They feel FEAR

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

What is it?

It’s one of the fundamental human emotions we all experience when faced with the threat of harm, either physically or emotionally, real or imagined. Traditionally, fear is regarded as a “negative emotion” but it actually serves an important role in keeping us safe.

What is the emotion of fear telling them?

Fear is alerting them of a potential and imminent threat. It’s telling them to focus and be ready to act in the face of danger, if that danger is real. If the threat is imagined, it’s telling them to reevaluate their perception and interpretation of a situation. Learning to cope with the fear of an imagined threat is an invitation to grow as a person.

Suggestions for your young person on how to manage fear?
  • Pay close attention and evaluate if the fear is real or imagined by looking at the evidence.
  • If it’s real: they should act on it immediately.
  • If it’s imagined:
    • Before anything else — BREATHE! Help them learn to breathe slowly and deeply several times to calm down both their body and their mind.
    • Don’t use avoidance. If they face their fear, it will lose its power over them and it will fade.
    • Help them to be kind to themselves as they would to a loved one going through a similar experience.
    • Practice being okay with things being out of their control.
    • Practice mindfulness and meditation. They’re a very powerful tool to overcome fear and anxiety.