Let's face it, fear sometimes provides a useful function by raising alertness or reaction to harmful or dangerous situations. But fear also can be emotionally destructive by needlessly raising anxiety, raising blood pressure, and causing other unhealthy physical reactions. You know the kind I am talking about:
- Fear of flying ( this is a biggie for me; it started after I had kids).
- Fear of not performing up to expectations in a new venture or project.
- Fear of heights. This is a biggie for me, too, and may be tied to my fear of flying.
- Unprovoked fear or worry about your children. This is a form of over-protectiveness.
These types of fear are NOT good for your health because, if you allow them to, they can take over and prevent you from enjoying life. So, it's important to find strategies to help you cope. Here are my best strategies for dealing with the jitters and to help not let fear take away my love for life and adventure.
For flying, I do my best to focus on the land I can see, if it's not cloudy. If the plane takes me far into the clouds, I remind myself mentally of the statistical fact that flying is safer than driving. I also take a long a book I know will grab my attention. Turbulence? Just visualize being in a car as it's riding over a speed bump.
Fear of falling short of expectations is a useless fear. So, I re-think and tell myself that trying to succeed and putting forth strong effort is so much better than not trying at all.
As for a fear of heights, I try to challenge myself to take on an athletic challenge or activity that makes me climb or run to a high destination, such as climbing Pikes Peak in Colorado or climbing steps and taking a ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower ( Yes... I actually succeeded in making it to the tippy top this past fall).
Implementing strategies for worrying about your kids is not an easy one. As a mom, I don't think the worry ever goes away, even when your kids reach adulthood. But with that said, I remind myself that letting go is important for growth and development and that it is important to let your kids take reasonable risks even if mistakes happen. Making mistakes ( as long they aren't serious ones ;) ) is the only way to learn and grow. I love this quote by the ancient philosopher, Confucius, my son used as a farewell message in his senior yearbook. I often refer to it to help me keep things in perspective when I start to worry: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
As always, if you find that strategies are not working, seek the help of a medical professional.
Remember, there's so much to enjoy in life, so don't waste the time on useless fears!