(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
Usually, attending parties, dinners and other social events caused me anxiety about things like the food, what I would wear, who would be there, who wouldn’t be there, and what people would be talking about. I was especially worried about triggering comments on subjects related to appearance and dieting. In most situations where I felt uncomfortable and it was feasible to do so, I would remove myself by walking away. But when I couldn’t, I needed a plan to protect myself and my recovery.
I decided to make a list of safe conversation topics that I could put in my Blackberry “notes” so it wouldn’t be obvious when I referred to it. This list would be comprised of a variety of topics such as my upcoming vacation, a project at work, my dogs, my niece and nephews activities, the latest celebrity issues, a recent news clip, or the latest technology gadget. When I was faced with conversation that didn’t feel right, I used my list of topics to change the subject, help guide the conversation, or fill in the silence.
Having this list helped me feel safe so I wasn’t scared or triggered. I knew I couldn’t control what others would say in any given situation, but I could control my reaction. Having a plan to help me through difficult conversation situations relieved stress, gave me confidence, and was also interesting and fun! What can I talk about next?
To help you keep the conversation flowing in a positive, fun note, what would you talk about? Before you go to a party or out with family or friends, make a list of things that you could bring up to spark conversation, like what you did that day, your pets, or a class that you just took? Make a short list and put it in your phone/Blackberry so you can refer to it easily and comfortably. What’s on your list?
With health, hope and strength,