The 4 C's Of Social Situations
Becoming Your Own Ally
Philip S. Graffunder, LCSW
Conceptualization – See the adult part of yourself, (your wiser self, or your higher Self) as a helper or mentor for the younger part of self that is feeling the anxiety. You might see your adult part as the caring big brother or sister to the part of you that is feeling anxious. Try it. Remind yourself of your values (e.g., honesty, courage, not demanding control over things that are not yours to control, etc.). If you don’t have a list of values in your mind ready for quick access, it can be a very good idea to create one. Maybe even right now.
Change behavior and expectations
Change behavior and expectations – Choose to engage the situation rather than being forced into it. Is this a worthwhile, necessary, or important conversation? If so, then engage in it because it is so, letting your values and principles undergird your behavior during the interaction. In addition, you can use your imagination to rehearse, letting yourself feel and behave “as-if”, (e.g., as-if I am at ease, as-if I feel peaceful, as-if goodwill is emanating from me to you and you to me, etc). Give yourself permission to experiment here, to be curious and to learn, without demanding perfection or insisting on a specific result from the other person. Future results (including others’ behavior) are not ours to dominate or control, but we do get to have a say in how things unfold and we can influence (not micromanage or rigidly control) our future. This much is our right.
Useful tips for before and after the encounter:
Try not to let yourself be the dreaded “Over-involved Baseball Parent”. You know the one. You have seen this movie before. This is the parent of a child who has just struck out 22 of 27 batters in a game easily won, but who still berates the child all the way home in the car for not striking out the other five too. Give yourself credit for effort, for participating, for learning, for anything you tried that was new, for being courageous. Give credit and appreciation where it’s due. There is no denying that there is always room to grow, but it is valuable to take in the positive aspects by focusing your mind on it. What we think about is where our energy goes. To help with focusing your mind and energy, I suggest that you think through and write about the following, both before and after an important encounter:
If you would like to explore this further,
and perhaps discover other answers about yourself, feel free to contact me at 404-295-4852.
Philip S. Graffunder is the owner of
Positive Social Growth Counseling and Therapy Center.
He is a therapist, counselor, and clinical social worker with more than 20 years’ experience.