This 32 year old handsome actor turned entrepreneur had a major heart condition in his adolescence and nearly died. Since then he has been afraid of being alone and afraid of flying. Before flights he can’t sleep and makes himself miserable on the way to the airport and at the airport. Often he is miserable at his destination, feeling very far from his support system, and dreading the flight back. Through previous interviews he has cultivated a number of self-aspects that help him with his fear. He has three in particular that he is currently using, and took all three along on a recent short flight this past week.
Notice the different perspectives and attributes that each of these self-aspects bring to the issue of dealing with phobia.
Seahawk, how do you think Toby did on this trip to Frankfurt?
Good! The best thing he did was decide to go. He is not strong like me. He hides behind loud music while he’s flying! But it’s OK. It helps him. I’m a seahawk! I’m strong!
Cloud, did you hear what Seahawk just said?
Yes. I’m not as strong as him. I’m just comfortable in the sky. Toby already had some minutes on this flight when he felt comfortable in the sky like I do. That was a major accomplishment. He needs to do more short practice flights. If he does, the minutes that he has where he feels like me will increase.
Pile of Shit, were you with Toby on the trip?
Yes! I told him not to take himself and his fears so seriously! He can’t influence what happens while he is flying so much anyway. I told him to smile, listen to music, and read. I’m not intelligent enough to have these fears! I stink!
What would you do to continue working on this?
I would just fly and not give a shit!
What do you think about that, cloud?
I didn’t expect more from a pile of shit. He’s not seeing anything. He’s just there and stinking. I’m wiser because I’m up in the sky and I see more. I think Toby should go on and fly. Try to see the good things about being up in the sky and looking down on the earth. A lot of people enjoy flying because they are away from their stress and regular activities. No one can reach them by phone or email. He can be more positive and realize there are beautiful things up in the air!
Sea Hawk – I’m not stupid like the pile of shit and I’m not as romantic and wise as the cloud. I am strong. I have to fly with power, looking for food. I work at flying to survive. Flying is part of my responsibility, but it’s also fun! I think Toby can just fly too!
Sea Hawk, do you remember when your mother pushed you out of your nest?
I just learned! I practiced, became confident, and I had no more fears.
Notice that each of these three self-aspects bring different perspectives on dealing with fear to Toby. The seahawk awakens power and confidence within Toby. The cloud brings perspective and wisdom. The pile of shit brings absurd humor and a sense of meaninglessness to life’s drama.
By “becoming” and listening to these three aspects Toby reminds himself of who he potentially is. He also hears that there is not only an internal support system always there for him, but that there is an internal consensus, at least among these self-aspects regarding a course of action: Toby needs to fly more. So we discussed the possibility of short, forty-five minute flights, to and from Frankfurt, each week, in the middle of the week. Not leaving the Frankfurt airport, but catching the next flight back. The idea would be to do these once a week and then begin to move to slightly longer flights, like to Paris or Vienna, which are each less than an hour and a half from Berlin.