If our dependency needs are not met, in adult life our inner child is crippled by fear

Jason continues his story about his crippling anxiety
The course started and, unfortunately, old habits started to rear their head again when preparatory course assignments started. I started to skip some of the work that we were to do, and contributed nothing. I was lucky that the workload was small for the first few months otherwise the course could have gotten away from me very quickly. All the work thus far in the course had been done online so I didn’t have to meet any of my classmates. The induction day was on a Wednesday and I was terrified thinking about it. I could hardly sleep for a week before it. I was so worried about going back into a lecture hall full of people and not knowing anyone. I was very close to not going, but the fear of messing up this college course won out. When I was half way to the college, I considered turning around. Again I pushed through. I got to the college and I had a pain in my stomach from anxiety. My luck seemed to be in, however. While looking for the hall, I met another student who was lost. We hit it off straight away. We had lots in common and I had someone to pal around with for the day. Unfortunately, he wasn’t going to be in my group that day. I decided that I would join his group anyway. The day went well and I had made a friend. I still left early though. I just couldn’t wait to get home and back to where I felt safe. I definitely didn’t feel safe among hundreds of students. I never dawned on me that they might be nervous too on the first day. I just berated myself for being such a wreck on day one. Our next day was going to be in our groups and not the whole year together. This would be how our course worked. We would be in a class of 30 people for all our subjects and my deficiencies would be shown up.

These are a few examples to show how fear of failure operates. To help you in further understanding this more fully, let us go back to the dependency needs and recall how the inner child can contaminate the views and beliefs of the adult. The scripts you learned as a child map your adult life, and if they are negative your adulthood is like a house built on sand. If you look at the experiences that Jason and I had, the relevant question is what had we to fear? He had a degree and some experience in the commercial world. I was highly educated and I was well qualified to be a good lecturer in History or to deliver a response to the professor’s lecture at the Oireachtas. The adults may have been well qualified, but the poor inner children were fearful, because their dependency needs were not properly met at the appropriate time. Counsellors rightly tend to emphasise the importance of the first three needs (love, affection and attention), but the fourth one, direction, is the most relevant in the case of fear of failure.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.

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