Magical Thinking And Fear Of Flying
There is an art, or rather a knack, to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. —Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
The Douglas Adams quote is one of my favorites.
I’m slowing up a bit because my schedule recently got slammed and not in the way I intended (two fractured teeth, among other exciting adventures in discomfort.)
Still, I know that overcoming this flying-fear is a serious goal and I am determined to focus on that goal. For me, the fist step is prayer, asking God for help in overcoming my fear. Then I get down to the taking the steps I need to take to get there.
Several things Captain Tom Bunn (the pilot and social worker who created SOAR) has said that have helped me. Here are two of them:
“Don’t let the anticipatory anxiety [that’s the fear of being afraid, and can occur anytime before you board the plane—in my case, a couple of days before!] throw you off – it doesn’t mean that you will fall apart on the plane.”
The Belief That Being Relaxed – Instead Of Being On Guard – Tempts Fate
“Every time I feel more relaxed about flying, my subconscious imposes on myself that I just have to be scared. I feel that not being scared is abnormal for me.”
It’s interesting how fear of not being fearful develops. Its development begins with the first trauma in your life. You didn’t know such a horrible thing could happen. The feeling of being safe and secure is shattered. The trauma happened unexpected – “out of the blue”. You don’t know how to go on knowing that something awful could happen at any moment. It could happen just as unexpectedly again. What can you do? You begin to expect it. By expecting it, you are — sort of — braced for it. You decide to always “look to the blue,” anxious at every moment. If nothing awful happens for a while, you may begin to believe expecting bad things keeps them from happening.
Fast forward to adulthood. You learn more about what makes flying so amazingly safe. You learn about simulator training, backup systems, etc. You realize, as your flight approaches, that you are not anxious. Suddenly, anxiety hits. Is not being anxious a safe thing to do? Will letting your guard down cause something awful to happen? Even as an adult, giving up a strategy that might have magically protected you all this time isn’t easy.
These are biggies for me. The second one is a kind of magical thinking that even as I’m thinking it, I realize is specious.
I hope these tips from Tom are helpful to you, too. Please share any tips you may have.
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2012). Magical Thinking And Fear Of Flying. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/08/magical-thinking-and-fear-of-flying/