By G. Wightman
My husband asked me to see a client of his who had revealed to him her extreme fear of flying. She refused to fly and this was causing conflict with her husband. She had been seeing my husband for a sore shoulder, which seemed difficult to shift with physical therapy.
When I met with her, she showed visible signs of distress when even thinking about the word flying, with pale skin, a tense jaw, and hands gripping themselves tightly. I decided we should tap on her fear of thinking of the word "flying." Her anxiety SUD level of intensity number came down enough to think about how she was feeling.
I then asked her what really disturbed her about flying. She came up with quite a list of aspects!
Just sitting on the plane, strapped in, not able to get out.
Way up high, falling, it would really hurt when she landed. (had to try not to smile at that one) I WILL die.
I hate the turbulence.
I hate the engine sounds, the rattling sounds It just doesn't feel safe, its dangerous A terrorist might slit my throat!
What if I can't put on my oxygen mask, what if mine didn't work I don't care what people say, I know flying is dangerous.
We did a few EFT tapping rounds, incorporating all of these statements.
Even though I fear just sitting on the plane, strapped in, not able to get out, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I fear being way up high and then falling, that it would really hurt when I landed, that I WILL die, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I hate the turbulence, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I hate the engine sounds, the rattling sounds It just doesn't feel safe, its dangerous A terrorist might slit my throat, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I fear that I can't put on my oxygen mask, and what if mine didn't work, and I don't care what people say, I know flying is dangerous, as I deeply and completely accept myself.
By this time her anxiety levels were down, her jaw was more relaxed and her face was pinker – she had lost all color at the beginning. Her SUD level of intensity number for flying was now 4 out of 10 – it had been 100 out of 10! She felt no real response to the initial flying thoughts and she said she had no idea what was still bothering her.
I asked her if she had ever been able to fly and she said she had--she had flown to Canada, but flying back is when she had first felt the terror. I asked what happened on the flight and she said, "Nothing, the flight was fine."
Even though I might have a memory connected to flying, I don't know what it is yet, but I am open to knowing, and open to clearing that memory fully, as I deeply and completely accept myself.
She then blurted out, "What if I fall asleep and it crashes when I am asleep?" Her anxiety levels were visibly high and she rated them back up to a 9 on a scale of 0 to 10. As I already ascertained nothing untoward had ever happened on a plane, but realized we had hit on something significant, I asked her if this was a familiar feeling to her.
She began to tell me about an experience she had when she had been in a car crash. I told her the intention was not to re-traumatize her so I asked her to step back from the memory and see it as a movie.
She called it "The Nightmare." We tapped on this "nightmare" and her SUD level of intensity came down after tapping to a to 3. She could now recount the story of the accident--of being asleep in the back of the car that crashed. She awoke at the jolt as the car landed upside down. She had to go to hospital and get her shoulder strapped and she had problems with the shoulder ever since.
We did some rounds of tapping on the accident story. Can you guess what's coming next?
I asked her when did the accident happen. She said it was in Canada the day before she flew back home. She flew back in pain and too afraid to go to sleep in case something happened. This was the last piece of the puzzle and her SUD level for flying anxiety was down to 0. She could imagine being at the airport, getting on the plane, strapping in, lifting off, setting down, no problem. I explained to her the way the brain works is that if you can imagine something you can do it, but she also now knew how to do EFT if any feelings came up in real life.
A subsequent session revealed that she would be OK with flying to Europe, but not to America. She had vivid memories of scenes on the news from 9/11 so we tapped on fears that a terrorist might be on the plane and on the specific images she was imagining. She imagined a threatening man and felt extreme anxiety. Tapping for all fears and specific images allowed her to imagine a man with calm and see that he was smiling and looking friendly. She flew with ease that summer. Her shoulder pain also improved.
However a year later she flew again and on the way home she experienced more anxiety. I received a phone call just before the holiday season where she told me she was terrified of flying again.
I knew she had flown out the year before and it was my suspicion something else had caused the anxiety, which she was assuming was her old flying fear returning. Sometimes our conscious mind tries to look for reasons for our anxiety and we often land on the wrong one.
This time I got her to tap on her physical feelings and she realized she was feeling trapped.
She was actually feeling anger about an event that had happened just a few days before. When we tapped for anger on this situation she realized she had no anxiety about flying and was excited about her holiday.
I got a postcard from her later, which said, “Hiya, Just thought I would drop you a wee card to say we are having a great holiday. The flight was good—I almost enjoyed it. Thanks!”