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How to cure agoraphobia

If you suffer from agoraphobia, or if you have fear of open spaces, it is very likely that in the past, you had a frightening experience somewhere in the open space. That experience has put you into a general state of tension and fear from encountering a similar situation again.

You are not afraid of the open space itself, let's say when you think of a shop - you are not afraid of that shop in particular. You know very well that going to a shop cannot do you any harm. What are you afraid of then? You are afraid of a feeling that overruns you when you think of a certain situation that requires you to leave your house. These feelings overwhelm you to the extent that you start to wonder yourself whether you are actually able to think normally. In moments like this, you are not able to trust yourself, which is why you are afraid to leave the house.

Now, imagine that you and I go for a walk together. On our way we will see what kind of mistakes you normally do and how to correct them. But, look at you! Before we even left the house you thought: "On, no! How will I make it through, I can't do this! What will happen now?" By doing this, you created some great stress before even making your first step through the door! In other words, you haven't even stepped through the door yet, and there you are, scared already. This is your first mistake.

Instead of being scared and tighten the muscles all over your body, you should do the opposite - try to loosen up a little. In fact, try to relax as much as you can before you go out. The worst thing that can happen to you once outside is that you scare yourself, and nothing more. If you gather some courage, if you put all your effort in relaxing as much as possible, accept all that is happening to you, if you let go, than you won't be so overwhelmed with deceptive feeling which make you behave irrationally. Let yourself go and accept everything. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly and relax, OK? Good, let's move on.

Here we are, out on the street. You spot your friend in a distance. She is approaching slowly. What will you do next? You have to speak with her, because she hasn't seen you in a while. The closer you are, the more you can feel your heart pounding. You heart is racing and that starts to worry you. But don't forget that your friend's heart might also be pounding just like yours, maybe just as fast. She is excited because she hasn't seen you for a long time. Why should your pounding heart have to be so frightening? Is it really all that important if you can feel your heart racing? No, it is not. Therefore, do not be afraid when this happens.

As you speak to your friend, you ask yourself, how much longer you will have to talk to her. 10 minutes? Half an hour? By now you probably think that you will make a fool out of yourself and that she will notice it. I suggest that you just loosen up that same moment and try to relax. Really, just try it! Let yourself go and you will see that this conversation is not at all as intimidating as you thought at first. You may even feel relieved and enjoy listening to your friend. You will realize that your friend is not the one that is upsetting you. It is only you.

After this, you move further along the street. You come to a crossing and it is time for you to cross the street. But before you even get to the crossing itself, your legs begin to wobble like they would be made of rubber! This did not happen randomly. As you were nearing the street, you got frightened again and that fear made you release more adrenaline which gave you a sensation of rubber legs. Of course you keep on being afraid and think that these legs cannot get you across the street.

Don't forget that these rubber legs are just a feeling you have. They will get you where you want; you just have to let them do it. This is only your feeling, not a real weakness. Don't be worry or be scared about rubber legs, because if you do, you will release even more adrenaline. If you let yourself go, your legs will take you across the street, be sure about it!

You crossed the street successfully, I hope. You see, that wasn't so bad at all. But as soon as you crossed the street, you thought of a supermarket! Maybe there you will meet a bunch of people you will have to speak with or say hello to. Maybe you will even have to wait in the line... Suddenly, you feel a giant wave of fear that overwhelms you and you may think that you didn't make any progress so far. As you look at this giant supermarket you have to enter, you suddenly start to sweat, your heart is racing, you hear a crowd of people, buildings around you begin to take strange shapes, your vision is blurred, you begin to lose balance and there is a general chaos in your head. What do you do now, how do you explain all this? Right here, in this very place where panic has seized you - lies the key to your recovery!

You see, this great tension in which you found yourself has caused a disturbance in your balance, so that you now feel like you are about to fall and you look for something to grab on to. Tension and fear also expand your pupils which make your vision blurred; hence your surroundings may seem unreal. Do you find this familiar? Do you see a pattern here?

Before you think of running away from the site - please wait! Let the adrenaline effect pass by itself, just wait for a while. Even when your fear is at its peak, surrender and accept everything that is happening to you. Yes! In a moment when you are overwhelmed by fear, you should absolutely and unconditionally let go of yourself. This means no more "O no, no, I need to get out of here... What if something happens...?" and such. This here is a braking point of your recovery! If you go further on with what you know now, with all your fears and understanding of your fears, and if you are willing to accept all tricks that your fears are trying to pull on you, your reactions will gradually start to lessen and you will see how you will get more and more relaxed. After all this, you will feel fantastic, because you managed to struggle through your fears. Your fears will then seem as small as crumbs because they will have no power over you.

Every time you go outside, practice everything that is described here. Maybe you won't succeed for the first time, but don't get discouraged. Keep on going out and practice constantly. Remember, your recovery is not indoors, it is outside in places you fear the most. This is the only right way to cure agoraphobia. If you are persistent, you will succeed.

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