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Desensitization

Notes & Transcripts

McCauley Caulkin captured our hearts with his portrayal of Kevin in the Home Alone series. You remember the movie. When he first realizes he’s been left behind he dances around the house until something frightens him then he runs and hides under the bed. But, finally, as he gets more accustomed to being by himself and fending for himself, he finally reaches the place that he conquers his fear. One of my favorite scenes is when he calls out to the bad guys. “Hey, bad guys, I’m not afraid anymore.”

Well, I had that experience last week. Ok, I didn’t get left home alone, although there may have been a few times when my wife wished I had, maybe. No, my “deliverance from fear” occurred when we went on vacation. Now, if you know me very well, you know I am deathly afraid of heights. We have a battery powered lift here that will take you up to heights of about 24'. I have tried to talk myself into going up in that lift over and over again, but there is something about that which scares me silly. I end up crouched down in the bucket afraid to look over the side. I know, I’m an altitude wimp!

Well, it happened to me again last week. We stayed at this place in Myrtle Beach while we were on vacation that was on the 15th floor. The first time I walked out on the patio attached to our living room, it took my breath away. You know, I kinda creeped up to the edge of the wall and just peeked over. I didn’t want to get too near the edge. The thoughts of that patio being unsupported and just over hanging empty space gave me butterflies. BUT, I had the home alone experience. After a few days of going out there and reading or just enjoying the sea breeze I could say with McCauley Caulkin, “I’m not afraid anymore.”

YOU

What about you, ever have the “Home Alone” Experience? What are you afraid of? Some of you are afraid of spiders. I mean you see one of those creepy crawly webspinners, you run for the hills. But then, you went to Camp Lapihio. There were spiders everywhere, and after a week there you had the experience. You could say it. “I’m not afraid anymore.”

Some of you are afraid of public speaking. You would rather be shot than get up and do what I’m doing right now, but then you got “that” job. You may not have realized it when you got it, but they expect you to run a meeting every week, and, when you first found it out, you would have quit if your wife would have let you, but after a year or so of doing it, you can say it: “I’m not afraid anymore.”

Psychologists have a word to describe this. They call it “desensitization.” It was popularized in the Bill Murray movie, What about Bob. In that movie the main character, Bob, is coached by his psychologist to take “baby steps” to overcome his fears. That’s the whole idea of “desensitization.” By exposure, you gradually overcome your fears.

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