Why do certain therapies work and others don’t? A very interesting question indeed. Sometimes a client can spend year upon year investing their time and money in a psychological professional, with very little progress. On other occasions, the change can be instant. Whether it’s a fear of spiders, deep issues with family members, or conditions such as Paruresis; the patients who get successful, lasting results all share one commonality; reconditioning of their neuro-associations.
The term Neuro-associations is of course scientific in nature, but understanding it is very simple. It is the meaning we link to things. For example, Paruretics associate shame, embarrassment, and ultimate pain to their condition; these are their neuro-associations. So how do you overcome the condition? By changing the meaning of what you associate to it. If the meaning that you link to Paruresis doesn’t change; you won’t change.
So, let’s look at the formula of reconditioning your neuro-associations, as it can be directly applied to your Paruresis.
Stage one – If you are in a position where you know you should change, or you want to change, or you know you ought to change; that is not enough. You need to get to a stage where you MUST change, and you truly believe you CAN change.
To help you achieve this, there’s an exercise I strongly recommend you try: write down 10 reasons why you must change right this instant, and also 10 reasons why you can.
Stage two – You’ve got to interrupt the pattern of the limiting association. As soon as you realise the urge to ‘go’ in a public environment, you have a patterned way of responding. Now, imagine your mind is a record player; if you take the record out and start scratching it, it will never play the same way again. If you interrupt your patterns, you stop them from playing the same way.
The next exercise: write down 5 ways you can interrupt your ‘Paruresis Pattern’. This can be anything from trying to work out 417 x 18, or trying to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Get creative and find something that works for you.
Stage three – You need to condition yourself to have a new association that empowers you. For example, think of a time when you felt incredibly strong; like nothing could stop you. Now, every time you enter a public toilet, start playing that empowering strength pattern in your mind. Do this on a regular basis, condition your mind, and soon the feelings of strength, accomplishment and power will get associated to public toilet environments, instead of the feelings of shame, embarrassment and pain. That is how you create new neuro-associations and this is how you change.
The final exercise: Write down all of the things you’re going to gain when you overcome your Paruresis; all the pleasure you’re going to experience as a result. Now, whenever you start thinking about your shy bladder, condition yourself to think about all these things you’ll gain. This takes practice, as of course the word ‘condition’ implies. However, by doing this on a regular basis, you’re developing new, empowering associations, that will stick and get the lasting results you’re looking for.