I understand everything about safety of flight, but I’m still afraid!

15/07 I understand everything about safety of flight, but I’m still afraid!

We get a lot of letters, the content of which comes down to the same thing:

«What can I learn during your courses that could help me to stop being afraid of flying? My mind does realize everything, but it doesn’t make me feel any better…»

The point is that the response to this question is obvious for us — for seven years of dealing with the fear of flying we know for sure what and how should we say or do. But from the perspective of particular anxious flier, it’s not that simple.

This is the ordinary conversation:

— Alex,  I’m very scared of flying, and I hesitate about taking the course, because I don’t believe in possibility of being cured.

— Ok, but what makes you believe that you can’t be cured? Does fear of flying fall under the category of the incurable diseases? And what about the successful experience of thousands of people, who were the same as you?

— That’s it, my mind does realize everything, I’m keeping an eye on your activity, I have watched a lot of videos on YouTube and I understand clearly that even in the sixties people could fly and get to the point of destination — I realize everything. But one month before any flight I begin having the nightmares about the aircraft crash on the runway, or its collision with birds during a takeoff, or fire outbreak… Also, I watch the programs about air crash investigations on Discovery – and every time it happens something new, that wasn’t foreseen before…

— So you think that the courses can help only those people, who can’t realize anything? And as you «understand everything» — this is «another» case? Right?

— Well, most people have some stereotypes of thinking that can be challenged by providing a proof that things are not as bad as they seem to be. But my fear comes not from the head – it’s because of the nightmares, which cause stress, and as a result I feel terrible during a flight.

My mind does realize that planes are being constructed by highly educated people, according to the laws of physics and aerodynamics… But it does not ease my fear.

I just can’t understand how somebody can relieve me of my indescribable fear, nightmares, and their after-effects…

Look what kind of picture is in the head of this person.  The courses are being taken by those, who DON’T REALIZE the safety of aviation. They are being explained something about statistics and how does a plane fly, and they stop being afraid. And this person «does realize in her head» how safe it is, but she can do nothing about the fear. Which means the courses won’t help her.

Now let’s look at the real-life picture. In fact, most people with fear of flyings «do realize everything in the head». An anxious passenger, who DOESN’T UNDERSTAND the safety of aviation, who ignores any possibility of the fact that the fear is not linked with a danger of aviation, but comes from the head – alas and alack, this person won’t ever take the course. The degree of understanding the problem is so low, that this person can’t even suppose that the reason is rooted inside. And if the reason is in aviation, there’s no point in overcoming the fear, as it won’t effect on aviation anyway. It was always «terribly dangerous» and nothing can be changed. This is the first stage of all fearful fliers, and only few of them go over to the next one.

The courses are being taken only by those people, who realize that it’s not because of heightened risks in aviation. Or at least by those, who can admit the possibility that the fear is coming from inside, from the mind and the way of perception.

As to «my mind does realize everything» — during the courses (both on-line and individual)  we’re dealing with two broad, equal and parallel subjects such as aviation and psychology.

Of course, it’s very important to become a mini-expert in aviation and understand in general what may happen to a plane in real life, and what is only in your imagination. But essentially, everyone heard the commonplace phrase that «aviation is the safest mode of transport». Does it make you feel any better? I don’t think so. That’s why the subject of aviation constitutes only 30-35% of course. And as a result, combination of logic and common sense gives only 20% of success. No more, because an aerophobia, as well as any other phobia, has nothing to do with logic and common sense. The primary emphasis of the courses is a work over the real cause of fear of flying, in other words — your psychology. Fear of flying is often linked to other psychological issues: low self-esteem, perfectionism, over-control and more. It’s seldom related to aviation, safety or risks.

I’ll give you a simple example. Almost all scared of flying people believe that «on board of plane I lose the control over the situation». What is it? It’s a flawed logic.

When you’re driving the car you believe that you can control everything. In fact, you just can’t control a truck, which is coming on the opposite side of road towards you, because you don’t know what may happen to it in the next second. But it is an ordinary situation and you have no fear. As well as you have no control over the truck. But you have an ILLUSION. And it’s enough for you. And on the contrary, the situation of being on board of a plane is quite unordinary for your mind. The illusion of control is taken away. And here, because of the unordinary situation multiplied by a suspiciousness, anxiety and mistrust, which are typical for people suffering from fear of flying, your mind makes a mistake and generates a fear. Or even a panic.

We have briefly reviewed (without studying in detail) one mistake of thinking. Usually, a person suffering from fear of flying makes a lot of similar mistakes. And all of them, superimposing on one another, cause the fear. What should you do? You need to find, analyze and study these mistakes. That’s what we’re doing during the courses. We’re learning how to control ourselves instead of attempting to control a plane.

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