078: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#5: You Can CHANGE the Way You FEEL!

Building Self-Esteem and Overcoming Toxic Shame–as well as feelings of depression, anxiety, inferiority, hopelessness, and anger!

Let’s face it–nearly all of us fall into the black hole of depression, anxiety, shame, and self-doubt at times. Then it’s time to ask yourself what you’re telling yourself, write down your negative thoughts, identify the distortions in them, and substitute thoughts that are more positive and realistic. Sound too easy? The results can be mind-blowing!

David and Fabrice discuss a therapy session with a woman who had been hiding something about herself for nearly ten years due to feelings of shame. When she receives a phone call from someone in her church, her feelings of anxiety and shame hit the ceiling. Learn how she overcomes her feelings of angst and self-doubt using TEAM-CBT.

David hopes to make the actual video of this dramatic therapy session available soon right here at www.feelinggood.com in his new Feeling Good Store! (still under development at the time of this write-up.)

While listening, you can download pdfs about each of seven steps to help you break out of bad moods and boost your self-esteem:

Step 1. Identify the Upsetting Event

If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log you will see that the Upsetting Event was something seemingly innocuous.

Step 2. Rate Your Negative Feelings

If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log again, you will see how she circled her feelings and rate each type of a feeling on a scale from 0% to 100%. You will see that her negative feelings were actually incredibly intense.

Daily Mood Log with feelings circled and rated

Step 3. Record Your Negative Thoughts

Cognitive therapists, going all the way back to the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus nearly 2,000 years ago, say that we are upset, not by things, or events, but by our thoughts about them. If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log with Negative Thoughts yet again, you will see what she was telling herself about the phone call from the member of her church.

Step 4. Positive Reframing

This is one of the many powerful new features of TEAM-CBT. Before trying to change the way you think and feel, focus on your negative thoughts and feelings one at a time and ask yourself two questions:

  1. What are some benefits, or advantages, of this negative thought or feelings?
  2. What does this negative thought or feeling show about me and my core values that’s positive and awesome?

Briefly stop the recording and review Melanie’s Daily Mood Log. Then see how many positives you can list. For example, what does Melanie’s shame show about her that is awesome and positive? And what are some really beautiful things about her sadness and depression? What are some potential benefits of her anxiety?

Step 5. Identify the Distortions

After the Paradoxical Agenda Setting (in this case, Positive Reframing), I asked Melanie what Negative Thought she wanted to work on first. She selected the second negative thought, “She’ll tell other people who will judge me.” See how many distortions you can find in this thought, using the list of ten distortions on her Daily Mood Log.

When you’re done, you can see how Melanie identified the distortions in this thought, using abbreviations, in the Distortion column of her Daily Mood Log. However, on the podcast, David identified one additional distortion he had overlooked during the live session with Melanie. Can you figure out which one it is?

Step 6. Challenge the Negative Thought

There are more 50 techniques that you can use to challenge a Negative Thought. After listing roughly 17 promising methods during the session, Melanie decided that she wanted to start out with a gentle method called the Paradoxical Double Standard Technique. If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log  again, you can see the Positive Thoughts Melanie came up with to challenge the Negative Thought, “She’ll tell other people who will judge me.” You will also see how strongly she believed them. Remember that the Necessary Condition for Emotional Change is that the Positive Thoughts all have to be 100% true. Rationalizations and half-truths will rarely, if ever, give anyone genuine relief or mood elevation.

Now the question is this: Did the Positive Thoughts reduce Melanie’s belief in the Negative Thought? Remember the Sufficient Condition for emotional change: the Positive Thoughts must drastically reduce the belief in the Negative Thoughts. That’s the whole goal, in fact, of cognitive therapy. Remember, when you change the way you THINK you can change the way you FEEL!

If you click on Melanie’s Daily Mood Log again, you’ll see that her belief in the Negative Thought was, in fact reduced. Sometimes, you will want to reduce your belief in a Negative Thought all the way to zero. But in this case, 35% was sufficient, since some people may, in fact, judge Melanie, although most people probably will not.

Step 7. Outcome: Re-rate Your Negative Feelings

Once you’ve clobbered one negative thoughts, it’s generally much easier to knock the rest of your Negative Thoughts out of the park. This was the case with Melanie. If you review her final Daily Mood Log, you can see how she challenged the rest of her Negative Thoughts and the incredible impact this had on her feelings.

Coming Soon!

Next week we will have something very special and very precious for you–

Podcast 079: What’s the Secret of a “Meaningful” Life? Live Therapy with Daisy

This will be a dramatic and inspiring podcast that Fabrice and I feel very grateful to be able to share with you. The podcast will be based on an actual therapy session with a young woman who is struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt because of fertility issues, due to strong. societal messages that women should have children and should want children. This will be a unique opportunity to go behind closed doors to see TEAM-CBT live and real with someone like yourself who is struggling with intense negative thoughts and feelings.

The live therapy sessions we have published previously–with Mark, who felt like a failure as a father, and with Marilyn, who was confronted by a sudden and totally unexpected horrific diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer–received tremendously positive feedback from all of you. Now we are proud to present yet another live therapy session next week! So mark your calendars!

Two Cool Upcoming Workshops for you!

May 20th, 2018  Advanced, High-Speed CBT for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety A one day workshop by Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt. 6 CE Credits, $135
You can join in person or online from wherever you live!

March 22 and 23, 2018 Rapid Recovery from Trauma, (David D. Burns, MD) J&K Seminars, Lancaster, Pa 15 CE credits, includes live evening demonstration on the evening of day 1.
You can join in person or online from wherever you live! 

Additional Resources for the General Public (all available at Amazon.com, as well as other booksellers)

  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
  • The Feeling Good Handbook
  • Feeling Good Together
  • When Panic Attacks

General public and mental health professionals might enjoy the recent article about David in Stanford Magazine authored by Robert Strauss entitled “Mind Over Misery.”

Additional Resources for Mental Health Professionals

David’s TEAM-CBT Psychotherapy ebook: Tools, Not Schools, of Therapy

David’s Tuesday evening TEAM-CBT meets at the Behavioral Sciences Building, 401 Quarry Road, Room 2209 from 5:00 to 7:30 PM, and is free. It is open to all SF Bay Area mental health professionals as well as graduate students in any mental health field, including but not limited to Stanford graduate students. There are teachers include:

  • David Burns, MD
  • Helen Yeni-Komshian, MD
  • Jill Levitt, PhD
  • Daniele Levy, PhD

For information, requirements, and consent form, contact our Greeter, Sara Swedorski, saraswedorski@gmail.com.

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

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At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.

 

 

077: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#4: Resolve a Conflict with a Friend or Family Member

This topic may SEEM simple, and the rewards can be tremendous–but it requires courage, lots of practice, and the death of the ego!

Most of us, and perhaps all human beings, run into conflicts with family members, friends, and colleagues from time to time. And as we all know, these conflicts can weigh us down and rob us of happiness. In this podcast, you will learn how to transform anger and bickering into intimacy and joy.

I’ll bet you know someone who

  • complains endlessly, but ignores your good advice and just keeps complaining
  • argues defensively and always has to be right
  • won’t listen
  • criticizes you unfairly
  • only cares about himself or herself
  • refuses to talk or express his or her feelings

Does any of that sound familiar?

And if you’re a therapist, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you run into conflicts with angry, critical patients from time to time as well. Sometimes that happens to me, and it can feel intensely demoralizing.  But when I resolve the conflict, and develop a deeper and more rewarding relationship with the person I was at odds with, it is exhilarating.

Here are some fairly common complaints therapists sometimes hear from patients:

  • You don’t “get me.”
  • You don’t really care about me. . . You’re just in it for the buck.
  • You’re not listening.
  • You haven’t helped me. . . in fact, you’re making me worse!
  • Aren’t you just a student? Do you think I need a real therapist?
  • This therapy sucks!

In today’s Feeling Good Podcast, you will learn about a powerful “Intimacy Exercise” which David has developed. This exercise is designed for therapists and for the general public alike. It’s designed to help you fine-tune your communication skills, so you can develop more rewarding relationships with the people you care about. You may have listened to some of the five previous podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, but this is the first time this training technique has been illustrated.

David and Fabrice are joined by Jacob Towery, MD, as well as Lida Sharlin, LMFT, and Eleanor Scott, a certified marriage and Family Therapist. Jacob is one of the teachers at David’s weekly Tuesday evening psychotherapy training group at Stanford, and Lida and Eleanor attend the group as students. Jacob is a psychiatrist and author of the Antidepressant Book for teenagers, recently released as an audiobook. David and Fabrice are very grateful that Jacob, Lida, and Eleanor volunteered to participate in this podcast. Hopefully, their real-life examples will make the podcast far more dynamic and interesting for you!

This is not a trivial statement, since the key to learning involves the philosophy of “joyful failure”–Lida and Eleanor will have to be willing to learn from their mistakes, which will be pointed out immediately while they are role-playing. This exercise is especially challenging, since just about everybody makes all kinds of mistakes initially. For experienced therapists, this can be a shock to the system, since they thought they’d mastered empathy skills in graduate school–but that is rarely the case. If you check your ego at the door, as Lida and Eleanor have bravely done, the learning potential can be tremendous.

As you will see, the exercise involves one person who does the criticizing, and a second person who attempts to respond effectively, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. Then the role-play suddenly stops, and three types of feedback are provided for the person who was trying to respond effectively:

  1. Your letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F)
  2. Here’s what worked and what didn’t work.
  3. Here’s how you might improve your response, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.

I think you will enjoy seeing Lida and Eleanor, struggle to respond effectively to two patient conflicts, and two personal conflicts, while Jacob and David provide feedback and tips on how to improve.

Responses to two stinging (and real) patient criticisms are illustrated first:

  1. “This session sucked! I ended up feeling worse at the end.”
  2. “You’re so invested in giving me homework assignments during our sessions that you don’t pay any attention to me, and how I’m feeling!”

After that, two angry criticisms from loved ones are illustrated:

  1. “You’re selfish and only think about yourself!” (My sibling said this.)
  2. “You’re always so self-righteous! How could I ever confide in you!” (My son said this.)

How would you have responded?

If you would like to delve deeper into this topic, pick up a copy of David’s book, Feeling Good Together, on Amazon.com. There are many exercises to help you master the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.

Coming Soon

Next week David and Fabrice will conclude the last of five podcasts on how to boost happiness. The focus will be how to change the way you think and feel when you fall into a black hole of insecurity and self-doubt and beat up on yourself with negative thoughts. Sound familiar?

And the following week we will have Podcast 079: What’s the Secret of a “Meaningful” Life? Live Therapy with Daisy.” This will be a very special podcast that Fabrice and I feel very grateful to be able to share with you. The podcast will be based on an actual therapy session with a young woman who is struggling tremendously with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt because of fertility issues, along with strong. societal messages that women should have children and should want children.

The live therapy we have published previously–with Mark, who felt like a failure as a father, and Marilyn, who was confronted by a sudden and totally unexpected horrific diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer–received tremendously positive feedback from our subscribers. Now we are proud to present yet another live and inspiring therapy session in just two weeks! So mark your calendars!

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.