What can you do when you can’t identify your negative thoughts?
Is it really true that our feelings always result from negative thoughts?
How can I get over my public speaking anxiety?
Rubens, a faithful and enthusiastic Feeling Good Podcast fan, sent me an email with a terrific question that has both practical and theoretical implications. He wrote:
Dear Mr. David,
I’ve read “Feeling Good” and I’m reading “When Panic Attacks” now. Both have and are helping me immensely.
However, the one thing I have never understood is that my anxieties and worries often don’t come as a thought. For instance, I have an academic presentation tomorrow, and I’m suffering from much anxiety because of that. But the symptoms did not appear because I thought in my mind the sentence “you are going to fail!”. In my case, it is usually silent. I just remember that I have a presentation tomorrow, then I immediately feel worried. My chest hurts before any thought. How do I counter-argument my thoughts, if I have none?
Thank you for replying, Mr. David!
In today’s podcast, Rhonda and I address this question and explain what to do when you can’t pinpoint your negative thoughts. There are two really good methods.
We will also demonstrate how to deal with some of the negative thoughts that typically trigger public speaking anxiety. The cure involves changing the way you think, and changing the way you communicate with the people in your audience. If you’ve ever struggled with public speaking anxiety, this podcast may be helpful for you!
Thank you again, Rubens, for your excellent question!
David D. Burns, MD / Rhonda Barovsky, PsyD
You can reach Dr. Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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Very good question. Will take time out to listen to the answer as well from the experts. Thanks.
Good podcast. Would also love to see techniques to vigorously challenge some of the secondary symptoms of anxiety that manifests on the body. I think they need to be challenged first because they are the ones the anxious person senses first most of the times probably and thus makes them feel the absence of anxious thoughts during anxiety. Once these feelings subside one can see the irrationality of the anxious thoughts more clearly if you have done enough homework on DML. Thanks.
The very instant you stop believing the negative thought that makes you anxious, your symptoms, physical and emotional, will suddenly vanish. Thanks, always appreciate your thoughtful comments, Rajesh! d
Thanks David. Is there a method wherein we can raise our abilities to choose the rational thought after getting anxious in a live situation? Often I see our default tendency is to buy in the negative thoughts even though we are aware of the rational thoughts practiced in DML.
The written exercise with the Daily Mood Log and Recovery Circle–those are the keys, as detailed in When Panic Attacks. Thanks! d
That was awesome.
Thanks, Richard! david
Isn’t it entirely possible that someone who is nervous about a presentation, has in fact received poor responses or evaluations before, and is experiencing rational fear about the consequences of not performing well? The idea being presented here seems to be that all these fears are obviously irrational. Also, your example of our varying responses to 9/11 seems to imply that all responses were equally valid or invalid. So if someone felt horrified and outraged, well that is just a thought — and if we don’t have thoughts we won’t feel it. Ah how true. But human beings do have thoughts. We can’t reason ourselves out of all feelings. I have young adult clients who are riddled with anxiety because they are experiencing very real developmental challenges that they are in fact struggling with or even failing at. They can rationalize to themselves that all is well but often, things are not exaclty all well.
I’m glad you’re thinking about this a bit deeply. Very cool!
To my way of thinking, healthy negative feelings (like healthy sadness or grief) result from valid negative thoughts, whereas unhealthy negative feelings result from distorted negative thoughts.
Life is filled with negative experiences. Our feelings result entirely from our perceptions of those experiences. And, as noted, feelings of sadness, fear, remorse, or even healthy anger can be totally appropriate. I only help people who ask for and need help. I do not evangelize on how I think the world “should” or “shouldn’t” be!
As an aside, I never said that “all responses are equally valid or invalid,” and kind of resent, I must admit, being attacked on something I’ve never claimed and have always railed against! But, as the Buddha so often said, “it comes with the territory, and most are doing their best.”
All the best, and thanks again for your thoughtful comments! David
I like the middle section with the ‘definition’ of anxiety, guilt, shame, depression and hopelessness. Thanks for a great podcast.
By the way some observations:
1) you always seem to work with very smart people. What about the less intelligent world?
2) you (seldom?) mention moral fault actions like theft, intentional deception, actions that cause pain to others (called sin by Christians). When I have stolen something and I want to restore a relationship, I consider it normal that I make effort to repair the damage I did or to give back what I stole. I can’t excuse: ‘Aye, I have no self.”
In reply to WILLIAM KUIPERS.
Great questions! I will make this an Ask David, using your first name.
Less intelligent people, and those with few resources, are much easier to work with. You can read my book on this, Ten Days to Self-Esteem, to learn more.
Your approach to moral faults sounds excellent, but your dig at the end is kind of ridiculous, to be honest, and apologize for being critical!
I am not aware of anyone in human history, much less myself, making the absurd and brainless claim that “no self” is some kind of excuse for moral or legal wrongdoings! I’m not sure who or what you’re quoting here, but eager to hear more!
Notice, too, that you’re trying to be “brainy,” and that comes across to me as “difficult.” We worked with thousands of individuals at my hospital in Philadelphia who had little education or resources, and many were homeless.
They brought humility and gratitude to the therapeutic process, not sarcastic put-downs or attempts to be clever, and that was what made the therapy incredibly rewarding and usually pretty easy.
Hello Dr. David,
I am greatly indebted to your work and your books! it has helped me come out of depression and anxiety. The Daily Mood Log is my companion now and it gives me strength to face any challenges knowing that i can always resolve any negative thoughts i have.
However, I have sleep anxiety. I struggle to find any negative thoughts or the root cause of it. Sometimes I go to bed worrying if I may wake up in the middle of the night and keep dreading about it. Sometimes I fall asleep and wake up middle of the night worrying I may never go back to sleep again.
It triggers anxiety and brings up other anxious thoughts which i had during the day. Or, I start thinking about the day ahead and my mind races.
I read your book “When Panic Attacks” and “Feeling Good” and try the Response Prevention technique and Acceptance paradox – accepting that I lost sleep and it is okay to have the anxiety. it does bring my racing heart beat down but i couldn’t convince myself to fall asleep again.
Can you please point me out to any resources or techniques are podcasts on Sleep anxiety?
Is your goal to get more sleep or to reduce / eliminate your anxiety about sleeep? d
My goal is to eliminate anxiety about sleep.
Good goal. Have you recorded your negative thoughts about sleep on a Daily Mood Log? d