I look around at people boarding the plane. I feel fear. I click my seat belt. I feel fear. The door closes and that means I am trapped. I know I can’t leave now. I feel fear. The plane taxis and accelerates. I feel fear. I wait for turbulence to happen. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I still feel fear as I wait.
These are the words of my client, a young woman desperate to be free from a gripping fear of flying. She was ready for help, ready to experience the joy of taking trips - with her husband, her family, her girlfriends. But she was afraid. She said that she wouldn’t, that she couldn’t make a hotel reservation, let alone book a ticket for a flight. That act would mean that the trip was real. Even thinking about making a reservation gave her emotional intensity. She said that her girlfriends stopped inviting her on girls' weekends if the trips involved flying. They didn’t want her to feel bad. Trips to see family far away seemed out of reach because driving would take too many days.
She said she simply wanted to look and feel like an ‘average person’ getting on the plane. And she wanted to feel that the world - a world with travel, adventures, and new experiences - was open and accessible. Specifically, she wanted to bring her little boy on trips to experience new worlds with him. She knew how excited he got when he saw a plane.
She had a wedding coming up in 8 weeks. A dear friend. A magical destination. Although she wanted to go, she admitted that due to her fear she had thought about how she might be able to cancel.
We scheduled 6 sessions. We carefully, slowly and intentionally worked through her fear. Together, we moved through the journey from planning and booking a trip to landing at her destination. We paused and tapped on any part of the journey that invoked a heightened sense of fear. After our sessions I gave her homework. I asked her to make the hotel reservation, to work on her playlist, and to pack. These were all things that she said she would never have done in advance. Each session took us further and further into the journey. We discussed and uncovered specific details to work through. We tested and re-tested - for any remaining fear. It was a process, and she was committed to it.
We worked on a future vision. Seeing herself get on the plane looking calm and relaxed, seeing herself interested in other passengers, not afraid of them. Imagining herself sleeping, relaxing, reading during the flight. Observing herself enjoying the process and excited about her destinations. We created an anchor and trigger phrase to use and remember. As she clasped her hands together she repeated in her mind ‘I am safe'. I made a customized recording for her which reinforced that future vision. On her own, and before we were through she had put in her application for TSA pre-check. She started bringing her little boy to the airport to watch planes.
She worked hard. She was vulnerable and consistent. She said she had never vocalized her fears, and even doing that made her feel better. Each session gave her more and more confidence that she was capable of this change. She prepared for the trip over the course of our sessions. I knew she was not only prepared but excited to travel.
In a text message that I won’t forget she sent pictures. In one she was in the cockpit with the pilot. In another she was riding horseback with her husband on a beautiful beach. Both pictures showed a radiant, beautiful and empowered woman. Pictures like that are why I do what I do - to empower clients to tap into their power, to help them to open up to unknown and exciting worlds, and to watch in awe and gratitude as they get on that plane and fly.
Jennie Warner is an accredited, certified EFT Practitioner.