Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flying is uncomfortable—not dreadful

Today I will be on an airplane.

Just a few months ago I would have dreaded the upcoming experience. While I am far along in my Recovery journey and would not have tried to avoid the trip, it would have been a very uncomfortable activity. But I have learned that it will be just that: uncomfortable. Not excruciating. Not unbearable. Just uncomfortable.

Dr. Low frequently reminds us that we crave comfort, and when we begin to dread discomfort we develop a vicious cycle of fear and anxiety. I now understand, through my Recovery training, that should I experience chest palpitations, intense sweating, blurry vision, and other “intense” symptoms, I should accept them as merely feelings and sensations, which I cannot control. I can control my thoughts and impulses. I am often amazed by how quickly the sensations will dissipate when I do not work them up.

I acknowledge that I am feeling nervous about the trip today. I am a little shaky and my stomach is jittery. Yet I am not concerned about these sensations because they are an average experience before I fly. Of course, I do not like them, but I’m not letting them bother me. They will wax and wane throughout the day, but by not working them up I will minimize their impact and proceed with my day. In the past I would want to call someone to discuss my “agonies” for hours. Now I know that such a bid for comfort rarely resolves symptoms and, in fact, enhances them.

I am bearing the discomfort and fulfilling my work responsibilities. I am moving forward in my Recovery journey. I am taking control away from anxiety. And for all of that I heartily endorse!