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At this point in the program we have learned how to recognize our behaviors. Furthermore, we have some ideas about which ones are helpful, and which ones may actually be maintaining our anxiety. The next step is to experiment with changing our behaviors. This is the key to long-term gains.
Chloe suspects that searching for fertility related information online is an unhelpful behavior for her. I gave Chloe the following task:
Go for one week without using the internet to read about fertility or visit online forums.
After the week was over, I asked Chloe a few questions.
I tried to go for one week without using the internet to read about fertility and conception.
It actually made me feel worse at first since getting lost in forums helps pass the time when I'm upset at work. However, I needed to find something else to do with the time, so I started to look for ways to improve my job prospects. After searching for some courses, I found out that my organization supports professional development, so I signed up for some courses. Also, there is a committee working against sexism in the workplace, and I signed up for that as well!
After a few days I felt much better. I felt more in charge and I was better able to cope with my annoying boss. I guess the long term consequence is that I am better able to deal with my workplace stresses.
I learned that going onto forums is an avoidance strategy for me. Next time I have the urge to go to a forum to look something up, I am going to take note of what is going on. I will look at the situation and make sure I tackle the problem at hand by doing something about it. I also learned that it is more difficult to be honest with myself about what the real problem is. It is much easier to get distracted by the internet and not think through what is going on.
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