Fear: (verb) To feel a painful apprehension of some impending evil; to be afraid of; to consider or expect with emotions of alarm or solicitude.
Having several children with anxiety, talk of fear and trying new things can cause any number of emotions and reactions. But teaching our children and ourselves to overcome fear is one of the more useful life lessons, especially for those being held back by doubt. When we confront a weakness and work to overcome it, we not only feel better about ourselves, but more equipped to face the next unknown. Here are some tips:
- Get to know yourself. Admit your fears out loud, and even share the appropriate ones with your children. Sometimes kids have the untrue perception that parents have no fears. They see you once you are dealing with a problem, not grappling with what you will do to solve the problem or the fear you feel.
- Take notice of how you react to your fears. Begin to assess and then visualize the worst thing that could happen if your fears came true. Ask some questions of your thought process. Are your perceptions even realistic? Are they true?
- Turn your negative thoughts to positive. Visualize yourself overcoming the fear, breaking it down into steps if it is a large fear or one with many facets. Envision yourself living with the fear, fighting the fear, overcoming the fear.
- Every time the fear resurfaces, immediately go back to your vision of success.
- Find the good in the situation. Be grateful for the new opportunities that come from trying new and fearful things.
- Record your experiences in a journal. Your successes and failures will help the next time you are faced with apprehension.
Recently, I had a great fear of going back to work. I allowed my thoughts to convince me that after 20 years at home, I couldn’t get a job, let alone be successful. I was surprised to find that this fear was holding me back. My perceptions were that I would fail, so I didn’t even begin. I forced myself to think about the worst thing that could happen, which was that I would never work again for the rest of my life (a little irrational). So instead, I began to think about where I wanted to be in 5 years. That was far less intimidating because it was still years away. I began to see the route I needed to take to get there. There were jobs I could do now to help me work toward my goal. I broke it down into steps. I looked into all the jobs nearby and highlighted the ones I qualified for. Then I took a break due to panic. My next task was to fill out the application, which took several weeks of talking myself back into it before finally pushing send.
During the waiting period, I kept envisioning success, and the phone call came. Instead of being nervous, I chose to feel grateful for the opportunity to interview and get more experience. I ended up getting the job and then realized my fears about the actual work. But I had overcome the first fear, and knew I could get through the next.
Our children need help through this process, step by step. It will develop their self esteem. It teaches them to face the smaller fears that come with childhood so that they are ready for the larger, adult struggles.
Good luck and choose to fear not!