I don’t know you, so I don’t know how you feel when the door closes, the engine starts operating, and the stewardess starts demonstrating the safety matters.
Are you sitting calmly and daydreaming about your destination? Are you starting to feel your palms sweating and your heart beating faster? Is your mind wondering around nice thoughts such as how calming this flight going to be? Is your mind wondering about thoughts as such for sure this plane is going to crash?
As you can see these questions can group us into two significantly different categories. The one, which enjoys flying, or at least ok with that. And the other one, which is terrified, scared and panicked.
It doesn’t matter which group you belong to, both group has to learn something: learn to pay attention on each other!
Once again, I don’t know you; but I feel raising this issue, because we all need to „learn how to fly”.
For the terrified group: for the reason to cope with their sweaty palms; and for the clam group: to acknowledge that there are people who are terrified.
I, personally, categorize myself to both groups. How is that possible? I have no clue. But I have flights when I am the Zen itself and I have flights when my mind goes crazy and my palm creates a little lake on my jeans by the time we land. I am sure it is absolutely connected to my general mental well-being, my mood, and definitely my approach. (Or maybe even to my destination J)
Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: when I am in the calm mood, I spot the fearful group from far. Those are the people, who don’t do anything just starting in front of them and – for each turbulences, they start moving anxiously. Those are the ones, who hold the chair in front of them as soon as the plane shakes a bit. Those are the ones, who DO mind where they sit – they usually try to avoid window and middle. They want to sit by the aisle – in case of crash to have a way out. Well, let’s be honest. If we crash there is no way out J
Once I read an article – I don’t remember the author anymore – about how to overcome the fear of flying: the author suggested to close your eyes and think about sunny beaches, calming walks and note the peaceful fact that on flights you can finally relax: no emails, no calls, no internet. As he stated: flights are the perfect places to switch off.
Well, if your palms have ever sweated due to a flight, I assure you: 80% it just won’t work. In that state of mind, the only thing you can thing of is this: „we are going to crash, we are going to crash”….
We need to help each other. God! How many times I wished someone would tell me something nice or calming or would just look at me on those nasty moments when fear wins over my rationality. I hardly got any of these, so I was left alone with my own heartbeats. But with my over 100 flights in my life, I learnt myself, I learnt other and I learnt how to fly.
So my advice to the calm group:
- If people ask whether you would be ok to change the sit with them, before you automatically say no, ask back: why do wish to do so?
Maybe you will figure out that he has claustrophobia, so he just cannot sit in the middle. Or he is desperate to sit with his girlfriend, because he knows: she is fearful.
- If you notice somebody being visibly anxious beside you, ask if he is ok. He will admit you on the spot that he is so not: „I am afraid”. Instead of laughing at him or judging you can tell him: “all will be fine: these are just little bumps on the road.”
- If somebody is keen on talking to you and you realize he is very nervous: know that he wants to talk because he is shaking inside. So give him a few minutes of your time, even if you are not in the mood!
- And as a final note: what helped me the most on of my bad days was the following scenario: I was siting beside two girls. Both showed the above-described symptoms. At one point, one of them could not resist to tell me. „Jeez, I am so scared”. I told her, don’t worry me too. A bit later the other girl asked if I flew before? I said yes. She has never done before and was afraid we were going to crash. I told her sometimes I am afraid, too. What came after this was magical: I became so relaxed, so powerful, so beyond any sort of fear than never before. I realized knowing about their fear made my fear go away. I was ready to calm them down. I felt strong. I felt good. I felt happy to fly. So the punch line is: sharing your own fears will decrease theirs and magically eliminate yours. Your mode changes immediately. You will be ready to help them and hence, you forget that your fear was there on the first place.
My advice to the fearful group: how to overcome fear?
- Accept your fear. Don’t be ashamed of it. Your palms are sweating? And then what? Even if you want to hide, it is written on your body. There is nothing wrong with you, just because you can’t stand being dependent on a flying plate.
- Simply say to yourself: ok, then we are going to crash. What’s then? It’s not going to hurt. It’s going to be quick and painless.
- I know it sounds rough, but trust me, this calms you down more than a relaxing pill or the thought of the sunny beach. Because you realize: after all, if it was meant to be like this, it will be just like this.
- So just let it be: Honestly, do you have any control over the flight? No, nothing at all. So why to worry?!
- Start talking to your neighbour, you might be surprised what comes out of that – he might be more scared than youJ
My message here is that we are all humans. We all have issues. Some less, some more. We all have weak points, we all have fears.
So what if for those hours when we are literally stuck together in a little flying-metal-machine, we would come out of our own comfort zone?!.
Be tolerant, accept that we are different. Accept that some have fear. Some have huge fear! Some haven’t learnt to cope with it yet! Be human!
These are small things but make huge differences. Let’s help each other. Maybe once the flight lands, you will shake for a nice, calming word, so don’t be stingy holding back a helping-hand while flying above the clouds.
And for all those, who don’t even make it until the flight, because their fear stops them by their front door. Ask yourself the question: Do you really want to sit at home instead of flying, traveling, discovering the world? – But of course not!
….and this is the best self-curing mantra that will definitely get you on the move!
So start packing and bon voyage!