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Corona Cast 1: Honoring Your Angst!

Corona Cast 1: Honoring Your Angst!

With the “Shelter in Place” orders in California, we are recording these podcasts from our homes instead of from the Murietta Studios.  The sound quality may not be as high as usual until we all get the necessary recording equipment, and learn the new technology.  Please bare with us during this transition.  Thank you, David & Rhonda

David and Rhonda are joined in today’s podcast by Jeremy Karmel, who is working with David on the new Feeling Great app, and Dr. Alex Clarke, a former student of David’s who is practicing TEAM therapy / psychiatry at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California.

One of our loyal podcast fans, Phil McCormack, sent a heartwarming email which read, in part:

In light of the pandemic taking us into uncharted territories, I thought it might be interesting to hear of some tips from you that would help folks deal with the situation, kind of like the David’s Top Ten Tips podcast but this one focused on the hysteria which is prevalent as I write. I’m sure your fans would appreciate it and it might be a good jump start for your new book and app, both called Feeling Great.

I realize you are incredibly busy and don’t expect an answer. And if you want to tell me to screw myself, I can use your techniques to handle that!

I responded like this:

Thanks, Phil. I’m trying to put together at least two or three podcasts on the coronavirus from a variety of perspectives! Might read you question to kick start the first one we do, if that’s okay. david

Phil immediately shot back this email:

You’re an animal! I have no idea of where you get all your energy and motivation–obviously your techniques work (drug free!) so that must be part of it!

Kudos to you for all your effort. It is so, so much appreciated!! I sincerely hope you someday get the recognition you deserve!!! I think Feeling Great might be your ticket… Hope so.

Please feel free to read question and thanks for not telling me to “screw myself!” Really appreciate that!

Phil

How cool is that!

Rhonda and I are planning several podcasts on this important topic including today’s as well as a podcast on how Rhonda used TEAM to help a woman with severe feelings of depression, anxiety, inadequacy, despair and frustration about the current corona crisis in a single session.

We are also planning podcasts on how to communicate with friends and loved ones during the crisis, as well as a survey to assess changes in mood (depression, anxiety, anger, relationship satisfaction and happiness) since the corona virus hit, and possibly  more. When the survey is ready, we’ll announce it and send you a link in case you’d like to let us know how you’ve been feeling, and how your feelings might have changed since the virus hit!

Rhonda kick starts today’s session by reading a list of negative thoughts from folks who are freaked out about the corona virus, including these:

Negative Thoughts with Probable Cognitive Distortions

  • The world will turn into an apocalypse.
  • I’ll be a carrier and won’t know it and then I’ll infect my partner and children who will get really sick.
  • I’m divorced and I think my ex- will try to keep me from my kids. She won’t be as vigilant as I am about keeping our kids healthy. They’ll get sick and infect me.
  • I’m looking for a job right now, but no one will be hiring for a long time and I’ll never get a job.
  • I won’t have enough money to pay my rent and I’ll be evicted from my apartment and end up homeless (or) my business will go out of business.
  • I won’t have enough money to have fun for several months.
  • My parents will contract the virus, especially one of my parents who has some chronic health stuff, and get really sick or die.
  • I’m going to get cabin fever.
  • I will lose a sense of self/connection to reality with how surreal everything is.
  • People in my life will die from the virus.

* * *

Negative Thoughts that are Probably Not Distorted

  • The numbers of infected people are way higher than what’s being reported because there’s no testing
  • The pandemic is worsening.
  • The pandemic will get much worse than we realize now.
  • Needier populations — people who have lost work who really need it (restaurant workers, hotel, caterers, production staff, people with no savings, etc) — will suffer.
  • The social fabric is going to break down.
  • Things are going to continue worsening as climate change worsens.
  • I live too far from my parents to help take care of them.

Rhonda, Alex, David, and Jeremy begin by discussing several of the basic ideas of TEAM-CBT.

  1. We feel the way we think. In other words, the events of this world—like the corona virus—cannot have any effect on how we feel. All of our negative and positive feelings result from our thoughts, or “cognitions.” This idea goes back nearly 2,000 years to the teachings of the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, who said that people are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by our views of them.
  2. Some negative feelings are healthy and some or not. Healthy fear is not the same as neurotic anxiety. Healthy sadness is not the same as depression. Healthy remorse is not the same as neurotic anxiety. And so forth. Healthy anger is not the same as unhealthy anger.
  3. Healthy negative feelings result from valid negative thoughts, like “We are in danger because of the spread of the corona virus, and we need to be vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones.” Unhealthy negative feelings result from distorted negative thoughts, like “The world will turn into an apocalypse.”

Anxiety, panic, and depression, in contrast, result from distorted negative thoughts, like many of those that Rhonda read. For example, think about this thought: “My parents will die and I may never see them again.” Review the list of  cognitive distortions and see if you can spot some!

This thought is likely to be at least somewhat distorted since your parents probably won’t die. For example, in China there have been around 3,300 deaths so far, and the epidemic has finally been slowing in the past few days. Since there are more than a billion people in China, the odds that you or someone in your family will die, while significant, appear to be incredibly low. So while there is clearly some risk, the distortion would be Magnification, Fortune Telling, and Emotional Reasoning, the three distortions that trigger all feelings of anxiety. In addition, you can see your parents right now if you like, using Skype, for example. So, while that thought also contains a grain of truth, it arguably involves Discounting the Positive as well.

  1. In spite of these considerations, TEAM therapist don’t try to “fix” or “help” just because someone may have distorted negative thoughts. Trying to help without first addressing therapeutic resistance is the most common error therapists make, and the most common error most people us make. For example, you will hear politicians telling people to “stay CALM,” or trying to encourage people with good news or promises which sometimes don’t seem entirely honest.
  1. Instead of jumping in and trying to “help,” TEAM-CBT therapists first ask the person who is upset if they are looking for help. Sometimes, people aren’t asking for “help” or cheer-leading, they just want someone to listen and provide validation and support.

If the person does want help with negative feelings like panic, depression, frustration, loneliness, or inadequacy, we do a little thought experiment and say: “Imagine that we had a Magic Button, and if press it, all your negative feelings will instantly vanish, with no effort, and you’ll feel terrific. Will you push the Magic Button?”

Magic Button

Most people say they’d gladly push the button!

Then we say that while we don’t have a Magic Button, we’ve got some tremendous techniques that could help them reduce or even eliminate their negative feelings, but don’t think it would be such a good idea to do that because their negative thoughts and feelings may be expressions of their core values as a human being, and what is most beautiful and awesome about them, and that their may be some important benefits, or advantages of their negative thoughts and feelings. And maybe we should list those before making any decision to press the Magic Button and make everything disappear.

If you’re upset, you can try this right now. First, circle your negative feelings and estimate how strong each category is, between 0 and 100%. If you click here, you can see an example of this on the Emotions table of the Daily Mood Log of a woman who was upset about the corona virus scare.

Then ask these two questions about each feeling:

  1. What does this negative feelings show about me and my core values that’s positive and awesome?
  2. What are some benefits or advantages of this negative feelings are. How might it help me, or my loved ones?

I call this new technique Positive Reframing. In other words, I want to honor your negative thoughts and feelings before we think about changing them! This is called Positive Reframing and it is the key to the incredibly rapid changes we typically see when using TEAM-CBT. 

Typically, we come up with a list of a long list of compelling positives. Then I point out that if they push the Magic Button, all those positives will go down the drain, along with their negative feelings. Would they really want to do that?

Now you’re in a trap, or dilemma. One the one hand, you are suffering and desperately want to feel better. But at the same time, you don’t want to lose all of those awesome positives!

Fortunately, we can resolve this paradox. Instead of trying to make your negative feelings disappear by pushing the Magic Button, imagine that we had a Magic Dial instead, and you could dial each negative feeling down to a lower level that would allow you to keep all the positives on your list, and still feel better. What would you dial each type of negative feeling down to? For example, if you’re feeling 80% panic or 90% depressed or angry about the corona virus, and you could dial each emotion down to a lower level, what would you dial them down to?

Magic Dial

You can see an example of this if you click here. As you can see, this person has put these new levels in the “% Goal” column of the emotion table.

Jeremy provides a touching real life example of this. He feel intense anger because his fiancé, a nurse—is working in a hospital with a shortage of protective masks. He becomes tearful when he realizes that his anger is actually an expression of his intense love for her. The change in how he feels is almost instantaneous, and touching.

The group further illustrate this by using Positive Reframing with many of the negative feelings our podcast listeners like you may be having.

Jeremy concludes by drawing a critically important distinction between Positive Reframing, which is nearly always helpful, and “cheer leading,” which is rarely or never helpful, and  can actually be downright irritating!

This table below highlights some of the critical differences.

Is Positive Reframing Just Cheerleading Warmed Over?

by David and Jeremy

Cheer Leading Positive Reframing
You’re trying to cheer someone up to make them feel better. You are highlighting the benefits of NOT changing.
You say generally nice things about someone, like “you’re a good person,” or “you’re a survivor,” or “don’t be so hard on yourself.” The positives are not general but embedded within specific negative thoughts and feelings.
You don’t acknowledge the validity or beauty of the person’s negative thoughts and emotions. In fact, you’re trying to tell them that they’re wrong to feel upset! This is always preceded by doing superb empathy. Positive Reframing is actually a deeper form of empathy because you’re honoring the patient’s core values.
Cheerleading is irritating to almost everybody who’s upset, because you aren’t listening or showing any compassion or respect. The effect is enlightening and leads to feelings of relief, pride, peace, and acceptance.
You’re trying to control the other person. You’re telling them how they should think and feel. There’s no acceptance. You’re Sitting with Open Hands. You’re bringing hidden motivations to conscious awareness so they can decide where to steer the ship.
Hollow praise sounds dismissive, glib, and insincere. This technique is very difficult and challenging to learn because you have to let go of the idea that you know what’s best for other people.

Thanks for tuning in, and let us know what you thought about today’s program!

Oh, if you clicked on the two links to the Daily Mood Log of the woman who was intensely upset about the corona virus, and want to find out what happened in her magical TEAM-CBT session with Rhonda, tune in to our next CoronaCast!

Until then,

Rhonda, Alex, Jeremy, and David

You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and specializes in TEAM-CBT for depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. She can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. Dr. Alex Clarke practices in Mountain View, California and can be reached at alex@clarkemd.com or by phone: 650-382-1145

 

Today’s featured photo is courtesy of Nancy Mueller photograpy in Los Altos California.

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

 

* * *

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you will soon be able to pre-order it on Amazon, possibly by the time you read this! 
CoverFeelingGreat1

Need Training or CE Credits?

Check Out these Awesome Upcoming Workshops!

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety,
OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with

Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

182: Ask David: Are Negative and Positive Distortions Bad? Treating an Existential Crisis. Agreeing with Unfair Criticisms.

182: Ask David: Are Negative and Positive Distortions Bad? Treating an Existential Crisis. Agreeing with Unfair Criticisms.

Today, Rhonda and David answer three great questions submitted by listeners like you.

  1. I am confused about the terms, negative and positive distortions. Help!
  2. “How do you treat an “existential crisis?”
  3. Can you use the Five Secrets with someone in a hypo-manic state? Won’t agreeing with their accusations just make things worse? 

1. I am confused about the terms, negative and positive distortions.

Dear Dr. Burns,

I do have one question about terms I have heard on the podcast. The terms that confuse me are “negative distortions” and “positive distortions.” I think I understand that they are both “bad” distortions, but the  positive distortions are distortions related to moods or thoughts that are unhealthily high or “up,” such as in mania or narcissism. And negative distortions are the ones related to lower mood states/depression. Is this correct? I don’t know if it is a brain thing, but even though I think I understand the concepts, my brain still seems to automatically think of positive distortions as good, and so I become quite confused when trying to understand how to fight them or help someone else fight them . . .

Thank you again, so much, for all of your hard work on the podcast, as well as your diligence in training therapists in your TEAM model. I am a super-fan of the model already after only a week or so of listening! And the Five Secrets have challenged me to examine my communication abilities much more honestly and helped me in several important interactions already (even as a novice making many mistakes😬).

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Please also tell Fabrice and Rhonda many thanks for all of their hard work and excellence as well. They both bring such gifts and refreshing honesty, brilliance  and genuineness to the discussions. I especially admire Rhonda for sharing her personal work. Such powerful and transformative stuff! It gives me hope that someday I might be a fraction as brave to DO that kind of work, much less share it openly with others for their benefit. What a generous as well as brave thing to do! I feel so hopeful and encouraged to know there are therapists like you, Fabrice, and Rhonda helping people to heal from vast amounts of mental and emotional suffering. I can’t wait for TEAM to be as commonly known everywhere as CBT is now. Sign me up to volunteer for any promotional efforts if that is ever needed! For now, I will continue to tell everyone, including quite a few other counselor friends, about the podcast and the TEAM model.

Sincerely,

A new super-fan podcast listener,

Holly Miller

Hi Holly, Many people are confused, so this is a great question! Rhonda and I will gladly discuss this on our podcast. And thanks for your kind words!

david 

2. Can you use the Five Secrets with someone in a hypo-manic state? Won’t agreeing with their accusations just make things worse?

Hi David and Rhonda,

Thank you so much for the podcast. I have been an avid listener since the early days of the podcast, and it has helped me through very difficult times and still is.

My question is related to my relationship with my future to be divorcee. She is at times in a hypo mania state due to her bipolar illness (which is diagnosed and treated).

Is it possible to use the five secrets of effective communication with someone who is in a state of hypo mania? I feel that agreeing with unreasonable accusations and complains is not helping at all and only causes her to hold to these claims.

I know that you usually like to relate to specific correspondence but it is more of a general question.

I hope you can give me some guidelines on what works and what doesn’t.

Thanks!

Al

Hi Al,

The devil is in the details. Can you provide a specific example of one thing she said, and exactly what you said next, that you need some help with? General questions about the Five Secrets are NEVER productive. Great question, thanks! david

David D. Burns, M.D.

Hi Dr. Burns,

Thanks for the prompt reply.

Well, I was asking a general question if it is possible at all to use the 5 secretes with someone who is totally unreasonable?

She would say “You started to be a father when you decided to divorce” referring to the fact that I am claiming for mutual custody. The fact of the matter is that she has been going in and out of long depression periods and manic periods and I had to take care of the kids, maintain the house and keep a job (working from home).

I would answer that I was there taking care of the kids all the years and now that I decide to break I want to keep my fair share of the time with them.

Prior to that she always claimed that I am not a good spouse although I took care of her during all the years and had at times to reduce my workload in order to be available for the kids and her.

So, the claims and accusations are always discounting what I did for her and the kids. And she is not accepting the fact that she has been ill and that this had a toll on the family. She says I need to look forward even though these episodes on hypo mania keep repeating.

Hope I was specific enough. If you still feel I am vague then it may be that this is not the right forum to ask such questions and may need to get proper consultation.

All the best and looking forward to reading the new book. I already started with the free chapter.

Al

David and Rhonda describe ‘mania” and “hypo-mania” model how to find truth in criticisms that seem irrational, exaggerated, untrue, or unfair. They also discuss the tendency to blame others for the problems in our relationships, and why and how that is rarely or never helpful.

3. “How do you treat an “existential crisis?”

Good afternoon Dr. Burns,

Have you treated anyone that went through an existential crisis before and were you successful? I have a wife that deals with depression and I was in the past able to help her (even though my mind set was “life is awesome. so why or how can you be upset?”)

I have also dealt with my own anxiety and was able to get myself out of that 10 years ago, using exposure techniques. But I have ran into a bit of a wall here with what I believe is an existential crisis. I’ve noticed that I am unable to find anything of that subject in any of your topics.

Thank you for your time, Dr. Burns.

In the podcast, Rhonda and I demonstrate how to respond effectively to someone who is depressed, and why cheer-leading (“life is awesome,” etc.) will generally not be helpful.

Hi Arturo,

There are no existential crises in California at this time, as the Buddha pointed out more than 2500 years ago. However, specific and real problems exist, and once you identify what’s bugging you and you deal with it you’ll find your “existential crisis” has disappeared.

Check out my podcast on the teenage girl who was having an “identity crisis.”

Our podcast on “How to Help” might also be useful to you!

You might also enjoy my book, When Panic Attacks, especially the section on the Hidden Emotion Technique. If you go to my website, you can type any topic in the search box in the right-hand panel of every page, and a lot of useful information, will suddenly pop up.

David and Rhonda

Subscribe

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. She is a Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

 

Coming up in 2020

I will present two workshops at the upcoming

Psychotherapy Networker Conference!

Saturday, March 21, 2020
Feeling Great—A New, High-Speed
Treatment for Depression

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Overcoming Magical Thinking with the Anxious Client—
A Paradoxical Approach

Plus, my new book, Feeling Great,
will be officially announced with banners and such!

CoverFeelingGreat1

* * *

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with
Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

144: Ask David–Relationships, Relationships, Relationships!

144: Ask David–Relationships, Relationships, Relationships!

 

My wife claims that I never listen! How can I possibly agree with her? 

My wife left me! How can I correct the distortions in her criticisms?

How can you deal with people who constantly wallow in self-pity?

And more!

Hi podcast fans,

Today we’ve got some terrific Five Secrets questions that you have submitted.

  1. Mike #1: I love your Five Secrets of Effective Communication. Why does secret #4, “I Feel” Statements, not include Thought Empathy?
  2. Mike #2: I have seen communication models that include expressing and listening for needs. Aren’t needs and wants important and important to express?
  3. Al: How can I help my wife recognize her many cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking? It seems hopeless!
  4. Guy: If a loved one says, “You never listen,” how could I possibly find the truth in this statement? How could you genuinely agree with an All-or-Nothing statement such as, “You never ….”?
  5. Both Sonja and Eileen asked: How can you deal with someone who constantly wallows in self-pity and plays the role of victim. It’s exhausting!

Thanks for tuning in, and keep the great questions coming!

David and Rhonda

Subscribe

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.

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here

* * *

There will be three awesome intensives
for you this summer and fall!

 

July 15 – 18, 2019
Calgary, Canada four-day intensive
Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Assoc.

 

July 29 – August 1, 2019
South San Francisco four-day intensive
Sponsored by Praxis

 

November 4 – 7, 2019
Atlanta, Georgia four-day intensive
Sponsored by Praxis

 

119: Can you Change Self-Defeating Beliefs?

119: Can you Change Self-Defeating Beliefs?

In today’s show, Fabrice and David focus on this question: How can you get rid of Self-Defeating Beliefs?

Although any of the 100 + TEAM-CBT methods can be used to modify an SDB, four methods will be highlighted in today’s show.

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Semantic Method
  • Experimental Technique
  • Feared Fantasy

For more information on how to change SDBs, you might want to watch the extremely popular David and Jill  FB Live show on Overcoming Perfectionism (recorded on November 11, 2018).

What research has been done on SDBs?

This topic was not discussed in the show, but individuals with an interest in research might want to read David’s study with Dr. Jackie Persons on the causal connections between depression and SDBs about dependency (attachment) as well as achievement (perfectionism) in several hundred patients in Philadelphia during the first 12 weeks of their treatment at David’s clinic.

The study confirmed That both types of SBS were significantly correlated with depression severity at intake and at the 12-week evaluation. In addition, changes in depression were correlated with changes in SDBs. However, a sophisticated statistical analysis with structural equation modeling techniques did not confirm that SDBs had causal effects on depression, or that depression had causal effects on SDBs. Instead, SDBs and feelings of depression appeared to share an unknown common cause.

  • Persons, J. B., Burns, D. D., Perloff, J. M., & Miranda, J. (1993). Relationships between symptoms of depression and anxiety and dysfunctional beliefs about achievement and attachment. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101(4): 518 – 524.

 

 

Subscribe

Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and also works with individuals throughout the world via teletherapy (although not across U.S. state lines). You can reach him at fabrice@life.net. You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

 

* * *

 

118: The Beliefs that Defeat You, Part 1

118: The Beliefs that Defeat You, Part 1

The shows today and next Monday will focus on Self-Defeating Beliefs. These shows were triggered by two excellent questions from listeners.

Rajesh asked:

  • Is it possible to change an SDB?
  • Does the mere knowledge of an SDB change it?
  • How long does it take to change an SDB?
  • How do you change SDBs?

Nikola asked:

  • Aaron Beck said the SDBs never really go away. They just get activated and deactivated and activated again. Does this mean that depression is an incurable disease that will keep coming back over and over again?
  • What’s the point in battling against a core belief if it cannot be changed?

Fabrice and I appreciate your questions–they often give us ideas for shows! In today’s Podcast you’ll learn the answers to several questions about Self-Defeating Beliefs.

What’s the difference between Self-Defeating Beliefs (SDBs) vs. Cognitive Distortions?

The thoughts that contain cognitive distortions, such as All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Discounting the Positive, and Self-Blame are distortions of reality, they are the cons that trigger depression and anxiety. When you’re upset, these thoughts will flood your mind. These thoughts can be show to be false, and when you crush a distorted negative thought, you’ll immediately feel better.

Self-Defeating Beliefs are stipulations, values that you’ve set up for your self. For example, you may base your self-esteem on your accomplishments due to your belief that people who accomplish more are more worthwhile as human beings. SDBs like this cannot actually be shown to be false–they are simply your personal, subjective values, and they are thought to be with you all the time, and not just when you’re depressed, anxious, or angry.

The question with an SDB is this: What are the advantages and disadvantages of having this value system? How will it help me–what are the benefits–and how might it hurt me? What’s the downside?

Why are Self-Defeating Beliefs thought to be important?

When you challenge and defeat a distorted thought, you feel better in the here-and-now. When you challenge and change an SDB, you change your value system at a deep level. This is thought to make you less vulnerable to painful mood swings and relationship conflicts in the future.

What are the different kinds of SDBs?

  • David’s list of 23 Common SDBs is attached. This list is not comprehensive, as there are many more, but the ones on the list are very common. There are several categories of SDBs.
  • Individual SDBs are often “Self-Esteem Equations”
    • Perfectionism
    • Perceived Perfectionism
    • Achievement Addiction
    • Approval Addiction
    • Love Addiction
  • Interpersonal SDBs are expectations of what will happen in certain kinds of relationships, or relationships in general
    • What’s your understanding of the other person’s role in your relationship? What adjectives describe him or her?
    • What’s your understanding of your person’s role in the relationship? What adjectives describe you?
    • How would that kind of relationship feel?
    • What rules connect the two roles?
  • Other kinds of SDBs
    • Anger / conflict cluster
      • Entitlement
      • Truth
      • Blame
    • Anxiety cluster
      • Niceness
      • Conflict Phobia
      • Anger Phobia
      • Emotophobia
      • Submissiveness
      • Spotlight Fallacy
      • Brushfire Fallacy

How can you identify your own, or a patient’s, Self-Defeating Beliefs?

  • Look at the list of 23 individual SDBs (easiest). You might want to do that right now. Review the list, and you’ll probably find many of your own beliefs!
  • Individual Downward Arrow
  • Interpersonal Downward Arrow

Next week, Fabrice and David will show you how to modify an SDB.

 

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Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and also works with individuals throughout the world via teletherapy (although not across U.S. state lines). You can reach him at fabrice@life.net. You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

 

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