For most kids (and most parents), Halloween is a fun holiday that's all about costumes and candy. Yet, underneath all those creepy masks and candy wrappers, I believe there's also a useful lessons for parents and kids alike: Halloween is our annual reminder that fear is a choice. But I don't mean the typical Halloween fears like vampires and werewolves; I mean the worries that really keep us up at night.
Children and teens are often afraid of social anxieties like not fitting in, not being accepted for who they are, performance anxiety in school, and futures that may feel beyond their control. As adults, we may feel a similar lack of control if we're stressed about work, money, being able to take care of our loved ones, or environmental fears which can seem so big that we doubt we can ever really do anything about them. But if Halloween (and a million horror movies) have taught us anything, it's that no matter how scary something seems, we can still get through it if we try.
Learning how to face our fears and find a way to succeed despite them is the kind of lesson we need to keep being reminded of throughout our lives, because avoiding our fears always seems easier than meeting them head on. But when you start making the choice to not be afraid, or at least to not let being fearful stop you from taking action, that's when you start getting closer to all the success, self-confidence, adaptability, and peace of mind that lies on the other side of fear.
I hope you and your family have a safe and happy Halloween, and that we each find our own way to overcome those worries that haunt us the rest of the year.
Dr. Randal A. Lutz