Facing fear with a capital F

I have been afraid of flying for as long as I can remember.

This is a strange fear to have and love traveling as much I do. Mostly, it just makes me skittish in the airport and on a plane.

I didn't think to do something about the fear until recently when I kept putting off making travel plans. An alarm bell went off that my fear was getting the better of me. If I didn't do something, would I take car trips for the rest of my life? Bleh.

So with my life coach, I faced my fear.

First, I focused on the physical sensation—when I think about flying, there is a tightness in the right side of my jaw. I just focused on that feeling and its location to determine what else I knew about it. Visualizing that area of my jaw, all I could see was darkness. After a while I realized that this is where I hold onto the fear that bad things can happen at any time and are completely out of my control.

This larger fear had locked onto my fear of flying, but they aren't the same. Separating them and illuminating both individually made my jaw feel less tight. I'll work on that other fear later...

Next was a closer examination of my fear itself. What am I afraid of about flying? It's not the plane or the airport or that someone else is driving. It is falling! I don't like heights or flying because both can end in falling. Then I remembered being lovingly picked up and thrown in the air as a kid. Many children seem to love that, but I hated it. I was hurt that adults didn't ask me if it was ok before tossing me. That hurt was the genesis of my fear. By saying it out-loud, I started to feel vindicated.

I flew this past weekend to visit friends. It was choppy at times, but knowing what I was scared of limited how much of the flight bothered me. It finally felt ok to admit that I was scared or uncomfortable instead of just shunning it.

The fear isn't gone, but it isn't controlling me anymore.