How To Respond to Fear and Worry

Are you struggling to find the right words to comfort your worrisome friends? Do you dread the holidays because you’re not sure how to stay connected with your fear-filled family while staying positive? Are the negative posts on your Facebook bringing you down? 

Some people seem immune to negative energy. Others, like you, are sensitive to it. I don’t mean sensitive in the sense that you get your feelings hurt easily or are offended easily. Quite the contrary. You’re not offended or hurt but you are affected. The fear and panic are taking their toll. 

If you’re treading water in a sea of negativity,  I’m here to help with some advice to help you stay focused and positive when those around you are anxious and worried.  

Respond to the Energy

Before you respond to someone who is anxious, stop, and take a full breath. Then focus your attention on their underlying fear. 

I spoke to my neighbor the other day while working in my yard. The conversation shifted to health. He said, “If I get COVID, I will die.” That’s a dramatic statement for someone in really good health. 

He seemed set on this conclusion after I offered some perspective. I didn’t try to persuade him further. Instead, I responded to the underlying energy and said, “I understand. Your health is important to you.”

If I had continued to try to convince him that he wasn’t going to die soon, I would still be out there today, holding my rake. Acknowledging his fear of getting sick allowed him to take a breath, we talked about something lighter and parted ways on a happy note. 

A smart and compassionate nurse I know and love told me that her often anxious coworker recently said, “I’m not even going to see my family for Thanksgiving this year.” 

To which this nurse replied, “Don’t worry about a month from now. Figure out how you can enjoy your family today.” 

What an empathic and helpful response. This nurse stayed present and calm and was able to make the other person feel understood.

We are More Alike than Different

Even if you find the other person’s fear so irrational that there seems to be no logical response, you can still say, “I understand,” because you do understand. You understand that everyone has worries. You understand that worry often stems from the fear that we won’t have what we want.  And we all want the same things: health, happiness, to serve our community, a strong economy, and clean air, water, and food. 

When you choose not to argue or provoke, and instead respond with empathy and understanding, you will leave those around you a little happier and a little calmer. It’s almost as if you’ve committed a tiny act of healing.

Give Yourself a Break

If you want to stay mentally strong enough to continue to bring comfort to others and stop the spread of worry, you’re going to need to have some fun once in a while. At least once a week commit to doing something that you enjoy. It’s not frivolous. It’s necessary.  If you allow yourself to have some fun at least once a week, you’ll have more energy for the rest of the week, you’ll be calmer, and more able to respond with kindness and empathy when confronted with fear and worry. 

What is your favorite way to rest and recharge?

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