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Monday, December 9, 2013

Your cbt Exercises have Worked Well for my Depression

Ms. Curtiss,

I have been implementing your cbt techniques in my goal of eliminating depression without drugs now for a few weeks. I have been primarily doing the 'yes' exercise and my own personal version of 'green frog' with great success.

I was wondering if you had any ideas on cbt work for the extinction of addictive behaviors, especially in those moments when the desire becomes overwhelming.

My reason for asking is that your methods in depression are for exactly those times when the depression is coming on.

Thanks for your help, J

Dear J

Congratulations on your success with managing depressing. It is very freeing when you finally understand that no one is coming to save you and you simply have to save yourself. Not only that but you find you have the wherewithal to do it once you begin to take charge of your own life. 

As to your question. Addictive behaviors are similar to phobias in that both of them allow us to avoid the pain of feeling the repressed fear usually left over from childhood traumas of various kinds, avoid the pain of handling some difficulty in present reality or avoiding facing some real fear by focusing on a less threatening phobia. Instead of facing the fear of something real, we can always distract ourselves with the acting out of some bizarre motion or fearing something “odd.”

Acting out on feelings relieves us from having to feel the pain of them. We focus our awareness on the bizarre activity instead of the extreme pain caused by the irrational fear. The same thing is true here as is true of overcoming the fear of depression coming down on us. Once we realize that we need to access our courage and face old repressed fears (I talk about how to do this in Depression is a Choice Chapter ten) we can easily do it. The first time we “stand our ground” and refuse to do the addictive behavior or fear the oddity and instead feel the fear that caused it, it will seem like we are dying, the pain is so terrible to feel. But it’s not really us that is dying, but the fear. Remember that fear is necessary as it is our only psychological defense mechanism. We don’t discard old fears lightly. But with practice it becomes quite easy.

The exercises for finishing old repressed fear that manifests itself in addictive behavior and phobias are a little different from those exercises we use to get out of depression. Instead of distracting ourselves from the accidently triggered neural pattern until it stops jangling, for curing addictive behaviors and phobias we have to feel the old fear until is “finishes.” It is only our fear of the pain of fear that is the problem. Once we invite the fear to come and “hang out, the pain quickly fades. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Hope this helps. A. B.Curtiss


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