How to Become Socially Fearless With Hypothesis Testing

fearless

What is Hypothesis Testing?

Hypothesis testing is a concept taken from cognitive behavioural therapy and that involves testing a negative ‘hypothesis’ in order to disprove your fears and help you to overcome an illogical anxiety. This is a technique that you can use to absolutely smash through limiting fears and it can be perfectly targeted towards destroying social anxiety.

How it Works

When you’re afraid of something or something causes anxiety,then normally this is linked to some kind of belief about what will happen. We are not afraid of heights – we are afraid of falling. Likewise, we are anxious in social situations because we think we might stutter, we might get shouted at, or we might make a fool of ourselves. This is the ‘hypothesis’. Hypothesis testing then involves proving how unlikely this is to yourself. In the case of a social phobia, you can do this by simply facing your worst case scenario to see what actually happens.

Putting it Into Practice

Afraid you’ll make a fool of yourself in public and get laughed at? The reality is that most people are kind and understanding. If you actually do stutter or make a mistake people will generally turn a blind eye and be compassionate. You probably know this already on a conscious level, so all that’s left to do is to prove it to yourself so that you believe it on every level. This is where hypothesis testing comes into play and to do tis you’re going to actually make a fool of yourself on purpose.

So find a shop where you don’t visit regularly, go up to the till and then purposefully stutter and act shy and confused. Chances are you’ll be absolutely terrified while doing this but if you can get through it, you’ll find that in 99% of cases, the assistant simply overlooks your struggles and is perfectly polite. And once you’ve done that, you can do it again and again and you’re likely to find the exact same thing happening each time.

hypothesis testing

Of course you might have to build up to this if you’re too scared to begin with. Start by occasionally letting yourself stutter in conversation with friends and then in public. Perhaps try speaking to more strangers over time and generally you can gradually teach yourself that there are much worse things than not sounding perfectly eloquent all the time! People will go easy on you – so make sure you go easy on yourself too.


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How Anxiolytics Work (And Whether You Should Take Them)

What are Anxiolytics?

Anxiolytics treat anxiety and panic attacks. Whether you regularly find yourself having panic attacks or you simply find yourself feeling stressed from time to time, then you may have been recommended anxiolytics by your doctor. These medications work in a number of ways to help combat both the psychological and physiological symptoms associated with it.

But how do they work?

Neuroscience

All anxiolytics work by changing the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that are associated with stress or anxiety. Stress is essentially caused by the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is our body’s chemical response to danger. When we think we’re under some kind of threat, we release adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine, cortisol and more and this leads to an increase in our heartrate, dilation of the pupils, dilation of the blood vessels and even increased blood viscosity. The muscles become stronger and we become more alert but the immune system and digestion are suppressed until we become safer.

Anxiolytics
Blackboard with the chemical formula of Alprazolam

Most anxiolytics work by increasing the amount of a substance called ‘GABA’ or gamma aminobutyric acid. This is an ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter. The purpose of an inhibitory neurotransmitters is to suppress activity in the brain and communication between brain cells. This leaves us feeling less alert and less anxious which in turn causes those anxiety-related neurotransmitters to subside. Essentially it works by sedating us slightly. Other anti-anxiety medication works by increasing serotonin. Serotonin is the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter and when there’s lots of it in the brain, we feel happy and cheerful. Increasing this can therefore reduce feelings of anxiety and dread.

The Challenge with Anxiolytics

anxiolytics

The problem is that both these methods can lead to unwanted side effects as well as addiction. When you increase or decrease specific neurotransmitters, the brain responds by reducing its natural production of those chemicals. They also reduce its ability to respond to them (by removing ‘receptors’). Thus you can develop to the point where you need stronger doses of the medication to get the same results. Likewise, you can find yourself feeling even worse when you’re not using the medication. This is called ‘tolerance and dependence’.

Furthermore, using medication like this does not address the root cause of the problems. The root is the thought processes that lead to that chemical change. While anxiolytics might be useful in the short term for preventing the on-set of an attack, it’s important to use other methods in the long term to solve the problem.


Therapy Tools

Fear Setting for Stress Reduction

fear setting

Fear Setting for Stress Reduction


Fear setting is an amazing tool that can be used to get over almost any kind of fear or doubt in your mind. Mental health professionals, self-help gurus and productivity experts recommend it as a means to get over fears of taking chances. For example, if you are someone who is thinking about branching out and starting their own business, you might find that fears of failure are holding you back. This is where fear setting would normally come in, to help you overcome those doubts and take a real chance on your future and on your dreams.
But this amazing emotional regulation tool has other uses too. Specifically, it can be a highly powerful tool for overcoming doubts and fears that might be causing you stress. If you’re afraid of losing your job, of your relationship ending, or of your credit score becoming so bad that you can’t get a loan… this can cause you underlying chronic stress.

The solution?

Fear setting, in order to remove those doubts and focus on what matters.

How to Use Fear Setting

The idea behind this tool is that you are going to write down all the things you find are making you feel stressed. Then, you will look at them and assess on a case-by-case basis, whether they’re really worth stressing about. Are they actually likely to cause you problems, or are you worrying for nothing? For example, often the things that bother you in a relationship are an image of our biggest fear in the relationship. Many fears involve abandonment by a partner. If you’re stressed about work, that often boils down to angst that you might lose your job.

Write down these fears then and then rate them each on a scale of 1-10 for their likeliness. And think about each point. How likely are you really to lose your job? Bearing in mind it’s actually illegal to fire someone without a good reason? Would your partner of 5 years really leave you over one argument? Likewise, come up with a contingency plan for each fear. What would you do if you lost your job? Worst case scenario it might mean moving back in with your parents, but probably you’d find something else faster than that.

fear setting

The moral of the story?

Most of our scary thoughts are inflated in our minds. Once we learn this, they become much more manageable!


How to Overcome a Panic Attack With the ‘AWARE’ Method

panic aware

What is AWARE?

All of us experience anxiety from time to time but this is most severe by far when it evolves into a full blown anxiety attack of panic attack. This is something that most of us will experience at some time in our lives and that can ultimately become crippling as you worry that heading out into public spaces could result in fainting, or that falling asleep could trigger an attack.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat panic attacks and with the right approach, these methods can be highly effective at getting the problem under control and even preventing them altogether. One such option is to use the ‘AWARE’ strategy.

AWARE is an acronym that stands for:

  • Acknowledge and Accept
  • Wait and watch
  • Actions to make yourself comfortable
  • Repeat
  • End

The key to this is essentially to accept that the attack is happening and not to try and ‘fight it’. Instead, you simply acknowledge it and then ‘watch’ it as you go about your business as usual. The very best way to fight a panic attack? To continue acting as though it’s not happening.

Why Ignore a Panic Attack

When you first notice a panic attack begin, you will find that the symptoms can be somewhat similar to what you imagine a heart attack to be like. As you may expect, this in itself can be a highly distressing prospect and actually creates much more anxiety. Other people are actually afraid of anxiety attacks themselves because they dislike the experience so much.

Thus it’s common to start worrying about the panic attack itself as well as whatever triggered it. It’s this subsequent panic that can lead to escalation and ultimately result in the individual passing out of collapsing.

And this in turn is why it’s so important not to try and ‘combat’ the effects of a panic attack through sheer will. Instead, by ignoring the panic attack, by recognizing it for what it is and by being comfortable and allowing it to run its course you can actually find that it goes away much more quickly. What’s more, is that once you lose the fear of the symptoms, it will eventually stop happening altogether.

Of course it is still important to try and remove yourself from any potential danger – which may mean pulling over if you are driving or removing yourself from a public space.

aware

More Soothing Tools

Self Esteem and Teens

self esteem and teens

Despite the brooding and the mood swings a teenagers’ self esteem is more fragile than you think.  There are a great many factors that can undermine a teenager’s ability to build their self confidence. For example, factors ranging from academic issues, poor social interaction and dealing with developing one’s own unique identity while trying to avoid the physical awkwardness that puberty brings.  The constant internal struggles they face on daily basis are for us, hopefully, a distant memory because we’ve forgotten what it was like to be their age.

Peers and Self Esteem

Their social circle has a great deal of influence in their lives with the approval and feedback from peers often validating how they feel about themselves, factors which they allow to determine their self esteem and self worth.  It’s incredible how much impact this can really have in the life of your teenager.  This is especially challenging because adolescents peers are not always known for their tact and empathy. Thus, this is why it’s of the utmost importance for your teenagers self esteem to be nurtured and reinforced from within the home.  This will strengthen them to deal with the pitfalls of life out there in the big wide world.  This can come from giving praise and attention from family members, in particular, parents.

It Starts at Home

ego
Family Self Esteem

Positive and nurturing reinforcement in the home is the first step to repairing your teenagers self woth. Never underestimate the power of love. Just because your teenager knows that you love them doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t show it. However, such an approach acts as an effective hedge against the factors that erode your teenager’s self esteem.  While it is impossible to change the climate teenagers must face, your teenager’s self esteem will improve with various positive strategies designed to counteract the factors dragging them down.

Model the Change You Wish to See

Another effective tool in the building of your teenagers self esteem is to model good self esteem.  By setting an example of healthy self esteem and respect for yourself will instill the same values in your teenager.  Children learn by example, they tend to imitate what their parents do. This includes both the positive and the negative. However, being a good role model can often be the most powerful lesson of all because you teach by doing.  The next time you get upset, be mindful of your words and your actions. Additionally, be sure to keep an optimistic outlook on life. This outlook helps to create resilience. Your work, will influence how they will manage trials in their adult life.  Also, don’t forget that your children are always watching what you do.

Self Care Planner
Self Esteem Planner

Teamwork and Self Esteem

Allow your teenager to be a contributing member of your family.  Give jobs or chores to perform. Whether it’s the dishes or taking out the garbage, a job helps to cement their role within the family unit. Achieving a sense of belonging and importance is a vital building block in the building of their self esteem.

Conclusion

These are just a few tips that can help build up and strengthen your teenagers self esteem but if you’d like more information, sign up for or newsletter. Also, make an appointment with a coach or therapist.


Soothing Tools

Healthy Compartmentalization and the Pomodoro Technique

Compartmentalization

Is Compartmentalization bad?

Often when we hear the word ‘compartmentalization’ it is used in a cautionary capacity. That is to say that we’re generally led to believe that compartmentalizing is bad and that we shouldn’t repress any of our feelings. But just as ‘guns’ aren’t evil so much as the people using them, compartmentalization is actually just a tool that can have psychological benefit when used correctly.

For example?

The pomodoro technique and stress management. What am I talking about? Read on and let me explain…

The Benefits of Compartmentalization

No matter how hard you work to improve your lifestyle, you will find that there are always going to be some sources of stress remaining. This is simply a fact of life and there will always be deadlines, concerns and incomplete work.

The key to being able to relax and enjoy a healthy and normal lifestyle then, is knowing how to sometimes to switch off from those worries so that you can actually relax and recover. In other words, you need to learn to leave your work behind you when you log off and head home – otherwise you’ll constantly be stressed, you won’t be able to focus on time with your family and you won’t be able to sleep.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Likewise, you can also use this compartmentalization during your working day to be more productive. Case in point: the Pomodoro technique.

Essentially this technique is a tool used to improve productivity, by breaking your working hours up into smaller segments. Here you take a timer and set it for a period of time – normally around 25 minutes – and you work solidly in that time. When it goes off, you then give yourself ten minutes to recover, before going back to work.

This then should allow you to focus with absolute clarity on what you’re doing because you know that you will be getting a short break in 10 minutes. Likewise, it means you should be able to relax completely in those ten minutes without guilt. This then recharges you ready to be more productive following those ten minutes.

But the success of this process all depends on your ability to compartmentalize. The secret to success is to work solidly when you’re working and to switch off completely when you’re relaxing. There’s no point in ‘half working’ or procrastinating – you may as well just be getting some proper relaxation time.

Walk or sit, don’t wobble.


Dr. Patsy B. Evans L.M.H.C., D.O.M., Ph.D.

dr. harmony

Traumatologist and Clinical Sexologist 

Dr. Patsy Evans a.k.a. Dr. Harmony is one of Florida’s leading Clinical Sexologists and Traumatologists. She brings her unique blend of skills and education specializing in Kink Culture and Sexuality, Relationship Counseling, Executive, Leadership and Business Coaching, Traumatology, Crisis Management, Dispute Resolution, Diplomatic Relations, and Negotiation, and Corporate Culture Transformation. Dr. Evans is the founder of the Kink Aware Therapy Certification Institute and Harmonyus Inc. Dr. Harmony is a Florida Licensed Acupuncture Physician, License Mental Health Counselor, Clinical Sexologist and Supreme Court Certified Family Court Mediator (retired).

Through her own personal experiences and her unique insights, she has forged an extraordinarily successful methodology designed to conquer overwhelming emotions which may be interfering with your daily life, relationships, work and health. Her accreditation and certifications are extensive and her resume is impressive, but it is her character, insight and her complete engagement that makes her the counselor of choice for her clients. She is both endearing and personable but is also an acute observer; all qualities which help facilitate her disarming approach to assessment and treatment. Working with Dr. Harmony is at once both reassuring and comforting. As a trauma survivor, she can relate to many of the issues facing today’s individuals and families as they head into what may be uncharted and intimidating territory for them.

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The Real World Wonder Woman

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