Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another airline tragedy--putting it into perspective

This week I was as shocked as everyone else after learning about the plane being shot down over Ukraine. As a nervous person and someone with a history of a fear of flying, I responded to the tragedy perhaps more severely than many people.

My imagination was on fire, as we say in Recovery. I fly frequently, and I found myself wondering what it must have been like for those tragic souls onboard that flight. I talked to several co-workers about my fear of flying. I was working myself up into a frenzy.

I soon realized that in order to protect my mental health, I would need to distance myself from the news coverage. Avoiding hearing more about the tragedy will be difficult in the coming weeks, but I’ve decided to not focus on or obsess over the situation. I acknowledged that talking about my fear of flying with my co-workers did nothing but upset me—I got goose bumps, my eyes became blurry, and my breathing became shallow.

These symptoms are average for me after an airline disaster and, to put the situation in perspective, I don’t have them often, as such tragedies are quite rare. I’m also providing myself with secure thoughts, acknowledging how exponentially safer flying is than driving, for example. I can’t control my feelings and sensations, but I certainly can control my thoughts and impulses.

Flying is part of my job—there’s no way to avoid it, and I wouldn’t want to. I enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people. This rare tragedy is causing me discomfort, but through my Recovery training I am able to put such feelings into perspective. My heart goes out to the families of the victims, but obsessing over the situation will certainly not help anyone.