You need to gradually face the things you fear! The process of facing fears is called exposure. Exposure involves slowly and repeatedly facing things you fear until you feel less anxious.
Starting with things that are less scary, you work your up towards facing things that are scarier. This process happens naturally all the time. For example, when you learned to ride a bike you started on a tricycle. Then, you moved to riding a bike with training wheels and your Mom or Dad holding on to the back of the bike. Finally, you worked your way up to riding a two-wheel bike on your own. This process also happens when we learn to swim or drive a car.
The first step in facing your fears is to make a list of the situations, places, or things that you fear.
Here’s an example.
Lin has social anxiety and is afraid of a number of social situations. For example, she is scared to talk to other kids at school. She is afraid to answer questions in class and avoids doing class presentations at all costs. Lin tends to avoid going to parties unless she knows everyone who will be there. She also avoids going shopping, as she doesn’t want to talk to the salespeople.
Lin’s list of feared situations might include:
- talking to classmates
- asking her teacher a question
- answering a question in class
- doing a presentation
- going to a party or school dance
- going shopping and asking a salesperson to help her find a size
EXERCISE: Pull out a piece of paper and start listing the things that you fear.