For years, I’ve gotten emails and calls from people going to Las Vegas who find they are on some unheard of airline and want me to assure them that everything is fine. I have no way – nor to do they – to know how reliable these ‘airlines’ are. But it interested me that so many people who have flight anxiety are flying to Vegas. What is the connection between anxiety problems and Vegas? I couldn’t figure it out.
Then this week I saw a program about gambling which said amateur gamblers have fun and professional gamblers don’t. The show said amateur gamblers bet based on feeling, and professional gamblers bet based on statistics.
What feeling do amateurs use? Possibility! Is it possible for roulette to land on red eleven times in a row. Yes! That’s what makes gambling fun. That’s also what makes amateur gamblers lose, at least in the long run.
But what about professional gamblers? They bet based on probability. That’s the only way to make a living at gambling.
Suddenly I understood the Las Vegas connection with flight anxiety! People who have flight anxiety base their anxiety on possibility. People without flight anxiety base their confidence on probability.
What if the chances of your plane crashing are one in twenty-million? Probability – and left brain thinking – says that isn’t worth consideration.
But the right brain thinks differently. The right brain wants to know, ‘Is it POSSIBLE?’ If it is, the right brain is going to focus on that. But the focus can be positive or negative emotionally
Focusing on the chance of winning a twenty-million dollar lottery can be fun. But focusing on a one chance in twenty-million of an air crash is terrifying to gambler-style, right brain, emotional thinking.
If winning twenty million is possible (which it is) the right brain pictures it and enjoys it.
Meanwhile, what about the left brain says? The left brain says, ‘That’s a sucker bet; forget about it.’
The same thinking that leads emotion-based thinkers into ‘sucker bets’ gets them into trouble with flight anxiety. If it is possible – regardless of how improbably – the right brain triggers an emotional response.
If that response keeps you from flying, it really is a ‘sucker bet’ because it leads you to drive rather than fly. (Everybody knows flying is safer than driving, don’t they?) It leads you to stay home rather than fly. (Flying is safer hour for hour than staying home and doing your daily routine.)