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At the age of two years I was on an aeroplane with my mom and my grandfather. We were travelling to JHB from CT. (God knows why!?) I was with my mom while she was changing my sisters’ nappy in the toilet when the plane dropped. My mom was crushed into the floor of the plane. My sister was raised up into the air with my mom holding on to her one ankle. I am not sure what happened to me but the result is/was a fear of flying!

Now I am an adult and my job requires me to fly all over the country. Every time I get on a plane this fear grips me. Irrational, subjective and ridiculous but never the less very real! I begin to sweat! My heart races! I breathe fast!

The way I used to deal with this was to avoid flying all together. If I was offered work in another city I would give it to one of my colleagues rather than do the flight. I was known to say to my colleagues, “ Hey, you want to go to CT….?”

Am I capable of doing the work in another city? YES! Do I have the potential to do the work in another city? Yes! The fear of the flying makes me creatively avoid the work that I am quiet capable of doing! This is irrational! AND it is still my first knee jerk reaction – how can I get out of this? “Maybe we could drive?”

I cannot honestly say that I remember the details of that flight! My mom does and has told me. I think I remember feet and seeing my grandfathers’ shoes. My mom told me to crawl out of the aircraft toilet and get to my grandfather. Once the door was open she tells me that all the air hostesses were strapped to the floor. I crawled over them and this is where I think I remember feet. Once I recognised my grandfathers shoes in my memory there is relief. I was safe! The flight though was not!

I was left with a residue of irrational fear from childhood that immobilised me and kept me “stuck” in adulthood and caused me to creatively avoid what I am quite capable of doing! I have subsequently overcome this fear (mostly – I face the same panic in some measure still every time I fly!) but it is no longer an immobilising issue It took a conscious effort of over 2 years to achieve it!

Initially I used to fly in an aisle seat and imagine during  whole journey that I was on a bus. The turbulence was just bumps in the road. I could never look out as that would seriously hamper the “truth” as I had created in my mind in order to do it!

I chose very specific inner dialogue and practiced it each day whether flying or not! I would tell my self, “ I remain calm, relaxed and totally at peace while flying knowing that I am in the safest transport known to man!” I would visualise myself in that seat while I was on the ground and see myself achieving the whole flight with all the smells, the feelings and the sense of take off and land…all calm and relaxed! This worked until the French landed in the sea! I then had to change my inner dialogue because it stopped working! It became,“ I remain calm, relaxed and totally at peace knowing that wherever I am in my life everlasting arms are underneath!” This is still working! Hope that God keeps His slate clean and His status because I don’t know where to take my inner dialogue from here! Eternity seems about as far as I can go!

This particular fear is not helped by living with a husband – the same one – who insists on having a television in our bedroom – suffers from insomnia and loves watching air crash disasters loudly in the middle of the night! I wake up to a whole plane screaming in total fear and panic while the plane goes down! AND I am flying in the morning! Maybe he thinks he is doing me a favour and helping me face my fears! I threaten to throw the television out of the window – damn those burglar bars!

The best place in my opinion for all televisions is on the tar outside the house! In irreparable pieces! That is where they should all congregate! Perhaps we should line them all up, end to end and see how far we can get around the world hopping from one to the other without touching the ground! They should only be recalled when I feel like watching a romantic comedy in the hopes that the romance exists out there somewhere…just before that light goes out on that too!

After doing this as a coping mechanism for a good while one day I decided to book a window seat and look out. This transformed my flying behaviour. As I overcame the fear of actually seeing exactly where I was – Hello! In the air! It gave me a reference point and I found that looking at a fixed point on the horizon helped me to stabilise. I prefer to feel the earth beneath my feet than be in an object that has nothing grounded! Like our fears which often have no real grounding! They just are!

  1. Do you have childhood fears that are stopping you from doing something?
  2. What is the fear? Name it…
  3. Is there an identifiable source?
  4. How are you creatively avoiding? What are you creatively avoiding?
  5. What could you do differently that could break this and cause you to operate at your potential level rather than at your belief level?
  6. What inner dialogue is required to break the hold of that fear?