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Teasing apart the emotions that have us fearful of flying

By Joseph Pond

When my daughter was younger, she used to make 'cakes'. These would invariably be some combination of flour, leaves, grass and sugar topped with a cherry tomato. And I used to actually bake them, just to teach her that she needed a recipe.

It's the beginning of summer and people are asking for help overcoming their fear of flying. When I have a client with the belief "I am afraid of flying", I use the cake metaphor. Beliefs are made up of emotional states, and emotional states have triggers. Eliminating any of these 'ingredients' means that you'll not end up with the same 'cake of fear'.

If you have a negative belief about flying, ask yourself what emotional states it comprises of. Obviously fear will be present, but often there's frustration and embarrassment as well. Mindfulness will come in very handy for teasing apart the various emotions that must be present for you to end up with a full-on phobic reaction.

Write them down, so that you have a recipe for your phobia. Now, think about a place in your life where the problem doesn't exist. Everybody has areas where they feel good about themselves. You might have positive feelings around the context of your children or grandkids. A lot of people feel loved by their pets. Come up with as many resource states as you can. Write them down.

You now have two lists: one of problem states and one of resource states. Take your worst problem state and your best resource state and mix them together. Do this by feeling one and then the other as simultaneously as possible. This is an unusual request and you can do it easily. Simply repeat to yourself, "I feel scared and I feel loved." Then do the same with all the other emotions, positive and negative, on your lists.

Now with everything mixed together, close your eyes and try to feel afraid. Feel all the emotions on your list. You'll find that you've scrambled up your recipe so much that the phobia will be forever changed.

  • Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at or at Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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