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Monday Mom challenge: Face your fears

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

What are you afraid of?

Everybody is afraid of something: illness, failure, lightning, spiders. Even if a person claims to be afraid of nothing, there’s a pretty high likelihood that person has at least experienced fear in the past. It’s a very basic human emotion -- often a protective instinct and sometimes associated with hope and expectation. No matter what your fears, they are a part of your life, and you have to learn to live with them and manage them. Sometimes, though, fear borders on phobia and holds you back from life. Is it time to face your fears so you can move forward?

What are you afraid of?

There are fears we talk about blithely, like they are remote, unlikely possibilities -- weather phenomenon, perhaps, when you live nowhere near that weather area -- but then there are the fears that tighten the muscles in the back of our necks and raise our blood pressure.

The immediate fears, the ones that could be real, help keep us vigilant to life. If your fear is snakes, you keep the area around your home clear of snake-attracting habitat -- or if your fear is a child's illness, you take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep your home clean.

You are not alone

Hopefully it's reassuring to know that you are not alone in fear. More moms than you might realize experience similar fears on a regular basis, and for many moms, fears increase with the onset of parenting. With so much more to be responsible for, there seems to be more to fear! While it's easy to claim, with a laugh, we are afraid of physical things, it's much harder to articulate fears around the well-being of our children and families. It's these fears that can really interfere with life -- if we allow them to.

Holding you back

Sometimes those fears take on an irrational element and we spend more time managing or dealing with the fear than living. Whether the fear is a thing or a circumstance, that's when it's time to step back, reevaluate -- and face your fear. Manage your fear in a constructive way rather than letting it manage you.

The real question is, are your fears holding you back? Are you not taking full advantage of the life before you because you are afraid? Do you avoid spending any time outside because of that fear of snakes, or do you obsess about showering your child in hand-sanitizer before and after she does, well, anything?

Educate and strategize

One of the simplest ways to face your fears is to educate yourself as much as possible about the fearsome issue and strategize ways to handle a situation involving it. If you are afraid of a thing, learn about it. Learn about how lightning develops and the safest spot in a thunderstorm, learn about the best savings and investment account options, learn about how germs are spread -- and how some germ exposure helps boost the immune system.

Strategize how you might handle fearsome situation. When faced with a situation, what could you do? What are some approaches to manage the situation, hopefully in your favor? What kinds of constructive control could you take?

Change what you can

There are some elements of our lives over which we have little control. What can you change to help mitigate your fear? Take that education and strategization and put it into place. Open the savings account and clean out the spider-attracting corner.

Learning to live with it

There are some things we become afraid of about which we can do very little. For example, if you are afraid of a member of your family being diagnosed with cancer, and you've done everything you can to mitigate risk, it's a fear you are going to have to discard because its something over which you have no control (easier said than done) or find a way to live with it. If the fear becomes overwhelming, you might need a little professional help to get things under better control.

It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, in his first inaugural speech, said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. That may have been overstating it a bit, but he had a point. Fear is a natural, protective human emotion, but when it interferes with life, with living, it needs to be faced. Face your fear, manage the emotion, and move on with a richer, fuller life.

More on facing fears

Monday Mom challenge: Do something that scares you
Get over your fear of change and change your life for the better
Monday Mom challenge: An adrenaline rush with your teen


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