Training in Task Concentration
Becoming adept at redirecting your attention away from yourself (this includes your bodily sensations, thoughts, and mental images), in certain situations, is the essence of task concentration. Rather than thinking about yourself, you focus your attention towards your external environment and what you’re doing.
Task concentration involves paying less attention to what’s going on inside of you and more attention to what’s happening outside of you. Task concentration can be particularly useful in situations that trigger anxiety. Task concentration can help you to counterbalance your tendency to focus on threats and on yourself when you feel anxious.
As you begin to practice task concentration, break down the process into two rehearsal arenas – just as when learning to drive you begin on quiet roads and eventually advance on to busier roads. The two rehearsal arenas are as follows:
Non-threatening situations: Here, you typically experience little or no anxiety. For example, if you have social phobia, you may feel little anxiety walking through a park, travelling on a very quiet train, or socializing with family members and close friends.
More challenging situations: Here, you tend to experience moderate to severe anxiety. More challenging situations may include shopping in a busy grocery store, travelling on a train during rush hour, or attending a party with many guests whom you do not know.
Typically, you gradually progress from moderately threatening situations to more challenging situations as you practise and develop greater skill. First, practice redirecting your attention in situations you regard as relatively non-threatening, then you can move on to using the techniques in increasingly challenging situations.