MERGED: Terror of confession./Nervous

Ok, I’m not sure when this fear began but, it started probably AT LEAST 3 years ago. I am terrified of confession. I only go once a year and that’s during the Easter season. But even going once a year is next to impossible for me. I have been scrupulous for the past 8 years. My scruples (not my fear of confession) has subsided A LOT but, for many years it was UNBEARABLE. I was talking to my sister about my fear (she is the only one who understands me) and I described it to her as “destroying myself” every time I go to confession. I’m not just talking about getting rid of the sinful part of me, but I feel like I destroy myself as a person because the fear is so great that it completely takes me over and I’m like a shadow. I also feel like I am a completely different person when I go. This unbelievable fear takes hold and does not let go until the ordeal is over and even then I have no peace. Usually I am a very, very rational person but, when I go to confession I don’t know myself anymore.
I don’t know if this is making any sense but, I think I can put a name to this problem. It’s called Dissociation. There are different types of it. Here’s a link if you want a better description of what dissociation is

For me, it seems like it only happens when I am having some sort of trauma. It is usually described as if you are "detatched from your body."I know and believe that confession is supposed to help us, however, with my state of affairs, it serves only to damage me. I don’t want to live like this anymore, in fear. Around this time of year I begin to grow uneasy, when everybody else is excited about the end of the semester (I’m in college) I start having nightmares about confession. I just had one last night. This goes far beyond a simple fear or embarassment.

 Oh, and I should probably just mention that last year, after confession and communion, I felt the most horrid depression. But it wasn't just depression, it was like a feeling of despair. Intellectually I knew that I had no reason to despair. I was not suicidal (becasue I have my Faith) but it was just this unbearable feeling. It was probably an attack  so that I would not go to confession or communion again but still, I can't live like this anymore!!! I still have every intention of persevereing and going to the sacraments at least once a year but, I don't want to do it out of fear. I just want to be a whole Catholic and enjoy the sacraments of confession and communion more than just once a year. 

I’m not exactly sure what kind of answer I am looking for, I guess what I really want to know is, do you think that seeing a counselor to straighten out my warped thinking would help? BTW I grew up in a family that was very “Trad.” I have gotten the wrong ideas about God, the Blessed Virgin, sin and a lot of other things concerning religion. Thanks in advance and God Bless you during this Easter season!:slight_smile:

You poor dear. Your family must have given you some really faulty ideas. Can you put your finger on exactly what you’re afraid of? If you could do that, maybe we could help you a little bit.

Are you on good terms with a particular priest? If so, ask him if you and he could have some private time for a talk. He, most likely, can help you understand more about what’s happening to you. Any priest should be able to offer you some help, but a friend can put you at ease sooner. Maybe that is the atmosphere in which you would be comfortable going to confession. Good luck and God bless.

Because you have such fear in going to Reconciliation, I’d suggest going once a month. Even though you only have venial sins. Go, talk, relate, talk to the priest about your emotional concerns. Slowly walk your way through your fears.

Absolutely no harm will happen to you in Reconciliation. You just need more contact with the Sacrament.

How awful! I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles.

I’m no expert, but it sounds to me like this might be more of a psychological issue. Do you have any psychological issues that you struggle with? Are you seeing anybody or taking medication for anything along those lines?

Talk to as many priests as it takes to get a grasp of this. (Some are busier than others, some are more sensitive than others…)

It certainly could be a psychological issue; but it also has the possibility of the demonic.
-It is fear that drives you.
-It is trying to keep you from a sacramental in a very unnatural fashion.

Ask yourself, does this happen to you at other points in your life about other things? If it starts happening in other areas going forward from this question that does not count.

Unfortunately we, as good Catholics think we are immune from such attacks. Jesus, himself was not immune.

It’s just possible that you have some unconfessed sin that you have repressed or that you know about fully well but have justified it to such a degree that you fail to confess it. It would explain the scrupulouosity also: you have to go to great degrees to “confess” other things in order to avoid this very real issue. This becomes a doorway for sin to control you.

Try and work this out with a priest first. A priest and a therapist in tandem would be ideal, but might be unnecessary.

Most of all, pray to the Holy Spirit to guide you in discerning the real issue. Do not ignore Him.


If it’s any comfort, when I miss my medication I become extraordinarily fearful and full of imperfect love (desperately repenting, praying, thinking, etc as to avoid Hell or purgatory rather than for the love of God). I have an anxiety disorder, and It’s a psychological thing. God does not overlook our mental illnesses and sufferings. If you desperately try and reach out to him even when you’re in doubt, then he is reaching back a million fold times as hard! He’s got a plan for you. He does for all of us!

It’s just possible that you have some unconfessed sin that you have repressed or that you know about fully well but have justified it to such a degree that you fail to confess it. It would explain the scrupulouosity also: you have to go to great degrees to “confess” other things in order to avoid this very real issue. This becomes a doorway for sin to control you.

You see, the thing is, that is a lot of where my scruples come from, from a fear of not confessing something willfully. Unfortunately, it is a very common thing for a scrupulous person to experience and it is a very prominent type of fear when it comes to confession. If my fears are correct, and all this time I have been making sacriligious confessions because of unconfessed sins, then I am not scrupulous at all and my extreme fears are justified. I just don’t know, what do you think?

Aww. :hug1: You’re missing the big picture. God is merciful. He wants us to be near Him. You need to trust HIM to let you know what’s missing. You are trying to play his role.

Gosh. I went for 20 years not confessing something that turns out was beyond grave. I just didn’t know. God was still there for me the whole time and when the time came, *HE *brought *ME *to an understanding of my problem.

Maybe that’s all it is, dear: you are trying too hard to play God in your own life. (We all do it, all the time) Just …Let… go… and *trust *in Him.

Try the chaplet of Divine Mercy. Focus on God the Father through the Son’s sacrifice. God *KNOWS *you’ve tried your best to confess your sins. Let His mercy in to wash over you. K?

I know some people really need meds and there’s nothing wrong with that, but what made me even pipe in on this one is that *your *problem seems so specific and extreme… We’re so afraid to point to the demonic because it’s a tool the secularists point to in accusing us of ignoring science. The truth is just the opposite. Denying the existence of the Powers and Principalities does not make them or their effects go away…

Beyond the possibility of true chemical imbalance and/or demonic influence is the option that you are just approaching this the entirely wrong way. Please *do *seek a priest or good church teacher to have a good one-on-one with you. We ***ALL ***need that kind of help and uplift at points in our lives.

Most of all: do NOT be afraid.


no matter what the reason this is always a signal to seek professional help. We are praying for you.

Thanks for your help everyone! Sigh But this fear refuses to go away. I really feel like I’m losing my marbles! I’m just really, really tired, in so many ways. Imagine it, I’m 17 years old, turning 18 in July and I’m exhausted. What will a counselor or priest be able to tell me that I haven’t heard already? What will they do to help stop this absurdity? I’ve had this problem for years and I’ve had so many people tell me the same things. I’m not saying that they were giving me bad advice, but for some reason, it just didn’t work. sigh I have to go to confession in a week and a half and I just don’t know what can be done differently this time. I can’t even pray anymore, I don’t know why, it just seems like it takes so much effort, anything spiritual seems to take a lot of effort for me now.:bighanky: I’m usually very brave about this issue but now I’ve just become a huge wimp.

I suggest making an appointment with a priest, instead of going in a confessional at regularly scheduled time. Because of a bad experience in the confessional when I was a child I would panic when going into a confessions. I find meeting with the priest in his office is much more comfortable. Start just by speaking to him, letting him know what you have said here. I too would only go once a year and be in a panic. I made an appointment with a priest who was close with just to talk. This led, very informally, into the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Eventually he became my spiritual director and he was very gentle with my fears and eventually I started going to confession more often even though I had no mortal sins. Now I go about every 6 weeks, when I schedule my hair coloring appointment it is my reminder to make an appointment for confession. I still go in his office. Once in awhile I will go to a different priest in a confessional but I prefer not to since it still bothers me.

Everytime I am aware that I need to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I get really, really nervous. I try to not let it keep me away, but sometimes it makes me delay going longer than I should.

I’ve never had a bad Confession experience. In fact, all of them that I can remember have been great. But still, I get nervous. The closer I get to going the worse it gets, to the point that outside the Confessional I have to talk/lecture/ridicule/force myself to actually go in. I’m better with anonymous Confession, but my busy, family-filled Saturdays tend to force me into scheduled Confessions, and there isn’t really a way to do that anonymously.

I’ve actually just called the church office to schedule another, and that’s what has me typing this thread. Already I’m nervous just about getting the priest’s phone call to schedule a time. Once we schedule it I’ll have to force myself to not think about it in order to live my day as normal.

Has anyone else experienced this? Is Satan just up to his old tricks, trying to get me to stay away from the Sacraments? How do you get over it?


It’s not Satan, up to his old tricks. It’s actually more normal than you think.

It’s hard to go to confession and admit you’ve fallen short of these standards/moral behavior.

If it helps, remember that priests also go to confession-they themselves are sinners who need to be forgiven as well.

Also, let’s face it-NOTHING you’ve done will shock the priest. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. They hear everything. No matter what, he isn’t going to get up, scream and run away.

Praying for you.

This is great advice, I too advise you to relax!

On one point we differ though…I beleive satan is indeed very active and works to try and keep us away from the sacraments. While I don’t think we need to look for satan under every single rock, it is also not necessarily true that he is not involved (if that’s what you meant)

Either way I agree to relax as best as you can. If you are nervous you can also offer up your anxiety in prayer. God bless!

I’ve only been once and I was nervous as heck. I think it is normal to be nervous. Part of it could come from Satan but another part can also come from part of your heart and soul because when you go, you are speaking a deep part of your soul that might only be seen either in a session with a counselor or inside a journal entry. If you are really shy, only God might be aware of it. I think we don’t give confession enough respect and humility because it’s one where we truly bare our soul, our fragility, and our vulnerability everything which isn’t easy to do. It takes alot of courage to go.

I want to encourage you to ask God to give you courage to go and to also speak with someone you feel comfortable with. It’s not an easy appointment to make but at least you are going when there isn’t a line up of people behind. You can do it.

Good luck.

Normally I love confession. Not because I feel super elated afterwards, I don’t, but because when looking back I can see how much Christ has healed me through this sacrament.
But sometimes I really have to drag myself to confession. Then I have to remind myself about something I have read: when we sin the devil takes away all our shame only to give it back threefold when we go to confession.
That thought usually quickens my step considerately as I really don’t want to get into his clutches again! Satan had me in his claws for way too long already and I won’t ever go back to that willingly!

I think nervous can be a good sign. If you are nervous it is possible that you realize that you have done wrong in the eyes of God. Just as a child that has done something wrong is timid and scared around their parents. So, I think a bit of nervousness is just your concious working on you. Just remember that feeling of freedom that you feel when it is all over, maybe that will help.

Is that true? i have a similar problem and yet not similar. i have a fear of Reconciliation but for different reasons. It is part of who I am now due to how I was treated as a young child, i don’t trust people. I am also shy. It is something I am trying to get over but it is hard with my and with it being a natural mental defense mechanism.

And another thing, when i do go to confession, I never feel any better afterwards within the last few years when I have had depression.

And I also tend to freak and despair over even the littlest mistake.

What do I do? Any advice and prayers are welcome.

It’s when we are exhausted and weary that God’s mercy means the most. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matt 11:28-29) Once we give up, God’s grace can take over.

You may hear nothing new from a counselor or priest–but it may be something old that you are ready to hear in a new way.

The suggestion about making arrangements to see a priest in a different setting than the reconciliation room or confessional may help. Another help might be to take more time and explore the fears and burdens of confession–the priest, knowing something about the problem, will be ready to help you with a longer session. You might also consider various priests you know or have available to you, considering their pastoral approach and how comfortable you are with them.

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