Do We Ever Rid Ourselves of Childhood Insecurities?

Old fears are hard habits to break. This morning I had to interview a researcher by phone for an article I’m writing. I’ve actually interviewed her before in person and she’s lovely, smart and down to earth—not intimidating at all.

So why did I wake up feeling like I’d eaten rocks? The only logical answer is that my anxiousness is a throwback to my days as a shy child and teenager—the days when asking anyone anything felt like torture. How I got through journalism school, I’ll never know.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the past 20 years. I’ve never had an interview go badly. I’m no longer even shy; in fact, I start random conversations with strangers all the time now, which sometimes alarms people. Still, every time I have to interview someone, I dread it.

It’s a fear that no longer makes sense, but one I can’t seem to kick. This got me wondering if we can ever rid ourselves of fears or do we just get better at managing them?

Before my call today, I tried to analyze the reason for my anxiousness. Knowing it stems from irrational insecurities didn’t help. So I moved on to telling myself I’d done this hundreds of times before and had no reason to be nervous. No luck. The next obvious step was to berate myself for being so ridiculous, which just made me feel worse. Shocking, I know.

In a last ditch attempt, I took a completely new approach. I reframed the situation. (My therapy is paying off). I took the emotion out. I saw the phone call for what it was: an opportunity for a brilliant scientist to share her research with me and an opportunity for me to learn something new.

Suddenly, the interview didn’t sound so scary. It sounded like an everyday kind of conversation—which is exactly what it turned out to be. Two mature adults chatting with no interruptions from the insecure child inside me.

Is this fear conquered? Probably not entirely, but I learned a new strategy for managing my insecurity-based fears. Instead of letting my inner child rule my emotions, I called upon my 40-year-old self—the confident one who enjoys talking to people.

We may always share a psyche with our childhood selves, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them be in charge.

What childhood fears still linger in your life and how have you learned to manage them?

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