Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 40 of 78 
Next page End Contents 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  

back to relaxing. If a scene consistently arouses anxiety, it is probably
too big a jump from the previous scenes or it is more scary than you
judged it to be. There are three things to do: go back and work on the
less-scary scenes more, add some less scary scenes that lead up to
this one, or this scene may be out of order and needs to be moved to
later in the hierarchy. 
After you have imagined a scene three consecutive times (10 to 30
seconds each) without experiencing anxiety, you can go on to the next
scene on the list. Imagine each scary scene as vividly as possible,
include details and realistic action. Visualize the situation exactly as it
is, picture the people involved, see clearly how you behave, etc. Hear,
feel and smell everything that is going on too. There are perhaps
thousands of stimuli associated with the unwanted fear response. Each
of these connections has to be broken. The more life-like you make
the imagined scene, the faster your fear of the real situation will be
Do desensitization for 30 minutes to one hour every other day or
1/2 hour every day in a quiet, private place. Start each new session by
repeating the most intense scene you imagined the last session and
then work up the hierarchy from there. Continue the method until you
can imagine all the scenes without feeling fear (or whatever feeling
you are extinguishing). 
STEP FIVE: Confront the real situation
What is important is how well you can handle the real life situation.
So, after desensitizing all the scary scenes, test your reaction in
reality. After imagining approaching people you find attractive, then be
sure to approach people in real life--start a conversation with someone
in your class, ask someone to go out, etc. Keep in mind, there is a lag,
often, between what you have done with ease in fantasy and what you
will be able to do easily in real life. But your anxiety should be reduced
by desensitization sufficiently that you can now handle the real
situations that previously frightened you away. Expose yourself to the
scary real situations over and over while relaxing as much as possible.
Soon you will have conquered your unreasonable fears. Keep
practicing your new skills. 
Keep in mind that fear is natural in many situations. You can't
eliminate it entirely. It may even be beneficial. Almost everyone feels
tense giving a speech (anxiety helps us prepare). Who doesn't feel a
tinge of fear when 40 or 50 feet above the ground? Who doesn't feel a
little jealous sometimes? The goal is not to remove all fears, just to
make them tolerable and to avoid being controlled by unreasonable
Time involved
Previous page Top Next page

« Back