p.o.w.~desensitizing & minimizing fears

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ~William Shakespeare

i read another interesting & intriguing & revealing tiny buddha article from july 4th that brought up 
the term “Exposure Response Prevention” and this piqued my curiosity.
i researched it and i think i used a form of this cognitive therapy ~ Exposure & Response Prevention ~
{its inception probably introduced by my marriage/divorce counselor}
with my fears {financial, relationship, creative, social}
to start desensitizing myself in 2007.  

and to this day, i look these phantoms in the face, 
i don’t avoid them or
run from them or
become anxious by them.
It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.~Virginia Woolf
altho, i don’t think i am OCD {neither did my cognitive behavior neuro-therapist},
i do think i lived with an underlying fear for many years {as many people do}
and that dictated much of
my actions and my responses,
my feelings and my thinkings.
i wasn’t anxious about things,
but i did preemptively strike and
sully many of my decisions
to potentially minimize or
avoid creating
a state of fear,
when i stopped the personal situation manipulation and
the controlled pushing forward {my career} and
the finessed relationships {my friends, my family, my husbands} and
the constrained finances {my lines of credit, income, expenses} and
the hyper-focus analysis of the possible outcomes of decisions i had made or
i could have made or
would make {business, personal} ~
i started living in the now…
with more balanced exertions and relaxations,
and i became more accepting and forgiving of
my dear ones
my self
my life
my situation
my being
my doing…
living in the now means
it is ~
as is
how is
where is.
and i don’t concern myself any more about what others will think about me ~
it really is none of my business.
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”~Virginia Woolf

Portrait of Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941), a British author and feminist. (Wiki Image)

i am freer now.
i still have
but it’s not so dire that
i publicly “achieve” things
or that i prove that i am good to others
or that others accept me
because i accept me.
i enjoy more
what i am ~
and i am finally just

Exposure Response Prevention

About Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy
We also use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) techniques, which are based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). While this outcome can be enhanced with the implementation of medications, we have found that many people benefit from therapy alone.  As discussed earlier, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has two components. First, it helps to change thinking patterns (cognitions) that have prevented individuals from overcoming their negative thoughts (distortions).  And second, the behavioral component helps individuals to slowly change their thoughts, helping to influence their behavior.
If we take these same principles, with regard to anxiety, helping individuals understand how thinking patterns have resulted in fear and often times avoidance, by challenging and facing these fears, individuals learn to no longer be afraid. This is done through Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) and is designed to systematically desensitize one to their fears. This treatment is exceptionally effective and produces remarkable results, allowing individuals to learn that they can successfully face their fears. Repeatedly facing one’s fears and learning to manage the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts associated with these fears allows the anxiety to gradually fade away. Situations in which the fears may have caused anxiety that was paralyzing can become manageable. The person learns he can choose to “flee” or “fight”, and what was once a “flight” response may become nothing more than an acknowledgement of the fear.

Here’s how it works. The first step is to make a list of triggers. This may include objects, people, situations, words, images, and thoughts. For some, these lists will be quite long and extensive. Next, we explore the list of triggers and look to find those that produce the least amount of anxiety, which will be our starting point. We rate the triggers on a scale of 1 to 10. A “10” would be at the top and potentially create panic if exposed to it too soon; a “1” would be in the range of manageable. Once the first exposure is determined, the approach to the exposure is discussed. If it involves an object, the individual may not be ready to touch it, and may simply need to spend some time looking at it. The next step is to move the object closer until the individual is ready to come in contact with it (exposure). Then, the key will be to make sure there will be no compulsions, either during or after the exposure (response prevention). This process is then continued up the hierarchy until all feared objects, thoughts, or impulses are addressed.

excellent excerpts from that inspiring article on tiny buddha

Jul 03, 2011 07:15 pm | Alison Hummel

“It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.” ~Pema Chodron

I love acceptance. Acts of surrender create forward momentum.

If we all pause for a moment and observe what we are fighting, right here and right now—maybe depression, anxiety, weight gain, low self-image, or financial stress—we  have an opportunity to accept.

But that’s just the start.

Recently I accepted something I never thought I would. Reframing the way I thought about it changed my life.


I discovered that I had OCD one afternoon, when I was trying to figure out how you know something for certain.

Try googling that.

The first thing that popped up for my search query was about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I felt immediate relief.

I leveraged my OCD to my advantage and feverishly searched the best treatment for this disorder. I discovered Exposure Response Prevention. It’s apparently the only game in town for this type of disorder, and luckily for me, Philadelphia houses one of the best treatment facilities in the world for OCD.

Now, my OCD is fully in remission, with no medications.

But after about six months of freedom, something funny happened: I decided I didn’t like having OCD anymore. I wanted that label off my back. But really, I didn’t like the upkeep of remission.

But, in order to get through the anxiety, you must experience it. I didn’t want to do that. I liked having my little rituals to deal with life.

So I un-accepted my limitation. Just like that. The mind is a beautiful mechanism, really. I still find it so incredible that changing one’s mind can have such wild repercussions.


I had to go back for treatment. In that second round, I made a resolution to myself that I will always accept that I have it. And that it will most likely never go away.

Acceptance doesn’t have to mean surrendering to something bad.

Instead of running, welcome it back with open arms.

It sort of deflates the whole thing. It’s like a “whomp, whomp….”

Can you acknowledge that because of this struggle, you are able to experience many emotions that many other people cannot? Can you find the hidden benefits in your cross to bear?

I have this belief that people who have struggled with extreme lows can experience a deeper sense of joy than most people because they have known the depths of despair.

We can become so victimized by negative circumstances that we fail to see the gift that is right in front of us. As a writer, dreamer, and visionary, having this extra quirk can really add fuel to my fire. I am eager and ready for anyone who is done half-accepting or un-accepting something to join me in this new type of acceptance.

What limitation are you ready to flip on its head and accept—as a spice that just makes your soup taste that much richer?

5 responses to “p.o.w.~desensitizing & minimizing fears

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