “thing that is bothering you” but immediately after there is a change in the tapping sequence. This means that the pattern is systematically being fired off then interrupted, not allowing the full original pattern to complete. This quickly weakens the bad pattern in your mind and it feels as though you are trying to grab hold of the thought and fear, yet it keeps slipping from your grasp.

2. Classical conditioning

Early in the 20th Century, Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for a very important discovery. As part of an experiment he rang a bell to let dogs know it was time to be fed. Although it wasn’t the topic of his experiment, he observed that in a short space of time he could make the dogs salivate by ringing a bell even in the absence of food. In other words the dog’s brain was linking together two previously unrelated stimuli – the food and the bell – due to the two occurring simultaneously over a period of time.

This is known as classical conditioning and has been proven beyond doubt by psychologists since that point. The Fear Eraser exploits this feature of your brain and certain words are split second timed with certain key words which towards the back of the track become linked in your mind, which induces feelings of calm.

50% off fly and be calm

Summary of the Fear Eraser

The principles exploited throughout the Fear Eraser are processes that are utilised all the time by your brain. For example if you are with someone who praises you a lot or someone who tells you that you are ugly and worthless over and over again, the repetition of ideas being fired at you over time will have a big impact on the way you think and feel about yourself. In other words this is an example of the repetition of ideas influencing the way you feel, a feature which is exploited in a very concentrated manner throughout the track.

If you hear a good song you hadn’t heard for a while that you used to play when you were at school, your brain will likely bring back a flood of feelings and memories upon hearing it; in other words your brain was conditioned at that point to link the certain feelings with that music due to hearing it so much at that time in your life. This is classical conditioning at work in everyday life.

Pattern interrupts are often prescribed by psychologists as a way of breaking habits. A common example is that of a person who is told to wear a rubber band around their wrist and they are advised to ping it against their skin whenever they feel tempted to carry out whatever their bad habit is. The Fear Eraser uses this principle in a much more condensed and sophisticated way.

How often will I need to listen to the fear of flying course?

Many people report just needing a handful of listens to remove the fear but because it depends so much on the individual’s neurology and other factors some will need more repetition.  Use the track until the fear rating has come down to a 1 or a zero and remember to rate the actual physical feeling. It is quite common for a person to think they still have the fear when in actual fact the fear response is gone and all that remains is the belief that they still have a fear. It sometimes takes a little while for your conscious understanding to catch up with the subconscious change so keep this in mind whilst rating.

Once the fear is gone many say they cannot bring back the fear even when trying. Depending on a person’s ability to use their imagination, a little may come back on the flight but all they need to do is go through the track again mid-flight. One person used the track months before flying. On the way out they were completely fine. However fear began to creep back near the end of the holiday at the thought of the flight. She realised that she still had some fear at the prospect of flying at night so she simply focused the Fear Eraser on the idea of flying at night and she was fine.

Once the fear is gone it is usual to feel surprised at first then curious whether the calmness will remain whilst flying. This is normal and a healthy use of your critical faculty. However the clearance of the anxiety should give you some confidence in the process, especially knowing that you can use the track whenever you need it.

What are the additional tracks on the course?

Once the fear is gone we recommend listening to the additional tracks whose main aim is to engender a positive expectation of a calm flight. They also give the subconscious specific instructions as to what to do and when. These tracks further exploit the way that language impacts a person’s understanding and the brain is saturated with useful and positive suggestions.

Does the fear of flying course work for everyone?

We offer a money back guarantee. If a week after purchasing no change is felt we are happy to give a full refund without any questions asked. The vast majority of purchasers however seem to be delighted and feedback has been excellent. You can even see videos of people before and after and you’ll see how the Fear Eraser works for them.

The brain is the most complex structure in the known universe and it would be crazy to claim that this will work for everyone. Most though will experience a significant drop from anxiety to calmness quite quickly. For those who don’t, the most likely explanation is that they may not be following the instructions of the track literally or more commonly, the fear of flying is merely the subconscious way of protecting a person from some other danger. In other words they don’t have a fear of flying in itself and when this happens it is known as a complex phobia.

Imagine a person who is due to visit a family member who she hasn’t seen for a long time and despite being a happy flyer, all of sudden feels very fearful at the prospect of flying. If you dig a little deeper, the person may have a fear of becoming emotional in public and is worried that they may get become emotional when seeing the person. In this instance the fear of flying may be a way the subconscious mind protects the person from having to face this embarrassment. All of this will likely be completely out of conscious awareness for the sufferer. It can sometimes take a skilled therapist to identify such a scenario and then it will just be a case of clearing the actual fear, then very often the secondary fear of flying will evaporate of its own accord.

How soon before the flight would I need the fear of flying course?

For many the results are very quick. The audio course takes between 30-60 minutes in total. Although it is better to clear the fear in advance with Fly and Be Calm and then use the additional tracks to lock in place the feelings of calm and confidence, even if your flight was later today we advise you to try it out because many people get results very quickly. You can be download and use it instantly and it comes with a 7 day money back guarantee. As Fly and Be Calm is an official partner of Thomas Cook Airlines you can apply the code “tcapromo” at checkout and get 50% off the purchase price.

50% off fly and be calm

Tags

13 Comments

  • All the advanced methods for treating flight phobia are detailed in this book amzn.com/B00MJD6W94 named Amazon Editors’ 2014 Favorite Book.

  • someone says:

    Where does a fear of flying come from?
    I can tell you that if you didnt know it already. that you sit miles up in the air.no controle and your life is in the hands of a machine and two pilots and weather conditions.
    Why this fear..well look at all the news on crashes. thats it. Make safe airplanes and hire pilots who cares about peoples lifes.

  • Gemma says:

    I have thought long and hard about my fear of flying and it all comes down to a lack of control about the situation. How can I overcome that????

    • Peter Owen says:

      Hi Gemma, a fear of not being in control is very common though the causes can vary. Also many people know rationally that it is quite a good thing that they are not in control when it comes to flying; pilots spend many years of training and are literally experts at what they do. When we are driving down the road we are not in control of the actions of other drivers yet many of us are still able to feel safe driving.

      For some there might have been a period of time in their life during which they felt out of control and helpless. If this is the case what can often happen is that anxiety kicks in as it is in survival mode, looking out for danger. Let’s say that someone had a few years of great uncertainty in their early teens and had little control over their life. Even once this time has passed, the concept and feeling of not being in control might still be emotionally charged. The subconscious mind will then be on the lookout for patterns of being “out of control”. Then if the subconscious pattern matches the context of flying with being out of control, it will activate the anxiety as a survival mechanism.

      This would be a case of a complex phobia, in which a fear of flying is just one trigger of an underlying anxiety. For this you could still use the Fly and Be Calm system to reduce the anxiety still linked with those past events. Often doing so will remove the fear of flying also without any further work if that was the trigger.

      However a much more likely scenario is that you would just imagine flying and not being in control, allow some of the anxiety to come up and run the relevant 10 minute track, and after one or two listens you would likely feel much better at thought. In other words that concept will have had its emotional charge reduced, leaving you feeling calm.

      If you have any more specific questions feel free to ask here or if private, email me at peter@flyandbecalm.co.uk

  • sandra barlass says:

    I have a terrible fear of flying. I absolutely hate the take off. It is the thought of all the weight on the plane and how it can possibly stay in the air. The turbulence scares me as well. I do fly as i enjoy my holidays but i dont look forward to the flight home.

    • Peter Owen says:

      Hi Sandra,

      Everyone with a fear of flying has their own pattern of anxieties. It is possible for one person to be curious and marvel at the wonders of engineering that allows flight, yet feel no fear despite not fully understanding. Others like yourself will think about this and experience a fear response. By applying the 10 minute “fear eraser” (which comes as part of the course) to each of your specific fears, the emotions will be neutralised. You might still prefer a smooth flight to a turbulent one, but this will be a preference rather than a need and if there is a little turbulence you will feel calm despite it.

      Removing this would also allow you to focus your attention on your enjoyment of the holiday rather than the return flight.

      Hope this helps and feel free to ask further questions if needed.

  • Anthony Morris says:

    Thank you so much for this info me and my partner are due to fly out to Cuba with Thomas Cook for Xmas n New year I will be showing her this although her problem is flying at night time she thinks the pilot will get lost

  • Peter Owen says:

    Hi Anthony, I have worked with numerous people who have had a specific fear of flying at night. I am sure logically and rationally that your partner would acknowledge that getting lost isn’t really something that is going to happen. However it is common for people to understand things rationally, yet their subconscious mind (which is responsible for emotions) has a different interpretation. When there is a conflict such as this, logic and knowledge is often insufficient to make the changes at the emotional level.

    The system would help your partner align her subconscious perception of flying at night with her rational perception, leaving her feeling calm about the thought of night time flying. Please let me know if you have any further questions and have a great time in Cuba!

  • John Allen says:

    good morning,

    I have an extreme fear of flying, I’m sure most people who have this anxiety feel the same but I know mine is terrible in fact I’d go as far as to say incurable! I have tried CBT, hypnotherapy and medication and nothing has worked. I know its irrational and I know it is a control issue but in my head I can not accept the examples specialist give to justify why its ok! I understand the mechanics of aviation, noises the tech, everything but I just cant get on the plane. I truly believe I’d hyperventilate and possible have a heart attack. I’m fit and well so GP prescribe beta blockers which means I’d have to be on these for ever more almost, if they work! this cant be the solution at 35! I’m so desperate. Oh just to explain how complex mine is I went paragliding last week! Not many people would ever understand that. I wish I was B A Baracus and could be drugged, out cold and would go anywhere! Help anyone.

  • louise says:

    Hi I am not going abroad this year but went last year to Spain only a short flight. Went with my family. I don’t mind take off and landing is my favourite part of the flight it is the in between I don’t like all them thousands of feet in the air and if something goes wrong I can’t do nothing about it I bit all my nails all the way home. I travelled with my children and did my very best not to show them how absolutely terrified I was. I did good but the fear just washes over me and I feel I have no control over it. I honestly don’t know where it comes from.

  • Magda Pentelow says:

    I can get on the plane with no problems..and take off and landing are getting better. It’s when I am in the air the fear and panic starts.
    I cried for over an hour on my return flight last week ..its the noises and movements I don’t like and the decent when we drop .
    I am flying next year with my children and don’t want to lose it in front of them and then they go on to have a fear. Plese help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *