How to Practice

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When I started working to overcome my agoraphobia, my therapist and I called the outings "practicing."  “Practicing” goes by other names as well, including “exposure” and “in vivo.”

My therapist helped me structure my practicing.  He wanted me to practice at least 4 days per week.  I usually practiced 6 days.

Even though I had a long list of  "triggers" for panic, my practice program focused on one activity.  The activity my therapist and I chose was driving from home, on one particular route.  In the context of this clearly defined program, I practiced my cognitive techniques, working on all the scary thoughts and sensations. At some point, the healing work I did while driving this one route started to generalize to many other activities.

My practice program was structured as a series of gradual steps.  (See “Baby Steps”.)  By doing things in gradual steps, my "comfort zone" gradually expanded.  As I practiced, I made steady progress in identifying and resolving the slices of my "panic pizza pie”. (See “Mastering Panic”.)  So, I was really doing two things at the same time: expanding my range, and practicing mastery of anxiety and panic.

Often, I would do exactly the same outing on consecutive days.  It was great for my morale to see how my anxiety came down, simply by repeating the identical outing. 

For me, overcoming agoraphobia was a tremendous challenge.  But in the midst of my anxieties and uncertainties, I came up with something that really helped me.  I’d like to share it with you. It’s very simple:

To achieve my cure, all I have to do is keep practicing.

It didn't matter how any particular practice went, or even how any particular week went.  As long as I continued to practice, I knew I would reach my goal.  Practicing is the key, and continuing to practice overcomes any difficulty.  I believe that the great majority of the many thousands who have overcome this condition have used this key. 

 

"Baby Steps"

 


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