Most of us love that feeling of soaring above the clouds and seeing how beautiful the sun reflects off of white cotton balls of softness.
All of a sudden you hit some turbulence and you remember that you are sitting in a confined “sardine can.” So what happens in your brain to allow you to go from feeling like you are at peace to feeling like, “Please Lord, today is not my day.”
I always loved to fly even as a little girl. The idea of going places was so exciting to me. Flying to me was no different than driving in the car. Like most people who become nervous about flying, I too had a bad experience. In 2001, my husband and I were flying back from a trip to Disney World and there were bad thunderstorm all along the east coast. Well, when you are flying from Florida to North Carolina there was no way of getting around the storm. We were on a small Midway plane with maybe 25 passengers and the poor flight attendant tried so hard to serve us drinks and pretzels. About 30 minutes into the flight even she couldn’t stand up. She took a seat in the back of the plane with arms stretched out holding herself in place. The good news was we landed and as I took a second to sit at the terminal to catch my breath the pilots come off the plane. I am assuming or keep telling myself that this was only pilot humor when the one pilot said, “Man, I didn’t think we were going to make it there for a second.” Instant FEAR OF FLYING! It took me 4 years before I could get on a plane again.
Now luckily for me I did get on a plane again, but that first time was very rough for me and for those who flew with me. Now being a travel agent you must be thinking I am crazy. How can she be a travel agent and not like to fly? Well, we all have parts of our job we aren’t thrilled about but we put our minds to it and it gets done. And that is exactly what I did, I PUT MY MIND TO IT! One bad or poor experience and my brain rewired itself into thinking that I didn’t like to fly. Well, I had to rewire it to think that I can fly and that I will fly.
So how did I do this:
Step 1 I Think I Can!: From the time I booked my flight until the plane landed at the destination, I told myself that I can fly and I will fly. I have a personal pep talk I give myself but you should find one that works for you. Convincing yourself from the beginning gives the mindset that YOU CAN!
Step 2 Educate Yourself!: I started to read stuff on the Internet about how planes work. I don’t fully understand how my car works and I drive that every day but I do have a basic understanding of it. Even though I am not personally flying the plane, it is good to know what is going on. There are a lot of noises too so I was curious what they were from. I also read that turbulence in an airplane is like hitting pot holes in a car. The planes are built to move along with the wind and pockets of air. As my questions were answered, I started to realize that planes are extremely sturdy and noisy.
Step 3 Draw Yourself a Picture!: About a month before I got on the plane, I started to picture myself in my seat. I prefer the window seat because I love looking at the land. I picture myself sitting in my seat whiles other are boarding, making noise putting their suitcases above me, having the screaming kid sitting near me, which now a days they are sitting with me, staring at the person who looks more nervous than me to fly, etc. There are many scenarios you can picture but picturing them in a safe environment makes you FEEL safe. So once you get on that plane you have that same feeling. Again, mindset.
Step 4 Meet New People!: I love meeting new people. So as soon as I get on the plane I like to say hello to the flight attendants. Ask them how they are doing, where they have been, are they almost done for the day is one of my husband’s favorite questions, and sometime we even talk about their families. This is a more recent conversation topic since I board with two little ones and people love to tell me about their experiences flying with their kids. It is great as it keeps my mind from thinking of flying. Maya Angelou said that “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The flight attendants may not remember our conversation but every time I have flown they remember me and I get extra pretzels or even the can of soda with the drink.
Step 5 Rituals!: So right before take-off I have a little ritual that my grandmother used to do every time she got into a car or a plane. She would do her cross. I find myself doing it not only to myself but to my husband and kids. My husband and I also like to make sure that we kiss right before we take off, another ritual. I have heard of a lot of amazing rituals that people do to make themselves feel better. When they tell me they usually laugh like it may be a bit silly, but if it makes you feel good and helps calm your nerves then do it. There are more people on that plane who have rituals then don’t.
I have come a long way since that flight in 2001. I have rewired my brain and now the only time I get nervous is during turbulence, even if they are the pot holes of the skies. Hopefully some of these tips will come in handy the next time you set foot a plane for your next journey.
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