What might a back-up plan look like?
The following questions might help you to think through your back-up plan. It’s not comprehensive – so feel free to use it, or not, as you like. The important thing is that you have something that helps you to manage if the conversation has a negative impact on you or your voices.
1. Escape plan
If you find yourself needing to stop the conversation suddenly, how can you get out?
Some people feel confident enough to leave a situation with ease. Others find they often need a few pre-planned phrases like ‘Thanks for listening – I’m getting tired though, can we pick this up again later?’ or ‘I’m just not ready to talk about this’ to help them end the conversation.
Having some excuses to help you make an exit if the conversation is going badly can also be helpful. For example, setting an alarm on your phone before the conversation starts gives you the opportunity, when it goes off, to decide whether you want to carry on or say that you’ve just remembered that you need to go an do something else.
2. During the conversation
Have a think about what generally helps you to feel calmer when you’re feeling on edge.
Some people find having something to do with their hands useful – a fidget spinner, a stone, a cup or something comforting. Others find they need to occupy a part of their minds by doodling or having some music playing in the background. Some people find it helpful to take the pressure out of the conversation by talking whilst walking or doing another activity.
3. After the conversation
Having a list of things to do if a conversation leaves you feeling stressed out, and knowing what works for you, is an essential part of any safety plan.
Do you tend to feel better when you’re alone, or when you’re with people? If you find it helpful to be with a specific person, can you arrange to meet them after the conversation? Knowing where you want to go afterwards – for instance, to a place where you usually feel safe – can also be useful if you tend to feel disconnected or overwhelmed after talking about big things. Some people prefer to go to a completely different place or do something completely different after a difficult conversation to almost (physically) leave it behind them. Others want to keep on speaking with the person about ‘regular things’ so that they know that they’re world hasn’t completely changed.