If you were directly affected by the recent tornadoes and are left feeling fearful, that is normal.
Fear is something we all have in common. It may come to us as dread, worry, panic, anxiety, self-consciousness, superstition or negativity — but it will come.
Unfortunately, many of us grew up believing fear is a sign of weakness. We learned at an early age to hide it, but the reality is that it reveals itself in many ways: perfectionism, control, avoidance, procrastination or anger.
If you believe the opposite of fear is courage, think again. The opposite of fear is laziness, indifference, discouragement, defeat, cynicism.
Being courageous is taking a step — even if it is not the best one, even if it is a wrong one. Nobody has all the answers and nobody can see around corners and mistakes, and wrong turns will be made, but a willingness to keep on is a brave thing to do.
If your fears come from the past few weeks or ones you've had for a long time — being afraid of the dark or being alone, afraid of commitment or afraid of flying — facing that fear means taking some action, taking a step, even if it is a small one.
Your fear may mean you choose to join a support group or talk to a spiritual leader or a mental health professional. Your fear may mean you will listen more closely to your local TV weather folks or it may mean building a safe shelter.
If you live with a child who is scared, reassure him or her that is a normal feeling and then teach the child how to manage the fear. Know the location of a safe place, have a backpack ready with a flashlight, a favorite toy, bottled water, snacks and a mobile phone. Program the mobile phone with one-button dialing to parents, grandparents, baby sitter or 911.
Denying fear is foolish. Sometimes fear means stay, sometimes go, but it always means listen closely. It is there for a reason. Feel it. Speak of it. Create a plan that will keep you safe and the fear will lessen.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.