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Two Keys to Taking Hold of the Present
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In the last section, we discussed the first key to past redemption. We also introduced the "Healing Hurts" Technique.
In this section, we will discuss the second key to past redemption. As you will see, the second key to past redemption is restitution. We will also discuss living in the present. As you listen to this section, you might think of how restitution can help your client. Could playing this section in an upcoming session be beneficial?
♦ The Second Key to Past Redemption
First, let’s discuss the second key to past redemption, which is restitution. As you know, restitution is "an act of restoring." And after your anxiety client has done the arduous work of healing hurts from the past, the next step is to right whatever may be wrong. Clearly, restitution is not easy. For instance, an effort to confess a series of lies about adultery when a divorce has already been finalized and both parties are remarried is not simple - and it might churn up more new problems than it resolves.
If a person confesses his own part in a crime within a corporation, the confession is likely to reflect on other parties including both the guilty and the innocent. Making things right is not always simple. But do you feel that for anxiety clients, restitution can be a productive step in redeeming the past? When my anxiety clients truly want to put their past behind them and keep it from interfering with the present, I suggest considering restitution.
♦ Case Study: Jack
One of the most common forms of restitution is found in relationships. For example I asked Jack, age 33, to think of something intangible he may have taken from someone. Perhaps it was their dignity, their reputation, their joy, their confidence, or their contentment. Think of your Jack. Has your client robbed others of experiences and satisfactions for any number of reasons? Anxiety can be a common motivator.
For example, Jack was especially anxious regarding a colleague who was on his team at work. In one of our sessions, Jack stated, "One day I was so anxious that she was going to screw something up that I came right out and said it. I told her, ‘You better be really good because we’re all counting on you and if you don’t do well, you’re going to make us all look bad. I hope you did your homework, because this is not a dress rehearsal!’
As you can see, Jack stole his coworker’s sense of competence. Jack came on stronger than he intended. Jack’s own anxiety and fear only added to his coworker’s, opening the way for self-doubt - and a very nerve-wracking presentation.
Jack stated, "I know the presentation may have gone differently if I hadn’t given her this last minute lashing - at the very moment she needed my encouragement the most." Would you agree that Jack’s situation deserved relational restitution? How might you have responded to Jack?
I stated, "Letting your colleague know that your own anxiety was over-amplified that day can help her gain back her self-assurance. Letting her know your words were the very opposite of what she needed at that moment can help her restore her confidence you. This simple act of rebuilding an intangible trait is what I mean by relational restitution."
Can your client benefit from restitution?
Perhaps your client, like Jack, could take a moment to make a list of people who deserve a bit of relational restitution? Jack identified several other people to whom he wanted to make restitution. Then Jack make the courageous decision to pick up the phone, write letters and emails, and even make a visit to a friend to restore whatever intangible quality he felt he may have taken from them. How can restitution benefit your anxiety client?
♦ Living Fully in the Present
In addition to restitution as the second key to past redemption, let’s discuss living fully in the present. I stated to Jack, "It doesn’t matter if your last year was a huge success or a dismal array of pain and regret - it will continue to call you and keep you from living in the present if you don’t make a conscious break. But if you do make that vital decision to move forward, your past can teach you how to build on your success and can bring purpose to your pain. It will show you how to use whatever regrets and mistakes you have to become a better person than you thought you could be."
Would you agree that there is no need for clients to have
their minds preoccupied with memories that serve no purpose? Can this lead to increased anxiety levels? No wonder Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." For as your client fills his or her mind with these things, can the past lose its grip so that he or she can begin to take hold of the present?
In this section, we have discussed the second key to past redemption. The second key to past redemption is restitution. We also discussed living in the present.
In the next section, we will discuss if only’s. Our discussion will focus on the overcoming regret technique, and will include the following three coping tools. The three coping tools are making a wish I’d done it list, solving the problem before it starts, and developing the mental muscle to move on.
- Nakamura, B. J. Pestle, S. L., & Chorpita, B. F. (2009). Differential Sequencing of Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques for Reducing Child and Adolescent Anxiety. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 23(2), 114-135.
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