Starting with situations that are less scary, you work your way up to facing things that cause you a great deal of anxiety. Over time, you build up confidence in those situations and may even come to enjoy them. This process often happens naturally. A person who is afraid of the water takes swimming lessons every week and practices putting their feet and legs in the water, then the whole body and, finally, diving underwater. People with a fear of water can learn to love swimming. The same process occurs when people learn to ride a bike, skate, or drive a car. Steps to control fear will unveil a new potential.
Starting with the situation that causes the least anxiety, repeatedly engage in that activity (e.g., saying “hi” to the bus driver everyday) until you start to feel less anxious doing it. If the situation is one that you can remain in for a prolonged period of time (such as standing on a balcony), stay in the situation long enough for your anxiety to lessen (e.g., standing on the balcony for 20-30 minutes). If the situation is short in duration, try “looping” it, which involves doing the same thing over and over again for a set number of times (e.g., repeatedly driving back and forth over a bridge until you start to feel less anxious or making consecutive phone calls until you feel more comfortable doing it).
If you stay in a situation long enough (or continue engaging in a specific activity), your anxiety will start to reduce. This is because anxiety takes a lot of energy and at some point it “runs out of gas”. The longer you face something, the more you get used to it and the less anxious you will feel when you face it again.
Constant and Impactful Practise as One of the Vital Steps to Control Fear :
It is important to practise on a regular basis. Some steps can be practised daily (e.g., driving over a bridge, taking an elevator, saying “hi” to a stranger, touching doorknobs), while other steps can only be done once in a while (e.g., giving a formal presentation to a large group or taking a plane trip). However, the more often you practise the faster the fear will fade.
Don’t forget to maintain the gains that you have made. Even if you have become comfortable doing something, it’s important to keep exposing yourself to it from time to time, so your fears don’t creep back. For example, if you have overcome a fear of needles, you should schedule routine blood tests or donate blood every six months so that your fear of needles does not return. This is one of the most acknowledged steps to control fear.
Re-rate your entire fear ladder every once in a while; that way, you can see the progress you have made, and identify the steps on the ladder you still need to tackle.
Appreciate Your Courageous Behaviour:
It’s not easy facing fears. Reward yourself when you do it! It may be helpful to use specific rewards as a motivation to achieve a goal. For example, plan to purchase a special gift for yourself (DVD, CD, book, treat) or engage in a fun activity (rent a movie, go to the movies, go out for lunch or dinner, plan a relaxing evening) after you reach a goal. Don’t forget the power of positive self-talk (e.g., “I did it!”).
Hindrances in Your Growth:
When you begin to change to a positive person, others around you may not be comfortable with your change. It is amazingly empowering to have a support of a strong, motivated, and inspirational group of people.
Now, you will become aware of persons who are positive and negative. You can make changes so that you spend most of your time with those who make you feel good. They support you in your growth journey. You must include in this group, some persons who are ahead of you in this journey. Their experience is valuable. For doing this, think of people around you admire. Speak to them, or call them, or write mail saying what you admire and that you would like to know them better. Even if you are afraid of rejection, do it. Generally, such people appreciate that. Be prepared to take a few rejections in your stride. In any case, those who reject you were not the right ones for you.
Sometimes, the family members dislike the change because they are used to or comfortable with your old patterns. You must still continue with your changes, most of them will start liking you and help you in the process. Others may adjust or leave you. Either way, it is good for you. While undergoing this change, one must be aware of the difference in aggressiveness and healthy assertiveness. The less you need someone’s approval, the more you are able to love them. Look at people in your life as “practice”.
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