For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of flying. Growing up, we didn’t go on foreign holidays (except that ferry trip to France when I was sixteen and spent the whole time complaining about being away from my boyfriend – sorry Mum and Dad!). I didn’t actually get on a plane until I was in my early 20’s and needed to travel from my home in the north of Scotland to Oxfordshire for my work as a Training Officer. By that time I had developed a well-formed fear of flying and spent the whole time clutching the hand rest convinced I was going to die. At this time, flying from the tip of the Highlands southwards meant travelling on a very small plane that to me, resembled being in a flying biscuit tin. A fear of heights, combined with a tendency towards claustrophobia, made these now-frequent business trips an excruciating ordeal I came to dread.
But I ambled along not saying too much about it, partly because I was trying to get over my irrational fear and partly because I was afraid of embarrassing myself in front of my colleagues. Although they knew I was afraid of flying, no one really knew how much it affected me – and despite the hand-rest clutching, I kept any screaming to the inside of my head. But then one business trip happened to collide with 9/11, and I found myself getting off a plane in Edinburgh to screens filled with some of the most awful images imaginable. I basically fell to pieces and refused to go further with my onwards flight to London – thankfully I had a very understanding boss who calmed me down, told me not to worry, and promptly sent me back to the Highlands on the very next train home.
After that I avoided travelling by plane wherever possible, taking the sleeper train to London for work trips and side-stepping holidays abroad. I did manage one family trip to Menorca and our lovely honeymoon to Italy, but then a holiday to Florida with friends put the brakes on my flying days for good. My husband and I had a bumpy landing on a connecting flight into Chicago – I don’t remember much about it except that it felt like the plane was careering all over the place and a couple of people screamed. Once we had finally landed, I assured myself my flying days were over – pretty silly really, as I still had to cross the Atlantic to get back home. But that trip in 2004 did actually mark the end of my flying misadventures – we settled down, had kids and later got a camper van – and I breathed a sigh of relief that from now on, we could go anywhere we wanted over land.
Fast forward 13 years and the situation was a bit different, though – my ten year old had started asking questions about when we might be able to go on a holiday in a plane. My husband, too, was keen to go on a ‘proper’ holiday – and quick to assure me that out of the many flights he’s since taken on business, that fateful flight to Chicago was still the exception rather than the norm. I started to feel guilty that I was somehow limiting my family’s horizons, and before I knew it a holiday to Majorca had been booked. There were a few (child-free) outbursts of ‘I’m not going’, but for the most part I realised my fear was something – for my family’s sake at least – I really needed to try to overcome.
So imagine my surprise when just a couple of days later, an email popped into my inbox from a company called Hypnosis Ninja wondering if I’d like to review a digital hypnosis service aimed at making differences in lives through the power of the unconscious mind. I scrolled through the tracks available and spotted one called Fear of Flying. Could this be just what I needed, I wondered? I didn’t hesitate in emailing back to say, yes please, could I try this out?
Over the last few days I’ve been listening to this hypnosis session periodically – all that is required is a device to download it to and 20 minutes or so to listen to it in a quiet place. Hypnosis Ninja sessions use a combination of classical hypnosis techniques and New Code Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) – put simply, it helped me with focusing, visualising a positive experience and generating new choices and behaviour patterns to replace the unwanted ones from my past. It took me until the second listen to get the hang of what was happening – but one of the positives about Hypnosis Ninja is that after paying the £9.99 track fee, you can listen to the session as many times as you wish. Was I hypnotised? I don’t think it really matters. According to the website, it’s the results you see, rather than how you experience the sessions that really counts. I know I was very relaxed, and Rafe Beckley (the Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and International Coach who delivers the sessions) has exactly the sort of soothing voice that makes you feel you’re comfortable. Coming away from my sessions I’m feeling more upbeat about a lot of things. And I know I have a positive image to go back to and visualise if I start to feel my old anxieties creep in.
I can’t say yet that I’m completely ‘cured’ of my fear of flying, but I know I’ve taken a positive step in the right direction. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating (or the flying in this case), and I’ll certainly let you know after my holidays about any differences the hypnosis experience has made. For me the main issue is motivation – I really want to get over my fear of flying for my kids’ sake so I’m very much open to changing. And if you have a behaviour you’re also motivated to changing, then I think this type of session might really help you too. As well as fear of flying, Hypnosis Ninja offer a range of other sessions such as dealing with claustrophobia, fear of heights and compulsive handwashing. For the full range of therapy sessions, do pop over to their website and have a look.
As for me, I’m actually feeling quite excited about our holiday.
And after over 13 years without flying anywhere, that feels like a very good place to start.
What about you – do you have any fears or phobias? Would you consider hypnosis as a means of tackling them? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject in the comments. What other methods to tackle phobias have you used?
*For the purposes of this post I was provided with a free Hypnosis Ninja session. The post also contains affiliate links which mean that I will receive commission should you choose to purchase something via one of them. This enables me to earn a small income from the time I spend on blogging and does not in any way affect the amount you pay.
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