My friend Windy is flying tomorrow, and I’m afraid for her.  I’m not afraid that her plane will crash.  No, I know that flying is the safest way to travel on the planet.  I’m afraid she’ll have a horrible flight because she’s flying with a friend who has a fear of flying.

Windy and I have had a few conversations about this friend.  And Windy has had a few conversations with her friend about me, Capt. Ron, and Windy is looking forward to a girlfriend weekend get-away, but this friend’s fear of flying makes her wonder about this trip. Windy has assured her friend that I really want to help her, that our free class here in Phoenix is very helpful, that she should at least consider talking to me on the phone.

Nope.  No dice. Nada.  So Windy will be flying tomorrow with someone who acknowledges she has a fear of flying but is coping by avoiding the very thought of it prior to the trip.  Even if that thinking involves helping herself to become a better flyer.

Avoidance mode is a popular way fearful flyers cope.  Reminds me of the woman came to our fear of flying class AFTER it was over because she couldn’t bring herself to actually come into the classroom while Capt. Ron was conducting the class. Or another woman who had an extensive phone conversation with me about her fear of flying and how she could overcome it, yet she failed to show up for the class she had signed up for.

I have offered my help, and Windy has tried to be persuasive.  What’s a fear of flying coach like me to do when I can’t help someone overcome fear of flying?  I warned Windy that big trouble is ahead for someone who won’t even consider getting some help.

Then I realized  I had forgotten my own advice that I give to spouses, partners, friends, and mothers who email me all the time with “I have this ________ (son, husband, daughter-in-law, friend) who hates to fly.  What can I do?”

I’ve learned over the years that there is not a darn thing that can be done by non-fearful flyers, those well-meaning people who so want the fearful flyer to “get over it.”   However, all these interested parties can do is make gentle, loving suggestions and then back off.

I know, I know… being the one who wants to fly makes you want to scream, doesn’t it?  Why won’t my husband, wife, friend, partner, etc. work on this fear?  Why does flying with them have to be such an ordeal?  I’m tired of it!  Try not to scream.  Try to be patient and eventually the fearful flyer will be willing.

Here’s the deal:  Overcoming  fear of flying is about willingness.  Until the fearful flyer is willing to work on the problem, no amount of persuading, begging, pleading, ridiculing, or wheedling will work. It’s all up to the fearful flyer to decide when he or she is ready and WILLING to tackle fear of flying.

So, Windy, I wish you Happy Landings for your weekend girlfriend trip.  It won’t be a pretty flight with your friend, but I know that once you land, you’ll have a great time.  And you can always send her home via bus.

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