The best way to overcome fear of flying
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- Have a better life and more freedom with much lower pre- and in-flight anxiety.
- Cure or Deal better with panic attacks, perfectionism, OCD, claustrophobia.
- Understand better the aviation system safety as well as own psychology and physiology
- No previous knowledge is required
- Be ready to challenge your thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.
About one third of the world population suffers from anxiety in flights. I have dedicated already 12 years to helping people to overcome their fears, and I have developed an amazingly effective way to do that.
Join thousands of people who got rid of their phobias with my technique in my brand new Udemy course!
In the course you will:
Learn about aviation from a licensed FAA and EASA pilot
Learn about the fear mechanism
Learn about yourself and why you are experiencing discomforts and anxiety during flights and other events
Learn how to overcome panic attacks in 60 seconds every time
Get to ask me any question you want, I answer everything personally
Overcome your fear of flying and have a better life!
- Anyone with flight anxiety - from mild-level to full blown panic attacks.
- From people who fly often to those with total avoidance
- People who are scared of accidents/turbulence/human factor as well as people who are anxious about their own body, panic and inability to escape
- perfectionists who want to get rid of their endless pursuit of perfect
Safety, Risks, Statistics and why it won't work for you now.
Congratulations, you've just started one of the most important journeys in your life - the journey to getting rid of fears!
Fear of flying limits you and your loved ones. Together, we'll do whatever is needed to help you overcome this unnecessary part of your life. Lets go!
So, the first lesson deals with absolute safety. Indeed, flying would be much easier for you if you were SURE that the outcome is 100% predictable and absolutely safe. But since flying is NOT 100% safe (as with any other process in our life) we'll learn how to deal with that.
We do have to discuss briefly about statistics, keeping in mind that statistics themselves have no chance to help you to overcome your fear.
The lesson also explains our brain's 2 hemispheres - the right and the left, and we are going to discuss why air safety statistics (although amazing), do not affect you.
Now, take your time and watch the video part of this lesson.
A lot of people aren't so comfortable with flying. But only some of them will develop a phobia.
What turns fear into a phobia? Why is it that 80% of the passengers in any airplane can sleep or work, while you’re really suffering? Let's understand what leads to phobia development and why it is not linked in any way to air safety or risks.
Basic model of phobia
Any phobia has 4 elements: thoughts, emotions, physiology and behavior.
All these elements are interrelated: wrong thinking leads to wrong emotions. Wrong emotions lead to wrong body reaction. Wrong behavior makes up the rest.
Thoughts are the core and root of any phobia. For example, claustrophobics are sure that if they get stuck in an elevator - they will die. This is the wrong thinking that leads to fear. Fear leads to a body reaction - and to avoid it, a claustrophobic person will avoid elevators. This behavior confirms the initial thinking mistake ("OK, if I avoid it, it HAS TO BE dangerous") and makes the whole issue worse.
In order to overcome a phobia we'll need to learn to control our thoughts, physiology and behavior.
Emotions can't be directly controlled. They change when the other factors change.
Every person with a fear of flying usually holds a number of irrational beliefs (wrong thinking patterns). During this course we are going to discuss most of them. Thinking that way is like imagining pushing a needle into your finger. It gives you a sense of physical discomfort, produced only by thoughts. 50% of the fear of flying looks almost the same.
If you asked any fear of flying therapist in the world what is the most common phrase among fearful flyers, he would answer something like "It's the loss of control in the airplane that frightens me so much". Since it's the most common fear by far, we'll discuss it in depth in this lesson. This is a very important phase of the treatment process, so take your time to understand this chapter.
Some people need to feel "in control" in order to feel safe.
This need comes from the general feeling of "unsafety of life" which, in turn, comes from early childhood, genetics and upbringing. In lesson 6 we'll explain more about the causes of such a need.
Actually, "control" is just an illusion. Although it's comfortable to have such an illusion, it can lead to panic when you lose it.
In reality, almost everyone has control on everyone's life.
We have thousands of situations every day in which while we think we are in control, we are in fact not. Driving, sleeping, walking, watching a movie etc.
Flying is just one of those thousands of situations in which we have no control.
You sleep 8 hours per day - how can you establish or keep control during the time in which you are sleeping?
We cannot control other drivers, gas explosions, idiots shooting bullets, fire, tsunamis, trains, ships and the list goes on. It's sad to say, but we cannot even control the cells of our own body.
You cannot lose something, you never had. That’s why "loss of control" on board is actually "loss of the illusion of control". Recognizing that it's not the loss of REAL control, but the ILLUSION of control - makes flying easier.
Losing an illusion is not as painful as losing the real valued thing.
Indeed, looking at a big, heavy machine that somehow overcomes the force of gravity and flies without any visible reason may raise feelings of instability and unreliability regarding the whole process. Then the imagination kicks in, telling us something like "it's because of engines" or "if something goes wrong this heavy thing is going to fall from the sky"
In this lesson you'll learn how the aircraft flies in reality, what keeps it in the air and why the air, for your aircraft, is the same stable support as a road is for your vehicle.
You already know that:
Flying is the safest form of human activity, although it doesn't seem so to someone who suffers from fear of flying
There is no ABSOLUTE safety anywhere, flying is RELATIVELY safe, exactly like any other thing we do.
Fearful flyers tend to work with the right, emotional, part of the brain, while the left part is necessary in order to analyze statistics
Fear of flying is created from the wrong way of thinking and wrong behaviour
You probably overestimate the risk by thousands of times. It helps you to feel that your fear is somewhat "rational", thus, reducing internal conflicts.
One of the most common logical mistakes fearful flyers make - is thinking "when I’m in the airplane I lose control over the situation". That is not true since it’s not possible to lose something that you don't really have.
In our life, we share every place and minute with other people, systems and mother nature, all of which can lead to bad events happening. The question is the PROBABILITY of such an outcome, not the POSSIBILITY.
For overcoming the fear of flying, you'll need to become a "mini expert" in aviation, as well as an expert in your own psychology, fear and panic systems and a lot more. Ready to go? We'll start from the discussion of "how the aircraft flies". This knowledge shouldn't cure your problem, but it’s important to know that stuff, as it prevents fantasies from controlling you.
How it flies? We've just learned that:
An aircraft needs just 3 things to be able to fly:
When objects move through the air at high speeds, the pressure beneath them will be several times greater than the pressure above it.
That pressure difference forms a solid cushion of high pressure underneath a flying aircraft.
The air is a gas, not a void. At high speeds, the air becomes very viscous. You can think about the airplane in the air as a fly in a can of honey. The fly will not fall through the honey, since the honey is viscous, exactly like the air is.
As the speed gets higher, the air is more viscous and the cushion beneath the airplane is greater.
Physicists say that the lift (or, the cushion in other words) gets bigger as a square of speed. This means that if the airplane takes off at approximately 200 km per hour, the cushion is big enough to hold 200 tons in the air. But after a few seconds of flight the speed doubles, so the cushion is 4 times stronger!
At our cruising altitude we fly at 800 km per hour (4 times faster than on takeoff), so the cushion becomes stronger by 16 times!
Even considering that the density of air is reduced (or that the air is a bit "thinner") at high altitudes, the support beneath the aircraft is still 10-12 times bigger than we actually need.
Fearful flyers tend to think that if an engine fails (or even both), the airplane will drop from the sky. That is not true since the necessary speed, in such very non-realistic scenario, can be obtained from simply lowering the aircraft's nose. Newton’s law states, that if an objects travels towards earth, its' speed increases due to the force of gravity. So, the aircraft can maintain necessary speed even if no power is available and it wouldn't drop like a stone under any circumstances.
In further lessons we'll discuss the possibility of engine failure (a very rare event) and you'll learn and see how the airplane glides safely without any power.
Imagine a plane with 300 passengers. Look, 270 of them are reading books, working, watching movies, sleeping. 30 are very busy. They are listening to how intense is the sound of the engines, trying to locate a possible problem. They grab the armrests at the slightest hint of turbulence. They try to control all the processes around and see smiles on the faces of the flight attendants, as a confirmation that everything is ok.
So, what is the difference between those two groups? Maybe the first group doesn't recognize the value of life? May be they don't love their kids? They don't care that "something might go wrong"? They don't think about the risks?
Not really. The difference is in their way of thinking and their behavior. But also in their personality. This lesson deals with the question “where does fear of flying comes from?” and “why, years ago, you probably could fly without any problem?”
So, why is flying difficult for you while it's so simple for others?
We all are different. We come from different families, we were raised differently, we have different genetics.
Generally speaking, all people can be divided to 2 groups: for the first group (70%) the world is generally safe, but sometimes, momentarily, they can feel anxious if they recognize some real threat. For the second group (30%) the world is generally unsafe, but sometimes, momentarily, they can feel relaxed if they recognize that there is absolutely no threat.
Since we know that absolute safety doesn't exist, the second group's members tend to build an illusionary world, where they are always safe but only when they are "in control". Since control is only an illusion, they will often panic when that illusion is not available and there is no way to physically escape from that situation (airplane, traffic jam in a tunnel, MRI procedure, elevator stopped between the floors etc.).
The reason for such a difference in feelings of safety in life is hidden in genetics, upbringing, emotional connection and proper (secure) attachment to parents, one's character, the way of thinking and behavioral patterns.
None of those reasons are linked in any way to aviation, airplanes, risks or flight safety. It's all about trust/mistrust, suspicion, the need to be always in control or at least to have the illusion of control.
All of the above mentioned factors are "weights" on the scales that measure threats. If there are a lot of "weights" on the scale (genetically incorporated anxiety, poor emotional connection with parents, bad upbringing style, "do not touch the dog, it will bite you", life stresses and "lessons", suspicion, mistrust, wrong thinking and special behavior) - even a small stimulus (for example - turbulence, a bumpy landing or minor technical problem) may be mistakenly considered by the brain as a real threat and can lead to extreme fear.
Thus, we start avoiding the situation that produces fear. This is a very natural human response. This avoidance leads to an increase in fear. Our brain works in a simple manner: "If you avoid it - it's definitely very dangerous". No matter what the statistics or logic say. Fear of flying becomes the acquired reflex.
We cannot change our genes or fix parental mistakes. But we absolutely can change the way we think and the way we behave. This will remove unnecessary "weight" from our fear system. If less weight pushing the scales to it's DANGEROUS side, the bigger will be the required trigger that leads to fear.
In further lessons we'll learn how to control your thoughts, your body reactions to adrenalin and how to change your behavior to eliminate the influence of your genetics, upbringing, parental mistakes and personality on your flying experience.
As we've already discussed, wrong thinking is a huge part of your fear of flying problem.
During this course, apart from new knowledge of aviation and the psychology of fear, we will discuss one-by-one some of the most common thinking errors.
One of those is : "In case of an air crash there is no chance to survive, while here, on the ground, it's always possible to do something and to survive somehow".
Why is it an error? It's pretty simple. There are 2 reasons why you're not going to think this way anymore.
Start watching the video now and challenge your thinking.
"No chance to survive" - why it doesn't really matter?
The common thinking pattern for fearful flyers is: "we have 35000 feet of void underneath us. If we fall, we have no chance to survive". That's wrong because:
There is a good chance to survive, not 0. That’s due to following:
- air is a gas, not a void.
- at high speed, the air is viscous and under the aircraft there is a cushion of high pressure, that holds aircraft 10-12 times stronger than actually needed.
In this lesson we’ll discuss two of the most common fears: turbulence and air pockets.
You will learn:
what turbulence really is?
when to expect it?
why it's absolutely safe for your aircraft?
why do you get scared although you know it’s safe?
why you feel a lot of “air pockets” while in reality there is no such thing?
how and when your vestibular system “lies” to you?
how to ignore wrong messages from your inner ear?
You will get an even deeper understanding of turbulence and your reaction to it at the 3rd part of this course, during the master class “Turbulence, perfectionism and the link between them”
Turbulence. "Air pockets". Vestibular system mistakes.
Turbulence is a matter of comfort but not safety.
At high speeds - air becomes viscous. Your airplane is inside this very viscous air.
Air can move , because it’s a gas, and gas HAS TO move.
If the temperature of all air patches is equal, you wouldn't feel that movement. If the temperature of air patches around your airplane is different, that will make the air to move at different speeds and you will definitely feel it. It’s perfectly normal!
Although this movement is tiny (just a few feet up and down), we perceive it as “huge bumps” due to the very high speed
Airplanes are designed to fly in turbulence. ANY turbulence.
No fatal accident have happened to an aircraft due to turbulence. EVER.
A lot of processes during a flight can feel like “falling down”
Those are thrust reduction after takeoff or in flight, connecting the autopilot, any change of vertical speed, flaps retracting, leveling off after climbing, start of additional climb (while in the rear part of an aircraft), start of descent (in the later part of the flight) and more. None of them is a real “falling down”.
There are no “Air pockets” or "airholes" at all. Gas always fills all of the available volume, so there is no chance of any place "left empty" in the atmosphere.
Every time you notice that the plane “falls down” you should be aware it’s just a wrong feeling caused by the vestibular system that malfunctions in air.
Our vestibular system can hold more positive G than negative G. It means we are very sensitive to downward movements of the turbulent cycle “few feet up and few feet down”. That’s why we often feel “the airplane drops down”. We are simply much more sensitive to that motion. The airplane went up (not enough to feel positive G) and went just back down (we feel the negative G). Our brain decides that the air cushion of high pressure beneath us “might disappear” and we are falling down.
Our vestibular system is a poor source of information during a flight. It simply cannot provide you with correct data as to real movements of the aircraft.
For example, we perceive banks as about 45 degrees, but in reality they are rarely more than 10.
The same is with turbulence: we feel the aircraft “jumps” hundreds of feet per second, but in reality it's less than a few feet.
You need a source of reliable information about airplane attitude during turbulence. It can be a glass of water (note the water does not spill even if you feel the plane is jumping) or the iOS app "flight monitor"
Although the understanding of turbulence is a very important phase during the fear of flying treatment, in cases where the problem includes perfectionism - such an understanding will oddly enough just increase the anxiety in turbulence. Thus, special methods treating the fear of turbulence for perfectionists are available, they are discussed in depth in part 3 of this course.
The fear of fear
As much as 40% of anxious passengers won't ever say "I'm scared from the possibility that the airplane may fall " or "I have a hard time trusting pilots" and so on. About 40% will see much more danger in their own body and psychology. This is known as "fear of fear". Most common groups suffering from this "fear of fear" during a flight are:
Claustrophobics (people perceive as vital the need to escape from any enclosed space).
People with panic disorder, suffering from panic attacks and trying to avoid any place where panic attacks tend to happen and where medical help is not available. In the second stage of this course we'll provide special instructions for claustrophobia and panic disorder suffers.
Perfectionists who believe they absolutely must always meet the highest standards in everything, must always have only positive emotions (in further lessons we are going to discuss in-depth the link between perfectionism and fear of flying, and especially - fear of turbulence).
Hypochondriacs, prone to excessive attention to their health, physiological body reactions, heart rate, and so on.
These people often believe that:
"If I panic onboard I'll probably have a heart attack or stroke since there is no medical assistance or escape".
"If I'll panic I will lose control on my own behavior and will disgrace myself in front of strangers "
"Extreme fear can drive me crazy".
"Fear is dangerous and unhealthy for my body".
"In confined spaces I gasp, I may not have enough air ".
In this lesson we're going to discuss the human fear system. What are the purposes of our fear system? How does it work? Is it possible to die or become crazy due to severe fear? This lesson is a very important part of self psycho-education. Please learn it slowly and carefully. Good luck.
All engines failure - why it almost never happens and why the airplane cannot fall down even in this non-realistic scenario
Since we don't see any firm support beneath the aircraft, we tend to think that an airplane flies because the engines, which somehow keep the heavy machine in the air. If you think this way, your brain will be very scared about the possibility of engine failure in flight. Our imagination says that in case of engine failure nothing can hold us in the air, and since it's a void, empty beneath - we'll probably fall down to that void beneath. And as everyone knows, any system fails sometimes, so do engines.
The brain's conclusion in this case is - "my life and safety depends on a mechanic failure in the engine that, of course, may happen. I have no control on the technical staff, how they took care of that engine, I cannot trust anyone, thus, the engine's failure possibility is pretty high. The only thing I can do now is to try to determine any failure by listening to the engine noise" . Sure, if any change in engine's noise occurs (and it will!), this will immediately be recognized as "something wrong" followed by adrenalin production and fear as an outcome.
This thinking pattern is wrong. As you know from lesson 5 - air is a gas, not a void. The airplane flies due to the lift force rather than engine work. Indeed, engines may have a failure, although the chance is very low, and an all engines failure cannot be seriously considered. Why not? What will happen if all the engines stop? All "engine issues" are discussed in this lesson. At the end of the lesson, I'll show you how the aircraft can glide and stay stable in the air without any power available (in a real airplane!).
Aviation. The system.
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In this lesson we'll discuss how the aviation system works. Indeed, aviation is a very complicated system with essentially 1 goal. No, it's not profit-making. It's safety. YOUR safety. Without total safety, profit-making will not be possible. It's very simple. If it were otherwise, it simply wouldn't work. So, how is the system built and how did it become the safest form of human activity?
Flawed logic - "Dying in an airplane is the worst way to die"
As we discussed previously, every person with one or another phobia has a certain pattern of inappropriate thinking. For example, most claustrophobic people are sure that if an elevator is stuck they would, perhaps, panic, suffocate and die. Actually, they are wrong. But this specific way of thinking creates their fear in an elevator and is likely to make them refuse to use elevators.
The same is with aerophobia. Patterns of incorrect logic chains used by aerophobic people include a lot of mistakes. Our task is to find them, to get rid of them, and to replace them with a rational, correct way of thinking.
During this lesson we are going to discuss one of the wrong logic chains: “Death in an aircraft is the most terrible death”.
The Human Factor
It is not a secret that all people who are afraid of flying have trouble delegating authority. These troubles occur due to their suspiciousness and a credibility gap. In an aircraft we have to trust other people or systems (Boeing, pilots, technicians, engineers, etc.), but people with a fear of flying are often unable to trust. This is the problem.
This lesson is devoted to the human factor in aviation. You will find out why it exists, why it doesn’t worry people without aerophobia, and how you can learn to trust aviation even if you generally have trouble trusting.
During this lesson we are going to discuss aircraft accidents. This is one of the most complicated subjects in the treatment of aerophobia. An interest of aerophobic people in aircraft accidents goes beyond the limits of casual curiosity. This is an excessive and fixed interest.
In reality such an interest in the object of one’s phobia helps the person feel that his or her phobia is reasonable and rational. “I’m afraid of flying because there was a case 7 years ago…” and then this is followed by a detailed description of the accident with the flight number, the number of victims and other particulars.
Aircraft accidents happened, happen and, alas, will happen. As well as any other accident to which you brain does not pay any attention. The aim of this lesson is to teach you, on the one hand, to understand the reasons for aircraft accidents better than you do now and, on the other hand, to pay proportional attention to this unique phenomenon which has nothing to do with you.
Chaos on the ground
Anxious passengers often have a deficiency in trust. It seems to them that there is chaos everywhere and everybody works in a random fashion. And if there is a mess on the ground, there is a mess in the sky too. But on the ground there is a chance to survive, and in sky there is no such chance. Is it true? No. The details are in this lesson.
This lesson is devoted to the thought, “What if something fails?” Surely, an aircraft consisting of 6 million parts periodically fails. But those, who are afraid of flying, think that nobody has thought about this and any failure will lead to an inevitable accident. And since everything fails, such a scenario is quite possible in their mind.
In reality things are different. From this lesson you will know how aviation prepares for possible failures and what happens when different failures occur.
We have been working with people, who are afraid of flights, for many years. And in 98% of the cases, dialogue with them starts in the following way:
Client (C) - I’m afraid of flying because it is possible to crash.
Therapist (Т) – But you can crash in a car, too.
C – But in a car I control the situation.
Т – Ok, fair enough, but you travel by train without fear, though you DON’T control the situation there, right?
C – But I can get out of the train if something happens.
This lesson illustrates our answer to the client’s phrase “I can go out”.
Those who are afraid of flying think that logic and common sense fail in flight. Partly it is true because Mother Nature wanted us to run faster and think less in moments of danger. When adrenalin levels (the hormone of fear) in one’s blood is excessive, thinking processes become less qualitative. But it is wrong thinking that initiates the process of adrenalin production.
Our aim is to learn to control this wrong thinking. Otherwise it leads to odd and unnecessary fear. Having learnt to control your thinking you will learn to control your physiology and behavior in the next stage. This will necessarily change your emotions that accompany all your flights.
It would be great if we could control our fear and panic though sheer logic. But if a human brain decides that its life is in danger, the quality of its thinking processes substantially decline. This is why it is important to keep adrenalin (the hormone of fear) under control, thus not allowing it to reach the level of panic.
Generally, nothing bad can happen because of fear, adrenalin, or panic, because this is a autonomic function of our body, and since it exists to help ensure safety, it cannot do harm. Our aim is to think correctly in an aircraft, but a high level of adrenalin makes this task complicated. So, how do we keep the physiology of fear under physiological control? This is the subject of the lesson.
This is a special lesson for those people who suffer from panic attacks, claustrophobia or who are prone to hypochondria (constant worry about their health)
In almost 40% of cases a person doesn’t worry about the safety of flight. The main object of anxiety is the person themself, and his psychological and physiological state during flight. And to be more precise, the possibility of a panic attack on board.
Panic attacks could be caused by:
wrong comprehension of the physiological danger of a panic attack itself
wrong hypothesis that there should be a possibility to escape physically from every situation (claustrophobia))
fear of losing self-control or going insane
fear of bringing shame upon oneself, becoming an object of mockery, losing face
What should you do if you suffer from a panic attack? Fight against it. In this lesson you will learn some possible methods.
Welcome to the final lesson of the second part. It will be devoted to the methods of control over behavior.
As you remember, a phobia consists of four components: thinking, emotions, physiology, and behavior. They are interrelated; thinking (an aircraft = danger) induces an emotion (fear). Emotion affects physiology (adrenaline, heartbeat, sweating, strain, etc.)
Unpleasant and improperly perceived to be dangerous physiology induces unhealthy, phobic behavior (avoidance of flights, particular planes / air companies / routes, a constant interest to the subject “shakes – doesn’t shake”, increased attention to flight accidents, different “safety” rituals and many others. The more oddly we behave the more valid, real is the wrong thought. The circle is closed.
Previously you have learnt to control your thoughts and your body. You cannot control your emotions directly, but they will change as soon as other factors change. So, how should we change our behavior in order to overcome the fear of flying?