Many things are frightening when we are children. With a lack of understanding and a lack of experience, any new ideas can be alarming. But these fears often fade away naturally as we get older and learn more about the world around us.
Other fears that develop from traumas or challenges we face in childhood can be more persistent and may follow us, consciously or unconsciously, into adulthood where they continue to impact the way we live.
How Childhood Fears Can Influence Adult Life
Experiences lived through during childhood are highly formative. If you endured trauma or a frightening situation, this can cause you to continue to be wary of any signs that might indicate a similar situation reoccurring. Stressful events like a parent’s divorce could cause you to have fears about your own relationships now.
Because you have held these fears for so long, they are likely to be deeply ingrained, perhaps to the point that you no longer recognize them as fears, but as facts of life. Yet many of these will contribute negatively to your current lifestyle. You may be afraid to take risks, find yourself cutting relationships short, or experiencing phobias or panic attacks in different situations that you could otherwise enjoy.
It is possible to overcome these fears. They were not something that you were born with, and therefore they are not something you have to live with. The process requires you to teach your mind that the beliefs you hold are not grounded in reality and not something to be afraid of. You can do this through:
- Confronting the Situation – If you have been avoiding situations that cause you fear, start to put yourself back in those situations while still moving slowly.
- Accept Fear – Fear and anxiety are uncomfortable. Give yourself permission to feel the fear and accept it will not be pleasant, but you are in control of it.
- Think Critically – When you are in the moment, ask yourself how likely what you fear will happen and consider why you think that. Is still your childhood fear talking or do you have new evidence to back it up?
- Distract Yourself – It is alright to step back from your fear for a moment and distract yourself as long as it is not alcohol, drugs, or another unhealthy coping mechanism, and you commit to coming back to the moment.
- Talk Through Your Fears – When we are caught up in the fears in our own mind, it can be hard to see beyond them. Talking with another person puts these fears in open where it is easier to rationalize them.
Talking with a therapist about your fears can have additional benefits beyond simply talking through things. Sometimes a person may not realize that the things that are holding them back are childhood fears, so they do not know how to begin confronting them. Therapy modalities look at how your childhood experiences correspond to your adult beliefs for solutions that can get to the foundation of your fears and help you live a happier and more fulfilling lifestyle.