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Fears And Phobias


A fear of flying case with a unique twist

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

We have many examples of how EFT can reduce or eliminate the fear of flying. This one by Eileen Sullivan is particularly interesting because EFT seemed to have collapsed her major fear EXCEPT for the takeoff. But why? Her exploration into this problem, and how she solved it, makes great reading.

Hugs, Gary

By Eileen Sullivan,

In 2006, I attended the EFT Masters Boot Camp in Denver, CO.  I had a serious fear of flying, so getting from my home in North Carolina to the workshop was a challenge for multiple reasons.  I've since worked with several clients who are afraid to fly, and I attribute our successes in part to things I learned in making the trip.

A little background first.  As a child and teenager, I was a very frequent flyer.  From the age of 10 onward, I often flew unaccompanied on cross-country flights to visit my dad.  Each year, holidays and summers found me traveling by air.  By the time I entered college, I was a veteran air traveler.

My sky miles continued to accumulate after my marriage, as my husband was in the military.  While he was stationed in Germany, I flew overseas with our three young children all by myself, several times.  I never learned to completely ignore turbulence like my frequent flyer dad, but I was generally very relaxed and confident on a plane.

It was the 9/11 terrorist attack that changed my attitude about air travel.  I was absolutely terrified to get on a plane after that day.  I was scheduled to attend a conference in Albuquerque less than a month afterward, but I found a reason to stay home instead.  Secretly, I wasn't sure I'd ever fly again.  Even the planes flying over our house, which I'd never even been aware of before, made me nervous.

Over the next several years, I became very familiar with the train schedules.  If it wasn't convenient to drive, I'd take the train.  In 2005, my young daughter and I went from NC to Ohio on the train - a 28 hour trip each way - to attend a friend's birth.  There was no way I could have flown, especially not with my little girl along.  Even 4 years later, my memories of 9/11 were just too intense and scary.  For whatever reason, this was not something I ever chose to address with EFT.  But then the opportunity to attend the Masters Boot Camp came up.

When I made the decision to attend the Denver workshop, I seriously considered taking the train.  The problem was that it would've taken three days to get there, and four to get back!  Very reluctantly, I made reservations to fly.  I had to tap on myself for a day and a half before I could even do that.  Then I had to tap like crazy on my fear of flying, so that I could even think about actually getting on the plane when the time came.

Even though I'm so scared I can't even imagine setting foot on a plane…

Even though I'm terrified to fly now, after 9/11…

While those were pretty global statements, I had to take the edge off before I could start tapping on my memories of 9/11.  When I finally got to that point, I had probably 100 or more aspects (see Finding Aspects within the EFT Tapping Process), all at a 10 on a scale of 0 to 10 in intensity.  It took a lot of tapping to get those calmed down. Some of them, I couldn't even put words to.  I just remembered the visual images and my strong emotional reactions to them, and tapped.  And tapped, and tapped some more.

When the day came to fly to Denver, thanks to EFT, I felt at peace with the idea of getting on the plane.  I did have a few butterflies in my stomach but I felt this was probably "fear of the fear."  Little did I know that the Universe was going to help me test my work!

I arrived at the airport only to find that it was in chaos.  According to the news, British authorities had just uncovered a terrorist plot to blow up more planes.  Multiple suspects had been arrested that morning, and as a result of this new information, all security measures had been dramatically heightened.  Lines were enormous.  There were more armed security personnel patrolling the terminal than I had ever seen.  Huge signs were posted in front of every counter, informing travelers of new restrictions on liquids that could be carried on the plane.  And the security screening was very detailed and intense.

As I moved my trusted bottle of Rescue Remedy from my purse into my suitcase which would be checked, my stomach lurched a bit.  That Rescue Remedy was my crutch, just in case my butterflies were more than anticipation.  Curiously though, aside from that, I really wasn't alarmed by all the hubbub. Remember, I had just tapped extensively on planes, terrorists, bombs and what-not!

After processing through the immense security line, which was chock full of people who seemed particularly nervous or harried that day, I noticed that I hadn't been swept up by that "air of anxiety."  That was a nice side effect, and unusual for me.  As I made my way to my departure gate, feeling calm and comfortable, I smugly applauded EFT in my head.  After checking in and doing a few precautionary rounds of finger-tapping while looking at the plane through the windows, I settled down and peacefully read a book until it was time to board.

Although I had been concerned I might've missed a few aspects that would show up as I actually got on the plane, nothing happened.  All was completely routine.  I felt fine as I walked onto the plane and took my seat.  Hooray for EFT!  I was on my way to Denver and the workshop.

Smiling happily to myself, I went back to my book.  Eventually, the door was closed and the plane backed away from the gate.  I had tapped for those events, so they were completely uneventful for me.  Then we were cleared for take-off, and the engines began to rev.  Still fine.  Until, that is, the plane actually left the runway and the g-force began to build.  As I was pushed back against my seat, a sharp and sudden panic almost took my breath away.

In an instant, my level of intensity went from an absolute zero to 1000 on a scale of 0 to10.  I had no idea what was causing this - well, aside from a disruption in my energy system, of course.  But as to why it was there, I had no idea.

The g-force continued to increase, and I found myself white-knuckling and clutching the armrests.  I still felt like the breath was being squeezed out of me too, which was very alarming.  I began tapping "with intention," just imagining tapping at each point.  That wasn't helping quickly enough, so I moved to tapping on finger points.  Finally I was so triggered that I didn't care what anybody might think about the "odd" look of full-on EFT. 

I started to tap on the face points and collarbone, skipping the underarm point due to the confined space, and the set-up and reminder phrases because I was already very tuned in to the terror!

Gradually, the panic attack subsided.  It helped that the plane was already leveling out at cruising altitude by then.  I didn't want to go through the same thing when we landed, so I worked on that before I stopped tapping.

I spent the rest of the flight deep in thought, digging around for whatever I might've missed that caused that intense reaction to take-off.  It had never bothered me before, and I couldn't come up with a reason for the change.  My 9/11 memories didn't have any links at all to taking off.

Strangely, I had absolutely nothing but "fear of the fear" when we landed.  A few rounds on my fingers took care of that.  But I still had no idea why I'd freaked out so badly when we took off.  And why take-off, but not landing?  I continued to ponder those questions on and off until the workshop started.  Then I got totally engrossed in enjoying the experience, the learning, and the wonderful people, and the issue slipped my mind.

Cut to the rapidly emptying conference room, just after the end of the workshop.  I was talking to a newly-met friend, who was considering a trip to a well-known theme park I had recently visited with my children.  She was asking me about some of the new rides, and I was happy to share our experiences with her.

One ride, in particular, had already gotten a reputation as being dangerous. A couple of people had actually died after riding it, and news articles indicated that the theme park was considering making modifications even though they insisted the ride was safe.  Against my better judgment, I had actually ridden the thing even though I knew all this.  Not surprisingly, I had a very rough time of it and had been absolutely terrified during the entire ride.  I was describing this to my friend when I had the classic "a ha!" moment.

My friend had heard the story of my in-flight panic, and she's an experienced EFT'er too, so when I stopped short and my expression shifted, she recognized immediately what had happened.  She encouraged me to verbalize it and tap (see The EFT Tell the Story Technique - The Workhorse Tapping Method), which was very helpful.

It turns out that my reaction to the increasing g-force at take-off came from my experience on this theme park ride.  Riders pull high g-forces, and the ride is unusually long, with multiple exposures to these forces.  The whole time I was stuck in the tiny "capsule" of this ride (which seemed like a lifetime), I had been both terrified and afraid I was going to die.  No wonder I reacted so strongly to a routine take-off in an airplane!  And no wonder I wasn't able to find the reason for my reaction in my 9/11 memories.

If I hadn't had those blinders on, I might've been able to discover the issue and avoid/better reduce that panic.  Ah well.  Live and learn.

After tapping on "this 'I'm going to die!' ride" and all its aspects, I had a very calm and peaceful flight home - including the take-off.  Based on my experience, I now ask the question, "What does that remind you of?" with particular interest, and encourage people to look beyond the obvious.  It seems to be working really well!

Eileen Sullivan


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.