One of the latest things I wanted to work on with my therapist was the anxiety I had developed when I traveled. Last year I had signed up to go to my stamping and scrapbooking convention and then when it came down to it, I just couldn't go. This year I was excited about going to convention but I had to get over the anxiety in order to do so. Luckily one of my downline had decided to go and so I said I would go with her and the thought of not going alone really helped. So I signed up and at my next therapy appointment I was determined to find a way to work through the travel anxiety.
As my therapist and I talked I told her some of my past travel experiences. In the past I didn't have any anxiety about traveling, but later in life, after becoming a mother, I started to have small fears about my children being taken care of while I was traveling. Plus I had had many experiences of being pulled off airplanes (my husband works for an airline so we travel stand-by) to make way for paying customers, sitting in an airport all day waiting for the possibility of getting a seat, being sent back home to change because the code-share airline allowing us to fly on them didn't think my jean dress was nice enough and so on. Adding to that was my really good imagination that I would think about the worst possible things that could happen to my family or me while I was gone.
After I told her all of these stories my therapist commented that my traveling experiences were like a messy ball of yarn. When she said that I could visualize a ball of yarn in my mind with lose strands all over it and on each strand was labeled with one of my bad experiences. The thing about anxiety is that it is all about fears and as we talked I realized that all my anxiety about traveling was connected to things of the past but that now there were different things in play so they didn't really apply any more. As we continued to talk I started formulating a list of the old and new ways of my traveling experiences. For example, waiting all day at the airport hoping to get on doesn't really happen any more because technology has changed and we can see online which flight has the most available seats. Worrying that something might happen to my kids isn't as much of a worry any more because my children are now adults. I thought of a new way of believing to counteract all of my old fears.
My next trip was this past week and I only had one moment of anxiety which was when we first walked into the airport (in the past it would start days before the trip and last through until the arrival at my destination). During all my preparation time and waiting for our flight, anytime I started to think the old anxiety ridden way, I would stop myself and remind myself that that was the old way and that I have a new way of seeing things. It was amazing! Well, I leave in the morning for another trip, let's see if I can do it again!