Here’s a typical story of another Air Traffic Controller that I came across just to show you how easy it is to label people, we don’t want to do that right!
So I have a call from a mum one day who says ‘TeeJay I’m hoping that you can help me, my 15 year old daughter has self-diagnosed that she has social anxiety disorder and I’m really worried. I’ve been to the doctor with her, the doctor is concerned too, he said he’ll refer her to a counsellor and a psychologist but there’s a 12 week waiting list and I’m really worried that she’ll get into self-harming, can you help?’ I say yes I can, I believe I can and inside I’m cheering because there’s a 12 week waiting list and I do not want this young lady to be labelled and medicated. So I say to her, in order for me to help her then I have a little challenge for her to prove that she’s happy to be helped. So sure enough I give her the ignition check in, she comes out as an Air Traffic Controller, tons of Wise fuel, not a surprise to me.
I go to the house to do the coaching session and before I’ve even pulled into the drive and stopped the car her mum is out of the house and is saying ‘Hi TeeJay, how are you doing? What was the journey like? I hope the traffic wasn’t too bad, it’s a beautiful day isn’t it, how was your weekend?’ Completely Exuberant fuel, I can’t get a word in edgeways, sideways or anyways!
So we go into the house and we’re sitting around the dining room table and I start to share the fuels and flow with mum and daughter and I watch her mum just go quiet and go inside as she starts to process the difference between Exuberant and Wise fuel and then all of a sudden she looks at me and says ‘I’m so sorry TeeJay I haven’t even offered you a cup of coffee. Would you like one?’ and I know she needs to make her escape into the kitchen to process so I say ‘yeah sure, black no sugar thank you very much!’ and as mum disappears into the kitchen I look at this young lady who’s been sat in silence, she’s hardly said a word yet of course. She’s just completely been hiding behind her fringe, she had long hair and she’d got her hair down so it fell across her face so I said to her, just while your mums gone just think about what we’ve been talking about, how she’s very different from you. I just want you to move your fringe from your face a minute so I can see you. I look her in the eyes and I say ‘you are not broken. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, you do not have social anxiety disorder. You have no disorder, you have a beautiful gift, and it’s called being an Air Traffic Controller. People like me need people like you, I have so little Wise fuel that I really love and appreciate the gift that you bring, we need you. And so when your mum comes back we’ll just explore that a little bit further so that she can understand that she was just trying to make you like her and you’re not like her. So that she can understand that there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just different than her’.
Mum comes back in the room and we have that conversation, she said ‘TeeJay I am so sorry and she said to her daughter, I am so sorry, I couldn’t understand why you weren’t like me. When I was at school I went to all the after school clubs and I looked forward to the school discos and prom and being with my friends during the day and after the day and I keep saying to her, why don’t you join the after school clubs? Why don’t you go to the school disco, you should be out there with your friends, why don’t you have a sleepover, invite all your friends?’ The young lady is like ‘oh my gosh, that’s the worst thing ever, please don’t make me do that’. So I know that that relationship is now so different and I know that they appreciate each other’s world so much and I celebrate that that young lady was given the opportunity to be understood rather than labelled, medicated and given the identity of ‘I have social anxiety disorder’.
So be careful that we’re jumping to conclusions with your young people when we’re not understanding them.
Air Traffic Controller