With only a few days left before we face our fears in aid of the British Lung Foundation, it was time to bring in the big guns (NLP big guns to be precise) to give our team the best chance possible of going through with it.

You can find out more about the challenge and even choose a member of staff to sponsor in this previous blog we wrote about the fundraiser.

But as judgment day draws closer, tension levels here at Ballooning Towers have risen to new heights.

So with less than a week to go before holding the animal of our nightmares becomes an inescapable reality, we were given a helping hand to conquer our phobias in the form of Master Practitioner of NLP, Pete Bryceland.

NLP In Action

NLP stands for neurolinguistic programming, which in the simplest terms is the study of the structure in which we, as human beings, experience life.

Understanding this structure can be used to help us make changes to overcome issues we are struggling with in life – including fears and phobias.

Importantly, NLP’s use in treating phobias works on the understanding that fear itself serves a purpose – to keep us safe from harm.

During our sessions with Pete, he ‘unravelled’ the reasons behind our phobias – whether our fear was of spiders, scorpions, snakes, rats or frogs.

He then took us through a simple but effective exercise known as the ‘dissociative movie rewind technique’ that (and we’re really not just saying this) left every single one of us feeling much less anxious about the challenge next week.

The theory behind it is that by dissociating yourself from the feelings of fear and putting them into a ‘movie-style’ situation, they become less real.

We can definitely confirm that after a session lasting less than an hour each, the crippling fear felt by each of us who took part – Shawn, Wayne, Hannah, Matt and Maria – had definitely diminished.

In The Words Of Our Team

“The session I had with Pete really helped ease the nerves ahead of next Thursday,” said Hannah. “I certainly feel a lot less anxious.”

And colleague Maria agreed.

“I think I was probably the most sceptical one of us going in there but afterwards, I couldn’t deny that I felt a lot better about the idea of holding Venom the scorpion that I did before the session with Pete,” she said.

NLP Can Work For Any Phobia

According to Pete, it doesn’t matter what you are actually scared of.

“There are only two things that human beings are born with a phobia of - loud noises and falling," he said.

“The fear of loud noises is a natural fight or flight signal while the fear of falling is a survival instinct from the tree-dwelling ancestors we evolved from. It’s why even newborn babies have an instinctive ‘grasp’ reflex to hold on to things.

“But every other phobia has been learnt, either by example through the reaction of a parent or someone else spend time with when young or from an incident that generated a fear reaction in our mind that we then associate and ‘practice’ for every similar incident after that until it becomes our natural reaction.

“Yet with almost all of these phobias, it isn’t actually the thing itself that we’re scared of, it’s the thought of it. We get the same feelings and reactions even when what we’re scared of isn’t in the room, triggered just by the thought of it.

“Fears are an important safety mechanism so the aim of NLP is not to get rid of that fear completely but instead reduce it to the point that you can have a more appropriate response to whatever you’re afraid of.”

Ready To Face Our Fears

So on Thursday 24th March 2016, eight brave members of staff from Virgin Balloon Flights will be getting up close and personal with spiders, snakes, scorpions, rats and frogs at Exotic Zoo in Telford.

And thanks to Pete, we’ll be doing so with much less apprehension that we would have had before our NLP sessions. There's lots more information on NLP and how it can help you on Pete's website.

The British Lung Foundation is Virgin Balloon Flight’s charity of the year for 2016 and we have pledged to raise £27,500 during this time.

If you can spare a few pounds to help us towards this goal, more details on our team and how to sponsor them for Face Your Fears can be found here.