“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Parenting Thought for the Day

In today's 'Thought for the Day", Dan Lawrence, our Primary School Counsellor, looks at how we can approach our fear in these uncertain times.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

This much-repeated quote has perhaps lost something of its context as time passes and since first uttered by President Roosevelt during World War II. And yet I imagine the collective fear at that time was at least the equal if not greater than any fear now. Roosevelt, a natural and emotionally intelligent orator, sought to soothe the anxieties of the American people at a time when there wasn’t much good news or much cause to hope. He intuitively knew that fear was, at its core, a psychological problem - that it was intimately bound up with our innate human difficulty in sitting with doubt, the unknown and the uncertainty of our existence, than with real danger. Both traditional (psychoanalysis) and more modern (Cognitive-behavioural) psychotherapies recognise this mechanism and the thread of understanding is found beyond in wisdom traditions across cultures and time.

LIFFE TRADING FLOOR AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE, PHOTO CREDIT: HTTP://WWW.THEROYALEXCHANGE.CO.UK/HERITAGE/In many ways, human fear functions very much like the stock market. As a young trader, I discovered that nothing made the market rise and fall like shifting sentiment, the moment-to-moment fluctuations of psychological states of bullishness or fearfulness. Our individual and collective fears right now come from a similar place of doubt. There are many objective reasons and social (media) influences urging us into dystopian states of mind, but what of our internal world? What of our own tendencies towards doubt and fear of mystery, the unknown, and how do we settle to this current situation?

The answer, of course, is awareness. What can you practice right now to escape the ‘small’ mind of fear? What has worked for you in the past?


The thought for the day is a short reflective writing relevant to the art of suffering well (enough) in difficult times, for parents and staff of Alice Smith School. If it offers comfort amidst adversity, read the text and call it to mind when you need it (even if it's just a short phrase from the larger text), allowing it to soak into the marrow of your bones and merge with your breath. Remember, we are all in this together...

Take good care, Dan

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