Fear Less: Ten Things You Can Control Today (Plus, Some Flying Aversion Therapy)


I am not fearless.

But I’d love to fear less. I dream of the day I can hang out–anxiety free– in a tiny (locked) airplane bathroom, buffeted by turbulence, while holding a tarantula.

Um, okay, not really.

One of my biggest fears is flyingbut I don’t have to deal with that regularly. However, I can brew up a complex worry and fear stew made up of poisonous, self-defeating thoughts at any moment. Last week, when I was sick, drifting in and out of sleep on the couch, I managed to criticize myself for my lack of productivity. And more.

Turns out there’s no need for me to fear criticism from others (although that happens too), because I know all my insecurities and secrets. I have the ability to obliterate my self-esteem all on my own. Some days I am my own worst enemy.

But I understand WHY I sometimes make these noxious fear stews.

Control. I’m pretty sure ALL of my fears are based on my control freakery.

I had really no control over the dizzy spells and nausea, much the same way I can’t do anything to stop anyone else’s thoughts, judgments, or words (oh, but sometimes I try via self-editing–essentially censoring ME).



I also have no idea how to fly a plane (and no matter how many times my husband the engineer explains the Bernoulli effect I still tend to see aviation science as pure luck.

And there was apparently no control to be had over the door handle mechanism breaking in a JC Penney fitting room last month. However I could’ve taken a moment to breathe before panicking and dropping to my knees and shimmying under the small gap at the bottom of the door.

Yeah, I haven’t figured out how to deal with my fears, not all the way. Like flying, I take this fear thing one trip (and one Army crawl under a dressing room door) at a time.

But recently I tried something that might be considered fear aversion therapy. A couple of weeks ago I got up close with those “lucky” flying machines.


A lovely, unsuspecting beach in the Caribbean.


But this beach (Maho beach) backs up to the airport.


Happy pilot waves at beach goers making happy plane associations.


Beach goers find a spot on the fence to hang on. Wait…what???


Then this happens. 

Jet wash.

Sand pelting.

But wait, there’s more…


jet landing maho beach

What’s that coming in over the horizon?

A jet. 

You can’t tell by this photo, but it’s a big one.

And even though I’m scared of flying, I was pretty excited to see a plane landing right above me (it’s that fear/fascination thing). 

Yes, that’s me in the blue pants running away. But hey, I did it!


And if you suffer from daily control freakery, here’s a little something that might help. Maybe being a little more mindful of the things we can control, might lessen the load of those we can’t.



What are your thoughts on fear?

Happy Monday!!


Sunset over Maho Beach



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41 thoughts on “Fear Less: Ten Things You Can Control Today (Plus, Some Flying Aversion Therapy)

  1. Oh my! That plane is crazy close. I leave near a Navy base, so we get planes over us all the time, but rarely any that big! I’d be afraid too. Wow!

    I think it’s good to face our fears, but some take a long time to get over. I’m still working on my fear of spiders. Actually, I lied. I’m not trying to get over it at all. Ha!


  2. I didn’t fly until I went into the military. My job, jet engine mechanic. Crawling around on them when they’re off and crawling around them to do checks when they’re running. I learned to start a jet airplane and after a few times in the cockpit I was able to figure out taxiing and takeoff airspeed and stuff followed. Never flew one but trust me they can fly. Your husband the engineer uses the wrong approach trying to use physics just look at it this way, you’re a writer you create situations that require suspension of belief. The airplane flys because of magic. There are thousands, nay, trillions of tiny winged beings who lift the airplane up and transport it to where it’s supposed to be. Toodles.


    1. Hi Tom,

      I happen to be the engineer husband you are referencing in your comment, and you are totally right…using science has never really worked. I should have figured that out a long time ago. I use it to keep my mind sharp (and to sound like I know what I’m talking about). 🙂 I do like your explanation of the tiny winged beings, also know as Bernoullians. They are efficient little buggers! 😉


  3. Climbing under the door! Crazy. My imagination needs to be kept in check as far as fears. Must be a writer thing!


  4. I fly a lot for business and for vacations so I have no fear of flying or airplanes. All we have to fear is fear itself as the famous saying goes.

    Yet, I have more of a fear of getting sick. I hate being sick. I will jump out of a subway car if I see someone sneezing or coughing.

    I think we all have special little fears. Dark basements, being alone in the house, running out of bacon, etc.


  5. I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well and hope you are much better, Coleen! As for the fear thing, I totally get it. “I can brew up a complex worry and fear stew made up of poisonous, self-defeating thoughts at any moment” – that is totally me! I think you were very brave to stand under a landing jet, and I love your list of things you can control today. What a nice way to look at things!


  6. Wow…that’s pretty amazing video there…especially seeing how it moves the water. I would probably avoid it, mostly because I don’t like anything too loud…and I imagine planes taking off and landing would be pretty loud. But I’d be more apt to do that than actually get in a plane. My fear of heights is rather paralyzing. I don’t even like being on the 3rd floor of a building. At least not when I can see a window. 🙂

    Good ideas on what we can do today though. I like the smile part the best. 🙂


    1. Lots of people hung out in that part of the water too. Not me! I got pelted enough by the sand at my distance. YAnd I’m with you, if it was possible I’d choose standing under a plane over flying to get me from point A to point Z!


  7. I understand the fear stew pot. My husband always says why worry about something you can’t do anything about or control. And, that really is so true. Some personal work I’ve done in the past few years has helped me immensely. I try not to be a slave to my body, my negative thoughts and emotions. That’s all physical stuff — and not who I really am. And, it’s been helpful for me to laugh at myself when I obseve my thoughts. Beating ourselves up only fuels the ego. I really like your list. Something to put where you remind yourself frequently.


    1. Being a slave to the physical–that is really the perfect way to describe it. I read a lot about mindfulness and meditation, which falls under the same category–getting out of my head! Thanks, Patricia. 🙂


  8. Oh, Coleen, I’m sorry you were sick last week. Our normal doubts triple in size when we’re in a weakened state. Know what I do at those times? I sing a song I remember from when i was a kid. “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going to eat some worms . . . ” it goes on and on. By the time I get to the description of the worms, the absurdity of the song and my self-pity kicks in.

    Be proud you don’t let your fear of flying keep you from boarding planes and traveling to interesting places.


  9. Glad to see you’re feeling better! I’ve been confronting fear lately, having started a new writing project! I keep finding myself finding excuses not to begin, until I realize why, then I just make myself work through it. It’s not like I can’t toss it if it sucks! Sometimes, we just have to kick fear to the curb! My writer friend Jim Winter even has a tattoo that says “Reject Fear.” I think that says it best!


  10. Well now, that doesn’t look fun at all. I’m sure St. Maarten must have some more quiet beaches somewhere. That island is not very big so why in the world would you choose to hang out at that one?

    Crazy I tell you. That’s what you are. Crazy!

    Flying isn’t so bad really. It’s the take off and landing that can get tricky. (Leave it to me to find the silver lining, huh?)

    Hope you had fun in the Caribbean.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  11. I have a slight fear of flying, but my fear of spiders is much worse. And my fear of large bodies of water, or what is in those large bodies of water that might want to eat me. I definitely suffer from daily control freakery so I am going to use your tips! Sounds like a good plan to me. 🙂


  12. Oh man. Watching that plane fly over would’ve totally made me crap my pants. Good thing you held it together :).

    I also have a fear of flying so there’s no chance in hell I’m going anywhere near that death trap of an airport. *shudder*

    But good for you for facing your fears 🙂


  13. I love your list of things we can control!! And you are so right. Fear and control are very tied together. My favorite take on these issues is the Serenity Prayer. I’ve added a few modifications here:

    God grant me the courage to change the things I can change (i.e., control)
    The serenity to accept the things I can’t (control, and so they scare me)
    And the wisdom to know the difference!

    BTW, I love to fly. Spiders *shudder* Snakes *runs screaming from the room*


  14. My biggest fear is also flying. I finally decided to conquer that fear this year when the only thing holding me back from a trip to London was my fear. I decided my dream of traveling and seeing a new part of the world was more important than my fear of flying and that I wasn’t going to let it hold me back!

    That beach may be beautiful but I definitely wouldn’t be able to relax with Jets practically landing on top of me.


  15. Your videos were great, Coleen! I admire you for putting yourself ‘out there’ facing your fears.

    My fear of flying is nearly gone – It’s taken a lot of time and work to get to process it, but well worth the effort. My overall fear of heights went away with it! I can ride my car or motorcycle over bridges now – I even whoop it up as I cross these days! (and it feels great!!)

    Loved your post! 😉


  16. Great for you – that airport is a cool place to watch planes land. I am not afraid of flying, but I fear heights. A couple of summers ago it took almost a minute to jump out of a zip line tower. The climb up was scary, the look down scarier, the ride down the line and getting off – fun. Glad I did it, it’s off the list. I love your ten things to be mindful of… great thought to begin the day. Keep enjoying your summer!


    1. Thanks, Clay! I did a zip line last year. I was excited to do it, but have to admit the last minute, getting harnessed in, was seriously nerve wracking! Luckily, they practically pushed us off the platforms–to keep the lines moving. There was no time for me to hesitate. 🙂


  17. What are the chances my flying a plane post and your fear of flying post appear in the same week? Nice work facing up to that plane landing over your head! I love the things you can control chart. I’m printing that and hanging it on my bulletin board pronto. I have serious control issues 🙂


  18. Someone told me that spiders have six legs and can run fast I didn’t want to know this as I’m scared of spiders.
    That evening I was so glad to know that spiders only have six legs because I saw something that looked like a false widow while it wasn’t moving I counted it’s legs and was so pleased to know it couldn’t be a spider because it had eight legs. I’m guessing it was a baby centipede so I relaxed and gave it a name (I called it shoe shop) and when it learnt its name it came running towards me, but unfortunately it must have been over exited because it bit me and I had to be mended by the doctor cause it hurt and I felt a bit faint. The morale of this story is don’t be afraid of spiders it’s them bloody baby centipedes that you want to keep an eye on!!


    1. You’re not kidding I have a similar problem. A baby centipede came towards me I went to stroke it and it must have been exited as I got bitten as well, but unfortunately my doctor thinks I’m going to die soon so I am writing this really qui


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