By Veronica Harris, MACP, RCC
Registered Clinical Counsellor with Lake Professional Psychology

I would like to talk about fear, and I would suggest that, in these exceptional times, you should talk about fear too. Right now, many of us are struggling with the uncertainty of what life looks like for us in the present and what it means for our future selves as well. Faced with this uncertainty, fear can take hold. What is unknown, unexpected, or not understood is unsettling to most of us in our society. We have built our lives around us to ensure that we are confronted with as little uncertainty as possible, lending us a sense of control. However, the uncertainty has always been there.  For families of heart children, you may be familiar with uncertainty and fear, cautiously welcoming some level of uncertainty into your lives with resolve.  As difficult as those experiences may be, they are learning experiences to understand how you and your family manage when faced with adversity.

I would like to comfort you by saying, we were made for this. Our survival as human beings has been built on uncertainty. We have evolved and adapted in tremendously uncertain environments. Now is the time for us to connect with our innate capabilities for resilience and adaptability. To do so, we need to address our fears, acknowledge them, speak them out loud, and connect with the support of loved ones.

Here are some tips for addressing fear:

  • Addressing fear in the present moment: What are you feeling most fearful of right now?
  • What is the feeling of fear? Label it: terrified, fearful, numbing, petrified, panicked, alarmed?
  • Notice where you feel it in your body. What does that emotion feel like? Tightness, heat, tension, prickly, numbing?
  • How do you know you are in fear? What does your behaviour look like? We either become mobilized (fight or flight) or petrified (freeze).
  • What does that fear mean for you or your family, your community?

It can be helpful to also have these conversations with your children. Remain curious and compassionate, providing that safe space without feeling the need to rescue your child from their discomfort. This is how they can also build the resilience to address their fears as they enter adulthood.

An important part of this practice of addressing fear is to write these things down or—even better—to talk to someone about it. Give yourself the mental space to unpack your fear, as scary as that might be. Acknowledge and accept the fear you feel so that you can move more intentionally through your life now, without fear being in the driver’s seat. In turn, you might notice you have a greater tolerance for stressful situations, and even an increased sense of ease and confidence when faced with uncertain times. This will also result in reduced tension and stress within the family, as well as building strengthened connections within your community, and nurturing feelings of support and care.

“Let’s Talk about Fear” is from our summer 2020 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.