For years I have suffered a fear of flying, it was an excellent bonus to my fear of heights.
I have flown many many times, and I thought that I’ll get used to it and stop fearing, but I was wrong.
Before every flight I suffered from stomach pain and I had to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes.
What happened to me was a pure accident, I was in Munich in the time of Oktoberfest, but I arrived late and I didn’t get to drink any Oktoberfest beer and was very disappointed about that.
My flight was around 10 in the morning and in the airport they were selling Oktoberfest beer! I thought to myself that it’s a bit too early to start drinking but I didn’t want to give up tasting this beer, so I bought one.
Apparently if you drink so early in the morning and on an empty stomach you can get drunk from even a single beer. So I got into a nice fun mood and my fear of flying was elevated a little. My stomach hurt me like never before because the mix of alcohol and the already upset stomach wan’t any good. But anyway my fear of flying was elevated a little, the drink gave me some courage, and I was able to kinda enjoy this flight.
I don’t know how it happened but during my “drunk mood” I was very aware of my thoughts, I noticed that my thoughts are more concentrated in the moment instead of what might happen.
That was this one flight, I thought to myself that this was a nice experience so I better reproduce it for my next flight. I did it a couple of times and it worked, but what I found out is that even when I don’t drink enough to get drunk it’s working and then I realized how to do this without alcohol.
Before every flight my brain is working 200%, it’s calculating every possible thing that can go wrong, from mechanical failure, to pilot having an heart attack, wings disconnecting, engine breaking, terrorists, you name it… what the alcohol did was relax my brain and make it focus on the present.
I realized that even without the alcohol what was now going in my head was this:
1. A thought of a terrible thing that can go wrong is appearing.
2. The thought is shot down by another brain process that is replicating feelings at the good flight I had.
This stops semi automatically (sometimes I have to do it consciously) the chain reaction of my fear.
After being shown a possibility of flying with no fear my brain was able to reproduce this process again and again.
What I also found out last week is that this also erased my fear of cable car…
I hope this story might help someone overcome their fear.
“You must run towards fear or fear will run you” (me, now)