How to handle fear after the Boston bombings

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Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

These days we’ve become accustomed to frightening news. When terrifying things happen in the world there’s no way to avoid feeling fearful, even if you live millions of miles away.
One week after the bombings, many of us are still tangled up in the discomfort of the tragedy. We’re taught to quickly pick up and get on with our lives, but on a subconscious level we still feel the terror at our core.

How do we handle our fears in the wake of an attack? It’s easy to hide in a bar, numb out on the Internet or turn off the news and pretend like nothing happened. But if you avoid your fear it will subconsciously haunt you. When tragedies occur an emotional imprint is placed on us, and it sticks around until it is healed.
There’s no right or wrong way to handle our feelings, though there are tools that can help. Here are a few steps for working through your fears about tragedies like Monday’s.

Step One: Get honest about your fear
It’s healthy to admit that you’re afraid. When you honestly acknowledge your fear, you release the tension of holding onto it. Share your fear with a loved one, write about it in a journal or discuss it with a therapist or a support group. Openly admitting your feelings is a key step towards working through your fear.

Step Two: Breathe through your feelings
The next step is to identify where you carry fear in your body. Some people hold fear in their throat, their shoulders or even their stomach. Sit for a moment of stillness and sense where your fear is held in your body. Then breathe deeply into the space where your fear is held. Continue to breathe into the tension, and on the exhale, release it. Continue this cycle of breath until you feel the tension release. Your breath is the greatest tool for releasing fear in your body.

Step Three: Be kinder
The final step will help you more than you can imagine. When we experience an attack of any kind it’s easy to feel powerless. That powerlessness ignites more fear. So instead, find your power through serving others. The greatest way to combat terror is through love. From this point forward, be kinder to everyone in your life, even strangers. Your kindness is the greatest power you have to heal the world. The more people who exercise kindness and compassion, the less destruction, terror and attack will occur.

So if you’re feeling powerless, find your power now. Honor your feelings, breathe through the tension and exercise your greatest virtue: kindness. Your true power lies in your capacity to love.


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