The guide below is a brief, start up guide for those wishing to conquer their phobia (or phobias) once and for all. For ease of use, the fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) is used as an example – though the steps are applicable to any fear.
1. Expose yourself to the fear.
If you have a phobia, you probably go out of your way to avoid the thing that causes you to feel afraid. In the claustrophobia example, you may refuse to use lifts, as they make you feel uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, by avoiding the scenario you fear – the lift – you are actually increasing your overall fear. Avoidance does nothing but make a situation worse, and you need to face the fear before you can conquer it. That means getting into a lift, even if just for one floor. Make yourself do it.
2. Positive reinforcement.
After you have forced yourself to confront your fear once, you need to make it a positive experience. This can be having a dessert you enjoy following your ordeal, or buying something nice from your favorite store. Do this as soon as possible following your first attempt to confront the fear – in the example, you should tuck into a cupcake the second you step out of the lift.
3. Rinse, and repeat.
The way to conquer a phobia is to do the above, over and over again. As you do so, you will learn to manage the fear, and you will also learn that there really is no danger in that which panicked you so badly before. By continuing to expose yourself to your fear deliberately and then allowing a congratulatory moment when you succeed, over time, you can rid yourself of the fear forever.
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