Overcoming Anxiety the Feelgood Way
Overcoming anxiety has become one of the biggest goals of millions of people, yet so many fail to achieve it.
- Anxiety comes in many forms and is part of many disorders - ocd, ptsd, phobias, panic disorder, even depression, to name a few.
- Most of the people I treated during my career as a clinical psychologist had been struggling with their anxieties for many years.
- They all believed overcoming anxiety was hard.
- They had all tried various treatments which hadn't worked. Many people had tried several at different times in their life.
- In most cases it wasn't that the treatment they'd tried was ineffective, as research evidence would show that it was.
- The failure was usually due to the fact that the treatment was time-consuming, boring, or it required them to do things they didn't feel comfortable doing.
- With each new treatment they attempted... and failed, their belief that success was impossible for them increased.
- They no longer believed they could do it!
Recently there has been a different approach to such problems - ACT - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACT has its basis in Mindfulness.
Mindfulness has been used in the Far East by Buddhists for thousands of years.
Now it has been adapted for overcoming anxiety and is useful in many psychiatric disorders.
But I feel that if I stop struggling to overcome my anxiety it, it will get bigger and overwhelm me!
That's the mistake we all make. But in the case of anxiety, once we stop struggling it actually reduces.
When we struggle we are creating stress... tension... anxiety... so we are actually increasing the one thing we are trying to overcome!
Struggle is counter-productive! In this method struggle is BANNED.
How is it possible to achieve anything without working at it?
I didn't say you didn't have to work at it - but working doesn't equal struggle. Sometimes work can be pleasurable, can't it?
This method simply requires you to keep doing what's required, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year...
Sounds as if it will take ages to overcome my anxiety. I want to get better soon!
Each day that you put this method into practice will lead to an improvement.
You will eventually start to do these things without having to think about them.
These new ways of being will slowly and surely replace your old anxiety habits.
One day you will look back and realise that you no longer feel anxious like you once did.
OK, but you're an expert. How do I know this will work?
I know that you are almost afraid to trust this approach as it sounds too good to be true. That's because we've been taught by our cultures and schooling that we have to work hard at things to succeed.
Overcoming anxiety is the exception! I've been there, done it! What I teach others to do is what I did for myself.
- I specialised in treating anxiety-related disorders for over 40 years. For the first 15 or so of those years, plus another 15 when growing up, I battled with anxiety issues and panics myself.
- In the early 1970's I was well aware that none of the approaches being used to treat anxiety would work for me to overcome my own and I came up with several tricks that got me by, but which didn't cure me.
- Finally one day, finding myself trapped in the house with my fears, I used my professional knowledge to work out what was happening. Then I came up with a plan that made sense according to psychological theory. It worked.
- I haven't had an anxiety attack for over 30 years. I have been to places and done things that even many of those without anxiety issues would never consider doing.
- The approach I used on myself 30 years ago was a version of what is today known as the Feelgood Way and is based on the use of Mindfulness and ACT.
So Where Do I Start?
I want to start overcoming my anxiety!
There is a full account of my story on this site. If you would prefer to read this offline, I offer a pdf download in return for your email address so I can keep you informed about updates to this site and new books, courses etc.
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Overcoming Anxiety Is Like Learning to Fish
Ok, so it was my professional understanding that helped me work out what was going on in the first place and to come up with a solution. But then putting it into practice was down to 'me-the-sufferer', not 'me-the-psychologist'. Nobody could do it for me, I just had to help myself.
And it's important to realise that YOU, the sufferer, are the only one who actually has the means to overcoming your anxiety.
The Spanish philosopher, Maimonides, in the 12th century noted the value of teaching people skills rather than simply providing them with solutions.
If your brother always does your homework for you, you may get good marks but you won't pass any exams in it when your brother isn't there.
Anxiety sufferers need to understand it so they can deal with it quickly when it happens the next time.
So I first taught patients to understand the mechanism behind their anxieties so that the solution, which only they could carry out, made sense to them. Understanding it motivated them to do what was needed.
If someone expected me to make them better it got in the way. Instead of doing what they needed to do, the sufferer would just wait for me to create magic that suddenly made them better. They would wait for ever.
The most important part of overcoming any anxiety problem is in first understanding how it comes about.
Anxiety isn't a virus or something that comes over you by chance!
- Anxiety is a normal human response that has been allowed to grow inappropriately.
- In order to stop it spreading and cut it back, you need to understand what it's feeding on and cut the supply.
- Unless you can do this, even when you are trying to overcome your anxiety, you may be increasing it without meaning to.
- Many so-called treatments (medication, breathing exercises, talking about problems, etc)
are only temporary solutions. This is because none of them addresses the true cause.
- I cheated this way myself for many years using coping techniques that got me out of the situation at the time, but didn't stop it happening again the next time.
Nobody knowingly develops an anxiety habit
But a habit is what it is and, like any other habit you might want to get rid of, it has to be done by you.
That's why an expert can only teach you about it and show you the path to take to overcome it. The doing has to be done by you, yourself.
That's why in overcoming anxiety, self help is the only way whatever form the anxiety takes.
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