Home Anxiety How Can I Get Over a Childhood Fear?

How Can I Get Over a Childhood Fear?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Romania: Hello!  I am 21 years old. The problem is I am still traumatized by the experience when I was 11. One morning my mom got me to the doctor for a “check up” but she actually wanted to have my blood taken without me knowing. I was asked to lie on a table then 4 nurses forcefully (not nicely) holding me down. I was so scared that they couldn’t take any blood! I was left with the trauma since then. I hope you don”t think my mom’s idea of “helping” me have a “good experience” at the doctor was a good idea.

Is there a cure for me? I am usually very brave and nice when I KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN, not when people hide things from me.

Your mom may have had the best of intentions, but it certainly wasn’t a good idea to surprise and scare you that way. It makes sense to me that you now feel that you need to know in advance what will happen in order to feel safe.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. Life is unpredictable. We can’t always know in advance what will happen. Often, people who are as anxious as you are to guard against unpleasant surprises narrow their world down to what they think they can control. Although the strategy eliminates surprise, it also eliminates much of what makes life rich and exciting.

Instead of narrowing your world, you need to broaden and build your resilience. It’s impossible to avoid life’s unpredictability and problems. To be alive is to be confronted with problems in relationships, jobs, and family. It’s inevitable that life will hand you problems, even crises, that are frightening.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from those inevitable set-backs, crises, and even tragedies and learn and grow from them. Fortunately, resilience is not something you have or you don’t. It’s a set of skills that can be learned. Best of all, it’s never too late to learn the skills of resiliency so you can cope with things that make you uncomfortable.

People who are resilient know how to engage with problems instead of avoid them. They know how to accept support and how to support others. They are philosophical about life and accept that you win some, you lose some. Generally, they are optimistic about their ability to manage.

Reading is always a good place to start. There are lots of sites on the internet that provide information about resiliency. You can find a number of articles about it here at LifeHelper. And there are some excellent books about it.

You may find that you need some support while you process the traumatic experience at the doctor when you were young and to teach you new skills for managing your anxiety. Therapy can help you find your voice and learn resiliency skills so you can mange situations that make you anxious. It can help you tolerate the uncertainty that comes with taking and managing reasonable risk. It can even help you learn to embrace uncertainty as opportunity.

You are only 21. If you do your therapeutic work now, you can ensure that your adult life won’t be always shadowed by something that happened when you were 11.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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