“I found out my daughter has cancer. All I can do is cry and worry.”

"Blue Angels" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

Feelings of fear and worry are important to get our attention in times of danger. Once we are alerted to difficulties, however, we need to harness fear and worry in favor of our personal power. The most useful powers in times of difficulty include courage, love, and clear thinking.

If you are on an airplane that is in danger of crashing, would you want the pilot and flight attendants to be frightened and freaked out, or focused and unruffled?

Experiencing vulnerability is a crucial part of being able to feel empathy and love. Being able to feel sadness, longing, and fear is that which allows great artists, writers and musicians to convey the depths of the human experience.

However, we should not allow feelings and vulnerability to take over. Worry and anxiety are contagious and paralyzing. It is the power of our capabilities, our thinking, our courage, and our optimism that can best handle the inevitable difficulties of life.

In fact, the greater your ability to feel vulnerable AND CONTAIN feelings of fear and vulnerability without succumbing to anxiety, the greater comfort you will be to your daughter and the more you can be of help and continue to effectively function in times of crisis.

When you feel calm and courageous, you can clearly analyze your daughter’s situation without alternating between fake cheer and anxiety-ridden panic. You can also become a source of authentic strength and optimism.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Fearful Children.”

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