Posts tagged ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’

February 7, 2013

Exposure therapy: Experience life

by Dave P.

You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play
~ Steve Forbert

There’s only so much progress you can make by reading or listening to advice. You can develop an understanding of your issues, and you can accept them. You can recognize that it wasn’t your fault if you were abused or bullied. But you’re not going to overcome your problems unless you get out there in the world and experience life.

An obvious application is that of public speaking anxiety. You can develop your skills and self-efficacy that you can deliver a speech competently. You can deliver your speech to your dog, your family, or friends. But until you get out in front of an audience, you won’t be exposed to the elements that cause public speaking anxiety, and those are people!

People, for the most part, are harmless. The chance that anyone in the audience is going to cause you any physical harm is minuscule. Emotional pain activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain, though. Having the right attitude is essential to avoid a negative reaction, and that deals with not worrying what people think about you. People might not like your physical appearance  your voice, or your style. No matter who you are, there are going to be critics. If you like yourself and you’re having fun, it doesn’t matter what others think.

The DISH Method applies to all aspects of life. DISH stands for: Develop your skills, Incorporate your personality, Stop the negative thinking, and Have fun!

To be able to enjoy yourself in social situations requires social skills. You need to be able to carry on a conversation, have something interesting to say, and be able to say it. Some people claim that don’t know what to talk about, which is why they hated socializing. The world is a fascinating place. There is a lot going on out there. All you need to do is open your eyes and learn about it, whether it has to do with people, places, or things. Develop a passion for learning and understanding. Learn how to convey your interests to others. If you have a passion for what you’re saying, so will others. If you are trying to impress others with your knowledge, though, you’re not going to win friends or influence anyone.

Incorporate your personality into everything you do. Your individuality is what makes you interesting. Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Live authentically. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, you’re wasting time by not living up to your potential.

Stop the negative thinking. People with low self-esteem too often discount the positive and focus on the negative. They think people are just being nice if they get a complement, and they believe that their successes are anomalies. Failure is their natural state of being. They learn that they are helpless — that no matter how much effort they exert, they’re destined to fail. Because of that, they often do fail.

You are the star of your life. Until you accept that, you have very little chance of being happy. Sure, we want others like us;  our relationships generate happiness and allow us to manage stress. But the main thing is that you like yourself, and you can only do that by being the kind of person you would admire and respect. It involves dignity, self-respect, self-assertiveness, and self-growth. It’s about setting goals — both short and long term, and working towards their attainment. Goals lead us forward in life. Never stop learning.

Plato once said, “Life should be lived as play.” I repeat that quote fairly often because it’s too easy to forget and get bogged down in the muck and mire of life. We have the ability to experience pleasure in almost any activity — even work! One of the keys is living mindfully. Even the act of washing the dishes can be an enjoyable experience when performed completely in the present. Observe the sensation of the water running over your hands. Observe the sounds and smells. If you become efficient at the task, you can achieve a state of flow, which generates even more pleasure.

Attitude is everything in life. If you go into a situation so afraid to fail that you’re anxious, you are not living up to your potential. But if you recognize that you are the star of your life and that you’re not here on earth to live up to someone else’s expectations, you can’t help but win. But as the old saying goes: “you cannot win if you do not play.”

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February 6, 2013

You are the star of your life

by Dave P.

Take it as it comes, specialize in having fun.
~ Jim Morrison

No matter what happened in the past, you can’t change it. There are no “do overs” in life. But we can learn from our mistakes and use them to help us grow. People who don’t get to experience mistakes often develop a fear of failure. We don’t need to be perfect. Our imperfections are what make us human.

Put your mistakes behind you. You are the star of your life. If you were writing a script for today, you wouldn’t decide to spend it ruminating and worrying. That would make for a boring movie!

Ruminating can become a bad habit if you do it too often. The parts of your brain that you use most develops strong neurological connections. The more you do something, the stronger the connections become. That’s what you want if you’re trying to learn how to play the piano, but it can take a serious toll on your state of mind if it involves maladaptive thinking.

Research psychologist Martin Seligman found that people who ruminate a lot are prone to depression. Ruminators often suffer from low self-esteem, which is why they seek the approval of others. When they don’t get it, they obsess, worry, and ruminate, which results in the loss of respect from others and the diminishment of self-respect.

When you find yourself ruminating, try this. Simply close your eyes and move them back and forth fairly rapidly — about twice the speed of a clock pendulum. Don’t try to block the rumination, but instead, try to ruminate while oscillating your eyes. You’ll find it to be extremely difficult to think about anything since the process of moving your eyes back and forth requires a fair amount of concentration; there’s not much processing capability left over to process other thoughts. Any time the maladaptive thought enters your consciousness, simply close your eyes and move them back and forth.

I did a study on this technique, which I call Rapid Eye Oscillation Technique, or REOT, and the people who tried it reported it to be effective. I use it all the time to help me fall asleep and to stop ruminations that would otherwise disrupt my day. Nothing else has ever worked for me.

You can be the star of your life if you stop worrying so much about what others think about you. While we all want to be liked and respected, if your sense of self-worth depends on the approval of others, it will have the opposite effect; people will like and respect you less.

Be yourself. Be authentic. If you don’t like yourself, work on self-improvement. Develop your conversational skills. Make an effort to learn new things every day. Show gratitude for your relationships and the good things in life. Work on being a positive person. Try to make the world a better place. Take it as it comes. Specialize in having fun.

January 30, 2013

Respect yourself (Part 2)

by Dave P.

Even in the most dire circumstances, we have far better chance of faring well if we maintain our dignity. Many of those who survived the Holocaust did so because of their mental toughness more so than their physical strength. Many of them did what they could to help others, which allowed them to maintain their self-respect. They had meaning in their lives and reason to keep on trying.

Viktor Frankl wrote about meaning in life. Meaning was the central theme of his Logotherapy, which became Existential therapy. We can find meaning in even the most trivial of events. A walk around the park can be a mindful experience. Picking up a loaf of bread can be an opportunity to brighten up someone’s life with a smile. Self-respect comes from doing good things — from making the world a better place.

We tend to lose self-respect when we’re self-focused. When we’re in that state of mind, we’re self-absorbed and sensitive to criticism. We don’t want to be bothered with other people’s problems when we’re desperately trying to deal with our own. We pity ourselves, which destroys self-respect. It makes us feel inferior — that we’re victims.

If you were playing the role of yourself in a movie about your life, you wouldn’t want your character to be a weak, self-absorbed, vindictive character. You’d want that person to be strong willed, noble, honorable, and to have impeccable integrity. You’d want your character to stand up for what’s right and to fight wrongs.

We can aspire to be good, decent people. It’s not that difficult. Doctors take an oath to practice medicine honestly and ethically call the Hippocratic Oath. At it’s core is the message: “First, do no harm.” It’s equivalent to the negative version of the Golden Rule that states: don’t do bad things. But that’s not enough. We need to also do good things when we can, but at the very least, don’t do bad things.

June 21, 2011

July 2nd Presentation and discussion: Ways to Control Panic Attacks

by Dave P.

We postponed Leo’s talk about how to control panic attacks, so for those of you who wanted to hear the presentation and discuss that topic, you can by attending our next meeting on July 2nd.

If we have time, I’ll give a short talk specifically on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Many of the group regulars have been in CBT, so if you’re considering seeing a therapist, you might gain some valuable insight from this discussion.

For those of of you who haven’t attended one of our meetings, anyone can get up and give a talk. It’s a great way to deal with public speaking anxiety, and it’s also good for improving your communication skills. After the presentation, we’ll discuss the topic presented and members can share their personal experiences with the group.

You don’t have to participate. You can just sit and listen if you want. Several attendees have done that. There’s never any pressure on anyone to participate.