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Exposure Response Prevention for Dealing with Fear

Fear is a common factor in addiction, depression, anxiety, and anxiety disorders like OCD. How we deal with our fear is a major contributor to these issues. We often have a hard time facing our fears head on and instead use our addictive behaviors and thought patterns as means of escape. To confront our fears, we can use a technique called Exposure Response Prevention, or ERP.

To really benefit from ERP, we can start by figuring out what our fears actually are. Common fears many of us share are fears of abandonment, failure, inadequacy and inferiority, fears of being replaced, betrayed, hurt or violated, fear of loss, fear of being alone. As we do some soul searching and go beneath the surface of our symptoms, we become more conscious of our fears and fear responses.

ERP is a relatively simple exercise, but it can bring up intense emotions, so you may want to do it with a therapist or other supportive person. With ERP we expose ourselves to our triggering fear and then prevent our usual go-to responses such as our compulsions and addictive behaviors. This requires willpower and the determination not to engage in our usual fear response coping mechanisms. ERP is essentially a meditation on our fears, and just like with any form of meditation, it is practicing over time that yields the most results. You might feel an immediate change in your thoughts and emotions, but for continued healing, keep practicing.

Let’s use a common anxiety-inducing thought pattern as an example. Many of us with addictions and mental health issues are anxious about our recovery process. We are worried we will relapse. We’re terrified of disappointing our loved ones. We’re afraid of causing even more damage and destruction to ourselves and those around us. With ERP, we will expose ourselves intentionally and consciously to our fears. “I’m afraid I will fail. I’m afraid I will always be suffering. I’m afraid of hurting other people. I’m afraid people won’t love me anymore.”

Meditate on your fears. As we sit with them, we begin to have acceptance, which helps reduce the negative energy we’ve been building up with our resistance. As we allow ourselves to feel the fears, their powerful hold over us starts to fade. Then we consciously choose not to follow up with our drug of choice, our toxic relationship pattern, or our self-destructive compulsion. With time and practice, our fears don’t feel so overpowering and debilitating because we have faced them head on. We start to realize just how strong we actually are for continuing to live our lives and not letting our fears destroy us.

We can help you to explore different healing techniques and find the ones that help you most. Call Enlightened Solutions (833) 801-LIVE.

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