Not being comfortable in an airliner means you’ll probably never get to Hawaii. It may keep you from advancing in your career if you need to do business internationally. You might not see your grandchildren if they live out of state.
Is there a way to use NLP and hypnosis to make traveling easier? Sure there is!
While the severity of this phobia differs from individual to individual, for some aerophobia suffers even just thinking about getting on a plane can trigger panic attacks. A great many more of people experience mild discomfort and anxiety when seated on the plane and waiting for take off, only to move into a full blown panic when the engines surge and begin moving the aircraft down the runway, accelerating to take off speed. Either way, it’s not a pleasant experience. Of course, if you also have claustrophobia, it’s a double whammy.
One evening my wife and I were sitting at the Hale Koa Barefoot Bar on Waikiki Beach and I mentioned how great it would be to bring our grown children with us the next time we come. All three of our girls have flown in the past, but for the two youngest their last flight was in the mid-1990′s and they were both less than three years old. While not remembering anything of her actual experience, our middle daughter has convinced herself that she is afraid of flying. She sees herself sitting on a plane before takeoff and immediately starts to feel nervous. Her body automatically responds with elevated heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, etc. Even though she is 45 minutes from the nearest airport, is not even really going anywhere, and knows statistically that air travel is safe, it doesn’t matter. She isn’t going to fly.
My daughter has no objective reason to feel this way (i.e. she’s not a crash survivor, hasn’t been taken hostage in a hijacking, hasn’t even paid $25 for an inflight meal). Her fears are rooted in her subconscious mind at such a level that no amount of parental coaxing, reassurance, or threatening will reach. Neither is it simply a matter of will power and self-discipline, because these are conscious choices, but her reactions are coming from outside the realm of reason.
As a coach, this is a situation in which I would recommend exploring hypnotherapy and some basic NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques to help her gain access to her subconscious programming and make changes that will lead to overcoming her fears.
In a previous blog, I explained how to use NLP to overcome the fear of public speaking. The idea here is the same, except that we use flying images. If you suffer from aerophobia, think about why you might have this condition.
Almost every phobia is a fear we have learned as a child. You weren’t born with this. If the fear of flying was automatic, everyone would have it. But everyone doesn’t have it. So, to be afraid of flying is something that you’ve constructed on your own.
Here’s how to use the NLP fast phobia cure on your fear of flying:
1) If you can remember the incident that first put the idea in your head that flying is scary, use that idea. Maybe you viewed some crash footage on the evening news, or saw something in a movie, or heard someone telling their experience, or you had a bumpy landing at JFK or LaGuardia one time, or your mean big brother’s favorite album was Led Zeppelin’s debut that featured the Hindenburg exploding over the Lakehurst Naval Station in 1937-whatever it might have been. You are trying to isolate a lesson that would have doubt the safety of air travel. If you can’t remember that first incident, then make something up that seems to match your fear of what might happen. Whatever you choose, you’ll be making it into a mind movie in which you are the star!
2) Now, call into your mind the image of your favorite movie theater. Picture yourself sitting there, maybe about mid-theater, where you have a great view but not too close. Once you’ve got your theater pictured, imagine a still shot of the first image of your scary mind movie up on the screen.
3) Take that still shot of the opening frame and remove the color to make it a black and white film. Then, adjust the focus to make it a little blurry around the edges. Not so much that you can’t tell what is going on, but simply a little hazy. Once you’ve got that, reduce the image from full screen to about a quarter of the screen size. Next, you’ll remove the audio track you’ve conjured up (any dialog, any sounds, etc.) and instead we’ll add some loud circus music or whatever your favorite type of cartoon soundtrack-something upbeat and/or funny.
4) Instead of going for popcorn before the show begins, I want you to remember a time when you were super confident, doing something you’re really good at, and having a great time doing it. Now, really get into that memory and re-experience your feelings of confidence and safety. Then turn it up! Let those positive, empowering feelings engulf you. Now double that feeling! And double it again!
5) While is that positive state, let the movie begin to play. Watch the black and white, slient film play forward with the silly soundtrack. Feel free to laugh! Now put the screen back to full size, full color, and watch the film backwards, in super-fast rewind motion. It should be all over and done in a few seconds.
How do you feel about it now? Did you notice that everything worked out fine! You’re still alive!
Repeat these steps as necessary. Get yourself as relaxed as possible every time. The more bold and vivid you can make the experience, the better it will work. As I mentioned earlier, this NLP technique also works well on other issues. Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!
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Dr. Steve Stutz, CC is a Life Success Coach, specializing in helping clergy and professional church workers not only survive but to thrive during periods of crisis, transition, and renewal. To receive periodic personal development tips and success mindset articles, please join his e-list by visiting www.forwardpathcoaching.com