When Julie was a child, she was bitten by a dog and developed a terrible fear of dogs. She desperately wants to overcome that fear. Today, she agreed to visit a good friend who has a small submissive dog. When she rang the doorbell, she heard the dog bark and fear gripped her.
What should Julie do with her fear that the dog will bite her?
Should she avoid the dog and return to her car?
Should she resist the fearful thought?
Should she distract herself from thinking about the dog?
Actually Julie should do none of the above.
The best thing Julie could do is face the fear and the anxious feelings. The more she tries to avoid or resist, the stronger the fear grows.
Instead, she should tell herself, “I feel really anxious but I can do this. I am sweating but I won’t die from this.”
Julie should stay in the doorway as long as she can. The key here is for Julie to tolerate that anxious feeling as long as possible. The more she can do this, the more she will tackle the fear.
When anxious thoughts come into your mind, identify them, and tolerate the momentary feeling. Then correct the thought with something more reasonable like, “Yes I am afraid but God is with me and will get me through this. I can take it.” As you correct the thought to something more reasonable and tolerate the feeling, the anxiety will most likely decrease.