For a child who grows up experiencing adversities in childhood, FEAR often dominates that young person’s view of the world—a worldview that is often carried forward into adulthood.
So, where does the fear originate from? “In a home full of pain, quarreling, or coldness, children are chronically stressed and on guard,” says psychiatrist Sonja Lyubomirsky. So, it’s only natural to become fearful and stay fearful growing up, not knowing what to expect from one moment to the next. It becomes a habit, a pattern – an expectation of the worst, expecting harm around every corner, anticipating threats that aren’t there. Perhaps now as an adult, you hide or stay away from others. You prefer to stay in the shadows or blend into the crowd rather than stand out. Maybe you walk around with hunched shoulders, bent down in an unconscious attempt to withdraw into yourself – seeking a sense of security you never felt when you were young. You may not be taking the small risks in life you should take in order to advance further. Or you may even act out, becoming aggressive towards others to mask the threat or intimidation you feel deep down.
Many…“prefer the certainty of misery rather than the misery of uncertainty”
Many children who experience adversity in childhood “prefer the certainty of misery rather than the misery of uncertainty,” says child-trauma expert Bruce Perry.
Whatever forms this LIE takes, know that it comes from living with that visceral fear you experienced as a child. That feeling of terror and the underlying childhood trauma behind it feed the LIE that children of domestic violence believe: that deep down, they are FEARFUL.
Fear keeps us from achieving our full potential and living the life we dream of. Fear stops us from doing what we want to do – whether it’s meeting someone new, interviewing for a job, or facing a difficult challenge. However, as we’ll see here in this post, fear and courage are not mutually exclusive. What felt like fear to you as a child was actually an immense demonstration of courage – because you endured more than most will never have to face in their entire life and you survived it.
You are among the bravest – a member of a group of courageous people who have survived difficulties most people will never face
The TRUTH is that, as someone who experience adversity in childhood, you are among the bravest – a member of a group of courageous people who have survived difficulties most people will never face. As a child, you discovered how to survive. The fact that you are here now means the FEAR didn’t stop you, didn’t destroy you. You made it through it. You triumphed over it. Moving forward, you can unlearn the LIE that you are FEARFUL and also the LIE that you need to be fearless, and realize that because of what you overcame, you are more prepared than most to succeed. Recognizing this will help lead you to the CONFIDENCE that is uniquely yours for the taking.
Please share in the comments below something you remember as a child that you can now see was an act of courage – even if it was simply brave silence or endurance in order to survive.
A detailed overview of the FEARFUL Lie can be found in CHAPTER 8 (“Fearful to Confident”) of INVINCIBLE: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free.