Hungry to Learn More?
Hi Dr. Burns,
I am a 66 year old grad student at XYZ University and am an intern at a mental health clinic. I am excited about learning T.E.A.M. Where do you recommend beginning? Should I start with the “And It’s All Your Fault” webcast?
Thank you for what you are doing.
Thank you for your note, and way to go on your training! Very cool! (I have disguised your name and University to protect your identity, but probably not needed.) I hope to see you at one of the upcoming workshops!
Here are some suggestions for learning more about TEAM. You can
- purchase my eBook on TEAM (order forms on website)
- listen to my free Feeling Good Podcasts starting with the first one.
- attend one of my workshops. As you’ve noticed, the “Fault” workshop or webcast next week would be a good start, at least to learn about the TEAM interpersonal model. The depression and anxiety TEAM treatment model is quite different.) If you use Burns50 when you register, you will get a $50 discount. But move rapidly, as the dates almost upon us!
- join one of the online TEAM training groups (lists and contact information are on my website)
- sign up for the TEAM Certification training at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California. They have many online groups and offer mentoring as well.
- Read any of my books, such as the Feeling Good Handbook (check the book tab on my website)
- Read any of my five free blogs
- If you are in California, visit my free Tuesday training group at Stanford if you get the chance and have the time.
“And It’s All Your Fault!” Transforming Troubled Relationships Into Loving Ones
October 30 – 31, 2017–Raleigh, NC: Double Tree Raleigh Brownstone-University
November 1 – 2, 2017–Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Marriott Century Center
November 3 – 4, 2017–Denver, CO: Double Tree by Hilton Denver-Westminster
For more information, click here, or contact IAHB, phone: 800-258-8411
The Raleigh workshop on Oct 30 – 31 INCLUDES A LIVE WEBCAST– Click here for more information
If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and tons of resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!
Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please forward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.
I have bought your book series: Feeling Good,FeelingGood Revised And Upgraded,Feeling Good Together, When Panics Attacks.However I am not very clear about some of your points.So I want to ask you some questions if you don’t mind.The questions include:
# does absolute truth exist?
# is there a forth valid useage of SHOULD STATEMENT?
#which law should I abey? and why legally Should is valid?
You said protecting our TRUTH makes relationship worse.Are you mean that there is no absolute truth in the world?
I am confused whether there is a forth undistorted SHOULD STATEMENT ，with the meaning of making a choise.Let me give an example:
Nowadays ,I have been bothered about making a choise between two offers.I don’t know which offer is better.So I frequently ask myself:which job should I choose?
I have read some books and I don’t know which book I should believe.
3.Multy party administration is legall in America but illegal in China. So, The sentense You shall not support multy party administration is distorted in China but not distorted in America,is it?
Thank you for the thoughtful questions. I will share my own take on these issues, realizing right away that some may find my comments offensive. As I came from a very religious upbringing, I am aware of the rigidity of some of those with conservative religious orientations who want with all their hearts to believe their is only one “right” way to think, feel, believe, and behave.
First, many of our beliefs and values are stipulations, and not something that can be proven one way or the other. For example, you can choose to value animals and to be vegetarian, or humans, or the earth itself. Generally, our laws and morals are stipulations that we have, for the most part, agreed upon as humans, or as a particular group of humans. Many of these beliefs can be found in the ten commandments, for example, or other basic religious writings. They cannot be proven one way or the other, they are simply rules we agree on.
Many religious or politically zealous people want to elevate their beliefs and values to the level of “absolute truth.” Sadly, this type of thinking sometimes leads to prejudice, violence and war, thinking one has the “truth.” Also, in relationship conflicts, typically the two partners are saying, over and over again in a variety of ways, “I am right and you are wrong,” rather than trying to find the truth in what the other person is thinking and feeling. As a result, the conflict typically escalates, and sometimes ends in violence. This type of absolutist thinking can be viewed, actually, as a distortion–all-or-nothing thinking–that’s where you view things, people, and ideas in absolute, black-or-white categories. This type of thinking can fuel feelings of superiority and, often, hostility.
Rigid thinking is a common cause of depression, telling yourself, and believing with all your heart and mind, that “I am a failure” or “a loser” or “no good.” Rigid thinking is also the most common cause of hostility, telling yourself that someone else is “a loser” or “a jerk” or “no good.” Although this type of thinking is intensely distorted, it can be intensely addictive.
As far as your second question is concerned, you could just as easily say, “What job would be more desirable for me?” When you say “What job SHOULD I select,” it sounds like a moral imperative to make the “correct” choice, when often there is no single correct choice. So the “should” can trap you in a box, thinking that a “right” decision is overwhelmingly important when, it fact, it often isn’t terribly important.
Sometimes, the Cost-Benefit Analysis, or my even more powerful Decision-Making Form, can help you sort out your options when you are in the horns of a dilemma. Sometimes, there is no one clear “best” choice. There are always unanticipated positive and negative consequences from any decision, and happiness has more to do with how we cope with those positive and negative consequences than in making the “best” choice. So, in short, deciding on a job or college, or who to marry, or where to live, is to my way of thinking, not usefully viewed as a “should.” That word is actually misleading, because it implies there is one clear “best” option, but sometimes this is not the case.
With regard to question three, different cultures sometimes have different values, which are stipulated and not proven. These are just the rules any society establishes for itself. A legal “should” is just a stipulation, or rule, a culture establishes. For example, when we say, “you should not drive 90 miles per hour on the highway,” we are simply saying that this speed is sufficiently dangerous that we have a rule against it, and you will get a ticket if you drive that fast. But it is not thought to be immoral to drive that fast–on a race track it is perfectly okay to drive as fast as you want, for example.
Some states in the United States may have maximum speed limits of 75 miles per hour. Others may have maximum speed limits of 65 miles per hour. It is not the case that one or the other speed limit is based on “absolute truth.” It’s just what the people in that area have agreed on.
Many people with a rigid, inflexible personality style want to insist that their rules, or stipulations, are somehow “absolute truth,” and this is one of the causes of war and sadistic hostility, often in the name of God or some higher principal. Rigid thinking is perhaps more often seen with narcissistic individuals than with those who we consider humble, but this is a generalization, because we also see rigid thinking in depression and anxiety.
Although I am rambling, I can provide a medical example of stipulations that cannot be proven vs ideas that can be empirically tested. Before the cause of epilepsy was known, some cultures decided to view it as a good thing, and imagined that epileptic seizures were visitations from God, or manifestations of genius, and that those who suffered from seizures were somehow special. Other cultures viewed seizures as visitations from evil spirits, and defects in the afflicted individuals. These were simply ways of viewing epilepsy. Later, when the cause of seizures was better understood in terms of abnormal outbursts of electrical activity in the brain, we decided to think about epilepsy as an “illness” instead.
Or, consider old age. In some cultures, elderly individuals are treated with great respect for a variety of reasons. In other cultures or subgroups, the elderly are viewed in a more negative manner, and young people are thought to be special or superior: old age is feared, and youth is idealized. These are just subjective decisions, not things that can be proven one way or the other. Young people, or old people, are not in any way “inherently” superior or inferior.
Of think about food preferences. I like blueberry pie, and I don’t like pumpkin pie. But it is not “true” that blueberry pie is superior to pumpkin pie. It is simply a preference of mine, and not an expression of “absolute truth.”
Think about racial, ethnic, or religious biases. Some people look down on blacks, Asians, Jews, the Irish, Mexicans, Christians, Muslims, immigrants in general, and on and on endlessly with the groups who have been targeted for hatred and mistreatment. But you cannot “prove” that any of these groups are, in fact, inherently (or practically) inferior or superior. It is simply an arbitrary decision to hate, and the negative bias is often fueled by addictive feelings of moral superiority.
Science works the same way, partly through stipulation and partly through experimentation and testing. You always have to start with a stipulation that cannot be proven as right or wrong. Once you have done this, you can do experimentation based on research. For example, we can decide as a culture that pneumonia is an “illness,” a bad thing, so to speak. Once we have agreed on that, which is simply a stipulation, then we can do scientific work, searching for the causes and cures for pneumonia. That’s where empirical testing becomes vitally important, because you CAN prove that many theories are false, and that many treatments are not effective, whereas other theories and treatments prove more useful.
Finally, I am kind of a Buddhist in my response to abstract questions, like the search for “absolute truth.” If you were struggling with the question of absolute truth, I would ask you what time of day it was, and where you were, and what was going on, when you were struggling with this (nonsensical) question. Who were you interacting with, or what problem were you struggling with? How were you feeling at the time? What was going on?
As the Buddha so often said, only specific and real problems can be solved. Problems that don’t exist don’t require solutions. All real problems exist at specific times and locations on the surface of the earth.
This is my strategy in therapy as well. Give me something real you are struggling with–maybe someone you are in conflict with, or some negative event that upset you. Once we’ve identified and solved a real and specific problem, you likely won’t be concerned about “absolute truth” any more. “Absolute truth,” like the “self,” does not exist. These are simply nonsensical concepts, language that is out of gear, so to speak.
My take on it, only! Let me know if it makes sense, or if you are still in the trance or enchantment of searching for “absolute truth.”