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Cognitive Techniques – desensitization
Once you have learned how to relax yourself using the technique above, or something like it, you can then begin to tackle your fear – your tiger situation.
Imagine a sequence (or hierarchy) of, say, eight things that remind you of your fear. Put them in order from least frightening to most frightening. So if your fear is heights then maybe ‘looking at a picture of someone at the top of a tower’ is least frightening and ‘being at the top of a tower yourself’ is the most frightening. Somewhere in the middle is ‘looking over the balcony at a shopping centre’.
Next you have to take your tiger for a walk twice a day for six to eight weeks. Yes, it is strange to purposely provoke the very thing that makes you anxious or panic, but you need to educate your emotions that nothing terrible will happen to you
People always start with easy exercises first and build up. So twice a day start with the least scary of your graded fears – look at that picture of someone at the top of a tower and at the same time use the relaxation techniques you’ve learned. Keep practicing the relaxation until you notice that you feel a little less panicky. That’s better isn’t it? Keep practicing twice a day until you feel comfortable with this stage. Then move on to the next in the sequence and use this as the basis for your exercises. Gradually over the 6-8 weeks you will surprise yourself by taming your tiger!
We would all like to have a tiger by our side as we walk down the road. Think of your tiger as a pet. Talk to him. Understand his behaviour. Tell him to come to heel. Eventually your tiger becomes a substitute for your feelings & anxieties.
Under your control.
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