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Turning Fear into Strength

By Dr. Amy Austin, PsyD, LMFT

As I write this, we are in the midst of unprecedented times, coming to grips with the idea that the world, as we knew it, is changing daily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Life seems surreal as if watching a futuristic science fiction movie, yet we are the stars. With all the doom and gloom that surrounds us from every angle of social media and television which is exacerbated by the stay-at-home-dictum, we struggle. We wonder what lies ahead and if our beautifully chaotic interconnected world will resume some semblance of normalcy. We raise our arms to the heavens for spiritual guidance and healing. Doctors, nurses, scientists and volunteers now join the ranks of hero first-responders, fighting on the front lines caring for and trying valiantly to save the lives of those afflicted. A nurse shared the ever-pressing weight of choosing to stay home to protect herself and her loved ones or to go try, yet another day, to fight the fight. She sadly said, “If I don’t go, who will?” 

The Beach Boys once sang that our reactions should be led by “cool heads and warm hearts.” 

That sounds pretty counter-intuitive since many responses have been based on irrational thinking and impetuous moves that tend to exacerbate the problem. Hence, not a roll of toilet paper in sight!

Fear can open us to a myriad of opportunities. It offers us a chance to become introspective and to mature as a human race. This is a beautiful thing. It’s not a warning or a punishment and it isn’t a doomsday scenario. Isn’t it refreshing to be reminded that we have not mastered the universe? Can we view being told “no theaters, no partying, no traveling, no going anywhere” as liberating?  We’ve come to believe there is so much more worth in being a human doing rather than a human being. The breaking of habitual patterns is creating a perfect atmosphere to have the life we choose – without fear. Everything is changing anyway. We are now encouraged to rethink where we place our energies, what we live for, what motivates us to get up in the morning. The world is going to be a much better place as soon as this thing is over.

When life seems bleak, feels bleak, we can only rise above. We have no other choice. Children are home from school and need our guidance and authentic positive energy. Can you imagine children saying decades from now, “Remember how our parent(s) stayed upbeat during the coronavirus?” What a wonderful legacy that would be! 

Abraham Lincoln said, “We are as happy as we decide to be.” Decide to be happy! We all have a purpose. We will get through this. There are gift feelings for every negative feeling: anger can create wisdom, loneliness can support us to reach out, pain can motivate us to explore and reveal our true purpose. We can and WILL turn our fears into strength. 

Dr. Amy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC#41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. She can be reached at (760) 776.0047 or Ugohashem@aol.com.

2 Responses to “Turning Fear into Strength”

  1. Mary Ellen Austin says:

    Amy- this was brilliant. U r quite an author!

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