Solution to David’s Tuesday Tip #9*

This was yesterday’s paradoxical tip of the day–

Once you develop unconditional self-esteem, try to get rid of it as soon as possible!

Here’s the scoop on self-esteem–there is no such thing! It’s just a buzz word, a marketing word. But still, lots of people complain of “low self-esteem” and they want–and deserve help. In fact, it says so right on the cover of my book, Feeling Good: “Feeling good feels wonderful. You owe it to yourself to FEEL GOOD!”

But if you’re depressed and feeling worthless, how do you do this? First, let’s see what people mean when they say they need better “self-esteem.”

When people say they have low self-esteem, what they really mean is that they are feeling depressed and criticizing themselves with a lot with distorted Negative Thoughts containing “Should Statements,” “All-or-Nothing Thinking,” “Self-Blame,” and other cognitive distortions. For example, you may tell yourself, “I’m a failure,” “I’m unlovable,” “I should be better than I am, ” or “I’m not good enough.” These kinds of thoughts trigger feelings of inferiority, hopelessness, and shame, as well as depression, anxiety, defectiveness, and loneliness.

In my books, such as Feeling Good, or in my Feeling Good Handbook, I describe many powerful techniques that can help you (or your patients) combat and crush these kinds of negative thoughts. In my new book, Feeling Great, I will include many additional techniques that are also mind-boggling, techniques that can trigger rapid recovery.

However, the goal is not to become an especially “worthwhile” or “superior” human being, but rather to accept yourself as a flawed human being in the spirit of joy, peace, humor, gratitude and even jubilation. Life can be pretty fantastic when you’re not putting yourself down all the time. In fact, when you suddenly “wake up” from the trance of depression and anxiety, you may discover that you’re so busy having fun and enjoying life and other people that you don’t want to waste any time worrying about or pursuing “self-esteem.”

I lost my self-esteem years ago jogging home from the train station in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania after work. It was a tremendous relief to finally get rid of it. It seemed to kind of fall off, and instead of stopping to look for it, I started jogging faster. After a few more steps my “self” fell off as well, and that was even better! I think my self-esteem and “self” may both still be on the side of the road somewhere between the train station and the house where my family and I used to live in Gladwyne, Pa.

Well, this may not make sense, so I’ll stop babbling, but all will be explained in my new book. What it boils down to is something I learned from my late cat and beloved friend, Obie. Obie was not special, he was just an ordinary feral cat we adopted, and I was not special, either–but when Obie and I hung out together, the heavens opened up. I learned that when you no longer need to be “special,” life becomes special.

Obie 1

I just returned from four days of teaching in Canada, and I’m a bit tired. So I think I’ll stop writing and just hang out with our new little kitty, Miss Misty, who was gifted to us by a kind neighbor when we lost our dear Obie in the middle of the night about a year ago. I am still grieving his loss.

I plan to stroke Miss Misty’s belly while she likes on her back in a few minutes. She loves that, and purrs loudly, and it gives me tremendous joy, too! Miss Misty also has no”self” or “self-esteem,” but wanted me to tell you she’s about as happy as happy can be without them!

Here’s the best photo I have of her right now, but I’ll try to get a more glamorous photo for you, as she is very very pretty, with colorful deep eyes and gorgeous silky black fur. I make up love songs and sing to her all the time. She smiles and blinks her eyes while I sing, even though my singing voice is fairly terrible, and I just make up the words while I’m singing.




* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.

Hey, I have a really great, all-new workshop coming on Friday of this week, right here in California. You still have time to register if you move fast.

A Day of Intimacy Training!


Friday, June 15th, 2018 in Mt. View, California

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Michael’s at Shoreline
2960 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043

Sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CAMFT
(California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists)

In this exciting workshop, you’ll learn how to develop more meaningful and rewarding relationships with your clients as well as the people you care about the most, and you’ll get plenty of helpful feedback while you learn. I’ll be joined by the brilliant and totally wonderful Kyle Jones, a 3rd year PhD student at Palo Alto University. Although I’ll be doing the main teaching, Kyle will help me provide helpful feedback to all of you during the small group exercises.

In the morning, we’ll focus on dealing with challenging, difficult clients, and in the afternoon we will take on a far greater challenge: how to deal with challenging, difficult loved ones!

All of that plus:

  • Free breakfast
  • Free lunch
  • 6 CE credits
  • Lots of fun while learning!

Click here for registration and further details

* * *

Coming in August!

David’s TEAM-CBT Summer Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California

For more information, click here, or call at 800-258-8411

Here are just a few of the really cool things about this intensive:

  • You will have the chance to practice techniques in small groups after I demonstrate each technique with a live demonstration in the front of the room.
  • You will get immediate feedback and personal grooming from me and from many of my colleagues from my weekly TEAM-CBT training group at Stanford. They’ll be there to help you, and I’ll be there to help you, too!
  • There will be a live demonstration on the evening of day 1. The amazing Dr. Jill Levitt will be my co-therapist. Last year’s live demonstration, and in fact all of them in recent years, have been jaw-dropping and incredibly inspirational!
  • You’ll get a chance to practice TEAM-CBT in real time the evening of day 3. This will be an incredibly challenging but rewarding “solo flight.”
  • You will be able to do your own personal work on the last day of the workshop using the Externalization of Voices and Acceptance Paradox. In previous workshops, at least 60% of the participants indicated they experienced jubilant enlightenment during this exercise. Their fears and insecurities suddenly vanished!
  • You’ll learn how to do Relapse Prevention Training (RPT).
  • You’ll learn how to improve your empathy skills.
  • You’ll learn tons of powerful cognitive, behavioral, and motivational treatment techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • You will have the abundant opportunities to schmooze with colleagues, network, and have fun.
  • You will have two fabulous free luncheon banquets featuring talks by Sunny Choi, LCSW, who is using TEAM-CBT successfully with an underserved population in primary care with limited resources and language skills (“I must apologize for my success.”), and the wonderful Vandana Aspen, PhD, who will speak on “New Treatment Strategies for Eating Disorders.”)
  • And much more.

If you can only attend one of my workshops this year, the South San Francisco August intensive is the one to attend!

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