Confession: I’m my own worst critic.
My close family and friends say the same thing about me. Honestly, I try to avoid self-deprecation at all costs. Negative thinking only pushes me further from my goals and dreams. Not to mention, if I had a friend who talked to me the same way I talked to myself, I would dump her sorry butt off the George Washington Bridge so damn fast.
I’m lucky, though. Mentally, I’ve been a million times better since I started a job I love in northern New Jersey. My awesome solo trips have also shaped me in more ways than I thought possible (duh). I compare myself to my peers much less. I smile more. I care a lot less about what others think of me. I do me. Still, self-criticism happens.
I don’t think I’m alone either. It’s so easy to fall into self-scorning patterns especially if you’re prone to anxiety. And if you’re a woman? Argh, the parade of antagonizing thoughts are endless. Endless. Am I pretty enough? Popular enough? A good enough daughter/wife/sister/girlfriend/etc? Am I talented enough?
Blah, blah, blah.
When I first started this blog, I promised to speak out for anxious travelers and fearful flyers. I wanted to emphasize why I still traveled despite my fear of flying in the hopes of encouraging others like me.
My goals have remained solid. I want to inspire. I especially want to help. At the same time, though, I want my pep talks to build self-esteem rather than trivialize my readers’ valid concerns. It’s so easy to say “your fear of flying is stupid, knock it off, get over it,” but such harsh language doesn’t help anyone.
Yeah, it’s so easy to tell fearful flyers (or anyone with a fear) to “get over it.” But “getting over it” moves at a different pace in reality. Even worse are the articles claiming flying fears are “stupid.”
Stupid? You wanna repeat that?
Calling Someone’s Fears “Stupid” Isn’t Cool
According to the dictionary, “stupid” is defined as “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.”
Um x 2.
I’m not stupid. I graduated with a Master’s Degree in English Literature from a Public Ivy. I earned a 4.0. I also hold two teaching certificates. While in school, I achieved an almost perfect score on the English Praxis, which is a 200 question test about world, American, and British literature, AND English pedagogy.
So you wanna call me “stupid?” You’re gonna have to try again.
Don’t even try to insult my common sense either. I’m a bit spacey. I forget important dates if I’m not careful and yeah, I spend too much money on makeup. REGARDLESS, I have a good head on my shoulders. My parents taught me well. I’m determined to work through my shortcomings. I don’t take “no” for an answer nor let wishy-washy fools take me for granted. I’m also fiercely loyal to friends and family through good and bad times. I’m awesome.
Yet, despite my intelligence and common sense, I’m scared to fly. By belittling me, I don’t want to take the necessary steps to face my fear and improve my confidence. Instead I want to ignore you (or yell at you).
And, yes, I’ve memorized the safety statistics, thanks.
Uh. So Is Your Fear of Flying Stupid?
Absolutely not! Nearly 1 in 3 American adults have some anxiety about flying. Think about the population of the United States. If 1 in 3 experience some dread on a plane, that is a huge huge huge number. Huge. All jokes about my country’s political landscape aside, I find it impossible to say so many people are “just stupid.” I can only guess what these statistics would be on a global level.
Anyway, it’s safe for us to say that this particular fear goes deeper than stupidity.
Being scared to fly is actually pretty reasonable. We’re not meant to soar in the air. We’re not birds. Even though I’m learning more and more about how planes operate, it still blows my mind a chunk of metal can stay airborne for so long. Physics isn’t the slightest bit subjective, but … wow.
Still, regardless of my personal discomfort, the facts don’t lie. Flying IS very safe. The safest mode of transportation. Commercial pilots undergo tremendous training. They are more than capable of doing their jobs damn well. Flight attendants know their stuff, too. Seriously, I appreciate all that they do given the entitled passengers they face on a regular basis. And FAA regulations make educational standards look like a joke.
Ultimately, yes, I would say a fear of flying isn’t stupid. However, it’s an irrational fear that you can’t allow to consume your life either.
Build Your Confidence and Go!
Please, please, please, don’t sit around and call yourself “stupid,” because you’re scared of flying. It accomplishes nothing. You’re better than that.
Instead work to address your issue like a boss. Last year, I wrote 43 tips for fearful flyers to help travelers like me achieve their dreams. However these are practical tips that don’t really focus on positive thinking and self-kindness.
So here’s some advice for building your confidence so you can face your fears whether you’re scared of planes, heights, monsters, whatever.
1. Think “NO!” whenever negativity clouds your judgement. Each time you mentally belittle yourself, think “no” and move on. It’s weird at first, but it works. Stopping bad thoughts in their tracks doesn’t allow them to fester and grow.
2. Seek love from friends and family. Ask the important people in your life to tell you about your good qualities. Are you a fantastic writer? A talented swimmer? A good cook? Reassurance builds confidence. Confidence is the best weapon against fear.
3. Help others. Go volunteer and do some good work for the community. Not only will you impact people lives, you’ll feel emotionally stronger and more confident.
4. Avoid article and facebook comments. Trolls are everywhere. Don’t dwell on small-minded people writing trash.
What are some productive and loving ways you can overcome your fear of flying? Or fear of anything? Share all the love in the comments. And remember: a fear of flying isn’t stupid.