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Once we have a few of the strategies for developing greater self-confidence down from our last chapter of our Guide the next big step is to start practising what many therapists refer to as “Exposure Therapy”.
This combination can be thought of as a kind of “one-two” punch to knock out Social Anxiety disorder. For the majority of people nothing works better – and on top of that having a professional to help can be of some benefit, but it’s far from a requirement. Real results up to a complete cure of Social Anxiety disorder aren’t uncommon after Exposure Therapy. Exciting isn’t it?
Before we get into some of the more common ways to use Exposure Therapy let’s look at what it is exactly.
Exposure Therapy is easy to understand. It’s taking the things that cause a person social anxiety and slowly exposing them to it. This act, done in very small doses at first slowly building up exposure as the person builds up their “social tolerance”. Ideally, after some time the social anxiety will completely have disappeared. The time line can be short or long depending on the individual circumstance.
Here’s two examples…
Exposure Therapy for Overcoming Fear of Social Situations.
This broad area covers a great deal of the experiences that most people with Social Anxiety disorder experience. The beginnings of this type of Exposure Therapy can be quite simple. A goal can be set to talk to a store clerk at first. After a few successes it can be amped up to talking to two or three strangers a day simply making small talk. Then attending a place known for social interaction like a party or night club. Perhaps later a plan can be set up and executed to host a party of your own. The important thing is to take as many small steps as necessary, not to rush things and to celebrate your successes!
Exposure Therapy for the Fear of Being the Center of Attention.
Being the center of attention is another very common manifestation of Social Anxiety disorder. This fear is often reacted to by a drive towards extreme introversion and often a total inability to speak or present oneself to even a small group of people. One of the first things you can do in Exposure Therapy for the fear of being the center of attention is to dress in something that attracts attention, that is flamboyant and flashy.
Getting up the confidence to do this and interact in the conversations that start is a great first start. Next as an exercise make a phone call in front of people and make a point of talking VERY loudly. Become the center of unwilling attention and continue talking anyway. After this join in on a conversation about a controversial subject. Finally play a sport or game with spectators watching. There is of course many substitutions that can be made depending on your own age, lifestyle, etc. The vitally important thing is to make it uncomfortable and scale your efforts up with time. This is the recipe for success over Social Anxiety disorder.
The more we get used to doing the things that cause our social anxiety disorder the less hold they have over us.
Are you ready to start today?