Exposure Therapy, Identities and Current Memos

Exposure Therapy

I have heard this term before but it never really hit home until last week.  

I guess that’s why we have the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.  

With the vast information we are getting every day, our minds have to find ways to filter what’s useful to us in the present moment. That is if we are to remain focused, effective, and sane.

Otherwise, we will find ourselves all over the place, highly depleted and not getting anywhere.

I think my mind picked up the term this time because I needed it.

So, what do psychologists say about exposure therapy? 

It’s a behavioral therapy used to treat phobias and anxiety disorders.

How? The person is exposed to the very source of his or her fear as a means to help overcome it.

The exposures are done gradually starting with less scary stimuli, worked up to scarier situations.

These sessions are conducted in a safe setting and environment so the danger is not imminent.

Why did it strike home?  

I was in a middle of a call with my colleague the other day and heard myself talking louder, and sounding argumentative. Sure it’s normal to argue about work but I didn’t like the sound of me. That is the problem. A couple of months back, a friend of mine asked if everything was alright, right after I got off the phone. She observed that I was reaching the top of my voice and had a sense that something might be off. Admittedly, I was feeling the heat on my forehead. There’s no denying that I, was losing patience.  

What is it that I’m so attached to, that it’s making me defend my ground so hard as if somebody’s trying to take it away?

It all boiled down to fear. 

But I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly. 

Is it fear of being wrong?

Fear of losing authority?

Fear of losing my value to the team?

Is it all of the above?

Whatever it is, it’s killing me. It’s making me feel like I’m being attacked, it was depleting my energy, and for what?

Realization: I have wrapped much of my identity around work.  

I came across an article highlighting that the problem with most people is that we invest too much in only one identity when we should be investing in different identities. Do you know what they say about not putting your eggs in one basket? We’re talking about a similar thing here.

Diversification helps us manage risk and reduce the volatility of our biggest-value asset, ourselves. The argument goes to say that if we do diversify, a sudden loss in one (investment) basket will not lead us downhill.  

People who have invested so much in their jobs or family alone, found themselves succumbing to sickness, depression, or despair after a job loss or death of a spouse. When a person’s stronghold is taken away, he will find himself drowning.

Armed with these ideas I’ve decided to put them to the test. Well, the test is still ongoing at the time of this writing. I am slowly exposing myself to opportunities that had to do with facing fears and investing my resources in other important baskets.

My Current Memos

Make mistakes. Learn from them. When you know better, you can do better.

Don’t be so territorial. Everything is temporary. No one is indispensable, so just do your best while you’re at it.

Don’t take things personally. Nothing is supposed to be personal at work.

Check your tone when discussing or “arguing”. You may be unnecessarily offending or provoking other people, and I know you don’t like that.

Make deposits into every important aspect of your life. Think about your relationships, health, passion, spirituality, or maybe your contribution to the world. You shouldn’t be defined by just your work.

And at the end of the day, put everything down. 

Rest. Take a deep breath and smile. You deserve it.