Thursday, 21 June 2012

Interesting post on message board

This is a message that was posted on the board.  We thought it was worth sharing because it has some key messages in it that we think relate to a lot of people.
Hi,  I came on the Manchester course last year and although it helped a bit I didn't book a holiday and so became scared again.  This year I was determined to not let this fear control my life and stop me from going on holiday.  So I came on a course again to Manchester in April. I was so scared that I didn't even book the course until the night before.
I really felt that I got a lot more out of the course and although the flight was a bit bumpy Felt that I did OK and that I would be able to go away and book a holiday which I eventually did and I am going to Spain in August.

Since I have booked the holiday it seems like all my old fears have come back to haunt me.
The Air France crash (please feel free to remove this part if it could be disturbing to others)
It was mentioned on the course as someone had asked questions about it (I hadn't even thought about it until then) One of my concerns has been about the plane stalling
I know I shouldn't have read about the crash but I did because I was half hoping that there would be a simple explanation of why it happened but it seems a sequence of events lead to this tragedy

I am now terrified that another sequence of events could lead to it happening again
I don't want to read any more about it as it will make me ill but has there been any outcome to it all? Do they know what caused the crash and how do they know that the same thing won't happen again?
I am so disappointed with myself as I thought I was doing so well to book a holiday and for a short period of time was actually looking forward to going
Thanks for reading this   Dianne

Hi Dianne,
I know that we have spoken on the phone since you posted this. I just wanted to put some notes on here for the benefit of anyone reading...

First of all, there is nothing wrong with coming back to our course for a top up. Lots of people have such high anxiety and they put themselves under huge pressure to be 'cured' in a day.   This just doesn't add up - 20 years of fear beaten in a day!  Just because a lot of people DO get over their fear in a day, it does not mean that everyone should expect the same result (98% success rate holding strong!). It really depends on where an attendee is when they decide to take our course.  For example, if you have been avoiding flying for years and years and won't even talk about it. Then when you arrive on the course, you  are saying to yourself all day, 'They won't make me fly...I am not going to fly...' Then, it is quite unrealistic to expect yourself to be 'cured*.'  Having said that, a lot of people arrive with that mindset and then surprise themselves. All I am saying is that you shouldn't beat yourself up if you don't skip onto the aircraft after a one day course!  *We hate the word cured!

So, it is good that people like Dianne are so determined not to have the fear, they come back as soon as they notice the fear 'coming back.'  Whether you come back to see us or, you seek other professional help, these are not bad things to do.  Getting over a fear is a process - our course is somewhere along that process. We could be at the very beginning when you are most anxious; Or, we could be further along when you have already faced a load of other fears too.  And there is no shame in a refresher. In the corporate world, if you are customer facing, you will be trained in customer service and then regularly retrained (to stop bad habits kicking in)   IF you are a manager, you will be trained in appraisal skills once and then you will be re-trained every few years.  All of this is normal. There is nothing wrong with being refreshed.

The next part of your posting I wanted to pick up on is the 'Air France' mention.  The chances are on any course, that you may hear something fearful that you had not thought about before. We think that this is good because it is better that it comes up on the course and is talked about. Rather that than some 'helpful' person filling you with terror at the family BBQ!

To the anxious mind, there are always things 'out there' waiting to leap into your field of vision linked to fear of whatever your fear is. For example, if you have a fear of spiders, you will avoid National Geographic channels as there will be spiders. You will be the most aware of cobwebs in cupboards and sheds/garages.  You will be the first to spot a tiny, tiny spider across a room! This is because you have unintentionally trained your brain to look out for this danger.

Back to fear of flying. When you hear something that frightens you about flying, you have a choice.  Dianne and I discussed something that she did regarding the Air France incident. Quite a normal thing that humans do - humans with fears anyway. She stayed up all night 'Googling' everything to do with Air France incident.  She said, during our conversation, that she couldn't stop herself reading all the Internet articles. 

It is very easy to feed the fear. Once you have beaten a fear, that old software or programme still exists in your head ready to be rekindled.   We always say on our courses that you cannot afford the luxury of even 1 negative thought about flying. Every time that you do, it stimulates that old fear part of your brain again.  So, imagine what trawling through the Internet for several hours does!?!?!  We have to be disciplined and stop ourselves reading all the Internet stuff - especially as a lot of it is garbage!  We have to control and be mindful of what we let into our heads. If we read it, we visualise it. If we visualise it, we feel it. If we feel it, we remember it.  Emotions linked to experiences are very powerful. 

One delegate said to me once, 'Every time I watch that Concorde incident, I get more and more scared of flying...' I said, 'Stop bl**dy well watching it then!'  Does that sound a little brusque?!   It doesn't do them any good you watching it and it certainly doesn't help you. As you watch, you associate with the images and then you get the feelings and then you feed your fear some more. 

We just have to be strong and refuse to listen, watch or anything to do with flying that is not positive.  Why? 
Sometimes people say to us, 'But accidents have happened and they will happen again!' 'How can you reassure me that they won't crash again?'

We can't.

We are saying that living involves risk. There is risk everywhere. Walking to work. Driving to work. Going in a bus.  Cycling. Motorcycling.  Standing up too quickly after sitting on the sofa for two hours.  Having relatives round to a family BBQ. There is risk in all of these activities but we don't consider it. 

There is a slight risk flying. There is a very slim chance something could happen to you. It is about the balance of risks.  If we avoid all the things that have risk in our lives, our lives will not be particularly rich because we will be locked in our homes.  There is risk everywhere. Flying is a minimum and managed amount of risk  compared to any other form of transport. We want for you to have choices about your life. Sure, flying can be avoided and managed around. But, it limits your life choices doesn't it?

This reply was really meant with good intentions Dianne. Hope it came across that way to you and anyone else reading.
Take care


The tragedy that was the Air France incident has and will be investigated. In aviation, anything that is learned is passed on to other parts of aviation.  Any procedures or equipment that need changing are changed.

Take care

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear
Future Courses
Southampton 24th June
Gatwick 8th July
Gatwick Children’s course 8th July
London Luton 26th August
Birmingham 14th October
Manchester 11th November
Edinburgh 25th November
Leeds Bradford 13th January 2013
Newcastle 3rd February 2013

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