A mom said to me recently, "I'm just afraid ___ is not ready for college. She even says she might not want to go now. What if we pay all of this money for her to decide ___ university is not the right school for her? I don't know what else to do."
From a coach's perspective, there is a lot of anxiety and fear built in to these statements. If the mom is feeling this frustrated and stressed, I can only imagine how anxious the student is.
As a professional stress and anxiety coach for students, here are some thoughts of how the daughter and I might approach this situation of transitioning to college in the first two coaching sessions.
#1 Assess fear in its origination
"Fear is a part of human experience. It is not good or bad; a little fear can motivate us to make change, while a lot of fear can create a reaction that leaves us paralyzed, panicked, or feeling overwhelmed."
Elisha Goldstein, PhD
When we start exploring fears, it is always mind-blowing where the fear originates. It usually is from a past similar situation or life experience that is being transferred to the current situation. As we unravel the reality of fear, nine times out of ten, the haze of the current situation lifts because we identify truths, data, and the reality of the present situation as we (in parallel) acknowledge the fear from the past that is blurring the present. This awareness helps relieve the pain in fear, hesitancy, overwhelm, stress, and panic. Once the student can separate themselves from their emotional responses to situations, they begin to see beyond the blur and become open to different approaches and perspectives. We call this, "creating space" between thoughts and emotions so that responses can be adjusted.
#2 Acknowledge that responses to emotions can be modified with practice and intention
"The only way to deal with fear is to face it. Avoiding our fears only prevents us from moving forward—it makes us anxious."
University of Minnesota - Taking charge of your health and wellbeing
Once the student learns to take their brain off of the autopilot mode of responding to fear, they begin to explore other organically healthy ways to manage the anxiety: talk about it, express it through exercise or writing, breath through it, allow it to pass, have a plan of coping with it while it is active. It becomes a choice of how to move through fear.
I tell this story for two reasons. First, the parent can begin to understand that when their student stresses, they stress and when they stress, their students stresses more intensely. Secondly, helping guide students beyond their "stuckness" not only normalizes life situations for them, it frees them to confidently move forward. THIS is powerful beyond words when a student realizes so much of their emotional energy and time was being harnessed in a way that constricted their ability to thrive.
THIS is the glory of working with a coach who is trained in mindset and mental health. We uncover, explore, accept, acknowledge, plan, expand, and act. We move through the fear into the clear.