STEP FIVE: Try out the methods that have worked best in
fantasy about a real situation
Prepare well but don't procrastinate. One is never thoroughly
prepared. Also, remember, you can always sing better in the shower
than on stage. Likewise, you can handle emotions better in fantasy
than in reality. So, don't expect perfect control of your emotions. But
you will do better than if you had no practice or preplanning at all. Use
these new techniques the first chance you get.
There are two basic procedures at this stage of stress-inoculation:
(1) you may have learned (in fantasy) to control your emotional
response and need the situation to remain the same so you can
practice your self-control in real life. Examples: if you had practiced
liking loud music and certain topics, your goal is to change yourself
and not your roommate. So, you would want him/her to remain the
same (in those ways) and you need practice learning to enjoy the new
music and topics. Likewise, suppose you have a choice of tolerating
your parents' political views, prejudiced attitudes, and insistence on
"no messes" (all of which drive you crazy) or of getting out of their
house. Some therapists would say you shouldn't leave home until you
had learned to tolerate those conditions without getting "bent out of
shape." These situations require self-change.
(2) In other cases, stress-inoculation results in your controlling
your emotions but still wanting the situation to change, like asking the
roommate to change his/her behavior. There are several factors to
consider when handling a situation where one or both people are prone
to get angry: please refer to several skills in chapter 13, especially
assertiveness, expressing anger and fair fighting, and the "no lose"
Practice handling your emotions repeatedly as new situations arise.
See how well the new self-instructions, attitudes, and expectations
work for you. Make changes in your approach to handling unwanted
emotions as the situation changes and as you learn more and more
about self-control. Expose yourself repeatedly to emotional situations
until there is no doubt that you are in control.
Review chapter 5, 6, 7, or 8, whichever is most related to the
unwanted emotion you are working on. This will take an hour or two.
The amount of additional time needed depends a great deal on how
many techniques and concepts one attempts to learn and apply. If one
just uses relaxation and self-instructions to reduce stress, then step
one will be brief. If one tries to get insight into their negative thinking
and learns many cognitive emotion-control methods, it may take many
hours. Likewise, it will take much longer to deal with a 20-item
hierarchy than to deal with one situation. The practicing of emotional
control in fantasy may take 2 to 10 hours and about the same time for
practicing in real life situations. Total= 6 to 25 hours or more spread