By Bertil Hjert
Many anxiety, panic attack and particularly phobia sufferers find having a support person to help them while they are exposing themselves to anxiety provoking situations is a great comfort and assistance.
Support people are really just trusted family members or friends that provide effective and non-judgmental support to you as you confront and deal with your fears. Your support person can be anyone you are close to, a family member, sibling, spouse or friend.
Sometimes the best person might be someone you know who has recovered from their own phobia or anxiety problem.
What is most important is that they care about you and support you. You also want to ensure you don´t feel judged or belittled by them and that they will encourage you to face your fears rather than run from them.
When working with you support person to overcome your fears it is important that there are clear channels of communication between you.
You want to delineate your goals for that day and how your support person can help you to achieve your goals. It is up to you to set the tone of the relationship because they are there to support you and encourage you and should do so according to your guidelines.
You have to decide a couple of things when choosing a support person.
Do you want someone who will really cater to your needs? Do you want someone tougher who will push you? Do you want them to stay with you when confronting your fears or just be close by?
Find someone reliable that does what they say and arrives on time. As you work together, your partner will be better able to assess your needs, when you´re getting anxious and how to help calm you. However, in the beginning they may be unsure, so you should go over some coping strategies with him or her so that they can help you out if you have an attack.
Also prepare some positive thinking statements that will help your brain to adjust if anxiety sets in. Arm your partner with these so he or she will be better equipped to help you if an attack does happen.
There are so many things to consider when picking an appropriate support person. Some people may be overly helpful, overly critical, overly protective, too quiet, and too authoritative or have other destructive behaviors.
Not everyone is meant to be a support person and certainly not everyone was meant to suit your particular needs for a support person. It´s an important role but a delicate balancing act so if a partnership isn´t working out then change it.
Don´t be afraid to pick someone that might not be the obvious choice. Your spouse for example could be very concerned for you but he or she simply isn´t the right person, your neighbor is or your brother is or someone else entirely.
Don´t worry about hurting people´s feelings, do what´s right for you.
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Bertil Hjert is author of the Panic Goodbye program.
This program includes 7 eBooks about relieving Panic and Anxiety Attacks, Agoraphobia, OCD, and Social Phobia; using Abdominal Breathing & Meditation, Body & Mind relaxation, Yoga & Progressive Muscle Relaxation.