Plan Exposure Exercises
Now that you have your fear ladders, pick one to start working on. On that fear ladder, start with the least scary situation and repeatedly enter that situation or do that activity even if you feel anxious.
For example, if you’re working on your fear of talking to unfamiliar people, you could make eye contact and say “hi” to the bus driver every day on the way to and from school. Do this for many days until it becomes no big deal. Or if you’re working on your fear of touching things you think are dirty, you could touch a doorknob without washing your hands every day.
Expect to feel anxious! That’s what happens when we face our fears.
If the situation is one you can stay in for a long time, remain there until your anxiety starts to come down.
For example, if you fear needles, try looking at a picture of needles until your anxiety comes down. If you stay in a situation long enough, your anxiety will start to come down.
This is because anxiety takes a lot of energy, and at some point it will “run out of gas” and you’ll realize you are safe and nothing really bad has happened.
This can take a long time (up to 30 minutes or more). So make sure you give yourself enough time to do your exposure exercise.
Once you can face that thing or situation repeatedly without much anxiety, it’s time to celebrate your victory and move onto the next thing on your list. If you’re bored – you aren’t scared! And you should feel some anxiety doing these steps or it’s not working.