5 tips to get you going again
Okay, we've all been there (help me out here, fellas): you're standing at the urinal; you want to go, but...you just can't. Anxiety, embarrassment, self-consciousness, feeling pressured around others; whatever the cause, most of us have sometimes experienced shy or 'bashful bladder'.
But for some men and women, shy bladder syndrome becomes chronic. It starts to dictate their lives. Take Nick for example: He was a successful man in his thirties when he came for help. He recounted how, when he was seventeen, he had been under pressure to perform well in exams. One day he had been standing next to his father at a urinal when he found he "just couldn't pee." But it got far worse than that.
Now married with children, he had reached the point where restroom privacy had become an obsession for him. He would even insist that his family leave the house for ten minutes every time he needed to visit the toilet.
"I know everything there is to know about shy bladder syndrome," he explained. "My doctor calls it paruresis, I know it's pretty common but people don't like to talk about it. I've had months of cognitive therapy and analyzed my thoughts around it 'til I'm blue in the face. I could write a textbook on the subject; but I've still got the blessed thing!"
Nick did get over his shy bladder experiences and as a result he suddenly found he could embrace freedoms that hadn't been available for years. He could meet up with friends for drinks without concern, go on holiday again, and make long journeys.
If you suffer shy bladder syndrome, here are some tips to help you get back in flow.
1) Trust in your unconscious mind
Sure, this one is easier said than done, but stick with me.
Anxiety and conscious focus interrupt and prevent natural physical processes. When people become anxious about going to sleep, consciously trying to sleep can totally prevent the onset of sleep. Similarly, when a natural function like urinating becomes a conscious effort, then the whole process gets disrupted.
The unconscious mind takes care of so much. Blinking, digestion, erections, breathing, menstrual cycles, salivation, and many other processes are best left to the part of you that knows how to operate them: your unconscious mind.
Close your eyes before going out and tell your unconscious mind: "Today/tonight I (the conscious mind) am going to let you oversee what you do so well." This may sound crazy, but this self-suggestion has worked for many shy bladder sufferers.
2) Overcome shy bladder by rehearsing success
Your imagination is a powerful tool. Use it.
When you are actually using the toilet at home, imagine you are in a public restroom, feeling relaxed. This will help prepare you for using one for real.
You may have noticed that some restrooms feel 'easier' than others; perhaps they are less busy. Make a list of easy restrooms, averagely difficult ones, and harder ones.
Take a week to use just the easier ones. Whilst using those, imagine you are using the next harder one. Imagine what it looks like. When you are in the intermediate restroom and using it, imagine using the hardest one of all.
Like any rehearsal, this constructive rehearsal can 'train the brain' for the real thing.
3) Vividly recall times before bashful bladder
When we recall times gone by, we don't just remember with the mind; the body remembers too. So if I recall a time when I laughed with a friend, I may feel like laughing again. If I recall a time I was very fit, I may feel stronger now.
With your eyes closed, recall times when you were relaxed in a public restroom. Imagine seeing yourself from the outside looking calm and letting your body do what comes naturally. This will help realign your mind and body to the way things were and should be. Do this exercise regularly and it will start to feel more normal again to just use public restrooms.
Alternatively, click on the free audio session below and let me guide you though this exercise.
4) Get someone close to you to be close to you
Tell a trusted friend or family member and get them to be near you when you 'practice' going to the bathroom when out and about.
Yes, really. This will take the pressure off. Why? Because they'll know about it. Blushing is only a problem when we are trying to hide it. If your best friend knows you blush, then you'll care much less about it in his/her presence.
If you're a guy, practice standing at a urinal with your pal close by. If this proves funny, all the better - because laughter drives out anxiety. Women can practice urinating or just sitting in a cubicle near a trusted female friend.
5) Don't give up; you will overcome it
As I said before, trying too hard to overcome an unconscious process can get in the way. But nature intends for you to urinate regularly when you have opportunities to do so. Use hypnosis, speak to former sufferers, but keep going to start going again. It took a few weeks of work, but I'll never forget the look on Nick's face when he came to tell me he'd done it: "I had such a great time last night. We were at this dance party, and I drank a few beers and, you know what? I went to the bathroom three, maybe four times, and it just felt so natural again."
Shy bladder is a temporary condition. Use these five proven tips to remind your brain just how to relax and let you go as you used to.