It seems like Halloween decorations get more and more elaborate with each passing year. Gone are the days of mostly hand-carved jack o’ lanterns, with maybe some fake tombstones and skeletons here and there. Now, stores sell animated zombies that pop up and startle trick-or-treaters. A lot of this must be downright frightening to younger children.
So why do we do this each year? It seems that Halloween and horror films might serve a similar purpose. From a young age, we are exposed to these frightening images and ideas, and we learn to overcome our fear of zombies, witches, and werewolves. But what are we accomplishing? We tell ourselves that zombies, witches, and werewolves aren’t real, and of course, they aren’t. So how do we learn to overcome fears of real (or at least realistic) threats? WRAP may provide some help in overcoming our fears to accomplish what we need to do to be happy, healthy, and safe.
Sometimes, we need help with a specific set of circumstances. For example, we might be afraid to end an abusive relationship. Telling yourself that the threat isn’t real isn’t the answer; it is real and it can be quite dangerous. WRAP for the Effects of Trauma, presents strategies for identifying when a relationship is abusive and for ending such relationships.
However, we can also use some basic skills that apply to a variety of situations in which we must face our fears. I remember the first time I spoke with WRAP Founder Mary Ellen Copeland, nearly 20 years ago, she described a strategy for overcoming a fear of something that needed to be done. She suggested setting aside a reward for doing what needed to be done—perhaps even something as simple as a candy bar as a reward for making a difficult phone call. I have put the “candy bar trick” into action more than a few times. WRAP Plus presents numerous self-advocacy strategies in detail. Each person is unique, but the section contains strategies that will work in a variety of circumstances.
What tricks or techniques do you use to overcome fear? How do you motivate or encourage yourself to take action, self-advocate, and move beyond fear and worry? Share your ideas on our Facebook page, and you may see them highlighted in future articles.
Happy Halloween, and don’t overdo it with the candy bar trick!
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.