Psychological Self-Help

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intense, you need a dependable friend there in case you start to feel
overwhelmed (not likely but be prepared). 
STEP TWO: Expose yourself to the scary situation
Approach the scary situation. If you can go all the way at first,
then do it and stay in the situation until the fear declines. If you can't
stand to go all the way at first, get as close as you can stand, wait
until the fear declines at that point, and then advance a little further as
you can tolerate it. Example: if you are afraid of elevators, perhaps
you can just get on and ride all day until the fear subsides. If you can't
get on it and ride immediately, you can stand outside it, then stand on
it without going up or down, then go only one floor, etc. 
STEP THREE: Experience the fear completely until it loses its
The use of this method has gone different directions over the
years. In this step I used to say: If needed hold your friend's hand,
but approach the frightening situation so that the fear is intense. Don't
try to reduce the fear, rather try to experience the fear fully. Tell
yourself you want to feel it, not run away. Focus on the fear, not on
the situation and not on your urge to run. Concentrate on your
physical reactions (shaking, sweating, rapid heart beat, etc.) and on
your thoughts about all the awful things that might happen. Recognize
how unrealistic the thoughts and fears are. 
Try to arouse the fear to its full fury, study it (telling yourself you
can stand more), and challenge it to become even more intense.
Welcome it. Be determined to stay right there as long as it takes to
overpower and shrink the fear response. The fear will decline after
some time, maybe after a couple hours or maybe after 6 or 8 hours
(probably not that long). 
Today, exposure has become a much more common approach
because it is a very simple and effective way to reduce certain fears.
But there is less emphasis on the need in most cases to arouse
extreme fear. Just getting people to gradually expose themselves to
heights or bugs or large (friendly) dogs or asking questions in
meetings or public speaking may be all one needs to do. One reason
for this change in approach is because commercial airlines and other
businesses would like to help people get more comfortable using their
products. In those cases arousing intense fear and having horrible
fantasies are not desirable or acceptable. Some airlines provide a
instructional/informational approach giving explanations of the physics
of flying, the causes and consequences of turbulence, the reasons for
certain flight instructions and noises, the facts about airline safety, etc.
All of which arouse many fantasies of flying. Other approaches simply
expose potential flying customers over and over to various scenes
(sights and sounds) they will encounter in flight. There are several
impressive efforts to use computer-assisted instruction and videos to
expose flight phobic people to scary situations until the anxiety
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