In the Exposure component of ERP, you intentionally confront the thoughts or situations that you have been avoiding due to your Anxiety. This could involve putting yourself in uncomfortable environments or situations that trigger your Anxiety symptoms. The goal is to face these fears directly, rather than avoiding them. One of the most important lessons I learnt and I always educate my Clients when working 1:1 or in a group setting, is that we must get clear on dealing with the emotions that are brought on by the thoughts and not the thoughts themselves! This is extremely important because for us living with Anxiety our emotional part of the brain ins malfunctioning this is referred to as the part of the brain called the amygdala, and therefore thinking rational, is not an option.
The Response piece of ERP involves refraining from engaging in the compulsions or rituals that you typically use to try and eliminate and or lower your Anxiety levels. By resisting the urge to perform these rituals, you gradually learn that the feared consequences you worry about are less likely to occur than you originally thought. This process allows you to let go of your Anxiety brought on by the fearful situation and or thought patterns. Over time you come to realize the very fear that drove your anxiety can be overridden by remaining in the feared situation and your Anxiety will come down naturally.
The key to successful ERP is to start with the least anxiety-provoking exposure and gradually work your way up the ladder of anxiety-inducing situations over time. You can use the level of anxiety you experience during an exposure as a reference point. Once the anxiety associated with a particular exposure decreases to around 50% of the original level, you can move on to the next item on your list while continuing to work on the current one.
I personally followed a self-directed ERP program, which served as my compass in navigating my daily challenges. Over time, I broke the cycle of my Anxiety by not responding to the emotional and psychological triggers, this allowed me to learn to recognize them as just thoughts, nothing more nothing less!
It's important to note that this journey was not an easy one and required significant preparation, determination, and a strong desire to change. But through the process, I realized I was not alone in the world of Anxiety. Many others experienced similar if not identical types of Anxiety, and finding this shared experience brought comfort and support.
Thank you for joining me on this journey, and stay tuned for the next part of our story. Remember, with the right tools and support, overcoming Anxiety is possible.
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