Psychological Self-Help

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(3) The idea is to get your worries and obsessive fears under your
control by: (a) just delaying your worrying for a short while, (b)
responding to the obsession differently (e.g. say it's OK and record
every detail of the obsession, or make up a song about the obsession
and sing it, rather than imagining you are dying, or think of your
doctor saying you are perfectly healthy). (4) Practice stopping the
obsessional worries or fears and getting back to your regular activities:
(a) use self-instruction, self-praise, and relaxation to shift your
attention back to a constructive task, (b) postpone your worries until
two 15-minute "worry sessions" every day (don't resist worrying
during the designated times, in fact insist on filling the 15 minutes
with very disturbing worries, try to get upset, but stop exactly on
time), (c) record your common worries on a 3-minute loop audiotape
and listen to them over and over for 45 minutes a day, try to get
distressed, (d) record on audiotape a 45 minute horror story
describing all the terrible things you fear might happen (if you fear
death, imagine dying a horrible death), listen to it every day and
become upset (eventually it looses its punch), and/or (e) face the
frightening situation directly (hand washers get their hands dirty and
don't wash, cleaners refuse to clean anything for a day, hoarders can
let someone else throw the junk away, worriers try out some solution,
etc.). In short, you take charge, rather than the fear running your life.
"Imaginal flooding" and cue exposure are being used on fears here,
i.e. imagining all the awful consequences that the person thinks
(wrongly) might occur if the rituals were not performed (see
(5) Rituals may provide the only relief a compulsive person ever
gets from his/her terror. Thus, a powerful need to ritualize can develop
in serious cases. Actually, the ritual becomes the person's "proof" that
he/she must avoid the feared situation and that the ritual saves
him/her from the feared disaster and/or from going crazy. Example:
"My house didn't burn today because I checked everything seven times
this morning." You can weaken your compulsion by breaking up the
habit: (a) when the urge strikes, postpone performing the ritual as
long as you can (maybe a minute or hours, the longer the better), (b)
perform the ritual in slow motion, (c) repeatedly change the way you
do the ritual, (d) add some activity to the ritual, e.g. add a 30 minute
jog every time you perform the ritual. All this practice at control may
make you confident and determined to "tough it out" and just decide
not to do the ritual. If so, go for it! Other researchers have found that
some compulsions can be brought under control by "negative
practice," i.e. consciously "willing" the compulsion, say checking all the
doors and windows, to be repeated again and again, so that it is not
always occurring against your will. 
(6) Eventually, you have to repeatedly expose yourself to the
frightening situation (public toilet seats, dirt on the floor, leaving the
house uncleaned, etc.). And, you must prevent yourself from using
any ritual for "protection," such as checking the locks more than once.
You are extinguishing both the fear and the ritual behavior (Hodgson &
Miller, 1982; Millman, Huber, & Diggins, 1982). Exposure may at first
be easiest by using fantasy, as in 4 (d), i.e. imagining being in the
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