Fear of Flying

Recently I was on a flight where a young girl was sitting across the aisle one row up from me. I noticed her hand tighten around the arm rest when the pilot announced we were #1 for take off. Her Mom, sitting right in front of me, reached across the aisle to touch the young girl’s hand and verbally assured her repeatedly that it was OK, everything was going to be alright. The girl’s body visibly tightened as she braced herself for take off while her Mom kept reassuring her and trying to relax her hand and arm. I’m sure it seemed like an eternity for the young girl until the plane was airborne and we were on our way. The time went slowly for me too, as I observed her reactions.

It made me wonder what her previous take off experiences had been that left her with such a reaction. Maybe it was the loud sound of the engines. She might have felt hot because the air vents weren’t pushing air. The air in the plane might have smelled bad from the jet exhaust. Perhaps it was the sensation of being pinned back in the seat during take off. Maybe it was the feeling of bouncing down the runway. It could have been seeing the ground going by so fast, or maybe it was the sight of the ground getting further and further away. Most likely it was a combination of some or all these things that left her feeling frightened. In an effort to protect, her brain registered that taking off in a plane was not a safe experience and should be feared and avoided in the future.

Eventually the plane levels out, the engines quiet somewhat, the air starts flowing from the vents at a comfortable temperature providing cleaner, even pleasant kitchen smells. People start talking in normal tones. Everything seems fine and the fear diminishes. All is well. At least until her next take off when the brain will send the alarm even before any of the triggers occur because this experience was classified as scary in the past and it must still be scary so queue the stress responses! Poor girl…

EFT Tapping can definitely help with fears around flying. Tapping helps one identify and release the intensity of each of the triggers, all the physical senses that caused the fight, flight or freeze response. Sights, sounds, smells, or sensations can all be a trigger. Sometimes it’s really scary to even think about it.

If you experience fear around flying, guess how intense your fear is to even think about it, on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being no fear and 10 being maximum fear. Now to release these fears with EFT, start with repeating a very general setup statement three times while tapping on the side of the hand:

Even though I’m scared to fly and I don’t even want to think about it, I completely accept myself and how I feel. (3x)

Then use simple reminder statements:

Top of head (TOH): I’m scared to fly.
Eyebrow (EB): I don’t even want to think about it right now.
Side of the eye (SE): I’m scared to fly.
Under the eye (UE): Can’t think about it now.
Under the nose (UN): I’m so scared to fly.
Chin (Ch): I get scared just thinking about it.
Collar bone (CB): I’m scared to fly.
Under the arm (UA): I’m scared to fly.

Take a deep breath, guess your fear intensity now, and notice what comes up. Maybe specific memories or sensations from your experiences are coming to you. Notice how you feel, where you feel it, and how intensely you feel it, 0 to10. Write each thing down if that helps. And when you feel ready, start tapping on one thing at a time until you reduce the intensity of each one. The overall fear may collapse quickly because it was just a single sensation that was the main trigger, or it may take tapping through a list of sensations until you collapse the entire fear.

Work with the first thing that comes to mind, such as the loud sound of the engines revving up. How does that sound make you feel? Where do you feel that in your body? How intense is that feeling? For example, tapping on the side of the hand:

Even though I feel fear in my chest when I think about that loud engine, I completely accept myself anyway.
Even though I feel fear in my chest because that engine is so loud, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m scared of that loud jet engine sound, and I feel it in my chest, right here and now, I’m OK.

TOH: That loud engine.
EB: That loud engine.
SE: I’m scared to hear that loud engine.
UE: I feel fear in my chest from that loud engine.
UN: Fear in my chest.
Ch: That loud engine.
CB: All this fear in my chest.
UA: That loud engine.

Take a deep breath and make of note of the intensity now, 0 to 10. Notice what else comes up and tap on that. Continue tapping on each aspect of the experience until they are all reduced. Persistence pays. Then test yourself by imagining being in a jet on the runway getting ready to take off. If there is any remaining fear, tap on what it feels like. Then continue in your mind down the runway until each sensation that causes fear is neutralized.

Back to the young girl on my flight, after she was visibly calmer and talking freely with her Mom across the aisle, I leaned forward and asked if she was frightened to fly. She said it was only during take offs. Since there was no time or room for a full tapping explanation and session, I offered her the simple tool of holding the sides of her thumb and each finger near the base of the nail, breathing slowly and moving from finger to finger. I briefly explained that by gently stimulating these points, it would send a calming message to her brain. She and her Mom were receptive to the concept, very thankful, and excited to try it on their connecting flight.

Next time you are on a flight and experience some stress or fear about your experience, notice what you’re feeling and either tap right then (more and more people are tapping on planes now!), or tap on or simply touch and hold the finger points to help send the signal to your brain that all is well. Questions about how to use EFT? Check out my book called Emotional Freedom Techniques: The Art of Managing Stress Through EFT Tapping.

Keep Calm and Tap On!

Please remember: It's important to contact a professional if things feel too big for you, whether it be a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or certified EFT practitioner. Never discontinue your current medications without first consulting your doctor.