- Wear your slippers to the grocery store. If you’re feeling ultra-brave, scuff your feet across the floor to call attention to your slippers. If you’re feeling ultra-timid, go to a grocery store far enough from your house that the shoppers will probably never see you again.
- Sing at a karaoke bar. While you’re sober.
- Choose one completely inappropriate article of clothing (a Dr. Seuss hat, a big pair of fuzzy mittens in the middle of summer, a headband with bumblebee antenna) and wear it in public as long as you can. This is not only good exposure therapy- it’s fun!
- Join a local Toastmasters club or offer to give a public presentation on an area relating to your expertise at a library or school. Public speaking is an excellent channel for exorcising humiliation, especially if you do it on a regular basis (that’s speak in public, not humiliate yourself).
- Call up a deejay at a local country radio station and request a song by Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne. Be aware that you will be rejected; you might be laughed at and rejected, and there is a possibility you may be laughed at and rejected on the air.
- If you’re single, use an online location service like Classmates.com or PeopleFinder.com to find an old school classmate you used to have a crush on. Contact them and ask for a date (or just initiate a conversation). If you’re married, contact an old school classmate and invite them to lunch. At worst they’ll say no; at best, you will have rediscovered a friend.
- Write a poem or a short story and try to submit it to a newspaper or magazine, or enter a writing contest. If you aren’t rejected, become a writer immediately.
- Try to nail Jell-o to a tree.
- Buy a new video game and attempt to win it in one sitting. If you play video games on a regular basis, buy a video game that’s different from the ones you usually play (for example, if you enjoy fighting video games, try a quest-driven format. Or video chess.).
- Start a new hobby that requires creating an end product, such as knitting, model kit building, or cake decorating. Please note that if you are working on your dietary habits, it is not advisable to embark on cake-decorating exposure therapy to combat fear of failure. You will feel obliged to consume your failed attempts. Instead, try vegetable sculpture or fruit bowl arrangement.
- Challenge Jeff Gordon to a stock car race. This will also help overcome your fears of rejection and humiliation, as at least one of them is bound to happen.
Conquering your fears is like climbing a mountain – do it one step at a time.
You can determine your own form of exposure therapy by coming up with ways to face your personal fears one small step at a time. If you can’t think of anything, ask a friend to help. Most people are more than willing to try something new, especially if they get to watch you do something entertaining.
NOTE: These exercises are not intended as a substitute for professional psychiatric care.
If your fears are extraordinarily strong and interfere with normal functions or daily activities, you should seek the advice of a certified psychiatrist. Self-induced exposure therapy can be effective in reducing or alleviating normal fear, but should not be used in cases of mentally crippling or trauma-induced fear.
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