Fear can rob us of our life values. Fear can hold us hostage. And sometimes, fear and the resulting anxiety can cause many more problems. While there are many kinds of fear, here, in these articles, we'll examine a range of issues, with tips and strategies for coping with fear.
Stephen Hawking passed away recently. Most of us will remember him as one of the world’s most well-known physicists. We might recall his amazing accomplishments and incredible discoveries that changed the way we think about the universe. Some of us might not realize the odds he had to beat to achieve this greatness. His inspiring story is of how his five decades-long struggle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) never halted the pursuit of his passion. He was a known genius who didn’t let his disease stop him from achieving his dreams. But what if he had?
”If you see something, say something” ought not to be limited to seeing a suspicious package at the train station, the airport, or your neighborhood. It needs to be expanded to speaking up when we sense something, or witness something that may mean someone may be in jeopardy or need help. Even if we are not certain about this, yet our gut tells us something is not quite right. Something about the situation feels off, or uncomfortable.
The recent horrific story regarding the thirteen children abused and held captive by their parents, and the unfathomable number of young women sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, the Olympic gymnastics team doctor, are just two examples that screamed something is wrong here! Something needs to be done! Yet even though there were people who saw something, nothing was said, nothing was done. Unfortunately, in these two situations it took the people who were being abused or victimized to come forth. Something needs to change so that these atrocities that are known by others cannot be ignored any longer.
Earlier this week we were horrified to discover yet another tragedy had occurred. The mass shooting in Las Vegas flooded our hearts with fear, anxiety, distress and sadness. Some of us found out a shooting was occurring as it happened, while others of us woke to the sound of chaos and sirens on our television, or were bombarded with information online as soon as we picked up our phone or turned on the computer.
We no longer have to wait for the newspaper to arrive, or the evening news, to discover what is happening in the world. Sadly the recent number of tragedies has filled many of us with unease, as if we are waiting in fear of what catastrophe will happen next. We don’t usually have to wait long to find out if a tragedy has occurred since social media has made sharing information immediate, convenient and almost obligatory. In the event of a disaster, this instant access to every distressing detail can often be emotionally overwhelming.
When I say feel the fear yet do it anyway, I do not mean ignore, repress, or minimize the feeling of fear about doing something that is uncomfortable. I mean, feel the fear, validate it, yet do not allow it to stand in the way from doing, or saying, something important. Have you ever allowed your fear of doing something stand in the way and later had regrets about it? One way of minimizing regrets is to face the fear and work it through.
With the escalation of terrorism, the police shootings of African Americans, assaults upon police officers, and crimes against the LGBTQ community, often the recent psychotherapy sessions occurring with my clients have taken a different direction.
Previously the focus for therapy was usually on personal stressors, while now there is a new trend in the psychotherapy sessions. Due to the current increase in world violence, there is a lessening of focus on the usual topics regarding problematic relationship issues, feelings of grief around the loss of a loved one, career stress and parenting problems.
Though these issues may not have resolved, or disappeared, there is increased attention on dealing with the anxiety and fear many of us are experiencing due to the continuous occurrence of new world tragedies. The conversation during therapy, or with our friends and loved ones, often revolves around how these events have affected how we feel and our ability to cope.
During Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent appearance on Good Morning America to celebrate the tenth anniversary of her book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” she was asked why her book resonated so deeply for her readers. Her answer was that the book encouraged people to realize that “my life doesn’t have to look like this anymore.”
Even if you never watch the news, there is no way to avoid the recent worldwide health scare that is Ebola. With such a high fatality rate and awful symptoms, it is only natural to fear the onset of such a deadly disease.
According to Webster's Dictionary, "fear" is a general term for the anxiety and agitation felt at the presence of danger. In many ways we live in a fear-based society in which fear controls our normal lives.