‘There are five typical patterns we use to feed our fears,’ says Paul Tizzard, co-founder of Flying Without Fear. ‘Part of the solution is to recognize the patterns for what they are and then break them.’
1. Worst-case scenario ‘Conspiracy theorists see the cabin crew walking down the aisle frowning, and automatically assume something bad is going to happen,’ says Tizzard. ‘It’s not. They are just doing their job. You are looking for things to support your fear when they are not there.’
2. ‘Awfulizing’ or Catastrophizing ‘You feel something funny in your ear because of the change in pressure, and you automatically think it’s a bad thing,’ says Tizzard. ‘Recognize it for what it is, and challenge the thought.’
3. Intellectual resistance ‘You’ve decided there is nothing you can do to get over the fear, that you are just going to be stuck with it,’ says Tizzard. His advice: ‘Don’t give in. You are in control.’
4. Automatic thoughts ‘These take over when you let the chatterbox in your head run riot,’ says Tizzard. ‘Change the voice. Imagine it’s Mickey Mouse, or tell it to shut up.’
5. Visualizing disaster Some people imagine their demise in glorious Technicolor. ‘If you ask them what they are seeing, they may say, ‘Oh, I’m seeing myself at the bottom of a mountain,”’ says Tizzard. ‘Run the scary movie in black and white so you drain the colour; turn the sound down; mess around with the image or movie in your head until it has less power over you.’
This article was originally titled "The Psychology of Fear," in the March/April 2011 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.