Overcoming Your Fears

I have two main fears in life.  The fear of falling is the one that I normally encounter.  If I drive over a bridge, I need to focus on the road ahead of me so I don’t panic.  I’ve never had a full-fledged panic attack, but when I get near a precipice, I get nervous, my mind starts going over all the ways I (or something else) could go over the edge, and I try to get away from the edge.  It isn’t a fear of heights, also.  I can be behind the window on the 20th floor looking down at the street below with not a twinge of fear.  However, if I’m on the second story of a parking garage looking out over the edge, I back off instinctively.

The other fear that I have is more minor, and encountered less often.  That’s a fear of flying.  Well, not flying itself, but the takeoffs and landings.  For some reason, my mind fills with terror at the thought, flashing generic composites of every plane crash story to ever impact my consciousness.  I can manage this one by re-establishing context within my mind.  There are  28,537 commercial flights every day in the US.  (Source)  This means about 10.4 million flights per year.  In the past 5 years, there have only been 10 accidents involving fatalities.  (Source)  This is an average of 2 per year or less than 2 thousandth of a percent.  Even if I were to add together the four flights that I’m going to take this week (two each way thanks to stops), I’d still be looking at less than 8 thousandth of a percent chance of being on a flight that has an accident with a fatality.

In the end, this fear os more of a product of fiction than fact.  Almost anytime you see a character on an airplane, something happens to that airplane.  The airplanes in the movies seem to be awful contraptions that would go into a nosedive if someone sneezed.  All of those silver screen (and small screen) crashes has put a "It could happen to me" thought in the back of my head.  I refuse to give into the fear, though.  As long as I keep reminding myself of the reality of the situation and don’t let the fear rule my life, I’m fine.

What fears (rational or irrational) do you have?  How do you manage them?