What frightens you this halloween?

Kids love to be scary, and be scared, on Halloween. Dressing up as witches, monsters and ghosts; helping to decorate the front of the house with spider webs; fashioning odd grimaces on pumpkins – all of these allow them to manage their levels of fear. When you are the one in charge of creating the spooky environment, it doesn’t seem so bad after all and when you can control it, you have a feeling of power and satisfaction. Maybe that’s why Americans spend so much money on Halloween, second only to Christmas.

But, in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re not kids anymore. Our fears are more complicated and we certainly have less impact in establishing them. What are we afraid of these days? There’s lots to choose from – our favorite candidate doesn’t win the election, hurricane Sandy destroys property or disrupts lives, we loose our jobs,  retirement funds don’t recover, our kids have major problems, our aging parents need more than we can give.

Yet we don’t have to take these threats lying down. As adults we know that while we often cannot prevent problems from appearing, we do have a hand in crafting solutions to them. When we face our concerns head on, we can begin to deal with them, one step at a time. This week we’ll look at some ways to overcome fears that may have been troubling to you. Here are three to consider today:

Gather information. When you don’t know what to expect, your imagination can go into overdrive and conjure up a worst case scenario. If you’re anxious about the future and what it may bring, remember that knowledge is power. Prepare by learning more about the situation and developing possible options for your actions and reactions.

Search out resources. When you feel like you’re facing your fears alone, look for help from all the sources open to you – family, friends, local community, the Internet. You may want to consult with a professional counselor to work through the issues with you. Recognize that you may be your own best resource so take good care of yourself with deep breathing, exercise, laughter and other stress reduction techniques.

Draw on your strengths. Recall which talents worked for you in the past and cultivate them now. Was it your determination or flexibility? Your ability to learn from others or belief in yourself? Your creativity in developing innovative solutions or courage in staying on track? With a positive outlook, you can turn fears and obstacles into challenges to be overcome.

In the meantime, enjoy your Halloween trick-or-treats this week with friends, kids or grandchildren. Check back again on Thursday when we’ll give you four more tips for coping with your fears.

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