Fear Holding Me Back

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Hello everyone — thank you for reading this post. Let me start off by saying that I am an A student at one of the best engineering universities in my region, if not the country. I am proud of my accomplishments, and I know that I am an intelligent and clear-headed individual. Our Spring semester just started and, I am having a hard time because we are in a wait mode without a lot of home/classwork yet. I am feeling anxious and uncomfortable being with myself. I should have the run of the school because I am in a tough program and getting good grades, but I am so afraid of judgment by others that I am almost torturing myself with thoughts and self-imposed rules and regulations. These rules have undoubtedly helped me achieve my success, but I think they are driven by fear. The natural question is “of what?” and I am terrified of thinking about that question.

A few incidents around campus really scared me into considering trying to talk to someone about my thoughts. Above all, I am terrified that if I start talking to someone, they will think that I have some kind of disorder and prescribe some medication. I am not ill and I can think perfectly clearly, it’s just that there is some memory or feeling that I am afraid to express that is holding me back. I know that I can be a more efficient student and be more comfortable around other people and myself, and I am frustrated that I have reached a roadblock in this aspect of my life. The second reason that I am hesitant to seek help is that I don’t trust my feelings to be more than a monthly low — I am very harsh on women in general, and I am afraid that anything I feel is just the result of some kind of hormone imbalance. If this is the case, in a few days I will almost forget that I was worried and I will have committed to seeing someone regularly when I just had a bad few days caused by biology.

I really don’t know if I should talk to someone, or continue trying to hammer away at this issue myself. Any comments and suggestions would be more than welcomed.

Thank you.

A: Since you are in college the fastest, easiest thing to do is to talk to someone that you’re counseling center. There’s a type of therapy, CBT (Cognitive-Behavior Therapy), that is very helpful for changing thought patterns. Because you were new student and you’re acclimating to the pressure, your thoughts may have become more anxious in general. I would highly recommend trying a few sessions of CBT to see if this can bring about some relief.

Good luck finishing your first year!

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Fear Holding Me Back. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/23/fear-holding-me-back/