Building your self esteem and confidence will help you achieve greater success when engaging in cognitive behavior techniques. You can begin to tackle the fears that are at the root of your social phobia through imagery desensitization and Positive-Thought-Redirection.
It´s probably asking too much to just jump head first into confronting the situation you most fear. It makes more sense to approach conquering your fears in a step by step process.
One of those situations can be giving a presentation in front of others, that´s what´s holding you back from seeking a promotion at work. You can desensitize yourself to this fear and work to conquer it.
Here is an example of a step-by-step approach to image desensitization:
1. Break down the ability to give a presentation into steps. These steps might include:
a. sitting with a small group of people for 10 minutes
b. sitting with a small group of people for a longer period
c. sitting in a large group for 10 minutes, then a longer period such as an hour.
d. introducing comments while sitting with this group of people
e. giving a short, 1 minute presentation in front of friends
f. giving a short, one minute presentation in front of a small group and then a larger group of people
g. building up that presentation into 5, then 10, then 15 minutes etc…
h. giving that presentation in front of a large group for 5, 10, 15 minutes.
2. Once you think about the steps involved in achieving your goal and creating your list, it is time to imagine in your mind the situation for each component. Place yourself in the situation in your mind for each step and work through it and use positive thought redirection to desensitize yourself to the anxiety you feel.
3. After you have desensitized yourself in your mind, it is time to practice the steps in real life, with real people. Often, explaining your problem to your boss and explaining the steps you will be undertaking is met with both understanding and the offer of help.
If your work situation cannot accommodate this real life desensitization practice, try to duplicate the situation on your own time, using acquaintances and other people you know. This is where being a member of a support group could come in handy. If public speaking is your fear, try taking a class in it, it is a good place to work on desensitization and is safer environment than your work place.
For social phobia sufferers, often the most crucial step in resolving their problems or effectuating a recovery is real life desensitization. An important component to real life desensitization is the relaxation techniques and countering mistaken mental beliefs that helps in the desensitization process. A great way to combat those troublesome beliefs that everyone will think you are stupid, weird, awkward, or just plain dumb is Positive-Thought-Redirection.
Positive-Thought-Redirection entails stopping and substituting positive thoughts for negative or intrusive thoughts. As negative thoughts pop up during your social interactions, whether in your mind with image desensitization or in real life exposure situations you issue a stop command.
The goal is to stop that negative, over exaggerated or inaccurate thought in its tracks. You then want to substitute a more positive thought for the one you just stopped. When using this technique it´s best to have a prepared list of positive thoughts that you can build yourself up with. By doing the thinking and preparation beforehand, you want add to the stress of the situation by having to redirect your thoughts unassisted at the spur of the moment.
Practicing positive thought redirection along with image desensitization will greatly assist you in combating your fears.
As you build up your self esteem, realize that you can confront the situations you fear and survive and even thrive you will see your assertiveness and confidence grow. Don´t let your social phobia stand in the way of the life you want any longer.