Nature wired us up to be calmed by being nurtured by another person. But we are supposed to learn to be calmed – not only by that person’s nurturing presence – by by picturing that person in the mind’s eye.
Within the first 18 months of life, we are supposed to ‘internalize’ our mother’s nurturing, her ability to tune into our feelings and ‘just know’ what we are feeling when we are upset and respond to us.
Internalization of what mom does to calm us is important because internalization makes it possible for us to leave her and still feel secure. Internalization of her makes it possible for us not to cling to her. Why? If we have her built ‘INSIDE’ then we can go wherever we want to and take her with us even though she is not physically there.
But when we fail to get enough ‘good stuff’ from mom ‘inside’ us, we continue to need her ‘beside’ us. As we continue to develop, other people also become important. Again, either inside us, or beside us.
Consider a person we depend on who is ‘inside’ us. If that person dies, we are able to continue depending upon that person. How? That person remains alive inside us. We can use that person’s continued existence to support us emotionally.
But what if we have not been able to put enough ‘inside’? We depended upon having them ‘beside’ us? When they die – since they are not sufficiently ‘inside’ us and no longer ‘beside’ us – we are lost. We become depressed. We cannot regulate anxiety. We may be unable to function as usual, and flying often becomes impossible.
This past week, I worked with two people whose fear of flying began when important people who were ‘beside’ – but not ‘inside’ – died. Fortunately we were able to build other important people inside and re-establish the ability to regulate anxiety when flying, and in other day-to-day situations.
We do that via the ‘Strengthening Exercise’ which is taught either in a counseling session with me or in the SOAR Video Course on DVD.
Here is an email that shows how the death of loved ones made flying impossible and how we were able to establish the internalization needed to again regulate anxiety.
Dear Captain Tom
I’ve been very much a fearful flier an avid reader of your SOAR Newsletter.
I bought your tapes a long time ago. At the time I was caught in a deep depression due to my sister, niece and brother-in-law’s deaths in a boating accident. I was also self medicating (drinking) and feeling extremely vulnerable.
I told you about my fears and sense of doom and my immense feelings of responsibility being the oldest of six siblings, a husband and father of two beautiful daughters.
Well, it’s been some time since that email and my life is at an all time peak!! I’ve flown several times, last time just a week ago on business from Ft. Lauderdale to San Antonio, TX with stops both ways in Houston.
I can honestly say that I flew like I had never even had a problem, and was actually looking forward to every flight.
Can you believe that I was actually wishing to sit next to someone who was a fearful flier, so I could assure them that as you’ve stated many times, they where in a place that is probably safer than there own bed!
I’m still and will be a faithful reader of your Newsletter, filled with so many good articles and stories of courage and conquer.
I want to thank you for your insight, professionalism, and the great job you do of helping so many people including me! God bless you!