All By Myself

I am in Ottawa.

This is the very first time I’ve ever travelled by myself. I’ve only been gone a day, and I already miss late-night talks with Ben, and hugging our girls, but I’m still quite excited about this mini vacation.

My sister recently moved to Ottawa, and bought this fantastic townhouse which needs some decorating, so she asked me to come invade Ikea with her, shopping and decorating to our hearts’ content.

We will also get some sightseeing in, which makes this an absolutely amazing little holiday for me. Can’t wait to get started!

While travelling, I was reminded of an item to add to my 34 Days of Favorites: Overcoming Fears.

A few years ago, I went through a stretch of time when I was absolutely freaked out about flying. I used to love flying when I was younger, but then the whole World Trade Center thing happened, and we were reminded that all kinds of people ride on airplanes, sometimes with very bad intentions. We were reminded that sometimes people leave, and don’t come home.

Obviously, I knew these things didn’t happen very often, but I allowed my thoughts to linger in dangerous territories, and before I knew it, I had developed a fear of flying.

I didn’t have to fly much during those years, which probably caused my fear to grow.

But Ben and I were dreaming of a vacation, and so, when Anika turned four, we flew to Mexico. It was quite terrible for me.

I remember looking out the window, and seeing land verrrry far away, and suddenly feeling so full of panic, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

We flew as a family a few more times after that, and I knew I had to keep my act together, in order to put up a good front for the girls. But inside, I was still in a panic, and did not enjoy the experience.

This last January, I flew to Florida with the girls while Ben went on a missions trip to Belize, and I knew it was time to deal with this whole issue, once and for all. I was the only adult responsible for those sweet girls, and things would be a lot easier if I wasn’t freaking out about getting into an airplane.

I knew it all went back to my thoughts. I had to get control of them, and be extremely disciplined about what I filled my mind with.

Years ago, I saw a counselor in an effort to learn how to deal with anxiety. The most important technique I came away with was learning to identify the fear, and replace it with a calm, logical thought.

For example, whenever my brain started to think about plane crashes, I replaced this thought with statistics about how safe flying actually is.

It’s very easy to let our thoughts unravel quickly, and before we know it, we’re in a state of panic, and our thoughts are out of control. At that point, it’s hard to get things back under control, and our bodies have already begun to physically respond to the stress.

A few years ago, Ben’s family planned to go skydiving together, but his sister was quite nervous about the whole idea. She wanted to go, but she was also afraid to, which is understandable when you think about jumping out of an airplane.

In an effort to help his sister, Ben looked up safety statistics on skydiving, and found that more people die in a year from falling off donkeys than they do from jumping out of airplanes.

His sister chose to focus on the donkeys, and went skydiving.

Sometimes I have a deep, secret wish that I’d also chosen to think about donkeys, and joined them. Only sometimes.

Anyway. The point is that we get to choose. I’ve written a lot about how choosing our thoughts and attitudes can make us happier. It can also make us braver.

I had fun yesterday. Flying was good. There was a turbulent patch which had me clenching the arm rests, and left me feeling a bit shaky, but otherwise, I enjoyed travelling. It’s become fun once more.

Do you have any fears you’ve faced? How do you get control over your thoughts in difficult situations?