The other day, I read a notice from my child’s elementary school explaining, in very simple terms, the procedures for this year’s upcoming lockdown drills. It’s easy to be positive when you get happy news, but what about when “bad news” stares you in the face, and fear and sadness come up?

Here are some excerpts from the school letter, just to give you an idea of what brought on my negative feelings:

  • A scripted announcement will be made over the loudspeaker system stating that the building is in a lockdown and to take appropriate action.
  • Students will be gathered quickly by their teachers and other school staffers to hide quietly inside classrooms and offices, out of sight from the windows on the doors. 
  • These rooms will be locked from the inside and tagged with coded cards in the windows to indicate if everyone is accounted for or if anyone is missing or injured, just like in a real emergency.

I was starting to get upset by the notion of the kids having to hide. All the images I had in my head and feelings in my heart about the tragedy at Sandy Hook were stirring. And then I read this next part, which is what made me burst into tears:

  • Students who were apart from their class during the announcement, in bathrooms, the hallways, or other rooms, will be gathered to the nearest lockable office/classroom space by school staff, so students should not worry or try to run back to their classroom if they are not right there.

I couldn’t stop my mind from picturing MY child, afraid and alone in a school bathroom, worrying about getting back to her classroom, while someone who wanted to cause harm was loose in the building. Suddenly, all those feelings of sadness, rage, powerlessness that I thought had passed, since Sandy Hook, came hurtling back.

So I cried. Then I reflected. This was the day’s opportunity for growth, healing, and, hopefully, helping.

I cannot control the world, nor can you. I can control my thoughts and me. I can control the quality of attention and love I give.

That is what I am in charge of and will focus on, and that is what I suggest for you when fear, outrage, and dread arise. I also suggest the following:

  1. Let yourself feel. When emotion arises, don’t try to numb it or get away from it with entertainment, food, sex, social media, alcohol, drugs, etc.
  2. Let yourself cry or WRITE. If more people could “be with” their feelings, we’d have so many less problems with addiction, abuse, illness, etc. Be the change you want to see by feeling and writing, instead of escaping.
  3. Listen to yourself. Reflect on what you’ve written. It will tell you what you want to DO about the scenario, circumstances, and/or your feelings. Make sure it’s constructive! Which means…
  4. Eliminate projection! The first thing I wanted to do after reading that letter was go smother my kids with attention (read: worry) and make sure (read: harass) they weren’t upset by the upcoming drills. Who is upset in this story? Not them, me. In fact, I had no idea what their experience was, BUT love dictated I cared to find out before I projected my experience onto them and burdened them with it. Love meant I would instead tune into what their concerns or questions might be.

So we end with this: The perfect replacement for fear is always LOVE. May you and all beings everywhere find the strength and presence of mind to replace fear with love, over and over and over.

As President of Handel Group® Life Coaching and a Senior Coach, Laurie Gerber’s personal and professional mission is to better the world by teaching people to tell the truth and pursue their dreams. Her ability to strip away psychological and emotional burdens has been showcased on radio, TV, the blogosphere, and in a wide variety of live events. Laurie leads events at Kripalu, Esalen, Menla, Equinox, and more. Her growing TV career includes MTV’s True Life Special: I’m Getting A Second Chance and an upcoming pilot for A&E. Follow Laurie on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by Jamie D.P.