Fear of Flying: Taking control of your thoughts
So just between us, I am heart-beat pounding, adrenaline pumping, sweaty palm afraid of flying. It’s embarrassing, and has been an issue most of my life. Once when we lived in Georgia, I flew to Houston for a fun weekend visit. I was on my way back to Houston Intercontinental Airport for my return flight home, but first had to return my rental car. I was alone, driving north on Hwy 59, when I was hijacked by purple and black storm clouds and hung a right on I-10 East. I was in Louisiana by the time my husband called to make sure I had boarded my flight. I said, “Umm… I decided to drop my rental car off in Atlanta.” Fear can make us do crazy things.
Feelings aren’t always rational. My sweet husband would say “Don’t be scared, honey”, when we were boarding a flight, but you can’t tell someone how to feel. My fear would try to get a head start during the lazy days of summer before a vacation, when I had weeks to anticipate a flight - weeks to potentially feed anxiety and watch it grow. Thankfully, one morning in a women’s bible study, I learned something that would not only put an end to this, but would also impact other areas of my life.
I’ll never forget the video lecture from a small woman with big hair and the fiercest Texas drawl I’d ever heard. Beth Moore said, “You can’t change the way you feel, but you can change the way you think, and that will change the way you feel.” It made perfect sense.
I had to step up and take control of my thoughts. I was powering my fear by feeding it a constant stream of “what ifs”, negative thoughts, and worry. What if I changed to a diet of biblical truths, calming thoughts, and comfort? Now when I have a flight, I pray, plan, and prepare. I pray for God’s peace and protection, redirect negative thoughts, and think about my destination. I download books, movies and crosswords onto my tablet. I save cliffhanger episodes of TV shows to watch on the plane. I remind myself of the safety of air travel, and the thousands of flights that take place every day. It takes work – but I know the real battle is taking place in my mind, not in the air. When I stop feeding my fear, my pond of anxiety dries up into a puddle. When I change my thoughts, it changes the way I feel.
So - just being honest - my fear doesn’t dry up completely. I still don’t like to fly. But, changing the way I think gives me the power to feel better. Sometimes life is about finding the tools to rise above our fears so we can function in a healthier way. You may have heard the quote “Courage is not the absence of fear, but living through it.” There is such freedom in those words, and there’s hope in knowing our actions can overcome our fears. My favorite part of flying is turning to my husband when the wheels touch down at our destination and saying, “I did it!”
Fear and anxiety can rob, ruin and disrupt life. Is there something you’re afraid of or need help working through? If so, I encourage you to reach out to one of our counselors or coaches. I’d love to meet with you and help you determine the best way to move forward. If I can do it – you can too!
Hoping you fly high,
For appointments or questions contact Sharise@Barnhillcounseling.com , or call 281.762.1825.