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Be Fearless in This Post-9/11 World

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Although we are now well past a decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to many the fear still looms large. As a practicing psychotherapist in the heart of Manhattan, my 14th floor office is literally across the street from the Empire State Building and provides me with a spectacular view of the One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) going up. I am reminded daily of just how precious and fragile life is, and also of how real terrorism is and can be. To this day I see people professionally for fear related to terrorism. Even though it might not be in the news, it still lingers in the minds of many -- especially those in areas that are potentially vulnerable to an attack.

Here are my fearless tips for dealing with such concerns:

  • Accept the notion that uncertainty is part of the fabric of our society. We will never know exactly what terrorists are thinking or where they might strike next. This is part of modern life. Focus on what you know rather than on what you don't.
  • Separate fact from fiction. Write two columns on a piece of paper. On one side write what you know to be fact and on the other write what might be more rumor or hype. Put an X through the second column and focus only on the facts.
  • Choose a news source that you trust and stick with it. Stay away from news sources that report hype, gossip and fear-mongering.
  • Decide on a news-exposure budget. Decide how much news you'll expose yourself to and allot a limited time to watching the news. For instance, it might be just in the morning and evening. Know that if anything major happens you'll find out in due time.
  • Maintain structure and routine in your day. Remember, anxiety in part stems from uncertainty, so do your part to make your day predictable.
  • Feelings of helplessness feed fear, so be proactive. Volunteering or sending goodies overseas to soldiers are two ways you can take charge and help someone in need.

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