Opposite Action Part 2

Part Two: Fear

So what justifies emotions?  In other words, how will in the world would you ever figure that out?  So you have to know a few simple things first.  Fear is justified whenever the situation is a threat to your life, or your health, or your well being.  Ok. So in those situations, your life or your health or your well being, they are being threatened. In those situations, fear is justified.

So imagine this, you're in a building and there's this long hall.  And at the end of the hall there's a room. And in the room there's a ferocious lion.  It's a person eating lion. It gets you. So you're walking down the hall, with me of course, and I say to you 'Open the door and go in the room'.   Is fear justified? Yes. The lion is in the room, you open the door and 'gulp' the lion gets you. 

All right. Now let's imagine that it's the next day and overnight, someone took the lion out of the room.  There's nothing in the room now. Is fear justified? What do you think?  Yes or no?  So you have to ask yourself now 'If there's a room down the end of the hall and there's no lion in it, is your life threatened? Is your health threatened? Is your well being threatened?' So what's the answer? No, no and no. Fear is not justified. Ok.  Maybe understandable, it's understandable if the lion was there yesterday it's obviously understandable that you would be afraid.  However, it's not justified.

Now it's the next day. There's no lion in the room.  But you're still afraid because there was one yesterday. So you're still afraid.  So what's the opposite action?  What do you think? The opposite action would be not to avoid.  The opposite action would be to open the door and walk in the room.  Or if you're in the room, the opposite action would be to stay in the room and not run away.

So opposite action is just the opposite of running away or avoiding. 

Now, so how do you think it works? I mean, why do you think this works? Think about it for a minute. If there's no lion in the room and you run away, your fear is never going to go down because your brain will never learn that there's not a lion in the room.  And you will stay afraid of the room.  Why will you stay afraid?  Because you never find out there's no lion in the room.

So opposite action works because it gets you to go into the room and you find out there's not a lion.  In other words, you find out its safe. In effect, you find out the emotion is not justified and once your brain has that figured out, fear will go down. 

Ok.  So let's take the example of the person who's afraid to go to parties or  afraid to go to class or afraid to go out in groups or be with people because they're afraid they'll be humiliated or laughed at or people won't like them. So, what's the opposite action? The opposite action... first of all you have to say 'What's the action of fear?' If you're afraid of going to parties, what do you do?  You avoid.  You don't go.  If you want to get over the fear of going to parties, what's the action?  The action is to go to the party.

Fear is justified if when you go to parties you get humiliated, laughed at, people tell you they want you to go home.  They don't want you to be there.  And it's altogether a disastrous situation. All right. Avoid. However, that's not really the case for most people.  Most people when they go to parties, they may not have a fabulous time, ok.  I'll grant you that.  That may be true. But usually there really isn't a threat to health, life or your overall welfare. 

In fact, most people... if you went to a party and paid attention to how other people reacted to you, my guess is you would find that most of the time, when you're at a party, people may not love you to death, but they're not trying to kill you.  They're not jeopardizing, they're not really threatening.  And so if you keep going to parties, and you keep finding out that when you go to parties, things more of less go ok, what do you think would happen?  Do you think you would get more afraid or less afraid?  You'll get less afraid because the thing that you thought would happen doesn't happen. 

So that's opposite action. Opposite action... now when it comes to going to parties, there are two opposite actions. You've got to both go... that means you have to approach.  And then you have to kind of go again once you get there because what you can do is...  Have you ever noticed how you can go to a party and then avoid ever finding out what anybody thinks, you're so afraid that if you looked at them you'd find out they really disapprove of you?  So you go to the party and you keep your eyes down the whole time or you sit around in the corner somewhere?  So you sort of go, but you really avoid?  So you can't do that.  It's not fair.  That's not doing opposite action.

If you're going to do opposite actions, the basic rule is you've got to do it all the way. So you've got to not only body go to the party, but then you've got to have your mind go to the party because your brain has got to go to the party. So the brain's got to be looking around and finding out what's really happening.
Ok.  Opposite action:  go and pay attention.

I once had a person I worked with and she was really afraid of opening her bills.  They would come in the mail and she was so afraid that she was going to be poverty stricken and she... she opened them up it just felt completely overwhelming and that she'd be totally undone, completely overwhelmed, her life would be over, etc. that when the bills came in she opened a drawer and put the bill in a drawer, closed the drawer.

What do you think happened?  As a matter of fact, she got more afraid. So, what was the treatment?  The treatment was opposite action. Opposite action was, if a bill comes in, open it.  Now, it's kind of like the party though. What if a bill came in and you said 'Ha, but I won't look at it?  Just put in on the desk.' So you learn how to get the bill and open it and [bam] put it on the desk.

So that's halfway opposite action and that does not work.  So she had to do all the way opposite action. And that meant that what she learned what to do was to bring the bill in, open it up and then keep looking at it. Actually what she was afraid of was, that if I get a bill and open it I won't be able to pay for it and I will get overwhelmed and my whole life will end.

And what happened was, as the bill came in, if she opened it and kept looking at it, it was true. At first, her fear went way up, but if she just kept looking at it, didn't do anything, just kept looking... opposite action, fear started going down.  And then her mind started working and once her mind started working, well, she figured out what to do about the bill. And she took the steps to pay them off.  And once she started looking at bills, over time, her fear went down.

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