Of course fear of flying is real! Listen to this email:
I am going to Cancun for spring break this year. I have been on a plane about two other times but it seems the older I get the harder it is to fly. While I’m in the air I have major axiety and I just think of the worst that could happen! I try thinking of happy things but then bad things pop in my head. all the other flights I’ve been on I throw up. I always go with my family, so I have support. But, the whole time I feel like I might have a heart attack. and reading so many stories on planes crashing is not very often… but it could happen to me. Why not? So, that scares me.
Flying over water is the worst. I always imagine the plane crashing into the water. and you have almost no chance of living. The worst thing about flying is when you board the plane and you see the pilot and attendants grinning at you like they might do something. The last flight I was on was to Puerto Viarta Mexico for a vacation. We had to fly from USA to Mexico City. Then get on ANOTHER plane to fly to our next destination. The plane dropped and turned on its side and I freaked out and wanted to die. That is when I threw up. I have a huge fear of flying from my bad experience of flying. Please help!!!!!!!
This comment is why I’ve continued to work with fearful flyers ever since I was invited to help a Phoenix psychologist back in 1987. After reading comments like this and thousands of others, there can be no doubt that fear of flying is very real.
When you read the above-referenced comment, you find it riddled with evidence of the power of our minds and the manifestations of the mind-body connection. “While I’m in the air…I just think of the worst…!…I throw up.” The gastrointestinal system has more nerve cells than the brain so is it any wonder that anxiety is felt as “butterflies” in the stomach–and extreme fear occasionally results in vomiting?
“…when you board the plane and you see the pilot and [attendants] grinning at you like they might do something.” As a career pilot, I never imagined that my friendly smile might be interpreted as evidence of a sinister motive until I became involved with fearful flyers. The crew really wants to help you, so be sure and share your fear with them to get the extra TLC you deserve as a fearful flyer.
The problem with fear of flying is that it’s not about airplanes and flying. It’s not even about crashing and dying. If that were the case, we wouldn’t get into our cars or go for a walk (7,000 people die every year in the US as pedestrians!). The problem lies with thoughts and feelings, both conscious and unconscious, generated by a part of our nervous system that was designed to ensure that we would survive the attack of prehistoric predators. Unfortunately this system has failed to downgrade its sensitivity as the threats in our modern world have diminished.
The good news is that overcoming fear of flying has one of the highest success rates of any phobia. Because its origins are both conscious and unconcsious, your success is dependent on efforts in both areas.
So yes, fear of flying is very real. But it can be overcome–really!