Focusing on Fear vs. Trust

A Coaching Power Tool By Gila Kropf, Life Coach, SWITZERLAND

Focusing on Fear vs. Trust 1

Focusing on Fear vs. Trust

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Marie Curie

The power tools presented in this project can be used for the specific purpose of fear of flight and in general for any kind of fear. Starting with Anna’s story, the coaching steps are specified and the use of the power tools described.

FEAR is a natural, powerful, and primitive human emotion. It involves a universal biochemical response as well as a high individual emotional response. Fear alerts you to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological. Certain fears may exist due to past traumas and experiences you have had but many others are caused due to overestimation of risk and lack of trust, self-confidence. Our model focuses on ‘bad’ fear, which is triggered by a lack of confidence or trust in someone or something. Such fear is draining you and inhibits your growth and learning. When it comes to fear of doing something, you may lose the joy and the benefits involved in experimenting. When it comes to fear of someone, you may be unable to find a way to communicate healthily with others or miss the bliss of relationships. As we live with fear, we tend to validate the fear and fix it in our character and let it minimize our actions. At times, we convince ourselves that it is our ‘free’ decision to keep away from something or someone, not admitting that fear holds us back. We withdraw to our private safe space that with time gets smaller and smaller and feels like a burden more than a private haven. The fear settles in as a second ‘nature’ and we accept our verdict, self-doubt, and low life quality.

TRUST is a central part of all human relationships, including romantic partnerships, family life, business operations, politics, and medical practices. If you don’t trust your doctor or psychotherapist, for example, it is much harder to benefit from their professional advice.

  • Trust is a set of behaviors, such as acting in ways that depend on another.
  • Trust is a belief in the probability that a person will behave in certain ways.
  • Trust is an abstract mental attitude toward a proposition that someone is dependable.
  • Trust is a feeling of confidence and security that a partner cares about.
  • Trust is a complex neural process that binds diverse representations into a semantic pointer that includes emotions. (, see links)

Trust Works in Two Vectors, Independently or Combined:

An ‘intrinsic’ trust the trust we have in ourselves, independent of someone or something. For example, I trust m driving. I am a good driver.

An ‘extrinsic’ trust the trust we have in someone or something.

For example, I do not trust my friend Lisa. She is a careless driver.

Intrinsic and extrinsic combination – Lisa and I discuss a trek in Nepal lately. We are both trained and fit for the trip. I am also sure that in case of an emergency, the Nepalese rescue services will have a fast response.

Focusing on the example of fear of flying in my coaching niche, fear of flying consists oftentimes of the two vectors. The person fears her reaction while flying and on the airworthiness of the external factors such as the airplane, the pilots, the crew, maintenance, weather, etc.

The key to coping with fear is understanding the fear and taking gradual action to handle it.

Fear vs. Trust Anna’s Story

Anna takes her seat next to me on the comfortable office couch and starts to tell her story. She is 32 years old, lives in Los Angeles, married with two small children ages of 2 and 3 years old. Anna works for a global NGO as a project manager. She loves her job and would like to continue with her career development.

Since the company is international, there are always interesting new positions available in other countries. One of the most interesting positions that her company has just published on the internet is an NGO coordinator for South-East Asia in Singapore.

Anna and her husband are open to relocating and undertaking contracts in other countries. She had not flown for 4 years and noticed that lately, every time she thinks about flying, she gets scared and thinks about turbulences and airplane crashes. It seems like she cannot trust herself and even worse she cannot trust the flight itself. She is confident that pilots are trained but she loses this confidence when taking off and worse in the event of turbulences.

She thinks that probably everyone in the plane is out of control including the crew. About 6 years ago, she flew and experienced strong turbulences but continue flying with no special constraints. At work, whenever there is an international assignment, she avoids taking it. In addition, her sister moved six months ago Canada. Due to this fear, Anna has not met her sister personally since the move. –

This document provides a bird’s view on the coaching process with Anna that, after targeted sessions, could successfully fly to her sister in Vancouver Canada, and later on booked the flight to the NGO Singaporean branch for a visit and an interview.

The challenges that Anna copes with at the moment are clear. She feels like her world and horizons became narrow and that she is unable to go forward and advance in her life. She also feels paralyzed.

Hearing Anna’s story, we started to jointly explore the situation and try to understand the underlying reasons for the fear of flying that Anna developed in the past years.

Creating the Coaching Agreement

In this phase, the coaching agreement is agreed upon and the coach greets and welcomes Anna warmly to a safe and trustworthy space by maintaining presence, curiosity, engagement, and ongoing reflection on Anna’s thoughts. It is also the time to feel Anna and understand the way she expresses herself, how crucial the problem is for her

Questions (for example)

  • Welcome to our first session Anna. What would you like to share with me today?
  • What do you wish to achieve in our today’s meeting?
  • What is the importance of the topic for you? (e.g. fear paralyzes me, interferes with family and work-life)
  • How do you prioritize these outcomes/goals?
  • How do you plan to follow up on your actions?
  • What is your definition of success? (e.g. flying or at least being ready to book a flight)
  • How will you measure success? How will you know if you have achieved your goals?
  • How will you celebrate success?

Clarification of the Situation and Initiation of the Exploration Journey

Ensuring a continued safe and trusted environment and following Anna’s behavior closely, I continue to listen actively, communicate directly and effectively and ask Anna additional questions to create awareness. Using her words, mirroring her, showing empathy, and at times presenting observations carefully without attachment.

Questions (for example)

  • What are the biggest challenges difficulties you are facing right now?
  • What happens today when you think about flying?
  • You mentioned that in the past you were not afraid of flying. What has changed since then? (e.g. became a mother, more responsibility)
  • Recalling the turbulences in the flight 6 years ago. What worked for you in the past in times of turbulence? (e.g. I had trusted, was flying frequently, no family responsibility)
  • What is in your control? (e.g. taking action to address my reaction to the fear)
  • What is in control of others?
  • What will happen if you do not take action?
  • What are the benefits of taking action? (e.g. I will trust the system more and feel free to go wherever I want…)

Identifying the Gap and Actions That Need to Be Taken, More Exploration and Commitment to Action

Focusing on Fear vs. Trust 2Flip cards. You mentioned that you had trust in the past. What would take you from fear to trust? (client mentions the fear of flight training)

  • What comes up to you right now as you flip the card?
  • What does trust mean to you?
  • How will you move forward to a space of trust?
  • What will you do next?
  • When will you do it?
  • How will you do it?
  • What obstacles/challenges stand in your way to finding a solution? (e.g. the 6 years I have not flown in)
  • Think about yourself six years ago. What would you advise a friend that is afraid of flying? (e.g. I heard that there are training schools from airlines who have specific training….)
  • Who can support you with your action? (e.g. my sister, husband…)
  • How will you keep yourself accountable?
  • What is the first action to take directly out of this session?

Learning, Follow Up and Closure

  • Anna, thank you very much for your openness and cooperation. You have shared valuable information with me and I am grateful for this. I am curious to see the exciting developments ahead.
  • You listed an action – you are going to enroll yourself in a training against the fear of flight.
  • What do you learn about yourself?
  • How can you implement this learning in other aspects of your life?
  • What will be the best way for us to follow up on the action you plan?
  • How would you like to close the session?
  • Thank you very much and looking forward to meeting you in the next session!

Additional Power Tools for Handling Fear

As fear places people in various behavioral situations, it is possible to use more power tools from the ICA. For example:

Action vs. Delay

Anna is aware of the six-year delay in handling her fear of flight. In case she comes to the next session without completing her first action list, it makes sense to discuss what exactly can take her from a place of delay to action. What is stopping her and what does she need to overcome this delay.

Anna will move from the “could”, “should”, “would” to the “can”, “shall”, and “will”.

Responding vs. Reacting

Anna reacts to the situation but does not respond to it. She is only reacting and this does not improve her situation. Responding to the problem will help Anna identify opportunities and chances to act with a sense of responsibility and trust. This will empower Anna further and help her act after the six-year no-flight break

What Is Trust? | Psychology Today

Original source:

Self Coaching system training
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