How does one compute square roots? The most common way is to use Newton's method of successive approximations, which says that whenever we have a guess y for the value of the square root of a number x, we can perform a simple manipulation to get a better guess (one closer to the actual square root) by averaging y with x/y. (mitpress.mit.edu)
Anxiety can cause a very paralyzing, humiliating and debilitating reaction to an event which parallels or reminds us of a negative memory or fear. Memories are frozen in our psyche at the moment of occurrence, with all the fear, anxiety, and feelings of the moment. If we were children at the time of the occurrence, then the memory may be even more overwhelming to us. The idea behind successive approximations is to help you begin to change the way you "react" to a situation. It may help you regain some control of your behavior in an uncomfortable, "out of control”, or fear-based situation.
Pick one or more that you wish to try out and assess any changes. Successive approximations is one of the most tedious and sometimes very frustrating of the anxiety reduction strategies and often requires more determination and effort than other strategies. Good luck.
Successive Approximations (AKA shaping) is a behavioral therapy technique which involves taking steps to systemically desensitize your reactions to a specific situation. It has been used successfully in areas like test anxiety, math anxiety, fear of flying, fear of heights, and others where a known desired behavior can replace an identified undesired behavior.
- The first step would be to identify the undesired behavior you wish to change.
- The next steps are the trickiest and depends on many factors. This include developing a conscious and deliberate plan which includes 1) the ultimate goal, benchmarks (smaller more obtainable goals to reach the ultimate goal), 2) the steps to the first benchmark, 3) the rewards to reinforce desired reactions which approach the steps to the first benchmark, and 4) the criteria to use to mark progress.
- It may be helpful to work with a partner (someone else with the same phobia or undesired behavior) as a support person or a mentor (someone who has done it or has some counseling background). This is a very difficult strategy to accomplish alone.
- Reinforce the positive steps away from the undesired behavior and steps toward the desired behavior with the selected rewards.
- Monitor your progress. Change the size of the steps, the rewards, or the benchmarks if any do not seem to be working.
- You may hit plateaus or periods of backslides. Accept them as a temporary setback and identify potentials of self-sabotage, negative self-talks, or situations which should be avoided for the time being. Make a conscious decision to continue with your plan (or modification of it).
- This may be a life-long "work in progress" if you are trying to change a deep-rooted fear or a behavior which feeds an addiction.
- Again, this is very difficult to do alone. You may need to work with a partner, mentor, or counselor.