Last week when we boarded a plane to Dublin, the lady directly in front of me was in a state of complete fear about the whole experience. Clearly, she had a major internal imbalance causing her distress. I had a pretty good sense that I could help if she was open to it.
Plane, train, tube, bus: you never know who you’re going to be sat next to when you take your seat. The simple method I used is something anyone can do to help out a fellow passenger should they care to do so. The energy of stressed passengers does not stay with them alone, others feel it too. It’s in all our interests to ease discomfort if we can, particularly in these times of such unease around traveling.
The lady (of whom all I could see was the back of her head), was with a friend to the left and a stranger to her right. The stranger turned out to be a minister who was brilliant in taking the lady through EFT (tapping techniques) before departure.
Following take-off, she burst into tears, and though relieved at having survived, was clearly going to be worried during the whole flight. She questioned every noise she detected, from the call button people pressed for steward attention, to the sound of the wings adjusting and the very minor turbulence. Though the friend did a great job of explaining all the noises and sources of discomfort, I thought it was going to be a long flight for them both if they stayed fixated on the journey experience.
I knew that if I could change her state, from focusing on her fears to thinking and talking about positive associations, it could change her flight experience and, ultimately, the start of her weekend.
Once airborne, the panicked lady turned around to apologise. Having deduced that she was mother-of-the-bride, sat next to mother-of-the-groom, away for the hen-party, I proceeded to ask about their planned weekend. It wasn’t long before we learned the two friends share a 10 month-old grandson, born prematurely at 26 weeks, weighing just a few pounds. As you’d expect, they were both crazy about him. Within seconds her phone was out, we saw pictures of him at birth, how he looked last week at his christening, what he’ll be wearing for the upcoming wedding etc, etc! I asked her about her wedding outfit, she told me about her birthday afternoon tea at the Ritz recently (more phone photos!), you get the picture – she was more than comfortable to tell me all about her recent happy events in life.
When we were asked to fasten seatbelts for landing, our lady was astounded she had flown the distance and that 40 minutes had passed. Clearly apprehensive about landing, I gently kept her talking as we came closer to the ground, maintaining eye contact and leaning in to her every word. We touched down and there were more tears of relief. Her friend said there would normally have been a full-scale episode which our lady had successfully NOT had. I was so happy for her.
This lady’s story I share because the simple distraction of conversation I encouraged her to engage in is something that can be used by anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Yes, there is deeper work to be done with our worst fears such as a fear of flying, but surrounded by fellow passengers, minutes before take-off, is not the time to explore the root causes; it’s about what you can do in the moment.
Returning to our lady, whether she realised or not, she had the power within to choose to experience life differently and she did!
Though her fear was visibly very real, by willingly talking about all the things she loved, she turned her experience from a 45-minute white-knuckle ride to a manageable flight, thus avoiding the embarrassment of previous flights melt-down situations.
We will never know how she fared on the return trip, but at least for one flight, her discomfort was eased and that’s a win!