We all have fears/phobias, some are just more manageable than others.
Growing up I had several fears and phobias which followed me right into adulthood; fear of flying and a fear of heights still top that list today. As far as fears/phobias go though, they don’t seem so out of the ordinary right?
They certainly don’t control my everyday living, that’s for sure, which is why when I suddenly developed a severe and debilitating mental health disorder much later in life, delving into my childhood for some answers has since become a very necessary part of my healing and recovery, as difficult as that is.
My fear of flying/heights feel quite miniscule nowadays in comparison to the list of fears that now control my daily thoughts and my ability to function.
I know that I give way too much power to my fears. I’m the first to admit it. I know that I have a very wild imagination. I admit it. I know that I watch way too many episodes of true crime stories on Dateline and 48 hours. I can admit that too. And I can also admit that many of my fears are often irrational.
Admitting we have fears can make us vulnerable. It’s scary sometimes to do so and it can also be a very complex process; one that (without realizing it) may have been highly influenced by some of our earliest memories and relationships.
Over the past few years I have become so much more aware of just how much some of those early memories and relationships in my life may have actually led to my overwhelming fears.
I’ve come to understand through extensive talk therapy and even my most recent use of Ketamine which often brought me right back to my childhood during my sessions (and maybe with genuine intention and probably by no fault of her own) that growing up with a VERY overprotective, overbearing and overcontrolling mom (the true definition of what we now label as “Helicopter Parenting”) has played a big role in how much fear controls my day to day life and the effects and long-term consequences it’s had on my mental and emotional well-being.
Being a “Helicopter Parent” will likely “backfire” and many studies have shown that it CAN have a lasting mental and emotional affect on a child. It may have taken me over two decades until it truly overcame me but being raised by an overprotective, overcontrolling and overbearing parent has been a contributing factor in hindering my autonomy and sense of self-worth over time, it’s overwhelmed me with a huge fear of failure and my decision making abilities. It’s caused me to develop a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem as well as the ability to build proper coping skills. I also now live with a strong belief that I was robbed of developing the ability to truly discover who I am or what drives me.
I hid behind it and tried desperately to hide from it once I reached adulthood. I pretended it didn’t exist for so long and even tried to laugh it off at times when I would recall some of the painful memories but in my subconscious mind I solemnly swore to myself that once I had kids of my own I would never be that kind of parent, a parent that is, who constantly hovers over their child, not allowing them the freedom to express themselves freely and monitors their every move.
And I kept that promise until I couldn’t hide from my past anymore or pretend it never existed and by the time I was deep in the throes of my illness I began to see cycles forming and my style of parenting quickly mimicking patterns of Fear-Based Parenting.
It’s hard to parent. It’s even harder when you give all your power over to fear. I’m very conscious of my fears and patterns of behaviour which leaves room for very open and honest dialogue with my kids in order to create reasonable and healthy boundaries. It’s imperative to a child’s mental health and overall well-being that we let them “fall” and “scrap their knees”. We need to give them space to grow and leave them room to flourish on their own so they learn to challenge themselves more with each new “fall” or “scraped knee”. We need to let them know that it’s okay to have fears and that it’s okay if they fail. Allowing them to feel their own sense of autonomy and accomplishments will build self-confidence and teach them how to place their own bandaid on their scraped knee when they fall but giving them the reassurance still that you will always be close by just incase their fall breaks a bone or two along the way.
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