Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cruising Altitude Zero Feet

by Amanda Forester

I love to travel! Correction, I love to explore new places and see new things. The thing I don’t like is traveling. I don’t like driving, trains make me nervous, ships cause seasickness, and planes… well planes are the worst. Those little cylinders of death scare the living you know what out of me. Yes, I am ashamed to admit it, but I am afraid of flying.

You know the really embarrassing part? I’m a psychologist! Shouldn’t I of all people be able to cure myself of this phobia? Well, let me say I did try. One theory on curing a phobia is using a technique called flooding. That is when you expose the phobic person to the thing he or she is afraid of for a long time. The theory is that the person will not be able to sustain a terror reaction forever, and will eventually relax and realize it’s not so bad.

So I booked a trip to Europe – non-stop. I figured a nine hour flight should certainly be able to cure me. I boarded the plane with much fear and trembling and much to my dismay discovered… yes, I CAN sustain a terror response for a nine freaking hour plane flight. I did enjoy myself in Europe (though I almost became an expatriate due to my fear of flying back home!) but that was my first and (to date) only trip to Europe.

Since that time I have still traveled, but I have kept my cruising altitude at zero feet. I’ve gone by car, I’ve gone by train, but by golly I’ve gone by ground. Trouble is, my debut book is set in Scotland. Beautiful, romantic Scotland, full of thrilling castles and gorgeous scenery. Check out Joanne’s blog from yesterday – that’s my dream trip (even with the broken down car)! See these beautiful pictures of Scotland? Someone else took them, because I’ve never been there. I’ve dreamed of it, wrote a whole book about it, but I’ve never actually seen it. And unless I face my fear I never will.

Everyone needs a dream – even if it’s scary. For me, showing someone else my writing was something that terrified me for the longest time. Yet I faced that fear and now my debut book is out there in the world for anyone and everyone to read. It’s still a bit scary, but it was totally worth it! Maybe that flooding idea works after all…

What’s one thing you really want to do, even if it frightens you?


  1. Hey Amanda,
    When I was a kid, I so wanted to fly. But after I flew places, I really, really preferred traveling by car! :) Ever see Twilight Zone, the Movie? And the guy in the plane is terrified of flying? He's sure he sees some creature on the wing ripping at it? The guy goes nuts and they have to subdue him, thinking he's paranoid about flying. He is, but he's got a reason to be. Anyway, every time I fly, I look out at the wing to see if there's anything out there, besides the beautiful world below. :)

  2. I want to sing a solo. I love to sing, have sung solos before, but haven't done it in years. I need to get up my courage, practice, and go for it!

  3. I think the most common phobia, and the most debilitating one for most people, is the fear on making a fool of oneself.

    Unlike a fear of flying, or heights, or whatever, it doesn't call attention to itself and a person can go her whole life without addressing it.

    When I think of the times I've stopped myself from doing what I really wanted to do, and the times I went forward even though I was afraid--the problem was a fear of looking foolish.

  4. Oh Amanda you poor thing you, I understand the flying thing though I love to fly, my Mom was the one who hated to fly. She did so only once and then because she thought she was dying. She wasn't, panic attack! I have other phobia's that shall remain nameless.

    What you said about not having been to Scotland even though you are writing about me that is the mark of a good to great author, making the reader believe they are in where ever the book is set.

    I have your book and my hope is to have the time to read it this weekend. Will let you know if I felt like I was really in Scotland!

  5. I would love to sail around the world. I'm good with the sailing, I'm fine with the whole sailing through bad weather, storms, typhoons. The thing that scares the hell out of me? Pirates. Yes, I said pirates. Until recently, when the Somali pirates started making news, most people didn't know pirates were still alive and well, robbing, plundering and worse. And no, they don't all say arg.

    Pirates pray on people who captain small yachts, they steal them and sell them for use in the drug trade. They scare me enough that I wouldn't dare sail across an ocean unless I had at least 4 or 5 other well-armed boats sailing along with me.

  6. Amanda, are we actually supposed to do things that scare us?!? :-)

    I can name several things I'd love to do--if--I had the courage to do them. I'd love to experience sky diving, scuba diving, climbing one of those flat-faced mountains in Yosemite, climbing Mt. Everest to name a few. My what an experience, if I only had the courage to try one of them.


  7. Oh, Amanda, you should go! Scrape is an airline pilot, so I can vouch for the quality of the pilots. And he flies all the time - and nothing bad ever happens.
    As far as things that scare me, scuba diving is something I would love to do, but the idea of all that water (and those sharks) surrounding me gives me the willies. I think I'll probably try it someday, though.
    And Shana, I'd like to sing too--but that should make YOU afraid:)

  8. I had to smile at your post, Amanda, cause you echoed my feelings about flying so perfectly! I still do it though. Facing my fears always empowers me.

  9. I'd like to get over my paralyzing fear of needles. I've tried sessions with a shrink, hypnosis, various anti-anxiety meds, and a dozen other things to no avail. On the bright side, I'd never make a good heroin junkie.

    (I know, I know, "needles don't hurt that much." Trust me, it's not a pain thing, it's a phobia. I once had a cavity drilled w/ no Novocaine because I couldn't handle the needle for the injection. Trust me, pain isn't the issue!)

    Love this blog idea about conquering fears, and it's fun to read everyone else's!


  10. I hate flying (but do it because I have to) and am pretty much scared of water (I really don't even like swimming pools, unless I'm sitting beside one with a drink and a good book)--but I REALLY want to take a Mediterranean cruise... Maybe one day I'll suck it up!

    Great post, Amanda!

  11. Hi all!

    Terry - have not seen the twilight zone movie with the gremlin on the plane wing - not sure that would help me much!! ;)

    Shana - performing in front of others is a very common fear - and for good reason - it's scary up there! I'm always impressed with peole who can perform, especially sign (which is so not my gift) in front of others.

    MM - yes, I think you really hit the nail on the head. I've stopped myself from doing things many times because I was afraid of how others would judge me. Though over time as I routinely make a fool of myself I'm getting less bothered by it... maybe flooding does work!

  12. Jessica - hope you get transported away to Scotland in the reading. NOw if I could just read a book and "poof" I'm suddenly in Scotland, I'd be taking a lot more trips!

    Robin - sailing does sound like a fun adventure, but pirates? That's a problem, and a growing one as I hear it. I love the idea of sailing with an armed floatilia!

    Amelia - do things you're afraid of? NEVER! Ok, maybe not a very inspirational motto... I'm working on it! You're list of things to try sounds fun - maybe I'll watch a PBS special about it...

  13. Kathryne - good for you! I stand in awe of your courage. Hopefully I can feel empowered someday too!

    Tawna - oh no, please tell me you didn't... That's the hard thing about phobias, it's tough to explain to others unless they have actually experienced it.

    Danielle - I'm impressed you can get on that plane! A Mediterranean cruise sounds fun. Maybe we could try the buddy system - you help me get on the plane and I'll help you get on the boat!

  14. My worst fear is of bugs and spiders. For me this is a fear I am more than happy to never conquer as the cure - according to your philosophy Amanda - is unthinkable! Besides, why else did I marry my big brave husband if not to take care of the nasty beasties? :)

    Internally I have a healthy dose of that fear MM mentioned. Not sure if it exactly the idea of making a fool of myself, but I have a shy nature that exerts itself forcefully when in unknown situations or with unknown people. I can actually start to get shaky if overwhelmed by unfamiliar eyes staring at me! In those times my mind goes totally blank, I can't think of a single thing to say, and I am sure I look and talk like a blubbering idiot. Not fun. I have learned to improve over the years, my shyness not nearly as debilitating as it once was. Maybe someday I will actually be gregarious and spontaneously witty! Yeah, when I am senile!!

  15. Sharon - you don't want to be covered in creepy crawly bugs and spiders? No? I'm just shocked! ;)

    They've done studies to show that "shy" people actually have a greater physiological response like increased pulse and blood pressure to situations like the ones you describe. I thought these studies were interesting and explained some of my own responses sometimes. Shy people of the world unite! ...or maybe send a nice e-mail...