Anxiety is one of the most common issues that teenagers face today.
Often times, teenagers can still find ways to perform well in high school although they suffer from anxiety. Unfortunately, this is not the case in college. So parents, you are right to be concerned. In my experience as life coach, it often takes between six to eight coaching sessions to help a teen overcome severe anxiety.
In this blog, I will describe one of my favorite tools that I use when coaching high achieving teenagers with anxiety.
Many parents believe that the reason their teenagers suffer from anxiety is because of pressure.
Pressure can enhance symptoms, but it is not the cause.
The reason high achieving teenagers suffer from anxiety is because of FEAR.
There are many tools that I use (based on their personality) to help teenagers overcome anxiety.
But the exercise that I want to share with you today is what I like to call, “the rabbit hole game.”
The goal of this exercise is to help the teenager experience the different worst case scenarios in their mind.
Then, as a team, we identify the obstacles and create scenarios where we overcome the obstacles so that we can still achieve the desired goal.
Obstacle: anxiety, panic attacks
Lynn wants to be a plastic surgeon. She is currently ranked number two in her class at a very competitive high school. She scored in the 98th percentile on her PSAT.
You may be thinking, why is she so fearful. It sounds like she is on a great path to accomplishing her ultimate goal of becoming a plastic surgeon.
Well in my experience, the more success teenagers experience, the more they feel they have to lose.
Here is how you play the rabbit hole game:
I asked Lynn to share with me her worst case scenario.
I will score a 90 on exam and then I will lose my confidence and continue to score below a 97. My high school is extremely competitive.
I will not graduate in the top of my class. I will also take the SAT and fall to the 88th percentile which means I will not get into my first choice (for college).
Then my grades in college will not be the best since I lost my confidence and I will not do well on the MCAT.
Therefore I will have to settle for another career in which I’m sure it will be miserable.
Wow!!! It makes sense that she would be fearful, right.
No wonder she suffers from anxiety.
So then one by one we dissected her fear.
I asked her a series of questions.
“If you scored a 90 on your exam, then what could you do to gain your confidence back?”
“If you scored below a 97 on the next three exams, then what could you do to still graduate at the top of your class?”
“If scored in the 88th percentile on your SAT, then what could you do to still get accepted in to your top college?”
“If your grades in college were not the best, then what could you do to perform well on the MCAT.”
“If you did not do well on the MCAT, then what could you do to get accepted into medical school?”
“If you do not get accepted into medical school on your first try, then what could you do to pursue your dream of becoming a plastic surgeon.”
For each worst case scenario, we created a new scenario to overcome the obstacles and continue to pursue her goal.
Often times, high achieving teenagers will create even more worst case scenarios during the exercise.
We continue “down the rabbit hole” until their imagination starts to come back to reality.
This exercise helps teenagers recognize that their worst case scenarios are not realistic.
It also helps them recognize that there are multiple paths to achieving their goals.
Finally, it helps them see that their fear is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of their success.
If you would like to learn, specifically, how I can help your teenager overcome anxiety, then schedule a complimentary consultation call at the link below.