150: I’m anxious, but I don’t have any negative thoughts. What can I do?

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 david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com.

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8 thoughts on “150: I’m anxious, but I don’t have any negative thoughts. What can I do?

  1. 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

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