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Tag: cognitive behavior therapy

July 19, 2018
Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Imagine you received a letter in the mail, and the letter informed you that your application for a position with a certain company had been reviewed and you have been invited for an interview. How would you feel?

Well, if you are receiving a letter, it must be likely that the application process was a cumbersome one and that you will be excited about the interview. But what if you are not? What if you are anxious about the interview? What if every time you think about the interview, you can only imagine the various ways by which you could commit a series of blunders and leave your prospective employer and supervisors unimpressed?

What if your feelings of anxiety are not just limited to the job interview? What if your feelings of anxiety and dread are your standard response to life challenges? What if you often worry about upcoming challenges in your life, that your standard response is to avoid these challenges all together? If that’s the case, you may struggle with social anxiety. You see the key element of social anxiety boils down to your level of trust and confidence in yourself when dealing with social situations that challenge you.

So how do you get past your fears in challenging situations? First you must separate your feelings from your thoughts. To do this, it is important to note that your feelings are a byproduct of your thoughts. This is important to remember, because you want to cultivate the habit of not being reactive to powerful feelings of arousal, specifically the negative ones. When you get into the habit of being reactive to your feelings, you establish a cycle of negativity where you have negative thoughts, which leads to negative feelings which leads to a reinforcement of the negative thoughts. So, separating your feelings from your thoughts afford you the option of accessing your situation from an objective perspective and engaging in the most reasonable behavior.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “what are negative thoughts?” Negative thoughts are thoughts which create a falsehood about yourself, your situation and others. Keeping in line with the example, it is highly unlikely that you are unqualified for the job you took the time to apply for and that other professionals reviewed and decided that you were worth their time to interview.

In this situation, you must be engaged in a thought process that condemns you for making even the slightest of errors, leading to an inferiority complex. This is negative thinking, because it does not help accomplish anything in your life. As a matter of fact, a thought process like this goes above and beyond in preventing you from finding peace and happiness within yourself.

The solution would be to identify your feelings of anxiety, dread, shame and fear. Then in your mind, set these feelings to the side. Once these feelings have been acknowledged and set to the side, you now want to look for evidence that supports your goal. In this case it would be going to the interview. From an objective perspective, you applied for the job because you believed you could do the job, and you no doubt documented evidence in the job application regarding why you believed you where qualified for the job.

By focusing on the evidence which supports your ability to rise to the challenge and succeed, you will begin the process of accessing feelings which are consistent with your ability to face and overcome challenges. Specifically, you will find yourself experiencing feelings of confidence, calm and gratitude.

There are cognitive strategies designed to help you effectively transition from negative thoughts that create anxiety within you to reality-based thoughts that create calm within you. You will no doubt experience the most success working with a professional.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach

 

 

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May 16, 2017

One of the primary issues faced by people on the Autism spectrum and those with Asperger syndrome, is coping with feelings of being overwhelmed. These issues often start in childhood, as early as a year old, when children who become easily overwhelmed instinctively react by trying to shield themselves from exposure to excess stimuli. Parents of children on the spectrum can easily relate to stories of children who cover their ears with their hands in response to everyday sounds they perceive as loud and stressful. As the child ages, the coping skills for shielding oneself from excess exposure to environmental stimuli becomes even more subtle but the consequences are the same.

By environmental stimuli, I mean people, places and things which produce overwhelming feelings for the person, causing the person’s desire to retreat to safety until it’s safe again. The consequences are often themed with unfinished work, projects and poorly developed relationships with others. This often leads to unwanted isolation and a lifestyle marked by underachievement.

The solution is easy to understand, challenging to implement and well worth the effort. The solution is to do nothing in response to feelings of being overwhelmed. By doing nothing, you are choosing not to be reactive to your feelings of being overwhelmed, which is to engage in a series of behaviors to prevent yourself from experiencing the emotions you need to experience. Regardless of the specifics of what you do, your being reactive will be an attempt to control, manipulate and/or change your reality to manage your feelings.

Instead, by choosing to do nothing, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to experience the range of emotions you need to feel. Your challenge is to simply accept these emotions for what they are without being reactive. By choosing not to be reactive, you are beginning the process of deactivating your fight or flight response pattern, thereby opening access to your solution focused mind. When people choose to stop responding to their feelings of overwhelm fueled by their fears and worries, they become more insight driven and solution focused.

To the outside observer, who isn’t aware of the changes taken place inside the person, they will often observe someone who is behaving more courageous in their daily affairs. In fact, the person is behaving more courageous, as they are now in the practice of looking past their fears and worries and seeing their issues for the mere inconveniences they really are instead of catastrophes.

In my practice, it is a natural reaction for a client to listen to my take on doing nothing in response to feelings of overwhelm, and then responding with an example of a catastrophe they recently experienced in their life. Often, in processing these incidents with them, it is revealed that said catastrophe began as an inconvenience, which they poorly reacted to, thereby worsening the situation.

Catastrophes do happen in life, whether as an initial incident, or as an incident made worse from an overreaction. Regardless, the most effective response to feelings of being overwhelmed, is to accept the situation for what it is, and accept your feelings for what they are. Once this is achieved, only then can you begin to take a solution focused response.

The process of doing nothing to feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety, is something that takes quite a bit of effort for a first timer. Specifically, there are evidenced based cognitive behavioral strategies, like the ones found in this CBT workbook, “Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety,” by Seth J Gillihan PhD.

A person can study and practice these strategies on their own, or with an experienced therapist.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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July 7, 2014

Our thought carry more weight than we them credit. Positive thoughts give us the confidence and courage to address and tackle problems in our lives, while negative thoughts take away from our ability to have confidence and practice courage in our daily affairs. For years I have heard terms such as magical thinking and placebo effects. Terminologies that have suggested that our beliefs by themselves had no effect on our lives. In the years since I have practiced psychotherapy, primarily through the modality of cognitive behavioral therapy, I have come to realize that our beliefs are fundamental the most important and potent aspect of our existence.

It’s complicated, because  sometimes we are lead to believe one thing which we believe benefits us as people, however said belief only serves to hinder us. While some beliefs that we are taught to not take seriously, actually provide us with a lot of benefits when we adhere to the principles of such beliefs.

In this video I discuss the power of our thoughts, using a research study the on effectiveness of antidepressants and the phenomenon of the placebo effect. I will be speaking more on this issue in the future.

 

 

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

 

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