Why Exposure Therapy Almost Never Works The Way You’d Want It To
On one hand, exposure therapy is the best way to beat social anxiety, and on the other hand it almost never works. How is it so and what to do to make it work for you?
A while ago I was browsing YouTube for some interesting videos on social anxiety and I stumbled upon a guy named Ryan, who was doing a video diary of his exposure therapy.
I watched two of his videos and I immediately felt sorry for him.
He was doing it all wrong.
Somewhere he must have heard that exposure therapy is the only way to overcome social anxiety. So he decided to go that route and expose himself to anxiety provoking situations.
But unfortunately it doesn’t really work this way.
It was obvious he had no plan.
Exposing yourself to stressful situations without having a good plan is futile and only damages your self-esteem and confidence even more.
He clearly put the cart before the horse.
The only right way to do it is to have a very good plan.
You need to know exactly why you are exposing yourself to that anxiety-provoking situation.
Every exposure must have a clear intent… a clear reason to happen.
And the reason to expose yourself to these stressful situations is to gather new evidence that will support your new empowering belief that you’re trying to adopt.
You see, you get anxious because you have all these limiting beliefs that make you feel that way in situations you can’t fully control.
These limiting beliefs trigger the anxiety. They trigger the physical symptoms of social anxiety that you experience.
These limiting beliefs are responsible for your blushing, trembling voice, shaking, and for that unpleasant feeling in your stomach that makes you want to avoid the situation altogether.
So exposure therapy allows you to gather new evidence for your new, empowering beliefs that will enable you to feel comfortable in situations that make you anxious at the moment.
So it needs to be done the right way. It needs to be done strategically and systematically.
Now if you’d like to learn more about exposure therapy and how to do it properly so you don’t do unnecessary damage to your self-esteem, subscribe to my daily tips for overcoming social anxiety.