The Experience of Fear and How to Cope with It

The Experience of Fear and How to Cope with It

Photo by Melanie Wasser

Photo by Melanie Wasser

Last week, WBUR’s Cognoscenti published my Op-Ed about the experience of fear and how to cope with it, called Managing Fear in an Unsafe World.

I discuss the physiology of fear and coping strategies to help manage the anxiety and fear many of us now experience on a regular basis in light of escalating gun violence and terrorism in our country.

The idea came to me when I was listening to a panel discussion about the experience of refugees fleeing their countries as they faced life-threatening violence. As I listened, I also felt unsafe, wondering if a terrorist would start shooting at the crowd after I heard that the FBI had concerns about this particular event.

Op-Eds are short, and a part of the piece about empathy was edited out. As I listened to the stories that evening, I recognized the parallels—I was experiencing a sliver of what many refugees and immigrants and so many feel regularly—and for that I was grateful. This kind of understanding of another’s experience is a source of empathy, something we could all use a good dose of right now.

Empathy can motivate us to take action in spite of our fear. But having tools to cope with our fear is equally important. I hope this Op-Ed might help in some small way. You can read it here.

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