Dr. David Burns has written a book called The Feeling Good Handbook. It is not his first book, Feeling Good was immensely popular and the new version is proving to be also.
In The Feeling Good Handbook you will find ways to step back and examine your belief system. Dr. Burns provides exercises that, if done, are extremely beneficial to, not just anxiety suffers, but the general public as well.
Recently I employed one of Dr. Burns suggestions for getting to the bottom of what was upsetting me on a given day. Sometimes we find ourselves terribly upset but don't have a clue as to why we are upset! Dr. Burns suggests that you draw a stick figure, with one of those narrative balloons floating over the figure. This figure represents yourself and the balloon is where you will write in what the figure is thinking.
Of course, I thought this was very silly - how was this little exercise going to get to the bottom of what was upsetting me. I was in a highly agitated state and knew I was headed for a full blown panic. I had nothing to lose. I drew the figure and found myself immediately writing in the balloon the words "Go Away!". I sat staring at those words and realizing, to my astonishment, that being overwhelmed by dealing with everyone else's problems in my family, I was in desperate need of some alone time!
Knowing the cause of my upset helped greatly! I was not dying, I was not going crazy, I was simply overwhelmed and needing a break!
Give this a try! Please let me know how it works for you! And I urge you to give Dr. Burns a read - since beginning the exercises I have had only one panic attack in the last 3 weeks and I was able to work through it by employing Dr. Burns' tactics!!
The methods in "The Feeling Good Handbook" are called cognitive therapy - this is a means of rationalizing, versus behavioral therapy, which has the patient face the fear head on (ex: riding on an elevator for those who are terrified of heights). Both methods are helpful but cognitive therapy is certainly less intense!
In further articles I will discuss some other cognitive therapy techniques so keep in touch!
October 9 1998
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2006