Friday, April 8, 2011

Facing my fears

Talking through fears works for Reace and her son
Do you have a fear? I do. It’s heights. If I’m getting on a plane, I have to plan a couple of weeks in advance and listen to a set of “Fear of Flying” lessons I have on my phone. I understand the physics of flying, but it still makes my heart pound to think of a giant, heavy object up in the air. Roller coasters? I’ll get on them, but my eyes will be closed the entire time. At least with a roller coaster you’re only up high for a few seconds.

Now that my children are more aware of how I react to things, I have to be more careful about how I deal with my fears. I don’t want my kids to have the same fears I do. I want them to be able to plan trips without dreading the flight. I want them to view flying with the same sense of adventure my husband has. I don’t want my kids to be fearful of heights like I am.

My son is scared of very loud noises. I understand the fear—it’s the kind that paralyzes you when you are in the midst of the situation. During a recent loud storm, my son climbed into our bed, scared. As he snuggled into the sheets, I talked him through a series of questions that help me. “What are you afraid is going to happen?” “If it happens, what will you do?” “Where is a safe place if you need to move quickly?” “How real is the danger? (How close is the lightning?)” “What can I do to talk myself through this?”

I don’t know if my son actually understood what I was doing, but he calmed down and fell asleep. My goal was to make him think this through—yes, we are scared. But we do have some things we can control. What are they?

For me, the fear of heights doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. But in the meantime, I ride the coasters with my eyes closed and do what I need to do to get through a flight.

Maybe the lesson here is not that there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s that we all have fears and need to find ways to cope with them and not let the fears dominate our lives. Sometimes we have to close our eyes, take a deep breath and try to enjoy the ride.

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and Mom of two.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't acknowledging that you have fears make you more understanding when your child says they have a fear. Drives me nuts when I hear someone say - oh no- your not afraid just do it... If the body language, and the eyes, and the words all say I AM is so important to listen, ask WHAT makes them afraid, and talk- but never dismiss..fear is real, and until I had my first real fear..I was in the 'get over it and just do it' crowd...Great article!