Standing up to the willies

COPING

July 14, 1992|By Barbara Turk, M.S. | Barbara Turk, M.S.,Contributing Writer

Maybe you have to make a speech, confront someone who intimidates you or handle a difficult situation. Whatever it is, you doubt you can do it: You're not good at this kind of thing. Maybe you should duck it.

Maybe you shouldn't. Ducking the things you're afraid of only increases the chance you'll be more afraid the next time.

But what if you bomb out? Won't that reinforce the idea that you can't handle it?

Sure. But since you believe that anyway, what's the difference? Instead of letting your fear be in charge of you, take a risk and give it a go, keeping the following in mind:

* Be realistic in your expectations. You've not been comfortable in this area, so don't expect to handle it perfectly, just the fact that you make the attempt is enough for this go-round.

* Ban negative self-talk, before, during and after the event. For remarks like "they'll bully me," "I'm not handling this well," and "I blew it," substitute "They can't bully me, if I don't buy into it," "I'm doing my best," and "I did it!"

* Prepare yourself, perhaps working with a trusted person who can listen and offer suggestions.

Remember, doing something that intimidates you -- even if the outcome is not all you want it to be -- is the first step in becoming successful in handling things.

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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