Why am I scared of flying?
I've heard many people tell me "I'm so scared the plane will fall out the sky" or "the minute I book my holiday, I feel anxious" or "I'm sure I'm going to die on this flight".
But why do so many of us fear flying?
When we are scared of something, our brain triggers the natural 'flight or fight' response in which we release adrenaline from our hypothalamus which makes us stronger, sends blood to our legs and gets us to run in the opposite direction! Essentially, when we produce adrenaline, that's the anxiety we feel - and it isn't allayed until we get ourselves out of the potentially dangerous situation.
We need this part of our brain to keep us safe. Under circumstances such as running into a tiger on the street or seeing someone with a knife or gun coming towards us, it's this part of our brain that keeps us safe. Unfortunately, if this part of our brain thinks we are in some sort of crisis or danger it will step in to 'help' - just like being scared of flying!
However, irrational or excessive fear is typically a maladaptive behaviour, meaning that it affects our everyday life - for example, you can be so scared of flying that you won't even pick someone up from the airport, let alone go on a plane.
The formation of a flying phobia is associated with an environmental component. For example, you may have experienced a particularly turbulent flight or heard about an aeroplane incident on the news. Even listening to horror stories about flying could be enough to trigger a flying phobia.
So why do some people develop a phobia and others do not?
Development of a phobia is often linked to how stressed we are at the time. When we are stressed, we release high amounts of adrenaline and cortisol - then when we have a critical event in this state, we develop a phobia - associating high levels of hormones/neurotransmitters keeping us on 'red alert' to this specific event - so that we avoid it in the future. For example, a person in a stressed, anxious, high alert state has a car accident. Suddenly, they have a fear of driving.
We can also develop phobias via a process called 'mirroring'. For example, if a parent has a phobia of spiders and walks in on a child playing with one, their immediate response is going to be of fear, anxiety, 'fight or flight' and then in subsequent situations, the child had learnt to mirror their parents behaviour.
Fortunately, whatever the cause, hypnotherapy combined with neuro-linguistic programming can get rid of this fear response and instead, get the brain to associate the event with a happy emotion. That's right, no more fear of flying!
Think about how amazing it would be to actually enjoy flying - and the good news is this can be achieved quickly and effectively!