Is my Fear Normal?

Question:

I have a fear of all the suffering and death I see around me. I watch the news, with all the war, starvation, crime and death around us, and my thinking reels. I feel completely powerless to protect my family and myself. What do I do?

Answer:

How can we not overreact to the catastrophes you describe? I personally worry that there are not more people without at least occasional significant sadness and fear. You might even believe that to somehow be successful with positive thinking on the tragedies and terror around us, you would be to ignoring your compassion, even to living in tacit collusion with it all. This is a double bind you cannot win.
I would not always try to find positive thinking and I’m not sure you should either. It’s comparable to the tar baby in the Brier Rabbit tale: the more you try to grapple with it the more stuck you become. Instead, maybe you could think of those lines of thought as an inherent part of living, and work instead to expand on the moments when your attention is on matters of immediate value to you. Trying to live your own life well becomes the focus of your efforts. It can start simply, with momentary full sensory awareness while eating a good fresh piece of fruit for instance. It’s hard to be fully depressed at that moment, and it should do nothing to trivialize all that is grave.
While it may seem like a contradiction, you can also practice recognizing your own distorted thinking. With a little practice, you can catch yourself before you buy into certain fictions. Examples? “I’m completely powerless”, “It’s bad everywhere, always, with everyone” or “Good times are not legitimate”. It works to replace ideas like this when you can see that it is completely rational, and your attention can go towards rich pleasures and quality work.

One Response to “Is my Fear Normal?”

  1. InDy Says:

    Well, I may not be 17 anymore, but I do know what it’s like to have stsers, depression and anxiety hit you all at once, and I do know how hard it can be. I also do not want any medication.All these things run in my family and sadly enough, most of them have become dependent on the medication. I have promised myself that I would never let that happen to me.Sometimes I break out into these horrible moods one minute, the next I’m crying my eyes out, and the next I just want to be left alone. That is no way for any person to live. You need support from loved ones to help out a little. We all need some help sometimes and the first step at helping depression in wanting to get better. I have chosen away to help myself, but I also ask others around me to be patient with me, it is a long process. I have been dealing with this in my life for years now, but slowly it is getting better.I realize this is a long answer, but I know a lot about this topic, and it saddens me to know that too many people suffer from this illness. In some cases, people need medication due to the chemical imbalance. Some just need learn that they have the power to overcome this. That is what I’m choosing to do, and so far I’m getting there.You are 17 years old and life can get better or much much worse. Always think to yourself, you are much greater then the stsers, the pain, and the worries that you deal with everyday. School can be tough on people, but always know you can only do so much to please people. Try pleasing yourself, worry about yourself.Take one day at a time and just know that the horrible day will not last forever, and try not to bring your worries to the next days, that is the past and there is nothing you can do to change that.

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Tom Linde M.S.W.
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