Freak yourself out

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The posting schedule will be a bit erratic over the next few weeks. I am headed to Greece. I will as mentioned, get on a plane for the first time in 10 years to do this trip. I am still fairly calm considering this is one of my deeper fears. In preparation, I am going to intentionally freak myself out about flying.

No no, I’ve not more crazy nor am I trying to convince myself not to go. It is another technique I learned while going through panic attacks. Most fear is in the mind, so that is battleground. If you are frightened of something, running that situation through your head in a controlled freakout can help.

Illusory Fear

The idea is fairly simple. Fear is primarily a mental response to a situation, which is just a mental experience of outside stimuli. This part of the brain isn’t actually so good at distinguishing between reality and memory. It is why remembering painful and frightening situations can be just as unpleasant as the real thing. So by replaying the trigger scenarios in your head, you can trigger the same feelings. By triggering the feelings and fear you have more control over it. So you can always open your eyes and stop everything if it gets too much. By forcing yourself to go through this situation and beating it while in your own living room, you can help train the brain to not be afraid of it in reality. In the end, it is a fairly complex version of “face your fear to conquer it” mixed with “what is the worse that could actually happen.”

So, as mentioned I have a deep seated fear of flight. Since the last time I tried to fly and couldn’t sleep for weeks, I have learned a lot about fear. So I plan to spend an evening sitting in my chair imaging being in an airplane and freaking out, just to force it calm. Depending on how it goes, I’ll go through a few cycles. It’s all planned that I will get to have a conversation with my wonderful girlfriend afterward to dispel any lingering anxiety. Add some real happy to the brain to offset the fear.

Simply said…

  • Close your eyes and think about the situation that frightens you; the sights, the sounds and how it makes you feel
  • Force the brain to experience the fear in the safety of your own space.
  • Forget that it is safe and let the memory or imagination freak you out.
  • Practice controlling the fear inside of the image, stopping and opening your eyes when it becomes too intense.
  • I find meditation or prayer after a cycle to be helpful to not let the fear be overwhelming.

Disclaimer as always. I am not a doctor, just a experienced patient. If you think you need help with fears, get it. If you want to play with this as well, go for it.

For more of my thoughts on fear, check out the related posts below.

8 thoughts on “Freak yourself out

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  4. Thanks for the confidence and well-wishes.
    I’ve only ever tried this with panic-inducing things. Situations that cause very intense immediate reactions. Quite honestly, it never occurred to me to try it with other fears; please let me know how it works out.

  5. Good luck on your flight. Sounds like you’ll do just fine. I might have try out this exercise myself to dial back some of the anxiety I’m feeling about being away from my wife for a month 🙂

  6. Incredibly interesting! Admittedly, I have some fears as well. Granted, mine aren’t about traveling but about things that may happen to people close to me. Sometimes I get angry when things are out of my control and people get hurt. I know it is a fear but I may have to try what you are talking about to see if it helps. Good luck!

  7. I have every confidence that you are going to be fine taking that flight to Greece. You’re not the same person you were 10 years ago, you’re much stronger and more confident. You can overcome this, and good things will result from it 🙂

    • Thanks for the confidence. 10 years is a long time to grow, but it is a long time to let a fear lie too. Maybe I’ll just let it play out as a game of sport in my head to distract from the flight.

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