Thursday, October 25, 2012

117) Learn lessons - overcoming fear

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945)

Eknath Easwaran, Philosopher and writer tells a story: "Many years ago, I stayed at the home of a hospitable woman who happened to believe in ghosts. Her home had a beautiful view which took in the cemetery nearby, and though she was fond of me, nothing I could say could convince her that ghosts from that cemetery did not pay her visits. So, one day, I announced casually that I was going for a walk in the cemetery. When I returned, she was wringing her hands. 'Did you see any ghosts?' she asked anxiously. 'Oh yes', I said. "Three. I told them that you were too nice a lady to be living in fear all the time, and that they should go away and leave you alone.' 'And what did they say?' she giggled. 'They said that they could not, as long as she believed in them. So, they have to stay.' She stared at me for a second, then laughed out loud. Those ghosts never bothered her again."

 Like the lady in the story, our children harbor needless fears - of school, the teacher, the bully, ghosts, darkness and so on. They bed wet and have nightmares. Many parents make the mistake of belittling such fears, or labeling the child as a sissy. This does more harm. We have to gently but firmly address the fears of our children. Unless we do that when they are young, they will grow up to be young adults who fear their shadows. It is not easy, but we cannot give up trying. Through bedtime stories that dispel such fears, examples of others who overcame such fears, going with them to dark places to show them there is nothing to fear, showing them how to deal with the bully, visiting the school and jointly confronting their fears, we may take them slowly, but surely out of the complex they suffer from. The words of Roosevelt ring true.

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