I started my career working with teenagers, and I learned a very important tool that comes in handy when working with a large group of young people. You set your parameters, you define the relationship, you establish the rules.
You see the rules have to be established long before the rules are needed. For example, for a school field trip you gather your young people around you, you talk about the trip and then you set the rules.
There are two types of rules, negotiable and non negotiable rules. Negotiable rules, are rules you set, however in the back of your
mind you know they can be bent due to extra oridnary circumtances. Non negotiatebly, are rules that you let known that you will never give way on.
So what does this have to do with anxiety? Two things, most of us have been conditioned to follow authority. Secondly, we can recondition ourselves to become our own authority.
We can do this starting with the rules we tell ourselves. For instance, if you have a fear of crowded places, (such as visiting a mall or market place) you can set a non negotiable rule of not fleeing from the mall no matter how uncomfortable and frightened you feel.
If you think about it, you have followed non negotiatible rules for most of your early life experiences, it could have been a parent or a teacher who set these rules, but chances are that you experienced some comfort following these rules because it gave you a sense of predictability.
With a non negotiatble rule, you can finally expose yourself to situations you have habitually dreaded. Your dread of a certain situation or object wouldn’t go away, at least not initially, but you will come to realize that your fear will never kill you.
Imagine if starting today you made such a commitment? No matter how sweaty your palms get, no matter how fast your heart beats, or how tight your chest gets, or how much your voice quivers? That no matter what, you will follow through with your commitment?
If you committed to a non negotiable rule, what changes could you envision in your life?
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling and life coaching practice located in Tucson AZ.