I was listening to Dr. Robert Friedberg on Doctor radio, channel 81 via satellite. He works with children who are having anxiety issues and uses psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral techniques as his methodology. His one statement clung to me and would not let me go. He said, “Comfort is overrated.” On the heels of Ann’s (in)courage post Friday on beating our fears (http://www.incourage.me/2012/08/10-things-youve-got-to-know-about-fear-giveaway.html), Dr. Friedberg’s program was just so “timely”.
Ann told us that Fear doesn’t stop the really bad things as much as it stops you from really living. In the secular, Dr Friedberg said that fear is not the problem; avoidance is the problem. It made me think about fear as a bad thought. When something comes into my mind, I can’t really help that, but once I recognize it as a bad thought, I can help that. So fear comes and I have two choices: I can avoid what’s making me afraid or I can forge ahead. If I don’t forge ahead, I will, most likely, be more comfortable because I have taken myself out of the fear zone, but there is a price to be paid for that comfort. I may miss God. Ann said, Everything your Father has for you — is over the fence of fear. Travel in the direction of your fears — to let God direct your life.
Dr. Friedberg spent a half hour on the radio giving tips on how we can continue to move forward. First he told about a “fortunately-unfortunately” exercise he’s found useful when working with grade-school children and adolescents. You begin by saying, “Fortunately, [fill in the blank with whatever] for example “Fortunately we got to go to the ball game today.” The child responds, “Unfortunately, someone was sitting in our seats when we got there.” The adult says, “Fortunately, we looked for other seats, found them and the view was much better in the new seats.” The child responds, “Unfortunately, the people we had to sit by were very loud.” and then the parent comes back with “Fortunately…etc. This exercise is such a practical way to teach a child to be thankful for and be thankful in each and every situation! How cool is that?!
Another exercise is called the Magic Shop. It is an imaginary factory where the child/adolescent can make anything s/he wants to make. At first the child may want to make concrete things, but at a certain moment they may say, “I’d like to make friends.” (if they have trouble making friends at school). The person playing the game will say, “Well how much are you willing to pay to get these friends?” The child has to think about it under the guidance of the adult. They may find themselves willing to “give up being right all the time, or willing to be bored attending another’s activity” etc. By deciding how to run their business, the child is learning strategies to meet his needs, whatever they are.
Finally, Dr. Friedberg spoke directly about anxiety and facing one’s fears. I was listening to this on the radio going to work and, frankly, I didn’t want to get to work till I heard the whole show. A mother called in saying how her son, who is a Senior in high school, is already worrying about going to college and if he’ll make friends, and what will his room mate be like and and and. He told his mother he never wanted his Senior year to end. She wanted to help him. Dr. Friedberg asked her to have him think about how he dealt with uncertain moments right now. She was to ask him what he did in uncertain moments when playing his sport. Reminding him that when he starts a game the outcome is uncertain and asking him how he deals with that. Talking about handling the unknown in everyday life can be helpful. What does he do when he can’t come up with the answer for a test question? Figuring out how we face our “little” fears every day can be insightful. We must be uncomfortable to grow. Avoidance is not the answer. Forging ahead is.
Learning to face my fears with my good friends at (in)courage with Ann,