Learning to Live With Fear

I have had a tough couple of weeks. I’ve found living with uncertainty and the lack of control over things out of my power almost unbearable. If I look at it even closer, it basically all boils down to one thing: fear. Being afraid of the unknown. I am absolutely terrified of not knowing what’s going to happen. I am terrified about all the things I have no control over going completely and utterly wrong. And it’s this anxiety that makes it so difficult to just go with the flow. “Whatever will be will be” does not sit right with me at all.

In a lecture I had last week on my counselling course, we were focusing on ethics. We discussed how being concerned and fearful for a client between appointments will most likely happen to us at some point in our professional lives. Although I am fully aware that this is a normal aspect of the job, I can feel myself almost wanting to run from it. Even though a big part of me accepts that I am going to feel fear or concern for a client when they leave a session, another part of me does not want to accept this at all. And that’s all because I am so scared of the unknown and the sheer panic it evokes in me.

The reason I wanted to train to be a counsellor is because I want to help other people, like me, who are struggling. I want to be there for people that need someone to listen to them no matter what the issue. But I also have to accept that by training to be a counsellor- and even when I’m a qualified one at that- I am entering a world that is going to make my life difficult and stressful. I am putting myself in a situation that is hugely anxiety provoking for me all because I am never going to be able to fully know what will happen. And this lack of control really frightens me.

Now, all counsellors have to deal with this but because I have OCD, the fear around this uncertainty and the inflated sense of responsibility I have makes it 10x more intense. OCD is there because I don’t feel safe and it has stemmed from this fear and a need to protect myself. It’s a strange thing really that I want to put myself in a position that will aggravate my anxiety and OCD but in all honesty, I couldn’t imagine working in another profession.

In that ethics lecture, my lecturer told us that an important part of our job is to “learn to live with ambiguity, fear and risk”. It looks such an easy task when it’s projected on a wall in a PowerPoint Presentation but learning this skill is going to take time, especially for me. Having been told this by a lecturer (who is also a professional counsellor) has really hammered home that I need to be open to this. That if/when I come across these feelings, not to run away from them or panic, but to sit with them. I need to still feel fear- a natural, normal response in most cases- but I also need to control it to prevent it from paralysing me and take over my life.

My CBT therapist has said to me that it’s important I learn how not to fear OCD. This has really stuck with me since she said it because she is so right, I do fear my mental illness. As soon as it starts to flare up, I go into panic mode. I invite those thoughts into my head and I am stuck in that whirlwind until suddenly, I pop back into reality. Learning not to fear the fear is a big goal on my list.

I had scrawled a draft of this blog post out in a lecture when I was in a pretty bad place last week. I can get so wound up over the unknown that it takes over my life and I just find myself living in a blur. But this week I feel better. As I was copying and typing up this, I felt like they weren’t my words. It felt strange to write down things that I wasn’t feeling now. Although the unknown scares me, it can also be a good thing. I didn’t know I was going to feel better this week and now it feels like I’m in a completely different place. I need to learn that not knowing what’s going to happen is ok but that fearing it is too. It’s normal to be scared that things won’t get better but to also remind yourself that they always will. I am a massive fan of the following quote:

“Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright then it’s not yet the end”

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3 thoughts on “Learning to Live With Fear

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