Selasa, 25 Mei 2010

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60-Day Free Community Confidence Building and Self-Defense Training
CHANDLER, Ariz., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- January is almost over and many people have already given up on their resolutions. In the spirit of the Holidays, the Phoenix Quest Center is offering the community a 60-day free course in martial arts training and goal development. This course is a great opportunity to help participants start off the New Year with positive momentum and support, as well as offering them valuable skills in dealing with social conflicts of all sorts.
The Quest Center teaches its students how to deal with realistic situations including physical violence, verbal and mental bullying, as well as how to deal with their own inner barriers and roadblocks in a supportive, yet challenging environment.
This program is available to students starting at age 5 and is great for men, women and children of all physical conditions and abilities. The program itself is non-competitive, choosing to focus on self-defense, personal development, fitness and conflict resolution rather than on trophies and competitions. The eligibility for this offer will run through the month of February 2010.
Michael Stinson, owner and Senior Instructor of the Phoenix Quest Center has this to say: "The past few years have been very challenging for all of us. It has been a scary, disjointed and difficult time. When I look at all that the martial arts has done for my life and my family I just want to share it with everyone that I meet. I wanted to create the opportunity for everyone within range of my message to experience a piece of what I have seen is possible since beginning my own personal journey. Come on down and discover what you are capable of!"
The Phoenix Quest Center is located at 3016 N. Dobson Rd Suite 14 in Chandler, AZ, right on the border of Tempe, Chandler and Mesa. The Quest Center specializes in teaching a form of Japanese martial arts known as To-Shin Do, founded by Black Belt Hall of Famer and personal body guard and friend to the Dalai Lama, Stephen K. Hayes.
For more information on the Quest Center, To-Shin Do or this very special free offer please contact the Phoenix Quest Center at 480-756-2323 or visit our website
SOURCE Phoenix Quest Center
COPYRIGHT 2010 PR Newswire Association LLC
COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning

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A dream?
0 Comments | Sun, The; San Bernardino, Calif., Feb 9, 2010 | by Anonymous
The social-psychological perception and response to a threatening phenomenon never ceases to amaze me.
Misdiagnosis may lead to between 40,000 and 80,000 hospital deaths annually in the United States. Prescription opioids cause more drug overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. Obesity may contribute to serious illness and premature death for hundreds of thousands of Americans in a given year.
A singular terrorist is, thankfully, foiled in his attempt to blow up one airplane and its passengers over Christmas day and some political opportunists in and out of government dare to suggest maybe we ought to go war in yet a third country - Yemen - never mind that the terrorist is from Nigeria.
Some partisan talking heads, including a former vice president, are poised to drum up the fear factor and hysteria in Americans by suggesting that even a singular successful terrorist act will prove that our current administration has failed us and does not take terrorism seriously.
Partisan political issues become opportunities for self-serving individuals masquerading as patriotic Americans, sowing fear and rancor amongst us, actually serving one of the goals espoused by the likes of Osama bin Laden.
Perhaps a more rational response to the problems and woes besetting us would come about if the original and noble purpose of a free press came into play.
Today, "the news" has become entertainment rather than a critical examiner of what transpires in the nation's capitol or in our own communities.
I long for the day when reporters stop acting as stenographers for powerful politicians more concerned about party politics rather than the national interest.
I have a dream, perhaps an elusive fantasy, that concerned people - from the "Tea Party" types to the self-proclaimed "progressive" types - will one day come together and realize that, in the last analysis, we are one and in this together, and those in power will provide rational and wise leadership when we, the people, demonstrate the same.
San Bernardino

PATIENTS are being urged to […]
Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), Feb 8, 2010
PATIENTS are being urged to have their say on health services.
North Tyneside LINK, the organisation that monitors the NHS and adult social care, is surveying counselling services.
They aim to see how successful services were last year in helping with everyday psychological problems like stress or mild depression. They want to speak to people in North Tyneside who went to their GP, a professional or group to seek relief from feeling down or stressed. Interviews will take half an hour and those taking part will receive pounds 15 to compensate for their loss of time.
It is hoped that information from the interviews will help LINK to improve counselling services. Contact North Tyneside LINK on 0191 200 1429 and leave your name and telephone number. For more information go to the survey website
COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning

23 Februari 2010 at 20:04 • Filed under Tak Berkategori

Hari gini ga tahu internet? Sungguh terlalu!!. Mungkin itu ungkapan orang-orang yang sudah sangat akrab dengan dunia maya, khususnya mereka penggila internet, bila mendengar ada orang yang belum “ngeh”, apalagi bersentuhan langsung dengan dunia maya tersebut. Di sadari atau tidak kebutuhan manusia terhadap internet sudah seperti menu wajib alias makanan pokok yang tidak bisa dilewatkan bagi para penikmatnya. Dari kaum adam sampai kaum hawa, dari orangtua, dewasa, ABG, sampai anak SD, dari kalangan pejabat, profesional, pegawai biasa, bahkan ibu rumah tangga sekalipun sepertinya sudah begitu familiar dengan internet. Saking boomingnya, sampai-sampai artis seperti Saykoji membuat lagu tentang aktifitas orang-orang yang online terus dengan dunia maya ini, “On line “
“Eeeh tunggu-tunggu!, Ibu-ibu main internet?. Masa iya?. Why not?. Nge-Net, atau main internet bukanlah hal yang mustahil yang dapat dilakukan ibu-ibu, apalagi ibu rumah tangga. Untuk ibu-ibu yang bekerja diluar rumah, apalagi diperkantoran mungkin sudah tidak asing lagi dengan dunia maya yang satu ini. On line depan internet, ngeblog, facebookan dan lain sebagainya bukanlah istilah asing buat mereka. Tapi, bagaimana dengan ibu-ibu yang sehari-harinya memang cuma ngurusin dapur, sumur, dan kasur?. Apa mereka bisa on line depan internet? jangankan on line, ngebayangin internet seperti apa saja mungkin tak pernah terlintas dipikiran mereka.
Dan itulah yang pernah saya alami sebelumnya. Saya benar-benar blank tentang internet dan istilah-istilah yang ada dalam dunia maya. Pokoknya gaptek buangeet!. Jangankan main-main dengan internet, ngutak-ngatik HP saja sudah bikin saya pusing. Mengoperasikan komputer sih bisa, sebatas ngetik pakai Words saja. Tapi akhirnya, situasi dan kondisi memang memaksa saya untuk tahu tentang internet. Bukan karena kuping saya yang panas karena diledekin terus sama abinya karena benar-benar gaptek. Tapi naluri sebagai seorang ibu. Saya adalah seorang ibu dengan dua anak yang sedang tumbuh dalam masa-masa keingintahuan yang amat tinggi. Saya menyadari bahwa mereka akan tumbuh dan berkembang di jaman yang pastinya akan sangat berbeda dengan sekarang. Jaman serba IT dengan perangkat dan teknologi yang mungkin super canggih. Saya tidak bisa membayangkan bila saya mendampingi anak-anak melewati jaman yang serba canggih itu, dengan pengetahuan dan pemahaman saya yang nol tentang dunia maya atau internet.
Dan nge-Net itu memang mengasyikan. Ada banyak manfaat yang bisa kita ambil dari internet. Hanya dengan mengetik satu kata kita akan mendapat berbagai informasi yang kita butuhkan. Canggih kan?. Atau, ibu-ibu ingin tahu kabar teman-teman waktu di SMU? atau teman-teman waktu ditempat kerja dulu?. Kita bisa memanfaatkan yang namanya “Facebook”. Subhanallah, saya bisa bertemu -di dunia maya tentunya- dengan teman-teman 10 tahun yang lalu. Seneng banget. Memang terdengar nora ya kalau ibu-ibu main internet. Biasa yang dipegang ulekan sekarang pijit-pijit keyboard komputer. Tapi itu kemajuan satu langkah buat ibu-ibu Indonesia, kan ?.
Seperti kita ketahui bersama, harga buku-buku itu lumayan mahal. Apalagi buku-buku dengan lebel Best Seller. Wah, saya mah ngga kebeli deh buku-buku kaya gitu. Tapi, dengan adanya internet kita bisa tuh cari-cari informasi, artikel, atau apalah yang kita butuhkan. Bisa artikel tentang pendidikan anak, informasi tentang homeschooling, kesehatan, bisnis, atau peluang usaha. Contohnya, saya ingin belajar menulis tapi saya tidak tahu bagaimana caranya. Kalau harus beli bukunya, harganya lumayan, tapi dengan internet saya bisa memperoleh informasi tentang cara atau kiat-kiat menulis. Bahkan saya bisa ikut kursus gratis, asyikkan?. Subhanallah!!. Pokoknya apapun informasi yang kita butuhkan tingggal klik aja di internet, pasti ada. Kita bisa langsung download, langsung print out, mangga silahkan.
Manfaat internet memang banyak, tapi, jangan lupa dampak negatif dari internet itu sendiri amat besar. Apalagi dampaknya untuk anak-anak kita. Makanya, yuk ibu-ibu, kita kenali lebih jauh dengan internet, supaya kita bisa membentengi dampak negatif dari kecanggihan internet tersebut. Jangan sampai deh kita dibohongin sama anak-anak kita sendiri, bilangnya internetan cari artikel untuk tugas sekolah, ternyata malah buka situs porno, Astagfirullah….! Na”udzubillah.!. Jangan sampai itu terjadi pada anak-anak kita.
Katanya, dunia dalam genggaman kita hanya dengan internet. Jadi semua pilihan dan keputusan ada ditangan kita. Selama kita bisa mengambil manfaat yang positif dari internet kenapa tidak mencoba dari sekarang untuk mengenal lebih jauh tentang internet. Tak kenal maka tak sayang katanya. Yang penting gunakan internet dengan bijak sesuai dengan rambu-rambunya. Jangan sampai kalah dengan anak-anak kita sendiri dalam hal IT. Mempelajari ilmu agama itu paling penting untuk kehidupan dunia dan akhirat, tapi belajar tentang IT tak ada salahnya juga kan?, Waallahu’alam

Socially Optimal Job Search and Its Inducement
Bernhardt, Irwin, Gerchak, Yigal. Operations Research. Linthicum: Nov/Dec 1986. Vol. 34, Iss. 6; pg. 844, 7 pgs
Abstract (Summary)
The level of effort in looking for a job has 2 dimensions: 1. intensity, and 2. duration. Socially optimal intensities and reservation wages are derived that determine the likelihood distribution of duration. The social optimum reflects the effect that one person's productivity will have on the income of others. The analysis can be viewed as an extension of Zuckerman's (1985) work. Two of his assumptions -- that there is only a single policy instrument (financial support) and that search expenditures of the unemployed are limited by this support -- are relaxed. The need for subsidies that reduce the cost of search to the searcher is demonstrated, since financial support alone will not yield optimal effort. Governments now use certain search subsidies, such as free counseling, but these are not integrated with financial support. The results suggest that integration is required for optimality. Certain properties of optimal support and subsidies also are derived.

Indexing (document details)
Subjects: Studies, Social, Public policy, Optimization, Objectives, Mathematical models, Job hunting, Behavior

Classification Codes 9130 Experimental/theoretical treatment, 2600 Management science/operations research, 2500 Organizational behavior

Author(s): Bernhardt, Irwin, Gerchak, Yigal

Publication title: Operations Research. Linthicum: Nov/Dec 1986. Vol. 34, Iss. 6; pg. 844, 7 pgs
Source type: Periodical
ISSN: 0030364X
ProQuest document ID: 1258948
Document URL:

The Habit of Work: A Theoretical Exploration
Dyer, Alan W.. Journal of Economic Issues. Lincoln: Jun 1984. Vol. 18, Iss. 2; pg. 557, 8 pgs
Abstract (Summary)
Thorstein Veblen developed a theory of habit to explain the existence of social paradox, then used this theory in his analysis of capital. Because he tried to explain the origins of social paradox according to the ambiguous nature of institutions, but did not provide a theory of how institutions are created, his analysis suffers from a theoretical lacuna. Sign theory closes this lacuna by explaining social paradox by the ambiguous nature of sign behavior. It is shown how social paradox is a result of the manner in which signs create habits. Although a complete sign theory of capital is not developed here, it is shown how sign theory would build upon and strengthen Veblen's analysis of capital.
• Cited by (1)

Indexing (document details)
Subjects: Social, Roles, Economic theory, Capitalism, Capital, Behavior

Classification Codes 9130 Experimental/theoretical treatment, 1130 Economic theory

Author(s): Dyer, Alan W.

Publication title: Journal of Economic Issues. Lincoln: Jun 1984. Vol. 18, Iss. 2; pg. 557, 8 pgs
Source type: Periodical
ISSN: 00213624
ProQuest document ID: 1161896
Document URL:

Leadership by Example: ''Do as I Do''!
McAfee, R. Bruce, Ricks, Betty J.. Management Solutions. Saranac Lake: Aug 1986. Vol. 31, Iss. 8; pg. 10, 8 pgs
Abstract (Summary)
Being a leader in influencing employees to work toward organizational goals is the fundamental task of the manager. The basis of effective leadership is leading by example. Leaders can influence subordinates' behavior in the following ways: 1. by establishing new behaviors, especially important to the new employee who is seeking information on how to perform, 2. by changing the frequency of existing behaviors, increasing or decreasing them through rewards and punishments, and 3. providing behavioral cues that employees will follow on subsequent occasions. Both actions and words are involved in the concept of leadership, and consistency between doing and saying are important. Employees will not understand what is expected if the supervisor's actions and words do not agree. Exemplary behavior in the following areas is vital: 1. policy adherence, 2. work performance, 3. mental and physical health, 4. attitudes, 5. personal appearance, and 6. interpersonal communication.

Indexing (document details)
Subjects: Social, Role models, Learning, Leadership, Behavior modification

Classification Codes 2500 Organizational behavior, 2200 Managerial skills

Author(s): McAfee, R. Bruce, Ricks, Betty J.

Publication title: Management Solutions. Saranac Lake: Aug 1986. Vol. 31, Iss. 8; pg. 10, 8 pgs

Source type: Periodical
ISSN: 08890226
ProQuest document ID: 1317919
Document URL:

Prilaku Hubungan Sosial dan Solidaritas Antar Teman pada Prilaku Gaya Hidup Remaja

Pada masa remaja, terdapat banyak hal baru yang terjadi, dan biasanya lebih bersifat menggairahkan, karena hal baru yang mereka alami merupakan tanda-tanda menuju kedewasaan. Dari masalah yang timbul akibat pergaulan, keingin tahuan tentang asmara dan seks, hingga masalah-masalah yang bergesekan dengan hukum dan tatanan sosial yang berlaku di sekitar remaja.

Hal-hal yang terakhir ini biasanya terjadi karena banyak faktor, tetapi berdasarkan penelitian, jumlah yang terbesar adalah karena "tingginya" rasa solidaritas antar teman, pengakuan kelompok, atau ajang penunjukkan identitas diri. Masalah akan timbul pada saat remaja salah memilih arah dalam berkelompok.

Banyak ahli psikologi yang menyatakan bahwa masa remaja merupakan masa yang penuh masalah, penuh gejolak, penuh risiko (secara psikologis), over energi, dan lain sebagainya, yang disebabkan oleh aktifnya hormon-hormon tertentu. Tetapi statement yang timbul akibat pernyataan yang stereotype dengan pernyataan diatas, membuat remaja pun merasa bahwa apa yang terjadi, apa yang mereka lakukan adalah suatu hal yang biasa dan wajar.

Minat untuk berkelompok menjadi bagian dari proses tumbuh kembang yang remaja alami. Yang dimaksud di sini bukan sekadar kelompok biasa, melainkan sebuah kelompok yang memiliki kekhasan orientasi, nilai-nilai, norma, dan kesepakatan yang secara khusus hanya berlaku dalam kelompok tersebut. Atau yang biasa disebut geng. Biasanya kelompok semacam ini memiliki usia sebaya atau bisa juga disebut peer group.

Demi kawan yang menjadi anggota kelompok ini, remaja bisa melakukan dan mengorbankan apa pun, dengan satu tujuan, Solidaritas. Geng, menjadi suatu wadah yang luar biasa apabila bisa mengarah terhadap hal yang positif. Tetapi terkadang solidaritas menjadi hal yang bersifat semu, buta dan destruktif, yang pada akhirnya merusak arti dari solidaritas itu sendiri.

Demi alasan solidaritas, sebuah geng sering kali memberikan tantangan atau tekanan-tekanan kepada anggota kelompoknya (peer pressure) yang terkadang berlawanan dengan hukum atau tatanan sosial yang ada. Tekanan itu bisa saja berupa paksaan untuk menggunakan narkoba, mencium pacar, melakukan hubungan seks, melakukan penodongan, bolos sekolah, tawuran, merokok, corat-coret tembok, dan masih banyak lagi.

Secara individual, remaja sering merasa tidak nyaman dalam melakukan apa yang dituntutkan pada dirinya. Namun, karena besarnya tekanan atau besarnya keinginan untuk diakui, ketidak berdayaan untuk meninggalkan kelompok, dan ketidak mampuan untuk mengatakan "tidak", membuat segala tuntutan yang diberikan kelompok secara terpaksa dilakukan. Lama kelamaan prilaku ini menjadi kebiasaan, dan melekat sebagai suatu karakter yang diwujudkan dalam berbagai prilaku negatif.

Kelompok atau teman sebaya memiliki kekuatan yang luar biasa untuk menentukan arah hidup remaja. Jika remaja berada dalam lingkungan pergaulan yang penuh dengan "energi negatif" seperti yang terurai di atas, segala bentuk sikap, perilaku, dan tujuan hidup remaja menjadi negatif. Sebaliknya, jika remaja berada dalam lingkungan pergaulan yang selalu menyebarkan "energi positif", yaitu sebuah kelompok yang selalu memberikan motivasi, dukungan, dan peluang untuk mengaktualisasikan diri secara positif kepada semua anggotanya, remaja juga akan memiliki sikap yang positif. Prinsipnya, perilaku kelompok itu bersifat menular.

Motivasi dalam kelompok (peer motivation) adalah salah satu contoh energi yang memiliki kekuatan luar biasa, yang cenderung melatarbelakangi apa pun yang remaja lakukan. Dalam konteks motivasi yang positif, seandainya ini menjadi sebuah budaya dalam geng, barangkali tidak akan ada lagi kata-kata "kenakalan remaja" yang dialamatkan kepada remaja. Lembaga pemasyarakatan juga tidak akan lagi dipenuhi oleh penghuni berusia produktif, dan di negeri tercinta ini akan semakin banyak orang sukses berusia muda. Remaja juga tidak perlu lagi merasakan peer pressure, yang bisa membuat mereka stres.

Secara teori diatas, remaja akan menjadi pribadi yang diinginkan masyarakat. Tetapi tentu saja hal ini tidak dapat hanya dibebankan pada kelompok ataupun geng yang dimiliki remaja. Karena remaja merupakan individu yang bebas dan masing-masing tentu memiliki keunikan karakter bawaan dari keluarga. Banyak faktor yang juga dapat memicu hal buruk terjadi pada remaja.

Seperti yang telah diuraikan diatas, kelompok remaja merupakan sekelompok remaja dengan nilai, keinginan dan nasib yang sama. Contoh, banyak sorotan yang dilakukan publik terhadap kelompok remaja yang merupakan kumpulan anak dari keluarga broken home. Kekerasan yang telah mereka alami sejak masa kecil, trauma mendalam dari perpecahan keluarga, akan kembali menjadi pencetus kenakalan dan kebrutalan remaja.

Tetapi, masa remaja memang merupakan masa dimana seseorang belajar bersosialisasi dengan sebayanya secara lebih mendalam dan dengan itu pula mereka mendapatkan jati diri dari apa yang mereka inginkan.

Hingga, terlepas dari itu semua, remaja merupakan masa yang indah dalam hidup manusia, dan dalam masa yang akan datang, akan menjadikan masa remaja merupakan tempat untuk memacu landasan dalam menggapai kedewasaan.

e book "overcoming social anxiety step by step"

Overcoming Social Anxiety
Step by Step
The Social Anxiety Institute
The Social Anxiety Institute, Inc. Copyright @ 2000-2056.
This material may not be reproduced or redistributed in any fashion.
Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., DirectorTable of Contents
Welcome ............................................................. 1
How and When to Practice ............................................ 3
Slowing Down Deliberately: Slow Talk ................................ 4
Automatic Negative Thought Stoppage # 1 ............................. 7
Distraction Suggestions ............................................ 10
Rational Coping Thoughts for Anxiety ............................... 11
The ANTs Handout: Automatic Negative Thought Stoppage #2 ........... 13
The Annual ANTs Convention ......................................... 16
The Fighting Paradox ............................................... 19
Bears Attack & Maul, Bees Swarm & Sting ............................ 21
How to Temporarily Cut Down Feelings of Anxiety .................... 23
Therapy Reminders .................................................. 24
Attitudes .......................................................... 25
How You See Yourself & The World ................................... 26
Two Competing Neural Pathways in Your Brain ........................ 28
Beliefs are Very Potent ............................................ 31
De-Stressing Strategies ............................................ 33
The Social Anxiety "Automatic" Cycle ............................... 34
Turning the Tables on ANTs, Part One ............................... 36
Accepting Myself As I Am Right Now ................................. 39
Turning the Tables on ANTs, Part Two ............................... 41
Turning the Tables on ANTs, Part Three ............................. 43
Turn The Tables on the ANTs .................................... 46
Stay Rational .................................................. 47
If You Say "I Hate This" ....................................... 48
No! I don't HATE to do that .................................... 49
I used to hate (public speaking) ............................... 50
Your brain hears and believes everything ....................... 51
Changing Brain Chemistry Permanently ............................... 52
Mingling ........................................................... 54
Conversations ...................................................... 57
The Deserving Statements ........................................... 59
Feelings, Feelings, and More Feelings .............................. 61
Worry... Leads to More Worry ....................................... 63
Here's How We Handle Those Bullying Liars .......................... 65
Loosen Up and Let Stress Go ........................................ 66
Self-Statements: Moving in a Positive Direction .................... 68
Brainwashing ....................................................... 70
Poisonous Thoughts ................................................. 71
Focusing - And how it keeps us away from anxiety ................... 74
"I Can't Do It" Thinking ........................................... 76Power Statements (Rational Questions to Ask Yourself...) ........... 78
Expectations Are Killers: Stay Away At All Costs ................... 80
The Profound Concept ............................................... 82
Vicious Circles and How to Shrink Them ............................. 84
Anxiety is a Paradox: Act Against Your Negative Feelings ........... 86
Should We Be Living in a Hostile World? ............................ 88
The Good, the Better, and the Beautiful ............................ 90
Stay Out of the Twilight Zone: Move Into the Peace Zone ............ 92
Acceptance is an Active Experience ................................. 94
Seeing the Present ................................................. 96
Determined Slow Talk ............................................... 98
At The Crossroads .................................................. 99
The Paradox of the Rain ........................................... 101
A "Balance Sheet" for Facing Anxiety .............................. 103
The Power of "Acting" ............................................. 105
General Anxiety Hierarchy ......................................... 108
Behavioral Group Activities ....................................... 109
Ways to Decrease Self-Consciousness ............................... 110
Individual Hierarchy Suggestions .................................. 112
More Individual Hierarchy Suggestions ............................. 113
Letting Go of the Negative Past ................................... 115
What to do When the ANTs Come Crawling ............................ 117
Stay Away from Perfectionism and Pressure ......................... 119
The Perfectionism Pit ............................................. 121
Have a Rational Talk With Yourself Every Day ...................... 123
A State of Mind ................................................... 125
Now That You Know: Attitude is Everything ......................... 126
I Am the Sculptor ................................................. 128
Extra Therapy not Incuded in Audio Series
Paying Attention to the Anxiety Monster ........................... 131
Put Yourself in Someone Else's Place .............................. 132
Bookmarks ......................................................... 133
The Joys of Beating Myself Up ..................................... 134
Now that you've finished your audio sessions ...................... 135
Keep on Going and Do Not Give Up .................................. 136WELCOME to the handout booklet
that accompanies the audio series
Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step-by-Step
To Everyone who has purchased this series:
As explained in all our descriptions of the audio series, this program
was designed from the very beginning to provide as complete a
cognitive-behavioral approach to social anxiety treatment as possible.
Thus, we felt an audio series, coupled with this booklet, would provide
the most information and therapy possible in helping people overcome
social anxiety.
The twenty tapes or CDs are prepared as if you were coming in to The
Social Anxiety Institute for regular, weekly visits. Hence, it is
important to take one week (7 days) for each audio session. It is
essential that you practice the therapeutic material over and over
again until it becomes "automatic" in your brain. Thus, spending seven
days per session is necessary.
If you speed through the course, your brain will not be able to process
all the material properly and deeply enough, and you will be doing
yourself a great disservice.
Each cognitive method or concept builds on itself, so that it is
important you have the foundational methods and concepts "cemented"
into your mind before you move on. If this is not done, then
cognitive-behavioral therapy is not effective.
Please congratulate yourself for taking this big step, and please
follow the directions on the audio sessions. These are not rules that
I thought up out of the clear blue sky. Rather, they are what research
and all our clinical knowledge (since 1994) tells us about the most
effective, and most expedient, way of overcoming social anxiety
As I mention in the series itself, a special section on The Social
Anxiety Institute website is being set aside for this audio series. In
this section, which you will be able to access with a special password,
you will find written therapeutic additions to this series, a page of
questions and answers concerning the series, and a page of "errata",
since I am sure I have made many errors (I never seem to "grow out" of
this one!)
The Social Anxiety Institute, Inc. Copyright @ 2000-2056.
This material may not be reproduced or redistributed in any fashion.
Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
1The Social Anxiety Institute website is at Notice that the URL ends in ".org".
In addition, our other internet sites are still operational and
accessible to you. They are:
The Anxiety Network, which covers social anxiety disorder, panic
disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. It is found at
The Social Anxiety Network is found at
The non-profit Social Phobia / Social Anxiety Association website is
located at
If you have questions as you go through the series, sequentially, there
will be an e-mail center from the Social Anxiety Institute site where
you can write to me directly. We will include your question and an
answer in the question and answer series for everyone to read.
Also, your password, which you will receive when you order the series,
will allow you to access this area of the website at no charge, plus
you will be able to find people in your local area who would like to
work on this series together, and help each other overcome social
In many areas of the world, there are already enough people for a
social anxiety therapy group, given the number of people who are
members of the SP/SAA and the daily Social Anxiety Mailing List Digest.
Additional audio and video productions on social anxiety will soon
become available, and through use of your password, you will be able to
purchase additional therapeutic items at a discount.
Please listen carefully to audio session number one, as it will explain
to you all the basic information you need to know before fully starting
the comprehensive cognitive-behavioral therapy series.
My very best to you,
Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D.
Director, Social Anxiety Institute, Inc.
The Social Anxiety Institute, Inc. Copyright @ 2000-2056.
This material may not be reproduced or redistributed in any fashion.
Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
2How and When To Practice
1. It is important that you become familiar with the strategies you're
learning before you start to use them in real-life situations.
Therefore, when a strategy or method is being learned and is new to
you, it's always best to practice it when you're feeling relatively OK,
and when you're alone.
2. The therapy you're learning doesn't need to be beat into the ground.
Take a determined, but gentle, approach to it. Thirty minutes a day
(this can be split up if necessary) is usually adequate. But keeping
this thirty minute a day "practice time" on a consistent basis is
essential to changing your thoughts, perceptions, and feelings.
3. Reading over your papers and notes every day is an excellent way to
keep on reminding your brain what you're doing. This allows the
therapy to sink in to your brain a little more deeply each time.
4. You may want to try wrapping up your other handouts in slow-talk.
Not only does this kill two birds with one stone, it has the tendency
to strengthen the new methods and strategies you are learning, and
allows them to gradually take over and become automatic.
5. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been demonstrated to be the therapy
that works best for the anxiety disorders. CBT is not difficult to do,
nor is it intellectually challenging, but it does take persistence.
The mind cannot change in just a few weeks' time. We are looking for a
permanent change and this will not occur unless we are persistent,
consistent, and do not give up.
6. The most essential aspect to this therapy is that if we want a
permanent brain change, we have to PRACTICE and be PERSISTENT in that
practice. No one learns new habits, material, or thought-patterns
overnight. This is a process that takes time for everyone.
7. Contrary to popular belief, medication does not permanently change
"brain chemistry". It may help temporarily and can be a positive thing
if people realize that the drug is not "curing" them. The only way to
permanently change neural pathways in the brain is by reconditioning
your brain to think, believe, and act differently.
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Strategy: Slow talk is nothing more than slowing your speech down very
slightly. You are slowing down enough that you notice the change in
your speaking rhythm. The change is so slight, however, that other
people will not notice you have slowed down.
It is important to be as calm as possible while you are in the process
of learning new ways of thinking and new strategies of acting.
Remember that it takes 45-55 days of repetition before your brain
starts to automatically use these strategies.
And notice that the only way your brain is going to be able to use
these anti-anxiety strategies is if you are consistent and persistent
and drop down these techniques into your brain over and over
again...for the entire course of therapy.
The first benefit you may discover from using this technique is that it
will be easier to remain calm and at peace while you do your therapy.
The more you can slow talk the therapy into your brain, the easier and
deeper it will get in.
As you become more familiar with the strategy and feel like you can use
it in public, you will find it has great practical value in slowing you
down so that you can begin to control your anxiety level. If you stay
in slow talk mode, there is not much chance you can speed up, get the
adrenaline pumping, and then become socially anxious. So, slow talk
can prevent us from getting as socially anxious as we used to get.
Another benefit that people usually notice is that there is a slight
relaxation while you're using slow talk.
Generally, as a deliberate result of slow talk, the muscles loosen up
and are less tight, and many people feel a calmness or relaxation in
the shoulders and upper back area where we tend to carry around much of
our stress.
The more you have the ability to use slow talk, the more you will feel
in control of situations. Slow talk is not something we want to do all
the time, but while we are getting better, we want to be able to use
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
4this tool as an option to help us lower our social anxiety whenever we
need to.
In public situations - the use of slow talk makes it easier to sound
and be less anxious, and helps the words to come out more logically and
clearly. High anxiety over real-world situations like this can be
controlled by slow talk.
Now, please don't jump the gun. In your first week of practicing this
technique, do not move this out into real-world settings yet. It is
much more important to practice slow talk when you are by yourself. It
is important to get it down deeply into your brain. It is important
that you feel comfortable in doing it. You need to feel OK with slow
talk before you ever try it out in a public situation.
So, generally, this first week, we ask you to practice slow talk for
about ten minutes a day. You can read anything you want, but it
generally helps to read something positive or inspirational. It isn't
important what you read, the therapy is doing the slow talk. You are
practicing the slow talk, not the material you choose to read.
One of our women worked in a large advertising agency where concepts
and ideas were important, and she felt that no one paid her ideas very
much attention. Every time she had a good idea, she would excitedly
and quickly blurt it out, expecting other people to be excited, too.
Instead, they just looked at her like she was weird, and they ignored
When this woman starting using slow talk, she brought it to work with
her. By this time, she was feeling comfortable with the process, and
although some anxiety was involved, when it came her turn to share her
new ideas, she switched over into slow talk and calmly and rationally
gave her ideas to the assembled group. What happened next surprised
her a great deal...
Once you learn to slow talk, you no longer will feel rushed and
anxious, you can move on into your message, making sure you're staying
calm and focused, and present a talk that everyone understands. In
public, social situations like this, slow talk can be a very effective
and powerful tool in decreasing anxiety and increasing clarity.
Almost everyone I've worked with has been able to pull a lot out of
this technique. But keep in mind it takes practice first - when you're
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
5alone. When you do start to use this in public, we want to start out
small - talking to one person, such as a friend or relative for
example. We do not want to use slow talk in a #10 gut-wrenching
anxiety situation until we are ready for it.
It is important that we do things slowly, on a small scale, feel the
success behind it at this point, and then move it up gradually to other
And remember this is just one technique. We will be continually adding
to these methods with each and every handout. Then, each and every
technique will have the "synergistic" effect of strengthening the
The more you practice, the more results you will see.
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Ph.D., Director
6Automatic Negative Thought Stoppage #1
The hardest part of this process for some people is in noticing you're
having automatic negative thinking, or ANTs, as we call them.
Automatic negative thoughts are just there...they appear out of
nowhere...and many times we are in the cycle of negative thinking
before we are ever consciously aware of it.
So this week we are going to attempt to catch these ANTs as much as we
The second step is to make a statement to yourself. It is much better
if you can make this an out loud, verbal statement, because it is
stronger and more powerful when you do that.
The importance of making this verbal statement is to notify your brain
that you do not like these automatic negative thoughts and beliefs --
these ANTs -- and that you do not intend to keep thinking this way the
rest of your life.
This may sound strange to you, but unless you notify or "tell" your
brain you don't like these negative thoughts, your mind will just
continue to stream, move, and race on. By telling your brain you do
not like these unhealthy negative thoughts, it will help your brain to
realize you're having them more often - and when you notice you're
having these negative thoughts, then you can do something about them.
The verbal statement you make to yourself should be something like this:
"Hey, wait a minute! I'm having those thoughts again that are not good
for me. These thoughts are not healthy or helpful. They always lead
me in the wrong direction. I'm going to break up those negative
thoughts by finding some interesting distraction that I can do."
Some people say "Stop!" and see a bright red stop sign in their heads.
Other people are not so visually oriented, so we say, "Wait a minute!"
Both of these methods work. Use either one you want. You are telling
your brain these automatic negative thoughts are not helpful and not
healthy for you and you don't want to have them. Instead, you have
decided to think and go in a better, more healthy direction.
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7Notice the statement is rational and it is true. You are making a
statement that your brain can comprehend, act on, and believe. We
never make la-Ia statements in CBT like, "When I wake up in the morning
I'll be the happiest person in the whole world." If you make a
statement like that, good luck! It's too much, too big, your brain
can't comprehend and believe it, and when you wake up in the morning,
you'll be the same old you - just another day older.
We must always stay realistic and rational. But as we make rational
statements, they will change our thought processes, and as long as
these statements are realistic, your brain will accept them and act
upon them.
So catch yourself in automatic negative thinking mode this week several
times if you can. When you've made your "stop" statement, then it's
important you find something distracting to do to keep your mind OFF
the thinking that is negative. Just saying stop is not enough. We
need to find something interesting or something engaging to DO to get
our mind off the negative thinking track.
We call these ways of keeping the ANTs away - distractions. We will
want to use distractions for many weeks until we can stop the negative
thinking by our thoughts alone. But for now, distractions are very
On your handout, you have a list of possible distractions. You need to
find several that will work for you. Because everyone is different,
and has different interests and likes, it is important to find an
activity that will take your mind completely off your automatic
negative thinking.
Look over the list and see if you can find an activity or two that may
help you do this.
If not, anything in your own daily life that is positive and engaging
to you will work. Sometimes just doing household chores can work.
But you need to find something to break up and stop those ANTs. The
more you break these thoughts up and the more you stop these runaway
ANTs, the more we are putting a permanent dent in the vicious cycle of
automatic negative thinking.
One distraction that seems to work well for everyone is singing. Now I
know this sounds strange at first, but there is a physiological reason
that singing is one of the better distractions. If you are singing or
humming along to a tape or CD that you enjoy, you are using a
completely different part of the brain than when you are thinking or
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8The idea here is to pick out some of your favorite music, -- music that
is positive and has lyrics to it, and sing along with it to block out
the unwanted ANTs. If the singing portion of your brain is more
active, then the thinking portion of your brain is less active.
The more ANTs try to bother you, the more you should try singing as a
distraction. If you can't sing because you can't get away from other.
people, try humming under your breath. Humming along to a song in your
head keeps you in a more relaxed and peaceful state and doesn't allow
the automatic negative thinking to come in and get you going again.
Regardless of which distractions you choose, it is important to find
several that work for you. In addition to some of the suggestions on
the handout, the therapy itself can be used as a distraction, provided
that it is not pressuring in any way.
You may have realized that we don't want to use distractions for the
rest of our lives, and thankfully, we don't have to. We are only using
distractions now, during therapy, to begin to stop our automatic
negative thinking, and to stop dwelling on these unhealthy negative
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9Distraction Suggestions:
1. Exercising
2. Listening to music
3. Reading a good book
4. Swimming
5. Gardening
6. Surfing the internet
7. Talking to a positive friend
8. Watching a video tape - something funny
9. Walking around the block
10. Playing with or walking your pets
11. Going for a ride in the car
12. Sit down, de-stress, and slow talk to yourself
13. An interest or hobby you enjoy
14. Singing or humming along to music
A distraction can be ANYTHING that works for you - to temporarily get
your mind off automatic negative thoughts (ANTs).
We need to stop our old thinking - block it off - as we learn to slowly
develop new thinking habits (this is coming up...)
If we stop using the old anxiety neural pathways in our brain, then
they eventually have no choice but to wither up and die.
STOP that old, automatic negative thinking any way you can because it
is poison...
Find as many distractions as you can to help you with your automatic
negative thought stoppage.
Remember, there is a physiological reason that singing along to a
favorite CD or humming a song under your breath is a very effective
distraction strategy for everyone...
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
Purpose: to put a stop to the thoughts that lead to anxiety, and to
replace those thoughts with realistic, rational thoughts. When these
self-statements are practiced and learned, your brain takes over
automatically. This is a form of conditioning, meaning that your brain
chemistry (neurotransmission) actually changes as a result of your new
thinking habits. Pick only two or three statements that YOU like.
First, use thought stoppage. Be gentle but firm about it. "STOP!
These thoughts are not good for me. They are not healthy or helpful
thoughts, and I have decided to move in a better direction and learn to
think differently." (You are reminding your brain each time you make
this statement)
Then, pick two or three statements that seem to help you, and repeat
them to yourself OUT LOUD each day. (You don't have to believe them
fully yet - that will happen later).
When Anxiety is Near:
General Statements
1. I'm going to be all right. My feelings are not always rational.
I'm just going to relax, calm down, and everything will be OK.
2. Anxiety is not dangerous -- it's just uncomfortable. I am fine;
I'll just continue with what I'm doing or find something more active to
3. Right now I have some anxious feelings I don't like. They are
really just caused by adrenaline, however, and I can slow them down by
calming myself. I will be fine.
4. That picture (image) in my head is not a healthy or rational
picture. Instead, I'm going to focus on something healthy like
5. I've stopped my negative thoughts before and I'm going to do it
again now. I am becoming better and better at deflecting these ANTs
and that makes me happy.
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116. So I feel a little anxiety now, SO WHAT? It's not like it's the
first time. I am going to take some nice deep breaths and keep on
going. This will help me continue to get better.
Statements to use when
Preparing for a Stressful Situation
1. I've done this before so I know I can do it again.
2. When this is over, I'll be glad that I did it.
3. The feeling I have about this event doesn't make much sense. This
anxiety is like a mirage in the desert. I'll just continue to "walk"
forward until I pass right through it.
4. This may seem hard now, but it will become easier and easier over
5. I think I have more control over these thoughts and feelings than I
once imagined. I am very gently going to turn away from myoid feelings
and move in a new, more rational direction.
Statements to use when
I feel overwhelmed
1. I can be anxious and still focus on the task at hand. As I focus on
the task, my anxiety will go down.
2. Anxiety is an old habit pattern that my body responds to. I am
going to calmly and nicely change this old habit. I feel a little bit
of peace despite my anxiety, and this peace is going to grow and grow.
As my peace and security grow, then anxiety will have no choice but to
3. At first, anxiety was powerful and scary, but as time goes by, it
doesn't have the hold on me that I once thought it had. I am moving
forward gently and nicely.
4. I don't need to fight my feelings. I realize that these feelings
won't be allowed to stay around very much longer. I just accept my new
feelings of peace, contentment, and calmness.
5. All these things that are happening to me seem overwhelming. But
I've caught myself this time and I refuse to focus on these things.
Instead, I'm going to talk slowly to myself, focus away from my
problem, and continue with what I have to do. In this way, my anxiety
will have to shrink up and disappear.
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12The ANTs Handout:
Automatic Negative Thought Stoppage #2
The ANTS thoughts are always wrong. They always lie. They can never
tell the truth.
The ANTS thoughts have no authentic power over me. That's why they're
so scared I won't believe them. Their only hope is that I'll listen to
them, believe them, and give them my power and attention. (They feed
and fuel themselves on my own old negative beliefs.) If I don't accept
and believe these old ANTs fears, they have no choice but to go away.
The ANTS voice is magnified by my anxiety, fear, and depression. To
keep me feeling this way, the ANTS voice exaggerates, catastrophizes,
puts me down, makes me feel guilty, robs me of my self-esteem, and
makes my future look hopeless. These are all lies and it's time I
stopped believing them.
I must never listen to the lying ANTS voice. I know better. They
always lead me in the wrong direction. They are a voice of negativism
and defeat. They want to pull me down in the mud with them. I choose
not to let them do this.
Even worse, The ANTS thoughts are bullies: They have no real power to
use against me. They try to build on my own old feelings of depression
and anxiety to pull me down.
If I catch on to what the ANTS are doing, and the lying ANTS thoughts
feel they are losing, then they try to put on more pressure. They tell
me that anxiety, fear, embarrassment, catastrophe, and humiliation loom
around every corner. Thinking about making a public presentation
brings on stark, gut-wrenching fear... (The ANTS love this one!) I
can almost see them dancing in glee!
And the ANTs thoughts love my anxiety and fear! Because if I believe
it, they have me trapped, entombed, and immobile. If I believe all
these ANTS lies, I'll be stuck forever in my anxiety and depression.
I'll never get any better. And all because I'm believing false,
inaccurate, irrational, lies from the past.
I must never listen to the lying ANTs voice.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
13The ANTS thoughts would love to prevent me from getting any better.
All bullies like to see this happen to their victims.
But I don't have to listen and believe those ANTS thoughts! I do not
choose to be a victim. I know better than that.
What can I do? I can say, "Oh, it's that lying ANTS thought again.
It's trying to frighten and depress me. It's telling me more lies. I
refuse to believe them. I've got better things to do than listen to a
bullying liar."
Don't try to argue or fight against the ANTS thoughts. (Notice that
"arguing" is coming from the negative emotions.) The ANTS are good at
arguing... they love the pain and misery they can cause me.
Instead, I choose to refute and ignore these lying automatic negative
thoughts. These lying ANTS thoughts can't keep on talking forever. If
I don't pay attention to them, they have to shrink and shrink and
shrink and shrink......
What those ANTS thoughts hate worst of all is when I IGNORE them! They
hate it when I won't listen and fall meekly into place like I used to
do... Now I know better. I'll not give in to lying ANTS thinking
But remember: Since they are pathological liars, and since their
enjoyment comes from making me miserable, they don't like to give up.
They may try a few new ways to throw a roadblock in my path, to scare
me, or to confuse me about my progress. This is simply the ANTS way of
trying to hold on to me and to keep me as one of its disciples...
Instead, I'll say to those thoughts: "Oh, it's you again. You can't
fool me anymore. I know this is just another one of your tricks to try
and increase my anxiety. Well, you can try all you want... I don't
And then, I'll move on to my strategies and distractions, read over
this handout, and I won't let them upset me anymore. I know that if I
let them upset me, I am giving them strength and power. But if I don't
let them upset me, and I realize they don't have any power of
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
14their own... they will have to shrivel up into nothing and eventually
go away for good.
The ANTS voice cannot tell the truth.
The ANTS voice is a loud and nasty bully: all gruff, bluff and no
The ANTS voice is only there to scare me. I won't let it happen
The ANTS voice exaggerates everything that is negative. It lies to me.
My ANTS voice has no real power over me - unless I decide to believe it.
My ANTS voice constantly lies, and liars are loud and like to be heard.
My ANTS voice hates it when I ignore it and say, "SO WHAT?"
Who cares? Those ANTS thoughts couldn't tell the truth even if they
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
Overheard at the ANNUAL ANTs CONVENTION...
Once a year, the ANTS from all around the world gather to visit each
other and to show off how much each of them has grown bigger and bolder
during the past year.
The Annual ANTS Conventions are like sales meetings, whereby the ANT
that has made the most "sales" or "commissions" by increasing peoples'
automatic negative thoughts receives recognition, is greatly honored,
and highly praised.
The ANTS whole mission and goal in life is to fuel the negative
thinking that leads to anxiety, panic, social phobia, agoraphobia,
generalized anxiety, obsessive actions and compulsive behavior and the
related depression that goes along with anxiety.
So, at the convention, the ANTS discuss new methods and strategies to
rip us down, tear our self-esteem to shreds, and make us feel
completely hopeless and helpless about our anxiety. The ANT that comes
up with the trickiest and most cunning plot to do this is always given
a "special reward" and allowed to plague the people who have fully
given in to ANTS thoughts, so that their lives are ruined and totally
filled with fear and anxiety. They are kept on a very short and tight
leash by the ANTS masters.
Let's listen to some of this year's convention conversations:
Young ANT #1: "Hey, I've got another person convinced that he's no
good, that he's riot as important as other people, and who doesn't
think he has any control over his own life. I've even got him scared to
go out in public!"
Young ANT #2: "Ha! Another one of our victims trapped? I love it!
(Clapping with glee.) What shall we give him? Panic attacks? Social
anxiety? Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behavior? Agoraphobia? (A
special gleam appears in the ANTS' eye:) Or maybe all of the above."
Young ANT #1: "As long as he keeps believing us and giving in to us, we
can give him as many problems as he'll take. Two problems are better
than one, I always say..."
Young ANT #2: "Oh, man! I'm excited now! Maybe I'll win that award next
year! I need to keep practicing my negative and irrational
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
16thinking and learn how to pass it on to others. Practice makes
perfect, they always say..."
Young ANT #1: (snorting in pleasure) "But our victims never learn that
practicing is important to change thoughts, do they? They start out
practicing and being persistent, but they always quit before they
really get any better. Then, we've got them trapped. One more defeat
makes them feel totally worthless and helpless and then they really
give up!"
The young ANTS continue to chortle in evil glee.
Just then, an older and wiser ANT enters the picture and overhears the
conversation between the two young, immature ANTS.
Older and Wiser ANT Voice #3: "Stop your incessant bragging. You
sound just like children! Don't you know that we derive our very
existence from the lies we tell people that they believe? Every time
you push too far there's a chance they'll get wise and then we will
lose control. If the person ever fully realizes what we're doing to
him, we're the ones who aren't going to have any power left..."
The younger ANTS shudder in horror at this statement.
ANTS #1: (slowly and meekly) "You mean like our friend, the Destroyer?
When that woman he was working on got some help and realized what was
happening to her, she practiced and practiced and practiced..." (ANTS
#1 shudders violently at the thought).
ANTS #2: (hesitatingly) "But what happened? What did this woman do
anyway? And where is the Destroyer now?"
Older and Wiser ANT #3: "She realized what was happening to her, caught
him at it, and used peaceful, calming strategies and methods on him!
And she wouldn't give up! Then she started "slow talk" and the
"determination factor" and she actually practiced these abominations
until they sank deep down into her brain and became automatic!
Older and Wiser ANT #3 begins perspiring, his heart beats faster, and
he starts getting dizzy, "Oh, my God! I don't think I can go on..."
Finally, he pulled himself together and continued to speak in a very
serious, low voice: "The Destroyer began to shrink and shrink, but the
more he tried to bring back the anxiety, the fear, and the worry, the
worse it got. She stood her ground, ignored him, and turned the other
way. She refused to pay any attention to him. Finally, he had no
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
17toehold left, and he had to leave her. He ended up on the old insect
farm for ruined and defeated ANTS: exhausted, defeated, and so very
tiny and weak that he'll never leave the institution until he continues
to shrink further and further and finally dies. That nasty, vicious
anxiety woman killed the Destroyer for good just by changing her
thinking habits and refusing to listen to him anymore."
(Older and wiser ANT #3 looks from immature ANT #1 to ANT #2, shaking
his head).
"Are you two learning anything from this at all?"
ANTS #1: (Scared, weak, trembling, and much more sober now).
"You mean, we have to be careful not to get caught. If our person
realizes what we're up to and stops believing in what we tell them,
then... we're... we're..."
Older and Wiser ANT #3:
"...DOOMED! You'll spend the rest of your days on the dying ANTS farm
with the Destroyer, feeling more and more miserable all the time, and
continuing to shrivel up and shrink. The good news is that you won't
have to put up with the institution for very long. You'll grow so
small and tiny and insignificant that you'll eventually just fade away
into absolute nothingness. And no one will ever remember that you even
existed... "
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
18The Fighting Paradox
Here are the five "negative" behaviors I used on a regular basis to try
to overcome my social anxiety. (They do not work, but I didn't know any
1. I INSISTED that I shouldn't feel this way. Why should I be afraid
of meeting other people or going to parties? WHY should I be
uncomfortable at restaurants and other public places? Why should I
feel out of place and awkward? I shouldn't, I told myself - and kept
on insisting that it just wasn't right!
2. I FOUGHT the feelings of fear and anxiety by using ANGER: "I'm going
to get over this today, damn it!" I'm sick and tired of living this
kind of life. I want to feel free and happy and at peace. I hate
feeling weak, impotent and afraid!" And then I would punch a pillow,
kick a door, or slam something to the ground in anger.
3. I BEMOANED the fact that I had social anxiety. "Why must I have
this stuff anyway? No one else I know has this. They can do whatever
they want. I can't even make friends. I have no one to talk to about
this. It'll never get any better. I'll always be an outcast - I'll
never have any friends! I'll be anxious, miserable, and fearful until
the day I die!"
4. I USED the "Fairness" Argument: "It's not fair that I have this! I
didn't do anything wrong. It's just not fair that I'm the only one in
the whole wide world who has to suffer with this!"
5. I USED the "Deserving" Argument: "This anxiety is so awful. I don't
deserve to go through this. I never did anything wrong. I've never
hurt anyone. I'm a nice person. What did I do to deserve this awful
Now, these are all very normal human reactions to dealing with the
incredible emotional pain that social anxiety causes. When you have a
problem as severe as this, it is natural that you want to get rid of it
at any and all costs.
Unfortunately, using these lines of reasoning is similar to throwing
gasoline on a raging fire.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
19RESISTING THE ANXIETY, fighting the anxiety, battling the anxiety,
attacking the anxiety, and getting aggressive with the anxiety -- just
brings the social anxiety on STRONGER.
This is why we call the solution to social anxiety a "paradox". The
things you normally expect to do to get over social anxiety, only end
up making the problem worse.
Aggression (i.e., any negative emotion) only fuels and sets fire to
My aggression, struggling, and pressuring only made the anxiety worse.
The more I fought it, the tighter its hold on me grew. That is why
overcoming anxiety is counterintuitive; that's why we call it a paradox.
That which you resist, persists. The more you use a negative emotion
to fight another negative emotion (i.e., anxiety), the farther and
farther you fall into the vicious cycle and trap of social anxiety.
Remember how Dorothy vanquished the wicked witch of the West. Remember
how Mr. Spock saved the Enterprise crew from the alien energy source.
That which you resist...persists.
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20Bears Attack & Maul, Bees Swarm & Sting
Finally, you've gotten away from it all, and you're on that camping
trip you've been planning for months. You found just the right place
to set up camp, dinner over the open fire was great, and as far as you
can see, the sky is filled with beautiful shimmering stars. All of a
sudden, out of nowhere, you hear a loud, rustling noise...
You look up to glimpse a grizzly bear entering your campsite. You do a
double-take, because a grizzly bear is the last thing you expect to
see. But there it is.
Now, any sane person would be afraid. The adrenaline would immediately
start pumping throughout your body, your thoughts would begin to race,
and undoubtedly you would be sweating.
But what is the safest thing to do?
The adrenaline tells you to run, escape, get out of there, move as
quickly as you can toward safety.
But another voice inside you is more rational. It says, "Hold on. Slow
down. Wait a minute. If I run, if I try to escape, if I move too
quickly, I will be attracting the grizzly bear's attention. Since I
don't want to aggravate the situation, I think it might be better if I
stand perfectly still."
If you listen to your first voice and turn and run away in fear, the
bear will likely run after you...and he won't be in a friendly mood.
Instead of running, escaping, avoiding, and fleeing out of fear,
Have you ever played "dead"?
Do you see the analogy? When anxiety comes to attack us, drag us down,
create panic, intensify our worst social fears, speed up our racy and
obsessional thinking...these feelings should serve as a red flag.
IF A BEAR ENTERS YOUR LIFE, the worst possible thing you can do is run.
The bear will catch you, claw you, maul you...and YOU will be the worse
for it. If you stand your ground and don't run, the bear is likely to
leave you alone.
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21By the same token, if a swarm of bees is buzzing around your head, the
worst possible thing you can do is to make the bees mad. If you panic,
throw your arms into the air, and flail them around, the bees will zero
in on you, fly right on to your skin, and sting you mercilessly.
So, what do you do when anxiety tries to attack and hurt you?
PLAY DEAD. Do not respond. Do not panic. SLOW DOWN. Take your time.
Use your rational statements:
Say to yourself: "If I stay calm, then anxiety will not be able to
sting me... "
You already know the more you FIGHT, BATTLE, STRUGGLE, and ATTACK, the
more the bear will maul -- and the more the bee will sting.
You have control over the bear and the bee. Use the fighting paradox
to take anxiety down another peg. Calm down, relax, cool it, move to
Anxiety likes it when you fight back because then it has you trapped.
The bear and the bee will claw and sting you if you fight them back.
On the other hand, if you are calm and still, they will IGNORE you...
you are not giving them any power to be able to harm you.
Don't get stung by the anxiety bee or mauled by the anxiety bear. Take
it easy, slow talk, stay calm... then they will continue to have less
and less power over you... and you will realize that YOU are the one
who is in charge.
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22How to Temporarily Cut Down Feelings of Anxiety
NOTE: This is not a "cure" or even a major strategy for anxiety long-
term. But it is an effective strategy for now - it's good to use -
it's helpful. But, luckily, you won't have to keep doing this the rest
of your life, so look at this as a tool to help you feel better now as
you get the "thinking" (cognitive) strategies further and further down
into your brain.
This is a another paradox: When you feel anxious, panicky, or fearful,
get physically active. I know this sounds hard to do, because the
anxiety makes you feel immobile, inactive, and exhausted, but think
about it for a moment...
We know that anxiety is fueled by the rush of adrenaline (a hormone) in
our bodies. The best way to physically get rid of adrenaline is to
become physically active and burn it off.
If you can get up, move around, and do anything physical (keep the
focus on external things, not on yourself), this helps BURN the
adrenaline off.
The fear feelings are usually caused by another hormone called
cortisol. The mixture of adrenaline and cortisol is not very much fun!
Cortisol is especially controllable by physical activity. Cortisol
(the fear feeling) burns off easier when you get active.
Any physical activity works: Jumping jacks, running in place,
exercising to an exercise tape, running up and down the stairs, dancing
around to music, lifting weights (they dont have to be heavy it's the
activity that counts)..
RATIONAL STATEMENT: "I'm not going to just sit here and let my anxiety
build. I'm going to get up, move around, and get rid of this
adrenaline. I don't have to live with this stuff. I'm determined to
keep moving forward and shrinking this anxiety for good!"
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23Therapy Reminders
Do not compare yourself to others.
Stop beating yourself up.
Comparisons are an ANTs best friend.
I will move forward in every way I can.
Do not compare yourself to others.
My decision is to use my new neural pathways - not the old
anxiety pathways in my brain.
My anxiety is like the wicked witch of the West. She has
to shrink and shrink and shrink and shrink when I use my
calmness and peace against her. (She has no choice!)
I accept myself for who I am and choose to move forward
with my life.
Some of the things I thought were hard to do are becoming a
little bit easier all the time.
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ATIITUDES are strongly-held beliefs, and we know that BELIEFS are
extremely powerful. Beliefs are saturated with emotion. That is,
beliefs may be so strong or so powerful, so emotionally charged, that
they become the truth.
Those of us with anxiety usually have many, many beliefs that are not
true. We usually say they are irrational. But, let's be more honest
about these irrational beliefs of ours:
They are nothing but lying ANTs thoughts.
Therefore, we must move forward. We must start believing the truth.
Your beliefs, too, must move in the direction of becoming more truthful
and rational. Many times we can challenge our negative beliefs through
short statements that are attitudinal in nature. For example:
These attitudes are already very close to being emotions. So, as
deliberately and as consciously as we can, we want to be determined
about these attitudes. I choose to be healthy. I choose to believe my
rational thoughts. I choose to believe the truth, instead of those
old, lying ANTs thoughts.
Use these "Attitude" statements against your old ANTs thinking.
Practice on your tone of voice and allow yourself to feel your emotions
shrinking anxiety down to size. The "Attitude" statements can do a lot
towards reducing anxiety by allowing you to take the pressure off
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Through your perspective on life (that is, how you view things), you
literally create the world around you.
For example, if you expect others to reject you, they will. If you
expect others to like you, they will. You set up these expectations in
your mind because of your beliefs, and then you automatically act on
them and make what you expect to happen... happen.
What you believe, essentially, comes true.
If you expect rejection, you tend to hide, to avoid, to stay silent, to
be hesitant. Other people may interpret your behavior as a lack of
interest on your part, or to the fact that you are "different" or
If you EXPECT to be liked, you will be a little more outgoing, more
friendly, more willing to take the initiative, and more willing to talk
and be open. As a result of your actions, other people will see you as
a nice, friendly person.
The negative cycle you are in may have convinced you there is something
wrong with YOU. This is not true. The only thing you may be doing
wrong is viewing yourself and your world inaccurately.
That's why the cognitive therapy we're doing is vital. We need to
start to RE-think some things we believe about life.
What we give out - comes back.
This is not meant to be new age or eastern mysticism. It is a rational
and factual statement.
What we give out - comes back. Let me explain.
If we are hesitant, others will react to our hesitation and be hesitant
with us too. If we are too quiet, others may feel uncomfortable around
us. If we hide and avoid too many things, others will see us as
unfriendly, "weird" or "strange".
They are not reacting negatively to US as individuals... they are
reacting to the way we ACT or behave.
Of course, we act the way we do because of our old beliefs and
feelings... the way we have been "conditioned" to believe in the past.
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26As we can move away from these old ways of thinking and acting... we
will be perceived differently by other people. As we are perceived
differently by other people, our own view of ourselves will change as
well. It will become more rational and more accurate.
Although we have all had emotionally negative events in our past that
have shaped our lives, now we can more fully understand that we can
REJECT the old "conditioned-in" thoughts and feelings... and we can
start to CHOOSE to think and feel differently.
We all have had problems in our past. But now, we have two choices.
We can dwell on our problems, wallow in the emotional mud, and ruminate
about them the rest of our lives, thus guaranteeing that we will be one
miserably anxious, depressed person.
Or, now that you know, you can CHOOSE to start responding to life
differently. Your present starts today - this very moment. Your
present and your future can be quite different than your past, if YOU
decide it will be different.
You are not as down and out as you think. Look at all the good
qualities and abilities you possess. See yourself truthfully and
The way you see yourself is the way you will be. In terms of how you
see yourself, whatever you choose to believe about yourself, using
common sense, will happen.
If you believe you can move forward, make progress, and keep getting
better... you have just solved that problem... YOU WILL.
If you give in to defeat at every turn, and continue to wallow in
depression and fear, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you
continue to set yourself up to be defeated. Therefore, it will happen.
Whatever you "set yourself up" for -- happens.
The way you see yourself and the world around you is vitally important.
Let us become more rational and see the real reason others may react to
us strangely.
How you view yourself... is essentially how others come to view you
also. Let's begin to see ourselves more accurately and rationally.
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27Two Competing Neural Pathways in Your Brain
Setbacks happen to everyone as they recover from an anxiety disorder.
Unfortunately, I have never worked with anyone who didn't experience
many "setbacks" on the road to full recovery (it happened to me, too).
But please remember this - YOU CAN'T HAVE A SETBACK UNLESS YOU'VE
Let's put this in both physiological and neurological terms:
Your OLD neural pathways (the millions of nerve cells in the brain that
transmit messages, thoughts, and emotions) automatically lead you
toward your old responses: anxiety, fear, and the related depression.
This old pathway is tangible - it is real. It has now been mapped out
in the brain by the very new brain scans. Since your OLD neural
pathway was used for many, many years, it is normal that the thoughts
and beliefs that traveled along these pathways, became ingrained,
became habits, and became automatic.
However, when you began therapy, you also began to develop a NEW neural
pathway. You learned new ideas and concepts. You read things that
were hard to believe but were rational and positive.
As a result, literally, millions of brain cells began carrying the new
messages you were learning: the methods, strategies, techniques,
statements, and concepts of overcoming social anxiety. Your new neural
pathway was being created.
The more you practiced, and "sunk" the information down into your
brain, the STRONGER you made this literal neural pathway. The more you
continue to use these NEW methods you are learning, the stronger your
NEW neural pathway will become.
The more you use the NEW, and the less you use the OLD, you are
literally changing the way your brain responds (automatically and
That is how we get over anxiety disorders - your brain starts
automatically using the NEW pathways.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
28The brain operates in much the same way as the rest of the body. It
operates under the "use it or lose it" principle. If you use your new,
positive pathway it grows stronger. If you ignore and do not use the
old anxiety pathway, it grows smaller.
So, to some extent, we want to use what we know is best for us to
continue growing our new neural pathway, and we want to avoid and. stay
away from the triggers that lead us down the old pathway,
BUT RIGHT NOW you have two competing neural systems in your brain
concerning anxiety situations.
The old neural pathway is not entirely gone yet, so there is always the
possibility that we might experience a "setback".
The worst kind of setback from your perspective is after you've felt
good for a few days or a few weeks and the anxiety has been deflated
and seems to be under control.
Naturally, you think you've got anxiety pretty much licked. THEN - out
of the clear blue sky - and without warning - BOOM! The anxiety floods
back in (pretty strongly) and you are left feeling defeated, deflated,
and questioning your progress.
What is actually happening is that through some old association or
remembrance, your old neural pathway got stimulated, and the old
consequence happened: you had anxiety - but this time it occurred when
you may not have been expecting it (which makes it worse, of course).
NOW THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT - Let's look at the reality here - What is
really happening?
This "setback" is actually a sign of progress. It is a GOOD experience
in the long run, not a bad one. It is important that you begin to view
it in this way.
Your old neural pathway somehow got stimulated or triggered, and your
new neural pathway did not have enough time or strength to respond.
That is perfectly normal. It is a natural part of recovering from an
anxiety disorder.
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29Now, as you begin to view it that way, you start to respond by using
your new thoughts, strategies and methods. You must call anxiety's
bluff --- what really happened was a last ditch attempt at pulling you
back into "anxietyland", to get you to believe that you are totally
hopeless, that the therapy doesn't work for you, and that things will
just stay bad forever.
But, since you are developing that new neural pathway of yours, it is
IMPOSSIBLE for you to be pulled back permanently. Your new brain
pathway does not die out unless you totally give up. Even if you have
a setback, your new neural pathway is there and will continue to grow.
You can save weeks and months of mental torture, though, by getting
RATIONAL with this. This "setback" (as painful as it was) happened
because of your two competing neural pathways. It is a totally normal
experience that we all go through as we move forward.
Here are some statements that fit the experience of having a setback:
"I turn my back on my OLD lying ways of thinking and deliberately
choose the new, positive direction I am moving. That anxiety response
was a last ditch attempt by anxiety to grab me back - I could actually
say that my anxiety panicked! It is already scared it has lost me..."
THE BEST NEWS is that when these types of "setbacks" begin occurring to
you, you are definitely making progress. And when you don't respond to
the old neural pathways, they will have no choice but to shrink to the
place where they can't cause you the emotional pain and torment they
did in the past.
These setbacks you have and your response to them are a sign that you
are in the process of conquering the lying anxiety beast!
Look at it rationally and congratulate yourself.
As we learn to deal with social anxiety realistically, and deliberately
choose to get back on the horse again, refuse to wallow in the mud, and
choose to continue on, we have taken another step away from social
anxiety and toward healing.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
Henri was raised in the Caribbean, where his mother taught him from a
very early age the culture, art, and religion of voodoo. Henri sat in
the circles when religious chants and ceremonies were being held. He
heard the blessings and the curses made by the shamans and voodoo
priestesses. And Henri saw with his own eyes that when the leader made
a prophetic announcement, it was accepted as the truth by everyone.
As his belief system grew, Henri became more and more convinced of his
beliefs. It was part of his life. It was part of his daily
conversation. He lived with these thoughts every moment of the day.
Everyone believed them. No one challenged them. It did not occur to
Henri that there could be anything different.
As a young man, Henri was so strong in his beliefs that he could not be
convinced that the shaman was ever wrong. To him, the shaman's words
always came true. He knew it. He believed it. He had seen it happen
over and over again. The shaman was always right.
Henri's belief system was very strong. Whenever our beliefs are as
strong as this, they are unshakable.
For example, if we believe we have anxiety and that we'll always have
anxiety, then we always will - UNLESS our belief system changes.
Henri saw and believed, and his convictions grew stronger over time.
He reinforced his belief system by going to the ceremonies, talking to
his family, and conversing with his friends who also believed. Every
thing Henri did and said reinforced his belief in the power of voodoo.
To Henri, it WAS the truth.
Westerners have always had a hard time understanding the "voodoo
curse". When shamans put a "death curse" on an enemy, it has been
known to come true. When victims know they have been cursed, and they
are a believer, life becomes an agitated, anxious wait for the
inevitable doom that is to occur: death.
Interestingly enough, when an autopsy is performed on the person who
was cursed, there is no logical reason for the death. What do you
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31think is normally found? Fear! The person has literally scared
himself to death. The adrenaline and cortisol levels have gone berserk
and flooded the body to such an extent that they cause physical damage,
usually creating a massive heart attack.
But where did this fear come from? A strong belief! In this case, a
strong FALSE belief, but it was a belief nevertheless.
The power of belief is stronger than anyone realizes. There are many
other true stories like this throughout human civilization and culture.
Belief is a very potent thing. We live our lives based on our beliefs.
Therefore, it is important to develop beliefs that are rational,
healthy, strong, positive, and life enhancing.
A strong belief always has a powerful effect. It is important that we
learn to turn the tables on the ANTs, so that we can begin believing
the truth, instead of believing an ANTs lie.
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Don't take life so seriously.
Lighten up and take it easy.
This is NOT a life and death experience.
This is NOT an either/or, black and white, situation.
Take a deep breath --- let go and just relax!
The world is not going to end over this...guaranteed!
There is humor in almost everything...even this.
Carry your worries out to ridiculous lengths and laugh
about them.
Don't listen to anxiety feelings - they are ANTs lies.
Listen to the TRUTH.
All you can do is your best - and then forget about it.
The way I feel today is not going to influence the fate of
the world today, tomorrow, or next week, let alone in the
millennia to come.
Your worry is not going to make the situation
will only make you feel worse...
I am who I am and I'm human. So is everyone else. We all
make mistakes.
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33The Social Anxiety "Automatic" Cycle
Those of us with social anxieties are TOO AWARE of our nervousness and
fears. As a result of these negative, strong, inner anxieties, we tend
to be afraid that everyone else can notice and is aware of our fears,
Of course, when we believe "everyone is looking at us" or "everyone is
noticing that we're strange", we are just adding pressure to the
If I think others see me as being nervous, then I TRY not to be
nervous. That's MORE pressure I'm putting on myself. The more we TRY
not to be nervous, the more nervous we get. Notice that this is
another paradox.
By using negative emotions, such as pressuring ourselves or trying to
NOT be nervous, we ADD pressure to the situation... and then what
happens? We become nervous, we sweat, we turn red, we feel anxious, we
Why are we doing these things? Because we've pressured ourselves NOT
to do these things... This is counterintuitive and is another paradox.
But it is true.
This should remind us of the fighting paradox, because that is
essentially what it is. Pretty soon, if we keep on worrying and
pressuring ourselves, we find ourselves trapped in that negative
"automatic" cycle of fear.
Although this can be difficult to believe at first, our fears and
anxieties are nowhere near as apparent to other people as they are to
ourselves. In fact, we are blowing our anxieties way out of proportion
in our own minds. This adds even more pressure.
Most all people with social anxiety have a very difficult time
believing this because the emotions of fear and anxiety are so very
strong. ("If I feel this scared" they reason, "then everyone must
notice it.")
Especially, when someone exhibits physiological effects that accompany
their fears, then the fear of other people noticing it... is very
For example, people with social anxiety who
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
sweat excessively,
stumble with some of their words,
exhibit facial and neck twitches or movements,
have wet or clammy hands,
are self-conscious about other body parts they think are ugly or
or think that others can "hear" their heart's rapid beating,
assume that these internal, physiological events are noticeable to
everyone. It is many times the case that these physical manifestations
are noticeable to no one else.
It is the anxiety that exists inside us that makes us feel that
everyone is noticing our fear and embarrassment. But it is not true.
In some cases, our physiological responses ARE noticeable to other
people. Some responses are impossible to hide.
Yet, these symptoms are never as bad as we make them out to be, and
other people never notice them as much as we think they do.
So, even if our nervousness shows, we have overexaggerated its
importance to other people, because it seems so big and emotionally
powerful to us. A substantial body of literature exists to support
up over our own internal anxiety - many times that no one else notices
This may, in part, explain why it is so difficult for us to explain our
problem to other people -- and why other people, including therapists,
have such a difficult time understanding social anxiety. We look
normally, we talk normally, and no one usually notices our fear and
In the cases where they do, it's usually something small and
insignificant, that the other person doesn't even think about very
much. However, we feel it strongly -- we know it's there - it is very
powerful and emotional to us...
...but it isn't as noticeable to other people at all.
We need to start seeing ourselves more rationally.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
35Turning the Tables on ANTs, Part One:
Establishing New Realistic and Rational Thinking
The brain is NOT like a computer. It is made up of billions of nerve
cells that conduct electricity and release chemicals. Every time you
REPLACE an ANTs thought with an accurate, rational thought, you are
literally, physically, altering the circuitry of your brain. And the
rational, positive thoughts are always stronger than the old negative
ANTS' thoughts.
Only YOU can change your brain chemistry and neural pathways -- by not
accepting those poisonous ANTS thoughts and feelings. You must choose
to focus, believe, dwell on, and take in rational, accurate thoughts
and attitudes.
Most of us have spent years and years being controlled by ANTS - but
now it's time to change our brain circuitry for good. There's only one
way to stop these automatic negative thoughts -- and that is by
surrounding ourselves with rational, accurate, realistic thinking.
NEW STEP: If I can have worrying and anxious ANTS thoughts, then I can
also have peaceful and calming thoughts.
None of us were born with social anxiety. None of us chose social
anxiety. All of us would gladly give social anxiety up this very
moment if we could. Since you weren't born with social anxiety and the
automatic negative thoughts and feelings that accompany it, this means
that you can learn to think and feel differently. It means that,
although it is not our fault we have social anxiety, at this stage
there is no one who can get us out of this trap but ourselves.
Put another way, you are not responsible for having social anxiety.
But, you are the only one who can be responsible for your healing.
Even at this point, you can choose some things. You can choose to stay
stuck in the social anxiety maze or you can choose new thoughts and
feelings instead. Therefore, I think I'll choose those new rational
thoughts instead!
NEW CONCEPT: Turn that ANTS thought around.
OK, this sounds good. But, how do you change those ANTs thoughts
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36If you're worried about a situation, TURN THE THOUGHT AROUND:
For example, If I'm worried about an upcoming event, I take the exact
same worry and turn it upside down.
"You know, this is really not as bad as I make it out to be. I
exaggerate it in my mind. I blow it way out of proportion. Now I'm
deliberately going to focus on something else. I know it does
absolutely no good for me to worry."
Or, say this to yourself:
"What good does it do to worry anyway? Worrying or anticipatory
anxiety is an ANTS thought that can't do anything but lie to me. Since
I know those ANTS are lying to me, this event may actually turn out to
be a little better than I expected. I'll be OK - I've always made it
through alive. I've gone through events like this before and I haven't
died yet."
Remember: If you can build up negative things in your mind - you can
more easily build up RATIONAL thoughts in your mind. The positive,
rational thoughts are always more accurate, strong, and powerful than
the old ANTs lies.
Notice, when you act, you need to move your thoughts "up" a little.
For example, say to yourself, "This is not as horrible an event as I
once feared. This is an event I've had difficulty with in the past.
But I'm a different person now. This event may still cause some
anxiety, but it will be a little better than it was before."
Notice, we are being very rational with our thinking. It is perfectly
fine to say, "I have had problems with talking to strangers before."
Your brain knows this and it is a rational statement.
But we do not want to leave it there. We must continue. "BUT, I have
made some progress and things are a little easier for me now, so maybe
this time talking to others won't be quite as bad as I think it will
So, you see, I am deliberately choosing to think rationally, but I am
not yet ready to go positive. So, I am going neutral.
You can add all the neutral words you want to this statement so that it
will be a true statement that your brain will accept.
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37You can always say, "Talking to others has caused me anxiety in the
past, BUT I have been learning some strategies that will make this
easier. I am going to slow down, take a deep breath, use slow talk,
and focus on what the other person is saying to me. I may have some
anxiety, but perhaps it will be easier this time. Maybe it will be
more manageable than it was in the past. Maybe by slowing down I will
feel more comfortable and in control."
This neutral statement you just made to yourself is very rational, and
begins the process of changing your automatic negative thinking into
automatic rational thinking.
But we can not make the leap all at once. We can't go from years of
negative thinking, to positive thinking with just a few statements or
We must stay rational with our brain. So, turning the tables on the
ANTs, part one, means that we stay rational and at least make our
thoughts neutral concerning anxiety-producing events.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
Healing begins when I accept myself.
I accept myself for who I am and what I am.
I accept myself for who I am because acceptance is the golden pathway
to healing.
I accept myself just the way I am today.
I am a human being and there are parts of my life I want to change.
There are parts of my life that cause me trouble and difficulty.
Nevertheless, this does not change the inner "me".
I accept myself just the way I am today.
By accepting myself I am opening the door to healing.
Therefore, I relax. I take a deep breath and peacefully relax.
I am a good person. There is nothing wrong with the "me" inside the
"intrinsic" me.
I accept myself, problems and all, because the more I accept, the
stronger I become.
Acceptance is a powerful process. When I accept myself, I have opened
the door for change.
When I let go and accept, there is a metamorphosis, a healing power.
that begins to flow in my life.
As I accept myself for who I am, everything else that is good,
powerful, and positive fits naturally and completely into place.
So, I accept myself the way I am today.
As I accept myself, I will begin to change and grow.
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39Acceptance opens the floodgates of healing and power.
Without acceptance, there is only the struggling and the fighting of
the past.
I accept myself for who I am, because as I accept myself, I become a
new person.
There is healing in my acceptance. There is power in my acceptance.
My acceptance allows the flow to surround me with its natural healing
and power.
I accept myself because I deserve it. I accept myself just as I am so
that I can move forward in peace, calmness, strength, and confidence.
Acceptance is the key and the core of my progress. I accept myself and
allow this natural pathway to emerge. I accept myself so that I can
move forward.
Acceptance is my strength and power. I accept myself and allow myself
to change.
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40Turning the Tables on ANTS, Part Two
Or Keep Turning Those Thoughts Around
Many of the tasks we're working on in real life are things that we have
found to be anxiety causing in the past (big surprise here!) But now
we're actively working on doing these things, and it is essential that
we TURN AROUND our beliefs and thoughts WHILE we are doing them.
Why? Because you can expose yourself to anxiety-causing situations
over and over again - and it still never reduces the anxiety. In fact,
I was exposed daily to very large social fears that emotionally
crippled me -- and facing my fears only made things worse.
Why? Because I didn't face my fears in the appropriate way. I never
knew how to do that. I only set myself up for defeat and failure.
For many years I thought if I met a big anxiety-causing situation,
stuck with it, and conquered it, I would be over my social anxiety.
So, sometimes I tried this.
You know what happened.
That big anxiety situation was too strong for me. It was too intense.
There was too much anxiety for me to handle, and so I crashed and
My feelings about myself plummeted, I became depressed, and I was surer
than ever that I would never get over this dreadful traumatic socia I
By facing my fears in this way, I was handling the situation
incorrectly, although I didn't know it at the time. I should have been
facing one small situation, learning to be successful at it, and then
moving on to the next small situation. After a while, all the small
situations in which I became successful, turn into bigger situations,
and my anxiety begins to diminish and no longer be in control.
Many of us ARE exposed to anxiety-causing situations every day of our
lives. It may be on the job, a social occasion, college classes, or
some other necessary responsibility (things we usually can't avoid) -
but simply exposing ourselves to the fearful activity is not enough.
Exposure, by itself, done in the wrong way, means the anxiety NEVER
goes away - even if we've performed that fearful activity every single
day of our lives for twenty years! That explains why "facing your
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
41fears" or "flooding" yourself with fearful anxieties does not work for
people who have social anxiety.
We do need practice and systematic exposure. And we do need to
gradually work up to meeting our fears. But the biggest mistake we -
and many times - therapists make, is to force a person to meet their
fears before they are ready.
Everything we do in this series is leading toward overcoming social
So, why haven't I suggested that you go out and make a speech in front
of a hundred people yet? Answer: Because most of you are not ready to
do that yet. But you may be ready to talk to that one person you've
never talked to before.
The secret to this "face your fears" analogy is that you can only face
one fear at a time, and it needs to be a small fear to start with. We
must always move up the pyramid or hierarchy slowly and in a
deliberate, well-planned-out manner.
For example, if I don't feel I can introduce myself to a small group, I
may be ready to introduce myself to one new person, depending on the
situation and circumstances.
By taking each new step slowly as it comes along, and repeating it, I
am working against my anxiety in a positive, permanent way.
I always tell my people during their first appointment, "Go ahead and
avoid things for now." Why? Because they are not ready for big
anxiety steps. They need to get the cognitive strategies in their
heads first, before they move out into the real world. And when they
do move out into the world, it needs to be slowly and within the
boundaries of common sense. Success builds upon success; it never
builds upon failure.
In case you're wondering, people do eventually face their fears slowly,
and in order, until they feel successful and more confident with each
one. As they feel successful and more confident, they want to move up
their ladder or hierarchy, to try another anxiety-causing situation.
To turn the tables on the ANTs we must stay rational and we must move
slowly, but systematically, forward.
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Your Brain Hears and Believes Everything You Say
Everything you say is "interpreted" literally by the brain.
That is, if we remind ourselves that a particular situation makes us
fearful, then we are REINFORCING the idea that when we are in that
situation, we will be afraid. If we continue to reinforce our anxiety,
the real life fears that we face will grow stronger.
That's why we can (and have) been exposed in the past to many highly-
anxiety arousing situations - and even though we went through them time
and time again - this "exposure" to a fearful situation did not make us
any less fearful.
We were still just as afraid of the situation after we did it the
hundredth time as we were when we did it the first.
In order to get over these fears, we need to begin to change our
thoughts and statements about what we're doing behaviorally (or how we
are acting).
For example, speaking in public is something most people with social
anxiety find very difficult to do. But, if we constantly remind
ourselves (and our brain) that we think it is horrible, scary, and
anxiety-producing, then it will ALWAYS be horrible, scary, and
We are reinforcing our own fears and making them stronger every time we
repeat this statement to ourselves.
We are SABATOGING ourselves and our own best interests. Why should we
do that? It's because we've never been told this before.
For over 20 years, I sabotaged myself. I kept viewing public speaking
as a horrible, traumatic experience, even though I did it fairly well.
But just the thought of talking in front of a group of people brought
up all my social anxiety fears.
My self-talk ran something like this: "Oh, my God, this is horrible.
I'll be standing there in front of all those people and I won't know
what to say. Everyone will think I'm stupid. Then I'll really feel
like a fool. My words won't make any sense. I'll blush and stutter.
My voice will go
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Thomas A, Richards, Ph.D., Director
43weak on me and then give out. Everyone will see my fear and and that
will be even more embarrassing."
Because I didn't change my thinking habits -- because I didn't turn the
tables on the ANTs -- my fears about public speaking never went away.
The fear was always there. Every public presentation I gave was a
nightmare. I started days and weeks ahead of time having anticipatory
"I HATE giving a talk," I would say. "Those people won't like me. I'm
scared to death. What if I open my mouth and my voice squeaks? Then
I'll turn red. Then everyone will know I'm afraid. I HATE giving a
Do you see what I did? I sabotaqed myself. Instead of turning the
tables on the ANTs, I turned the tables on myself and set myself up for
Once I learned this, I had to begin to change my thinking. I needed to
keep the statements RATIONAL, but moving FORWARD.
For example, I had to say something like this: "Speaking to a group
isn't my favorite activity, and I may be a little nervous, but so is
everybody else who makes a public presentation. It's not that big of a
deal. I will take a deep breath, slow my talking down, focus on
something specific, and remind myself that I will probably do a better
job than many other people."
KEEP REMINDING YOURSELF, that despite anxiety feelings, you can and
will do fine. After all, everyone makes mistakes, and you may too, but
SO WHAT? All that proves is that you're human.
Everybody loses their place when reading and their train of thought
when they're speaking. EVERYBODY! So, why do you think this is so
catastrophic and awful? It ISN'T - IT'S JUST HUMAN!
It's OK to be human and make mistakes. And when we mistakes, SO WHAT?
It really, truly, is NO BIG DEAL! The Earth is not going to end based
on whether you think you did a good or a bad job at public speaking.
In fact, no one fifty years from now will ever know you even made a
presentation... it's just no big deal at all!
We hassle and torture ourselves and worry ourselves to death so that we
can't enjoy life, and for what? Over something that isn't even
important, that no one is going to remember a few years later down the
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When you DO SOMETHING, feed your brain the rational and realistic
truth. Don't get trapped with the "I'm still afraid to's..." and the
"I'm scared to's"...
If you stop saying something is scary, and replace the statement by
saying the situation is challenging, eventually your brain and your
behavior will come together and agree. You have learned to re-think,
based on your self-talk, added to the fact that you carried through and
performed the activity.
MOST situations in life are not really scary: We have just interpreted
them that way for a long period of time and they are settled deeply in
our brain.
So now, as we continue to get better, we interpret these situations
more rationally and realistically. A RATIONAL, statement and viewpoint
about a situation eventually CHANGES the original ANTS feelings -- and
then anxiety can no longer get in our way to disrupt our lives.
Turn the tables on those ANTs. Your brain hears everything you say.
Make sure you are telling it the truth. Make sure you are being
realistic and accurate. Don't say you "CAN'T" do something, because
most of the time you can.
Tell your brain the truth. Turn the tables on those ANTs.
Whatever you say, your brain will hear. Whatever your brain hears, it
will believe.
Now, this needs to be a common-sense belief, of course, but your brain
is quite literal. If you say and repeat for years that you HATE
something, your brain believes that you hate it. You reinforce this
"hate" and all the anxiety you have about the social situation, every
time you say you hate it.
We must turn the tables on the ANTs. Your brain will hear and believe
rational thoughts just as well as it believed negative and irrational
thoughts. So, let's tell it the truth from now on and turn our back on
lying ANTs beliefs and feelings.
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45Turn The Tables
on the ANTs
Turn The Tables on
Your Irrational
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46Stay Rational.
Go Neutral on your
Use "maybe",
"perhaps" ...
"Maybe this isn't quite as bad as I once
thought. Perhaps I've overexaggerated a
little. It's possible I do better than I
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47If you say...
or "I'm AFRAID to
do this..."
Your brain believes everything you say and repeat
(That's why YOU believe it so strongly - you have
been constantly reinforcing this idea to your
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I don't HATE to do
Maybe I can
(possibly) do
better now...
Your brain believes
everything you
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49"I used to hate
(public speaking),
BUT maybe (just
possibly)... it's
not quite as bad as
I made it out to
Go neutral. Go conditional. Make your
brain question and re-think things
through. Break up the old irrational
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50Your brain hears
and believes
everything you
say (repeatedly) to it...
Let's Turn The Tables on The ANTs -
watch what you say...
it will come true...
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When ANTs thoughts and feelings come:
STEP 1. Be honest. Call the intrusive, unwanted, negative thoughts
and feelings what they really are: Pathological liars and bullies.
They try to scare us but really have no authentic power over us. They
are thoughts we have picked up or "inherited" from somewhere else that
are not a part of us, and these feelings LIE, because there's no reason
for us to feel anxious.
STEP 2. When you are honest with yourself, it won't make your unwanted
negative thinking and behavior go away immediately, but it will prepare
you to change your responses.
STEP 3. When you change your behavior, you are literally changing your
Ask yourself these questions: "Why do these automatic negative thoughts
and feelings keep bothering me? Why don't they just go away?"
The answer is, because of the way our brains are constructed.
brains have been thoroughly conditioned through repeated negative
thoughts and traumatic emotions. You are not generating your own
automatic negative thoughts. They are occurring because they
been conditioned in to your brain repeatedly -- over a long period
of time.
Before you began cognitive therapy, your brain had a strong neural
pathway that associated many social situations with anxiety. Over
time, it becomes a habit to go down pathways that bring up negative
thoughts and anxious emotions. The more this happens, of course, the
more the brain is reinforced to respond in anxiety-mode. Thus, the
anxiety becomes an ingrained habit.
Changing your responses to these anxious feelings, and shifting to
useful and constructive thoughts and behaviors, will, over time, create
new, healthier brain pathways.
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52As the brain starts to-send its messages through new pathways (or
associated neurons) the anxiety feelings begin to fade and become
easier to control.
STEP 4: DO SOMETHING ELSE. When you change your behavioral responses
(or the way you act) by focusing your attention on something useful and
constructive, you are breaking up the vicious anxiety cycle.
This is the no pain, no gain step. You must become ACTIVE. You cannot
Remember -- When you change your thoughts and behavior, you are also
changing the neural pathways in your brain.
STEP 5. SEE REALITY FOR WHAT IT IS. Don't take your symptoms at "face
value" - they don't always mean what they say they mean. They're
liars! When you see reality more clearly, and can devalue the lying,
unwanted thoughts and feelings, you are strengthening your new brain
pathways, and putting another nail in the anxiety coffin.
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When you attend a social gathering, have a realistic attitude. Keep in
mind it takes at least two people to talk. You are not responsible for
"silences" and there is nothing wrong with having "silences". IT'S NO
1. If you feel you've run out of things to say, shake hands with the
person, say "I'm glad I got to meet you, Mike, please excuse me, I see
a friend that I need to go rescue" or... "I need to get some
refreshments" or "the smoke is really bothering me in here - I need to
go outside for a few minutes and clear my eyes" or "I need to make a
restroom visit" or anything at all that is legitimate to the situation.
You do not need an excuse - you are just being polite.
2. Invite someone else into the conversation that is standing or
sitting there alone. If you take the initiative to do this, it will
make you feel better and reduce your own anxiety.
3. You never have a legitimate reason to feel uncomfortable or guilty.
These are ANTs feelings. Reject them and decide to feel OK regardless.
This may sound strange at first, but you can rationally DECIDE you will
no longer feel uncomfortable or anxious.
4. Decide ahead of time that you won't allow yourself to be
uncomfortable. Why should you have to feel out of place? There is no
legitimate, rational reason for this, so why do you need to let it
happen? Don't. You can stand there all alone if you want and just
look around the room. That is not against the law. You are OK, there
is nothing wrong with this, and you are entitled to do whatever you
reasonably want in these social situations. So stay... and refuse
those ANTs feelings of anxiety and uncomfortableness. Use the
"attitudes" handout: SO WHAT? WHO CARES? THIS IS NO BIG DEAL!
5. Focus on other people and note their names, interests, and what they
are talking about. If you forget to do this, don't beat yourself up.
Just continue on. Next time you'll remember.
6. Slow your speed down as you talk. You will almost always have
something to say if you use slow talk and do not speed up. Here's
where all the practicing you've done in slow talk pays off.
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54Now you can use slow talk in public, social situations where you feel
some anxiety and have it noticeably change your emotions. Sometimes it
is hard to remember to do, but when you remember, you will find that
slow talk will calm you down, help you remember, and there will always
be something in your mind to talk about.
7. Actually, those of us with SA have years of experiences that we've
never talked about or shared because we always felt we couldn't mingle.
So, realistically, we have a LOT to say to others! Remember this is
just small talk. You do not have to try to be interesting or funny.
Just make little conversations.
8. You CAN mingle just as well as anyone else. Turn the tables on the
For example, say to yourself: "You know, I used to think I couldn't
mingle and talk with others very well. But now I'm realizing that I am
better at this than I once thought... "
9. Decide again that you will not be uncomfortable in this situation.
There is no rational reason for you to be let yourself feel this way.
Whether you're in a group or whether you're alone, you do not need to
feel out of place. It is fine. It is OK. People are not focusing in
on you anyway. So just take it easy. It's no big deal - go with the
flow and relax.
10. You can walk through the room and not talk to anyone. Try this.
Why should you feel funny about this? Others do it all the time and
don't think anything about it. Decide you're going to feel OK about
doing this. There's nothing "wrong" or weird about doing it.
Everybody else does it, why can't you?
11. Switch people or groups politely whenever you want. You are not
"chained permanently" to the first person you talk to.
12. Don't try hanging around a new person all evening. You'll probably
both not like this. Move together into another group or split up.
13. People who are conversing split up all the time. It is an accepted
(almost "demanded") part of mingling. You talk with someone for a
while, and then you move on. No big deal. You can say the same things
to the next person. They haven't heard what you've said. Small talk
is small talk. It is normal to say the same things to each person you
talk to.
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5514. You don't want to get stuck with the same person all evening. Move
on. Go to the punch bowl if you don't see anyone you know. Drink,
eat. Go the restroom. Take a walk around the room or go outside.
15. No one is watching and judging your performance. They have better
things to do than focus on you.
16. Everyone is paying attention to themselves and their own
conversations. They want to enjoy themselves and have a nice time.
They are not focusing in on you.
17. DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME that you're OK, no matter what you do or what
18. Your decision to mingle is a SUCCESS in and of itself. It needs no
outside validation from anyone. You do not need to feel "great"
afterwards. The victory and the movement against social anxiety was
your DECISION to mingle - even if it is for a short period of time to
start with. Your decision, and carrying out your decision, are what
counts. When you made small talk with someone, you were decidedly
moving away from social anxiety, no matter how you felt.
19. By moving ahead like this, you gradually prove to yourself that you
are a "success", defined in your own terms. There is no failure unless
you give up and stay in that dark closet.
The dark closet brings on more anxiety and fear. Moving forward --
which is NO BIG DEAL -- brightens the closet and scorches the ANTs who
live there...
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Pay attention to the other person and what they are saying. (Focus your
attention externally and ignore the internal ANTs thinking).
As you listen to the other person, notice they are:
Making a statement,
Expressing an opinion,
Telling a story (such as something that happened to them) or
Talking about the future or future plans.
Respond to what they are saying by:
Commenting on their statement,
Giving your opinion of what they were giving an opinion on,
Follow-up questions to statements and stories to clarify what they mean
Questioning their plans: what they are going to do, where they are
going to go, what is going to be accomplished, etc.
When you think you are stuck, ask a question of the other person. This
will start them talking. Now, you can't keep doing this for hours, so
listen to what they have to say (focus externally on them) so that you
can make a comment or talk about something related in your own life.
Feel free to change the subject when it appears it has run out. For
"So, what do you think of..." or
"I never thought it would stop raining last night..." or
"I hope I studied enough for this test coming up..."
To be a friend, you have to show interest in another person. The only
way they know how to gauge that you are interested is by what you SAY
(and in what tone of voice you say it). Friendships (or relationships)
based on one-way communication do not work out.
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57So, slow down, take that deep breath, focus externally on the other
person and what they are saying, and then respond. Don't get into
anxiety mode and do too much thinking. This is just a simple
conversation, not a Hollywood debut. Your conversations do not have to
be "right" or "perfect". Small talk is called small talk because it is
small. It's no big deal.
As you focus externally on the other person, your anxiety will
decrease. (Remember that anxiety increases as we pay attention to it
and think about it).
If you learn to pay attention (externally) to the other person, and
then just respond with a little thought (not by thinking too much -
because overthinking and overanalyzing are killers), you will find all
conversations are easier and will flow more naturally.
Take it easy on yourself. Small talk is small talk. Listen to the
other person, be friendly and polite, it's no big deal.
People like it when you listen to them and comment. You will be seen
as friendly because you are talking to another person. You may need to
start out slowly, but that's fine.
Just take it easy, slow down, listen to the other person, and make a
little small talk. If you do these things, it will be easier than you
think. You will have "small talk" to share with others.
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Before you can comfortably express your needs, you must believe you
have a legitimate right to have those needs. Keep in mind that
rationally, you already have the following rights:
* I have the right to decide how to lead my life. This includes
pursuing my own goals and dreams and establishing my own priorities.
* I have the right to my own values, beliefs, opinions, and emotions --
and the right to respect myself for them, no matter what the opinion of
* I have the right not to have to justify or explain my actions or
feelings to others.
* I have the right to tell others how I wish to be treated.
* I have the right to express myself and to say "No",
"I don't know",
"I don't understand",
or even "I don't care."
* I have the right to take the time I need to formulate my ideas before
expressing them.
* I have the right to ask for information or help -- without having
negative feelings about my needs.
* I have the right to change my mind, to make mistakes, and to
sometimes act illogically -- with full understanding and acceptance of
the consequences.
* I have the right to like myself even though I'm not perfect.
* I have the right to have positive, satisfying relationships within
which I feel comfortable and free to express myself honestly -- and the
right to change or end relationships if they don't meet my needs.
* I have the right to change, enhance, or develop my life in any way I
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59NOTE: When you don't believe you have these rights -- you may react
very passively to circumstances and events in your life. When you
allow the needs, opinions, and judgments of others to become more
important than your own, you are likely to feel hurt, anxious, and even
This kind of passive or nonassertive behavior is often indirect,
emotionally dishonest and self-denying. It also keeps the anxiety and
low self-esteem alive and well. So, make "The Deserving Statements"
the truth.
If you have some trouble with "The Deserving Statements" notice again
that these rights are for all human beings. If you can't feel good
about yourself, then you will not only stay miserable and anxious, but
you will be affecting everyone around you in a negative way also.
These are not selfish statements. These are statements we need to drop
down into the core of our mind - down into the foundation of our brain.
They are not beliefs that will hurt anyone else -- they will only allow
you to live a happy, more productive life -- and will affect others
around you in a positive, healthful way.
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60Feelings, Feelings, and More Feelings
Q: Why do I have anxiety feelings about so many different things?
A: They are there so that you can learn to stop thinking about them.
Q: That isn't an answer. What do you mean?
A: The anxious feelings are there so that you can stop asking, "Why are
they there?", "Why do I have them?", "Will I always be like this?",
"Won't they ever go away?", "Will I ever have a life?"
Q: I don't understand.
A: The more you ask, "Why are they there?" the more they will be there.
Q: And the less I notice and ask about these feelings, the less they
will be there?
A: That's right. It's another paradox.
Q: But isn't thinking about something good?
A: Yes, if you're thinking about a positive event or situation. But if
it's thinking that causes anxiety feelings, thinking is a red flag. If
you start to feel anxious, stop thinking and start doing something.
Get your mind off the ANTs lies.
Q: Won't thinking help me come to a conclusion?
A: No. Thinking about anxiety will only make you more anxious. You
will come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion. And you will
still be stuck in the quicksand.
Q: So, what should I do?
A: First, stop, slow down, take a deep breath, and realize that all you
have to do is accept.
Q: Accept?
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61A: Yes, because if you accept, you are not fighting, battling,
struggling, getting frustrated, trying, pushing, forcing, or attacking.
Because you choose to accept, everything becomes easier.
Q: Don't fight, accept, and then what?
A: Let the anxiety go, and move on with your life. Don't sit around
and ruminate. Get on with your activities and your daily life.
Q: The more I accept, the more the anxiety goes away?
A: Exactly. Calm, peaceful, acceptance has great power. The more you
can accept and move on with your life, the more this anxiety feeling is
no big deal. If you don't pay attention to it, it doesn't have any
power over you.
So, you see, we are being reminded here of that paradox again -- the
more we can accept, move on, act, find distractions, and turn the
tables on the ANTs, the less anxiety will be able to bother us.
In fact, the more your strategies and statements become automatic
thinking and behavior, the less and less anxiety can rear its ugly
head. You are in the process of calmly and surely defeating social
anxiety for good.
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Leads to More Worry and More Worry and More Worry and...
Worry is never positive. It never does any good. There is no
redeeming value in worry.
Worrying is an ANT-like process. It always leads me in the wrong
It always exaggerates.
It always blows things out of proportion and consumes my life.
It leaves a trail of anxiety and depression behind it.
Worrying only leads to more worry. More worry just fuels the fire of
anxiety and causes me to worry more.
Nothing good ever comes from worrying. Most of what I worry about
never happens anyway. Worry just makes things worse. Worry fuels the
fire of anxiety and depression.
Worry compounds anxiety. It throws me and my progress off track.
Worry is another lying ANT.
It is incapable of telling me the truth.
Worry wants me to be irrational, to expect the very worst, and to see
the situation as being catastrophic. Worry is always negative. If I
surrender to worry, I am heading in the wrong direction.
Worry needs to be stopped - dead cold - in its tracks. It is a lie.
It never leads me in a good or healthy direction.
Worry never solves any problems. It only creates them. The more I
worry, the more problems I will have.
Worrying is a negative emotion, and can only fuel other negative
emotions. There is no help, no progress, and no solution in worrying.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
63Worry robs me of my minute, my hour, and my day. Worry keeps me living
in the troubling past or the fearful future. Worry makes sure that the
time I spend with it is miserable and depressing.
Worry sets me up for defeat, anxiety, stress, fear, and sickness. It
never does me any good. It always wants to trip me up and knock me
Worry needs to be stopped. It will throw any dark filter over reality
that it can find -- and it is always bad and unhealthy.
So what can I do about it? If I'm worrying about something and can do
something about it, I'll DO IT.
...Stop the thinking (worrying) and start the doing...
If I have no control over what I'm worrying about, my worry will do no
good anyway. It will only hurt me and depress me and pull me farther
down into the vicious maze we call social anxiety.
Worrying never solves a thing. There is no solution in worry. There
is only defeat. Excessive thinking (worrying) is like poison. Catch
it, stop it, and move away from it. I'll say to myself: "Worry never
does me any good. It is only there to hurt me and rob me of my peace.
Therefore, I deliberately choose to go and do something else..."
Then, go and do something. Find a good distraction and do it. Or, as
you progress, rely upon the rational statements that you are already
making a part of your daily life.
Worry is a fraud and a liar. Nothing good ever comes from worry. It
is time for us to put worry in its place. Kill it and stop the
thinking by using any of your cognitive methods or strategies, and then
move on.
Catch yourself when you start to worry and throw these worrying
thoughts off like they were poison... because they ARE!
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
64Here's How We Handle Those Bullying Liars
To remind your brain and let it sink in deeper, say: "WAIT A MINUTE!
(STOP!) I'm having those automatic negative thoughts (ANTS) that I do
not like. I know they are not healthy or helpful to me. I am quietly
determined to move in a better direction and turn my back on these
lying ANTS."
1. __________________________________________________________________
2. __________________________________________________________________
3. __________________________________________________________________
4. __________________________________________________________________
These ANTS are always pathological liars. They can never tell the
truth. They only try to be scary, depress me, bring me down, rip up my
self-esteem, increase my anxiety, and make me feel like everything is
I choose to move in a better direction. Therefore, these are the
rational, honest answers to those lying ANTS thoughts:
1. __________________________________________________________________
2. __________________________________________________________________
3. __________________________________________________________________
4. __________________________________________________________________
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65Loosen Up and Let Stress Go
Letting our muscles relax and become limp is not a new technique for
us, but now let's put it into a practical real-life context. WHEN YOU
ARE FEELING ANXIOUS, because of anticipatory anxiety, worry, or ANTS
feelings and thoughts of any kind...
just remember these two words... "Loosen Up"
If you're in public or in a social situation and you're feeling
anxious, just remember these two words... "Loosen Up"
What happens when we're anxious is that our body and muscles tighten up
automatically, many times without us realizing it. Technically, our
physical body is preparing to meet a threatening challenge that really
isn't there - but, since we think it is, our muscles become tight and
I first noticed this one Saturday morning over twenty years ago when I
was driving down the freeway to the downtown city library. The library
was a safe place to go for me because it was fifteen miles from my home
and I knew I wouldn't run into anyone that I knew there. But as I
drove down the freeway, which in those days was almost deserted early
Saturday mornings, I glanced down at my hands and saw they were chalk
white from gripping the steering wheel so hard. And I was doing it
with both hands! I finally figured out why I went into "automatic"
stress mode.
#1 - I was terribly self-conscious. Even though only a few cars drove
past me, I still felt as if the nameless people in the nameless cars
were staring at me. I always kept my eyes straight ahead so as to
avoid the gazes I felt I would get if I looked over at the passing car,
and #2 - I had been tensing up for so many years that it now had become
routine. It was an ingrained habit.
As time went by, I began to notice that I tensed up quite a lot in any
social situation. So, gradually, I began to catch myself tensing up,
and then would take a deep breath, and deliberately let go of the
tension. This helped me out a great deal. But I didn't know enough
then to be systematic about it. That is what we want you to do.
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66By realizing this and just LETTING GO of the tension in your muscles by
"loosening up" - you are calming yourself down and making the situation
a little easier for yourself.
The other positive element is that as you let go and let your muscles
become loose, limp, and relaxed, you are reminding and reinforcing your
brain that the stress and anxiety you're experiencing is just an old,
ugly, ANTS habit. You really have NOTHING to fear. The doubts and the
lack of feeling confident is an old lie that you've been believing for
Let that tenseness in your muscles go - release it - quiet your body
down - It's time we started believing the truth instead of old ugly
ANTS lies.
So slow down, loosen up, and find this out for yourself.
Let me add a reminder here: As with all the handouts, it is important
that you start this "loosening up" process at home, when you are alone.
You must practice it at home first, when you are NOT feeling anxiety,
so that it can enter your mind, and through repetition, become
automatic. If you try this the first time in a public, highlyanxious
situation, it will not work for you and you will feel defeated. Please
start the process out at home, when you're alone and feeling OK.
Practice on it until you can FEEL more calm, relaxed, and less
stressed. When you can FEEL this at home, then bring it out slowly
into the real world.
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Moving in a Positive Direction
I am a proficient and capable person in my areas of knowledge.
I am learning to accept and believe in myself -- just the way I am.
I don't have to "change" to be a good person.
I am a unique and special person, just like everyone else. There is
no one else like me in the entire universe.
I have unique and special talents I can share with others to help them.
I am learning to accept all the different parts of my personality.
I don't have to prove myself to anyone. I don't have to prove myself
to myself.
My feelings and my needs are important too.
It's O.K. to think about what I'd like and need. It's not being
selfish to seek peace and healing for myself.
It's necessary for me to make some time for myself each day.
I have many good qualities.
I believe in my capabilities and value the unique talents I can offer
the world.
I am a person who is sincere and that is a very positive quality. I
trust in my ability to make progress toward my goals.
I am a valuable and important person, worthy of the respect of others.
As I continue to get better, others will perceive me as a good and
likable person.
When people really get to know me, most of them will like me.
There are people who enjoy being around me. They like to hear what I
have to say and know what I think. Even if this hasn't happened yet, I
am moving in this direction.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
68Others may recognize that I have a lot to offer (even when I don't
recognize this myself).
I am probably making more progress than I think.
Even though making positive steps can seem slow at the present time,
something is going on all the time that's helping me to make progress.
I deserve to be loved by those people who care for me.
I trust and respect myself more now and realize I am worthy of the
respect of others.
I'm learning how to receive assistance and cooperation from other
I'm more optimistic about my life now. Sometimes, I look forward to
and enjoy new challenges.
I know what my values are and I am more confident about the decisions I
make than I was before.
It's becoming easier to accept compliments and praise from other
I take pride in what I've accomplished, and look forward to what I am
going to achieve.
Just as with all the other handouts, if something seems too hard to
believe right now, add a "maybe" a "possibly" or a "sometimes" to the
statement to make it more rational for your situation.
What you are doing, of course, is turning the tables on the ANTs - and
we want to do this slowly, step by step, by making our statements
neutral first... before we continue to move them up.
It is important that the statement be rational, so make it a little
conditional if you need to right now. Add a "probably" or a "maybe" to
one of the statements. That is perfectly fine. The statement will be
more rational to you, and your brain will be able to accept the message
better at this time.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
How do people develop anxiety disorders? The simple answer is that
they are literally brainwashed over time by other people and/or
environmental circumstances. When you hear negative comments,
criticisms, and statements about yourself over and over again - over
the course of many, many years - your brain begins to believe all the
negative (and inaccurate) things that it hears.
If you are exposed repeatedly over and over again to brainwashing (even
if it's subtle), your own mind begins to think and believe what you've
heard. Yes, you've been brainwashed (conditioned) into having an
anxiety disorder.
The good news is that since you can be brainwashed into having an
anxiety disorder, you can be brainwashed (or conditioned) into getting
over it. Here we have a change in words that will bring on a change in
beliefs and thoughts.
No longer are we going to brain-wash. Through therapy, we are going to
wash the brain of all the old garbage from the past, all of the old
negative emotions, embarrassments, fear, humiliation, low self-esteem,
depression, negative beliefs, and hurtful events.
We are going to brain-wash in a POSITIVE WAY. We are going to wash the
OLD negative lies out of our brain and replace these OLD lies with new,
clean, rational thoughts and feelings. WASHING THE BRAIN is more
powerful than brainwashing.
When the old brainwashing thoughts come, challenge them. Say to
yourself: "This may be an old thought that was brainwashed into me...
but now I CHOOSE to wash my brain of it. I choose to think
differently. I CHOOSE to feel differently. I CHOOSE to go down a new
pathway. I CHOOSE to move down the healthy pathway. I CHOOSE to wash
my brain of the old lies and fill it with accuracy, truth, and
"I will not allow old brainwashing thoughts / feelings to continue to
hold on to me. Instead, I deliberately choose to think / feel
differently. I choose TO WASH MY BRAIN and make it clean and whole."
Notice that if we can be brainwashed into having automatic negative
thoughts, that when we wash our brain, it will open up a whole new way
of thinking and feeling for us. It really is more than just getting
over social anxiety... it is living a brand new life that will bring
you calmness, serenity, peace, and confidence. All of these emotions
reside in our brain, and the therapy we are doing - is heading us in
this direction.
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Anxious, worrying thoughts which lead to anxious, worrying feelings
create the traumatic, anxiety-ridden lives of those of us who suffer
from social anxiety.
It is when we become aware of this, and begin to take control of our
thoughts, which lead to feelings, that we can overcome this downward
spiral of negativity. This "expecting the worst to happen" syndrome -
that keeps our anxieties alive - must be stopped. This is what we have
typically done:
We repeatedly rehearse our failures.
We tell ourselves we can't do things.
We tell ourselves that the things we CAN do, are horrible, awful, and
monstrous, and we wish we DIDN'T have to do them.
We tell ourselves we'll never get any better. "I've always been like
We keep reinforcing the negative, the scary - the obsessive thoughts...
the fearful feelings and then we continue to have anxiety, worry, and
Thoughts have no power in and of themselves. YOU imbue them with your
own power and your own feelings. Thoughts always require an action on
your part. For example, try running your computer with just your
thoughts... go to the grocery store and shop with your thoughts
alone... or write a letter using only your cognitive abilities.
Thinking, by itself, isn't enough.
Each and every thought requires an action to get it moving.
These original harmless, powerless thoughts, though, can create great
havoc in your life if you start rehearsing them and believing them,
because then you start to ACT on them.
If you believe in and act on a lie, the lie will become the truth. You
have created it with your thoughts, and chosen to believe it with your
actions. Therefore, you have made this powerless thought become the
Here are some examples:
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
71Thought: "I am afraid to speak in front of other people."
Action: Avoidance. Do nothing. Worry about it.
Result: My fear of speaking in front of other people becomes stronger.
There are stronger negative feelings now. It seems completely
impossible to me that I can speak in front of other people.
How to change: I need to turn the tables on the ANTs and think in a
different manner. I should say to myself: "If I talk to a few other
people, it probably won't kill me."
I might even survive. If I drool, I drool. So what?"
Speaking in public is the biggest fear for nearly everyone, not just
me. And when I speak to other people or present something to other
people, I'll do OK. It's certainly not the end of the world."
Action: Carry the rational thoughts through and speak to one or two
other people. Go slowly, but keep on moving. (Continuing to move,
slowly but surely, step by step is very important here.)
You must challenge your ANTs beliefs, cognitive patterns, and thinking
strategies. Are they telling you the rational truth and leading you in
a healthy, helpful direction? Or do they keep you in a cycle of
defeat, depression, avoidance, fear, and "expecting the worst to
Anxiety is caused by the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline is a
"speeding-up" hormone. It speeds up your thoughts, actions, and
What is it that adrenaline speeds up when you are surprised / put on
the spot / feel self-conscious or something comes out of the blue? It
speeds up your thoughts about what's about to happen.
The adrenaline is speeding up your thinking processes - and, as a
result, the feelings you have invested in these thoughts. For example,
if you say and believe that speaking to a few people is awful,
terrifying, and horrible, then the adrenaline will take your feelings
and create awful, terrible and horrible anxiety.
If you don't change your thinking / believing / acting and feeling
patterns, the negative anxiety syndrome will always be rushing you
towards fear.
If, on the other hand, your thoughts and beliefs begin to change, these
adrenaline-tinged thoughts will move under your control. It will be
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
72more like, "So what?? It's no big deal! This is certainly not the end
of the world."
And through your other strategies (the slowing-down ones in particular)
we can also learn to control and diminish the adrenaline rush. Slow-
talking, using your calming keyword, loosening up and grabbing onto the
healthy, rational thoughts you've patterned into your mind, will
eventually put a halt to the inappropriate rush and flow of that tricky
hormone, adrenaline.
THOUGHTS ARE VERY POWERFUL because they lead to beliefs -- and beliefs
lead to actions.
Those old, irrational, lying ANTs thoughts, or will you challenge them
and start to believe what is rational? You can decide to go either
direction. My guess and hope is that you will decide to be rational
and believe the truth.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
And how it keeps us away from anxiety
When anxiety comes around in any form -- and this includes anticipatory
anxiety --
we want our attention and our FOCUS, to be on external things, not on
our internal feelings. Our internal feelings are liars when they
involve anxiety.
Therefore, by focusing on the way we feel inside -- which is anxious
-- we only reinforce and renew our anxiety. For example, when we
give a performance,
make a public talk or presentation, or
do anything in public socially,
we do not want to dwell on our anxiety.
Instead, we want to focus externally on something else. Anything else.
Anything that is a distraction. Anything that will get your mind away
from feeling anxiously and thinking anxiously.
Say, "I need to call my anxiety, which is irrational, exactly what it
is -- a LIAR, and then focus away from it. Focus externally. I do not
need to sit, dwell, ruminate, and scare myself to death by letting the
lying anxiety grow."
I need to get active and get my mind moving in a positive direction on
some external situation."
If we're following a logical progression toward becoming better, our
FOCUS should be outward. Our focus should be external.
We must not get into the habit of "checking in" with our anxiety and
then do things on the basis of how we feel.
Our feelings lie to us, and if we focus on them, they will only grow
and make us more anxious.
Our focus should be on what we DO.
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74We need to DO something, even if it causes a little anxiety, whether we
FEEL like it or not.
In other words, our focus should not be on ourselves and the way we
We can never gauge our progress by checking the emotion that gives us
pain, because if we continually check our anxiety, we will be
reinforcing it, allowing it to grow, and fueling the fire.
Therefore, the correct question becomes:
Did I DO what I was going to do?
If I did, I am successful simply because I did it.
But more than that, the chances are VERY HIGH that you were also
successful (period!) at the task.
The only person who debates your success is you - and, of course, those
nasty, lying, ANTs thoughts. But remember that those ANTs will wither
up and die when we STOP focusing on them. (They like internal attention
- so take the attention away from them.)
Focus outwardly and externally - not on the way you are feeling inside
- not on the lying ANTs feelings and thoughts.
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(or Another attack on healing by the lying ANTS)
Regardless of how you feel, you don't ever want to use the "I can't do
this" explanation. Remember that your brain hears and responds to
every word that you feed it. Therefore, if you say,
"I can't make phone calls, I get too flustered.!"
"I can't go to the party. There are too many people. I won't
know what to say."
"I simply can't sit through that big meeting..."
"I hate it when I have to meet new people. I feel so inadequate..."
your brain picks these statements up, and sure enough, you CAN'T do
these things because you've programmed it into your mind over and over
again. The more you reinforce the "cant's" and the other forms of
automatic negative thinking (ANTs), the more it will take to re-program
your mind in a positive, healing direction.
In reality, you have lost NONE of your former abilities - what you
could do in the past, you can also do now. You can also still do
extraordinary things. Here is one true life example.
Diane was an agoraphobic. That is, she feared having panic attacks and
felt the only place she was safe was in her home. She gave up driving
and leaving the house, even though this restriction in her life was
awful to her.
One day, she got a phone call at home telling her that her son had been
hurt and was on the way to the hospital.
Without even thinking about it, she jumped in her car, drove the five
miles to the hospital, and ran to the emergency room.
She was very externally focused. She was concerned about her son.
She never once thought of her panic and her perceived inability to
drive. She was not focused internally. She was focused externally: on
getting to the hospital to see her son. The only thing that was
important was the safety of her boy.
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76She was completely and ENTIRELY FOCUSED on her child. She had no time
to focus on anything else. Therefore, because she hadn't thought
"anxiety" or "panic attack" these things did not happen.
It was only later on, after she found out that her son was fine, that
she started thinking about it. She slowly realized what she had done,
and said, "Oh, my God! I drove all that distance without having a panic
attack. How did I ever do that?"
It was then that her focus shifted internally and she began questioning
herself. Her attention was now on her fear and the ANTs that control
it. Her focus on the "panic attack" started to move her mind in an
internal direction -- and, as a result, she become scared and felt a
deep emotional stirring.
If Diane had known better, she would focus again externally, say, "Wow!
I put those ANTs in their place, didn't I?"
But Diane didn't know any better and, as she focused more and more
inside herself, the feelings of panic and anxiety began to get
stronger. The more they came on, the more she focused internally. It
wasn't long before she was in a full-scale attack over an incident she
had already performed successfully... SHE HAD ALREADY DRIVEN TO THE
HOSPITAL SAFELY. She had done it because she wasn't thinking about it.
Of course, what she needed to do was give herself credit for getting in
the car, driving to the hospital, and riding the elevator to see her
She could do all those things successfully - the ability to do those
things never had left her.
But she didn't understand that.
"I can't do it" thinking is never helpful - and it always leads in the
wrong direction.
Your brain hears everything you say and (eventually) believes it.
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(Rational Questions to Ask Yourself Each Day)
Now let's zero in and become a little more direct with our questions:
I need to keep heading in a good, healthy, helpful direction
-- a healing direction.
I AM FINE AND O.K. in myself - I have this security and confidence
inside me.
They can NEVER tell me the truth...
they WANT to trap and trick me...
So, ask yourself these questions every day.
WHY do we allow other people's opinions to sway us?
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D.
78Why SHOULD other peoples' approval be so important to us? WHY should I
stew, sweat, and drive myself crazy over what other people think and
Why should I beat up on myself and dwell in my own old ANTs quicksand
for hours?
I need to rationally ask myself these questions each and every day, so
that these questions will bounce into my mind when my thoughts start to
go negative on me.
I want those "Why" questions to pop into my mind automatically, so that
I can catch and then crunch those old automatic negative feelings and
The more I question my irrational thoughts, the more they will have to
go away.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D.
We do not want to "set ourselves up" ahead of time for feelings of
failure and defeat. We do not want to try to "force" or "pressure"
anything into happening on a particular rigid time schedule.
For example: "Today, I will go to work, march into the bosses' office,
and get that raise I deserve so much."
Maybe this is a true statement, but there are too many things beyond
your control in this statement that have nothing to do with overcoming
You are setting yourself up for a fall, and it is likely that you will
have one.
Maybe your company no longer is giving anyone raises. They do like
your work, and they do not want to lose you, but perhaps company policy
dictates that no raises are being given for the next six months.
If you take this personally and allow yourself to feel defeated, you
are sabotaging yourself. Don't do it. This is not something to be
taken personally.
It is NOT a slap in the face to you. This would occur to anyone asking
for a raise during this time.
Or, consider this irrational expectation: "Tonight I will go out and
meet someone..."
This is a big, bold, unrealistic expectation. Why? Yes, you can go
out and "meet" someone, but what you mean is you want to meet someone
interesting that may turn out to be a friend or a lover.
The trouble is, again, you do not have control over WHO is going to be
"out there". If you have some scruples, and are really looking for a
quality person who shares your interests, you have limited your chances
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80This particular expectation is usually a real killer: you expect way
too much, and all of it is out of your control. You are setting
yourself up for defeat if you carry this expectation out.
Instead, a healthier, productive outlook is to generally increase your
social activities in areas in which you have a legitimate interest.
Your interest in the activity should come first, and your focus should
be on having a good time that evening - not on any of the people who
might be there.
If your FOCUS is on slowly expanding your social activities - and not
on other things - you have automatically increased your chances of
reaching your goal.
Yes, this is another paradox. The more and more (and desperately and
desperately) you seek something and "expect" something, the more and
more elusive it becomes.
It can turn into a depressive nightmare, and your progress against
social anxiety can be halted. So, FOCUS on moving ahead for yourself,
healing yourself, expanding your social circle very gradually for
yourself, and you will be moving in the right direction.
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One of the most PROFOUND CONCEPTS in psychology is this:
When you act (or do something),
your feelings (emotions) follow along behind.
If you wait around to feel good or to feel non-anxious, YOU'LL BE
Feelings never come before actions. Taking action always begins to
create feelings and emotions.
For example, if a person is depressed, they must ACT by doing something.
First: get out of bed, do some small job around the house, eat, drive
around in the car, or make a telephone call to someone who has a
positive outlook. (This is just a first step, of course, and must be
The same is true for anxiety.
Small steps have to be made (that is, acted upon) before your FEELINGS
will follow.
If you make a small step every day by exposing yourself to a small
feared situation, FEELINGS (an "OK" feeling instead of anxiety) will
gradually follow.
Anxiety is reduced only AFTER you act.
That is, you won't FEEL better until you ACT first. Actions always
must come first. Your feelings are a result of your actions. If your
social anxiety makes you avoid things, then take one small step at not
avoiding by going someplace new or doing something new, even if it is
for just for five minutes.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
82The more you do this -- the more you take this little step -- the more
your feelings will begin to change, and you will gradually feel less
anxious when doing this new activity or going to this new place.
Yes, our steps must be slow and systematic. That is, if something is
causing you social anxiety, then just going to it is a success.
If a meeting causes you anxiety, just going for a few minutes is a
good first step. You don't have to stay for the whole thing. Stay as
long as you can, but you have the option to leave whenever you wish.
You have made great progress just by going to this meeting.
You were not doing this last week or last month.
This is a new behavior on your part.
You stayed five minutes. That is five minutes longer than you've
stayed before.
This is a great success in and of itself. You are moving in the right
direction. You have gone to that meeting, stayed a few minutes, and
survived. You are no longer avoiding the situation: you are handling
it proactively, and doing it in the correct manner: step - by - step.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
Anxiety is a multiplicity of vicious circles. Once you get trapped
inside the circle, it is difficult to get out - if you don't know what
to do.
Fear and anxiety cause more fear and anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety
CAUSES the worst to happen. Fear and anxiety push us in, hold us back,
and inhibit us.
The vicious circle grows as we pay attention to it, focus on it, and
dwell on any of its parts.
When we pay attention to it, when we dwell on it, when we focus on it,
the vicious circle only becomes stronger, more powerful, and dominant
in our lives.
When we go along with the circle, we are giving it power... we are
fueling it... we are reinforcing it... we are helping it to grow.
We need to move away from this vicious circle. But the only effective
way to do this -- the only way that works -- is by doing it gently,
nicely, peaceably, and calmly.
Because anxiety and fear (and the vicious circle they cause) are
paradoxes - we must approach the solution to the circle in the
appropriate way.
We do not want to fuel this vicious circle. We do not want to give it
power. We do not want to help it grow and expand. We do not want it
to control our lives.
Instead, by using the tools we are learning, we need to move away from
the vicious circle by substituting other, more positive, activities in
its place. That's why distractions and the therapy handouts are
important right now.
That's why we will talk about paying attention to the good, the better,
and the beautiful. That is why we will use any method available to us
to stay away from the vicious circle.
Because any time we play the vicious circle's games, we only end up
strengthening it.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D. Director
84Negative emotions fuel the vicious circle. Anger, frustration,
irritation, beating yourself up, and being critical of yourself and
others, all strengthen this vicious circle.
We must move away from this vicious circle.
The vicious circle can only be diminished by your calm side, your
peaceful side, your "positive emotions" side.
We can and will grow this side.
But the less you play the vicious circle's games, the better, quicker,
and easier it will be for you.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D. Director
85Anxiety is a Paradox:
Act Against Your Negative Feelings
This is one of the more difficult concepts to master, but all it really
takes is getting started.
Once you get started, once you've made that first step, everything
becomes easier and your positive emotions and positive feelings will
follow afterwards. You will even be able to notice and feel the
We tend to forget that our feelings do not tell us the truth. Stated a
different way: our feelings are sometimes irrational, just like our
We tend to realize that our thoughts can many times be irrational.
Well, our FEELINGS can be irrational, too.
A good example of acting against your negative feelings is cognitive
therapy for depression. When someone is clinically depressed, the
hardest thing for them to do is to get up, get active, exercise, and
move around.
Yet we all know the solution to depression... Get up, do something
active, exercise, move around.
The solution to depression is NOT to stay in bed and dwell on those old
negative ANTs thoughts. The solution to depression is to act against
your negative, lying feelings.
If you ACT AGAINST these feelings of depression by getting up and doing
something, you will feel better as the minutes go by.
Activity is the antidote to depression, but when we are depressed we
don't want to be active. This is what makes it a paradox. You do
something you don't FEEL like doing at the time, because you know if
you do it, you will feel better.
Again, this is a real paradox and explains why both anxiety and
depression are so difficult to overcome.
The solution is to do the thing you FEEL THE LEAST LIKE DOING.
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86Anyone who is depressed does not FEEL like getting up and becoming more
But it IS the solution. It works. Your feelings and your thoughts
improve with activity.
It works because overcoming anxiety and depression are both paradoxes.
If you are nervous and scared, the hardest thing to do is to get out
there, go to work, be active, and keep up with your responsibilities.
But even though this is hard, what is the solution to anxiety? Getting
out there, doing what we have to do, and facing our responsibilities.
This, of course, is another paradox. The solution is to do the thing
Anxiety and depression have you trapped if you don't act reasonably
against them. The emphasis here is on "reasonable" and rational.
Keep in mind we need to gently step-by-step work our way up the ladder.
We don't choose an activity that is a highly anxiety-causing situation
to start on.
Starting with an activity that frightens us to death is not reasonable
or rational. We choose something that does cause a little anxiety and
we do it because we know it will help us to get better, if we keep our
thoughts rational about the activity we are doing.
So, we choose to act against our negative emotions by DOING something.
If you continue to act against your negative emotions you will continue
to eat away at your social anxiety -- and the more dents you can kick
in the vicious cycle -- the quicker your progress will occur.
Act against your negative emotions. Do not be passive.
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87Should We Be Living in a Hostile World?
If we are afraid of looking foolish, "fitting in", being judged and
If we are afraid of having a high amount of anxiety...
If we don't think we can hide our anxious feelings and this makes us
more anxious...
If we are so self-conscious we wear ourselves out with worry...
If our anticipatory anxiety is so strong that we dread future
situations.. .
It's likely that we feel we're living in a "hostile world" where we
just don't fit in.
Most of us with social anxiety feel like the cards are stacked against
us. Even when we try, things don't seem to work out.
Of course, this is our old ANTs' thinking pattern still at work, still
telling us that the past is the same thing as the present. But, now,
we know it is not. Now we know we can change.
For example, we all know we will feel better and be healthier if we see
the world as a loving, caring place... A place where we fit in and
belong... A place where we are welcome and not always being judged...
Notice this is a much more rational thought than the "hostile world"
thoughts we have been experiencing. It would be hard not to FEEL this
is a hostile world, though, after all the negative experiences we've
had, and after all the attempts that we've made toward getting better.
One way to move away from the "hostile world" view is to start paying
attention to our positive emotions through our own thinking mind.
One of the best ways to do this is through any kind of relaxation or
imaging technique. I can close my eyes, take a deep breath, and slowly
I am calm, relaxed, and feeling peaceful.
I see the beauty that is all around me. This picture is alive and
vibrant in my mind and it is more beautiful than I can put into words.
I feel this gentle, kind, positive energy flowing in and around me. It
is only a good and beautiful positive energy.
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In this place and in this scene, I let go of all my tension and just
I relax into the perfect peace and tranquilness of this place.
I feel very much at home. I feel like I belong here. This place is my
place and it is a place where I fit in.
Cognitively, we need to reinterpret the world as being a good, caring,
positive place for us. If we always feel "separate from" other people
and the world around us, we will never get over our anxiety.
Instead, practice your calming and slowing down techniques, see your
peaceful image and bring it up in your mind. After a while, the world
will seem much better and brighter. Retreat to this special place
every day to feel the peace and tranquillity it can bring you.
In addition, deliberately make it a point to remember the good events,
the positive things that have happened to you in your life.
You may say you don't remember any, but if you search a little bit,
usually you can find some events that were good and positive for you.
Think about these things and try to re-live them by running them
through your mind.
Take it one step further and see your present life and your future life
as becoming better. See yourself as happy and content. See yourself
as the loving and caring person that you are, and notice that you are
no longer worried and anxious.
Notice that you are enjoying life, interacting with other people that
you like, and feeling very satisfied.
Just as we want to stop viewing the world as a hostile place, we also
want to start seeing it more realistically.
There is good and bad in the world, and there are many shades of gray.
But we have a CHOICE as to what we decide to pay attention to.
It is our DECISION to focus on the nice, beautiful things or it is our
DECISION to focus on the dark, murky, depressing things.
In the past, we never knew we had this power. We never thought we had
a choice. But, in actuality, we really do. Choose to focus on the
good and nice things of the world.
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89The Good, the Better, and the Beautiful
Because many of us have been through such a painful and traumatic past,
it is very healthy for us to dent the vicious cycle of social anxiety
by learning to see the world in a better, more healthy and rational
Here are Simply Some Suggestions:
Sit down every day for a few minutes, allow yourself to relax with the
method you prefer best, and image or imagine a beautiful place you have
been. Notice all the colorful details you can see. Add the details in
if this makes it stronger for you. Notice how beautiful, peaceful, and
serene this place in your mind really is.
Any slowing down activity like this is helpful for us to do everyday.
We need to stay still and quiet and dwell on the good, the better, and
the beautiful. We need to fill our mind with healthy thoughts, with
realistic thoughts, with positive thoughts. It's time we told
ourselves the truth.
Go sit outside on the patio, in the backyard, at a park, or someplace
else that is solitary and peaceful. FOCUS on the beautiful things you
see around you: flowers, trees, desert scenery, the ocean, hills,
mountains, lakes, fields, clouds, the sky.
Take a walk around the block or hike up a hill or mountain. This is
great physical exercise, too, but make sure you slow down to enjoy the
beauty that you see all around you. Specifically, FOCUS on all the
beautiful, pretty, natural objects that cross your path.
While you drive around town, drive in "slow driving" mode (slow talk to
yourself if necessary so that your driving is not tension-filled and
stressful). Deliberately notice and FOCUS on the nice and beautiful
things YOU see: beautiful yards, landscaping, an outstanding flowerbed,
a unique business establishment, beautiful architecture, and all the
natural physical beauty that surrounds your home.
Yes, in each and every case, the central message is to stop and smell
the roses. This is a lesson all of us need to learn -- for our own
enjoyment, peace, and tranquility.
The more we FOCUS ON the good, the better, and the beautiful, the more
our minds turn toward realistic (more rational, positive) perceptions
of the world.
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90In a sense, we all know there are good and bad things in the world, and
there are many shades of gray.
A. We can decide to surrender to our "old" conditioning and
continue to view the world as hostile and threatening, or
B. We can gradually open up to the world and deliberately focus
on the nice, peaceful, gentle, beautiful things that really are all
around us.
This is one more technique to help change our thinking about ourselves
and the world. As we begin to see the world as more beautiful and
manageable, we begin to see ourselves in a more peaceful and positive
light as well.
You deserve to enjoy life and be happy.
You deserve to see yourself more realistically and rationally.
There is beauty in almost everything and the more and more you focus on
the good, the better, and the beautiful, the more and more your
perceptions of the world and of yourself will rationally change.
So, we are not fooling ourselves by focusing on the good, the better,
and the beautiful. We already know there are other, more negative
things in the world.
But we have spent much of our life over on the dark, depressing side,
even though we never chose to do so. We don't want to spend the rest
of our lives in this social anxiety trap.
So, I choose to see things differently. I consciously choose to focus
on the nice things, the beautiful things, and the good things. Let
someone else notice the depressing and negative things. I choose to
see the goodness that the world has to offer. I choose to move toward
health and peace. I have decided to spend my time on the good things,
the positive things, and the really important things in life.
As I focus on the good, the beautiful, and the important things it not
only makes me more open and happy, it allows me to see the world in a
much healthier way.
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Move into the Peace Zone
1. When you are not feeling anxious, practice going into the "peace
zone". Practice this at home, in the car, at work, when you are with
other people, etc. Even though you are NOT feeling anxious at the
present time, you can still choose to move into this "peace zone".
You do not have to be reading a handout to do this
You do not have to be listening to a tape
You do not have to be doing any relaxation technique
Just say to yourself, "I choose to go into my peace zone now", let out
a long, deep breath, and focus on this peace for a moment or two. If
you can visualize, visualize a peaceful place or places. Loosen up
your muscles and relax.
As with everything, this won't work wonderfully the first time you use
it, but the more you practice with it, the more you will have control
over FEELING this peace and calmness.
2. When you ARE feeling anxious, tell yourself you have decided to go
into your peace zone. Use the same steps as above and visualize if you
can. As you already know, if the anxiety is already there, moving into
your peace zone will be more difficult and take a longer period of time
than if it wasn't there. But you can do it and FEEL it if you keep
practicing at it and don't give up.
You want to be able to control your present anxiety by choosing to go
into your "peace zone". Practicing this when you are not anxious makes
it easier to handle when you are feeling anxious. This second method
takes longer, of course. But it does happen, and you will be able to
control and FEEL the peace if you gently keep going with it.
Remember, we want to FEEL the peace anywhere we are, and in any
situation we find ourselves in.
So, tell yourself (choose) to go into this "peace zone". Sometimes it
will work better than other times, but if you continue to do this, you
are making progress whether you are aware of it or not.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
92The feelings will occur. They just take longer to occur in difficult
situations. Choose to go in this direction. Choose to move into the
peace zone.
YOU might see how "slow talk", "loosening up" and "the peace zone" all
fit together. As you practice on all three methods, you will be
growing a FEELING of calmness and peace.
This calmness and peace is yours; it is occurring in your brain, so
accept it and enjoy it, and continue to let it blossom and grow.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
93Acceptance is an Active Experience
I accept who I am.
I am a good person who wants to grow and become better.
I accept what's happening in my life. I have decided not to fight it.
I know that if I accept it, instead of fight it, my negative emotions
cannot grow. So, I accept, because acceptance makes my growth happen
In acceptance there is peace and harmony. I am in the flow, moving in
the direction I know is best for me. Fighting, battling, and
struggling make my anxieties expand and explode.
So, for now, I accept, because acceptance - true acceptance - shrinks
anxiety. I am moving out and ahead naturally. My attention is on the
present. My focus is on the good and positive things that are
happening to me today.
My mind moves in any direction that I allow it to move. It can move
toward worry -- or it can move toward peace. I deliberately choose to
move toward peace. Active acceptance helps me move toward peace.
I am in the flow of the moment when I accept.
I know that when I am in the flow I am moving in a positive direction.
My life unfolds neatly and naturally when I am in this peaceful flow.
As I stay focused in the present, I learn to actively accept more
Active acceptance unleashes a great power.
I accept the peace, the tranquillity, and the flow.
I accept the present moment and the joys that are in it.
I accept that this flow is leading me in the right direction.
I sit back, loosen up, and let go.
I accept this peaceful flow in my life and choose to let it do its work.
The peace inside this flow is very strong.
I can focus on my peace and feel it flow through me.
It is an energizing, motivating, yet tranquil flow.
It helps me to accept and to live in the present moment.
All my "old" worries are in the past.
They are gone. They are over.
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94I am living in the present. I can accept and be in the flow.
The flow brings peace, power, and strength.
I accept this peace, power and strength.
There is no battle here.
There is no struggle here.
There is no fighting here.
Instead, I accept my peace and allow it to flow through me.
I have decided to move forward.
The old things in my past are in my past.
They are old lies, dead as doornails.
I will not pick them up again.
I will not go back to the trash dump and play around in the filth.
So, I accept my peace, my tranquillity, and the flow that it brings.
I am not only OK, I feel confident, calm, and powerful.
My power and my confidence comes from my peace.
My peace grows stronger every day.
My focus is now on acceptance, on today, on my flow.
My attention is toward the flow of the present moment.
When I am in this flow, I feel peace and power. I accept this peace
This peace is a gift.
I do not have to earn it. I do not have to plead for it. It is a gift.
I simply accept it.
It is mine.
It is mine today - right now this very moment.
In my peace, I feel the flow moving me onward and upward.
I accept this and flow along naturally with it.
This peace and this flow are mine.
They have always been mine and I accept them.
Gone are the days of questioning, fighting, battling, and struggling.
Instead, I accept and I grow.
It is simply a fact. But a very strong and powerful fact.
I accept.
As a result, my whole life is about to change.
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95Seeing The Present
This is an emotional brain, "peace zone" handout
We have the power to choose and to live our own realities. Because we
have free will, we can CHOOSE, PICK OPTIONS, STAY WHERE WE ARE, or even
We have control of all of our own choices, because they are all
internal. All of them exist inside our own minds.
I can CHOOSE to be free of the past.
I can CHOOSE to be free of my old limitations.
I can CHOOSE to be myself, a new self, a better self, a self not tied
down to any feeling or emotion from my past.
I am not limited my by past, unless I choose to let it limit me.
Instead, I see myself moving ahead and moving forward. I see myself
climbing the stairs of the present moment. I see each step as a
movement toward staying in the present moment.
I see myself growing more happy and content with each step that I take.
The picture in my mind is peaceful and serene. It is also an image of
truth and reality.
As I choose to live in the present moment, I do not need to drag along
the past behind me.
The past is gone, I release it, and it is no longer a part of me.
I see it floating away, disappearing into the clouds, and setting my
spirit and my self entirely free.
I am always free as I release the past, the old, the restrictions and
limitations that try to tie me down.
But they are not successful.
I CHOOSE to live in the present moment and I choose this new me in this
new day in the new life I am creating for myself.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
96I close my eyes and see the present. The present is always free and
I am strong in the present. I am healthy in the present. My strength
is in the present moment.
The present is my life. It does no good to think about the past or the
future because they do not exist.
So, my focus is on now - today - this very moment. My focus is on the
present. I can see myself, hands extended, accepting today and the
present moment.
The present moment is my moment. It belongs to me.
I see myself accepting the present.
I reject the impossibilities of the past or the fears of the future.
In the present, these thoughts do not exist. In my present, I am
always free.
I can always live in the present moment. I do not need to go back to
the past. I do not need to visit the future. I make my choice to live
happy and content in my present moment.
The present always exists and I choose to live in the truth. The
present is my reality and I choose the contentment, strength, and
confidence of today.
As I focus more steadily on the present moment, I grow stronger and
more at peace. The calmness overtakes me and I accept and enjoy it.
As my attention stays in the present, my peace, my strength, and my
power increase.
There is no going back for me. The victory is in the present. The
victory is in my peace. I choose my peace. I choose my calmness.
I choose to live in the present, where I can be happy and calm.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
97Determined Slow Talk
At this point, we want to combine three (3) of our previous handout
concepts into ONE comprehensive strategy to make our new beliefs and
actions stronger.
Here we are working on the feelings that accompany our peaceful, quiet
determination. Inside this relaxation and peace are the other positive
emotions: confidence, security, strength, power, assertiveness.
We want to grow those positive emotions until they are blooming boldly
and brightly. What we are doing is solidifying those feelings into
your emotional brain.
This is how "Determined Slow Talk" works:
1. First, we take slow talk and move it down even slower so that we can
literally FEEL the determination, the strength, and the seriousness.
2. Then we use the DETERMINATION FACTOR to synergize these positive,
quiet, peaceful, confident feelings of strength and power. It is
easier to feel the determination and strength when you are using
determined slow talk. (Again, notice that it's the feeling we're going
after here.)
3. Third, we use the handout and/or statements you are working on and
use "Determined Slow Talk" to sink them down to that emotional area of
your brain where things become foundational, set it stone, automatic,
and natural.
Determined slow talk has the power to allow you to FEEL the confidence,
the strength, and the power of your new thoughts and behavior.
Remember, it is important that the statements, strategies, and beliefs
become FEELINGS and these FEELINGS are rooted in your determination,
your peace, your inner resources.
When you start to feel these things (even if it is only briefly)
instead of just saying them, move on over into "determined slow talk" -
because you are ready for your new thoughts to become permanently
rooted in your brain... and for you to FEEL the difference!
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This is an emotional brain, "peace zone" handout
As I stand at the crossroads,
Dozens of pathways lie before my eyes, each leading in a different
I am confused and don't know which pathway to take.
At first, it seems overwhelming because there are so many choices I can
make, and all these choices just make it worse.
What if I make the wrong choice? What if my decision leads me down the
wrong road? What if I mess up my life?
But then I catch myself. I know it can't be that difficult. Worry,
doubt, and confusion are not going to allow me to choose "my" pathway.
As I calm down and begin to feel a peace deep inside of me, my vision
slowly changes.
I still see the pathways and the many roads that lie before me, but
they don't look the same to me anymore somehow. Something is different.
Some of the pathways have ugly weeds growing around them, and they
narrow down into darker and darker lanes.
I don't feel right about those roads.
Other roads are clearer and I can see farther, but they don't feel
right to me either. I am not drawn to them. They do not make me feel
the peace. Something, somewhere is out of focus, out of place.
And then -- I catch myself again. This is good, I think.
I close my eyes, take a very deep breath, and accept the peace and the
direction that is already there.
It is simply a matter of acceptance. I will accept the peace, the
strength, and the confidence inside me.
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99As my eyes slowly open again, the pathways in front of me look very
different than they did before.
I see several pathways that look pleasant, good, and positive.
Somehow, I know the old, ugly pathways are still there, but I'm not
seeing them anymore. I am remaining calm... I am at peace.
But still, for a fleeting second, the old thoughts come back: "What if
I make the wrong decision?"
Quickly and deliberately, I stop dead in my tracks. I know how to get
in tune with my inner harmony and my inner peace.
So, I accept and allow my peace to flow over me. I see myself covered
over completely in this calm, refreshing feeling.
As I open my eyes again, the pathways in front of me unfold further,
but one of them is shining and stands out from the rest. This road
feels right to me. It feels better, more natural, and more safe.
And, so I slowly step into this pathway, always aware of the fact that
I can change my mind or take another path if I so choose.
I am never trapped when I walk down this kind of pathway.
Instead, the skies open up above me and the dawn of this beautiful
brightness allows my vision to enlarge and expand.
As I walk farther along my pathway, I begin to feel even better.
Bright sparks of blue flicker along the skyline above me and I feel
safe and secure.
The farther I travel, the more serene and calming my path becomes.
My mind is now more alert and clear. I hear beautiful sounds and see
beautiful sights. Everything opens up for me very naturally.
I accept this pathway because I choose to. I know and feel that it is
right way for me. It is my pathway and it is leading me forward,
naturally and gently, into even better lands.
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100The Paradox of the Rain
They say that into every life some rain must fall...
What they say is true, but they never say that rain can be seen as
either a blessing or a curse, and it is up to me to determine which way
I will see it.
Rain is relaxing, soothing, invigorating, and energizing, and it sets
the cycle of growth in motion.
There can be no growth without the rain.
So even though the rain may be unpleasant for a while, it is never my
enemy. It is always my friend.
I am my own worst enemy if I view the rain as being a curse.
In reality, the rain is not a curse. It is a blessing.
It is necessary for my growth... a healthy, invigorating, motivating
growth and healing.
The paradox of the rain is that, in order for it to be a blessing, I
must recognize and accept it as a blessing.
The rain may be uncomfortable at times, but it is also preparing me for
the growth to come.
The rain may be unpleasant, but eventually its drops flow down into the
"earth" to produce a beautiful "crop".
It all depends on the way I choose to see it.
The way I choose to see it affects my whole attitude and my mood.
Accepting the rain for the blessing it will become allows my progress
in the present to proceed.
Rain always brings growth. It always brings healing.
I am guaranteed of that.
The paradox is that for the rain to bring growth and healing, I must
accept it.
As I accept it, my attitude and perspective begin to change.
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101Rain brings wonderful changes if it is allowed to accomplish its
So many people curse the rain and grow bitter against it. These are
the people who never overcome their problems and never grow in their
The flower accepts the storm because it knows it will be watered.
If the flower is watered, it will grow and blossom into something very
vibrant and beautiful.
My growth and blossoming is at hand. I accept it now and gladly choose
to move forward.
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102A "Balance Sheet" for Facing Anxiety
Complete Avoidance <---------------------------> Flooding yourself
Notice the two extremes above. On the one side, completely AVOIDING
activities and situations only makes you more fearful and anxious. The
more we consistently avoid situations, the worse our social anxiety
On the other side, however, FLOODING yourself with highly anxiety-
producing activities does not work in alleviating social anxiety either
-- (instead it typically reinforces our feelings of inadequacy, and
makes us even more anxious than we already are).
The SOLUTION to this dilemma is to:
1. Start behavioral therapy (which is what you DO in the real world) --
2. As you begin, plan to do something that is only slightly anxiety
3. Imaqine the scene in your mind ahead of time. See yourself as
handling the situation with calmness, relaxation, and peace.
4. Use the "peace zone" concept we discussed (or a real-world
relaxation technique, such as "Loosening Up") to calm yourself down.
5. Use your rational statement before you do a behavioral experiment.
For example, say to yourself, "Saying hello to a stranger was something
that used to cause me anxiety in the past. Things are a little easier
now and I think that it may not be that big of a deal." Here you are
turning the tables on the ANTs by going neutral.
6. Repeat the "slowing down" or "peace zone" feeling, and your rational
statement concerning the event several times, but keep an external
focus. Be doing something. For example, think about an interesting
thing coming up later in the day, or distract yourself by doing
something engaging and fun.
7. Use any rational self-statement to begin changing your thought
processes. Go neutral to start with and use all the "maybe's
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103and "possibly's" that you wish. You are still challenging and breaking
up your old beliefs when you turn the tables on the ANTs.
8. When you are cognitively prepared, go ahead with your experiment,
one step at a time, but remember to start slowly, at the bottom of your
anxiety hierarchy, with an activity that only causes a small amount of
9. Expect some anxiety, but continue to use any strategy that lessens
10. Focus on the external situation. What is someone saying to you?
Listen to them and their words as best you can. You are in your peace
zone and there is no need to focus internally on yourself. Focus
outwardly on what is happening in front of you.
11. If you find the anxiety is too strong, you have done all you can
for the moment, so feel free to leave the situation.
12. Notice: YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE YOU TRIED, regardless of how you
interpret this experiment. We must learn to give ourselves credit, and
not beat ourselves up, when we stand up to an anxiety situation and
actually begin working against it.
13. Congratulate yourself for carrying out this experiment. The fact
that you TRIED is a victory in and of itself. This is something you
were not doing last week. You are doing it this week. That is a small
step and it is progress, and you did it. That is all that's important.
This is a fact and it is rational. You did what you needed to do and
you survived.
14. When you feel ready, move up to a SLIGHTLY more anxiety-producing
situation. That is, move your anxiety hierarchy up a little bit. The
situation will cause you to be a little nervous, but should not cause a
high amount of anxiety.
15. If you find the situation too anxiety-producing, move down on your
hierarchy. At first, it may be tricky to know where you fit on the
"hierarchy", so it is fine to trial-and-error this. Regardless,
however, this is another victory, not a defeat. Again, any time you
TRY something, you must learn to see this as a victory. There is no
way you can fail if you keep trying. The only way you can fail is if
you give up and quit.
MOVE very gradually into to a situation you have been avoiding.
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104The Power of "Acting"
(This is a big paradox - but it always works)
1. Taking control of the situation: (or "The Good Old Boy / Good Old
Girl Routine"):
Act a little more friendly when you can. Be proactive and say hello to
other people first. Smile more. Greet people in an assured voice
rather than a hesitant one. For example, "Hey there, John!", "Here he
comes...", "Did you survive the evening?", "OK, so how was the date?"
Speak a little more loudly than you usually do, but slow talk it - a
"laid back" voice, approach, and attitude.
Fake it if you need to at first: the more you practice this, the less
fake it becomes and the more genuine and authentic it will feel.
Remember the "Profound Concept": We need to DO these things first,
BEFORE we start to feel "natural" about them.
2. Look at it like you are "playing a part", or you are putting on an
This is not a fake or an artificial thing -- even though you don't feel
"natural" about it at first. Remember when you begin "acting" in a
certain way, it becomes easier and more natural, so that finally it is
no longer acting at all - it is simply a normal, natural behavior on
your part.
Go back and review "The Profound Concept": if you've forgotten this.
The Profound Concept tells us that if we act first, then our feelings
will follow along behind. We can't wait for our feelings to change
before we act. We have to act first, even when we don't feel like it,
and. continue to act until our feelings change. Remember, you have
many cognitive strategies and statements that will help you make faster
progress with the rational feelings after you act.
3. You can see your actions as "Pretending":
Use the pretending metaphor if you like it better than "acting" or
"faking" it. These three ways of putting it are all the same thing,
but go with the concept that is more practical to you. The Profound
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105Concept applies to all three. Act first, and then your feelings will
If I'm anxious about running into people and "having" to talk to them,
-- I should say "hello" to them first, smile, and continue walking on.
Notice that if you continue walking, you will not have to engage in -
conversation with them. So, when you first start, keep up your pace.
easier because you no longer have to wait around, be hesitant, and feel
worried about what they will sayar not say. Instead of all this
internal focusing and worrying - which we want to stay away from we
should focus externally on the person, say "Hi", "Hello", "How are
you?" or any kind of greeting first, and then they will be responding
to us.
We are staying more externally-oriented this way and we do not need to
start paying attention to our internal thoughts and feelings. This
keeps us away from the temptation to worry and second-guess our
If we act first, if we become "proactive", then we will feel more in
control of the situation, and our anxiety will not be able to rise.
For example, if you greet someone first, you are taking the initiative
and being proactive. It puts you where you want to be, and also has
the added benefits of making you appear more friendly, less hesitant,
less stand-offish, and more social. It would be hard for someone to
feel you were unfriendly if you said "Hello" to them first.
The more you stay proactive, the more confident you will feel about
taking the initiative. Then, when you decide to move up to your next
step, which may be carrying on a very short conversation with another
person, you will be acting AND feeling better about your social self.
Here is another example: If I am hesitant and tentative when meeting
other people, or talking to them on the phone, I need to act more
assured, more positive, and more in charge. Yes, this is another
paradox, but we need to actually put it into place. So, FAKE IT. ACT
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106When you ACT more confidently, people will respond to you in a much
better way.
If I am speaking too softly and need to be a little louder, SPEAK UP,
ADD SOME TIMBRE to your voice, and KEEP THIS LEVEL UP. Act upon it
until it becomes natural.
In fact, just speaking louder will make you feel more confident and
self-assured. Yes, I realize you don't believe this yet, but it is a
paradox, and when you take that step and talk a little louder, it will
make you feel less anxious and more confident.
(You can practice on all these things at home first and then in the
behavioral group that you hopefully have access to. These, in fact,
would be good group activities for many of us at this point.)
IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS: If I'm alone and feeling uncomfortable, anxious,
and nervous -- feeling like I'm "strange" or the center of attention -
Look over at another person who is alone and start a conversation.
Act first. Take the initiative. Be proactive. Don't fall victim to
the anxiety monster.
By acting first, you will feel more in control. You will be seen as
friendly. No longer do you need to be hesitant.
Stop the thinking... start the doing.
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107General Anxiety Hierarchy
10. Ultimate Goal:
9. _________________________________________________________________
8. _________________________________________________________________
7. _________________________________________________________________
6. _________________________________________________________________
5. _________________________________________________________________
4. _________________________________________________________________
3. _________________________________________________________________
2. _________________________________________________________________
1. _________________________________________________________________
We start at the bottom of the hierarchy (at #1) and work up at our own
pace. It is good to repeat a step or a stage - remember, because you
went ahead and DID what you wanted to do, you were SUCCESSFUL.
Be rational and truthful with yourself.
Be nice to yourself for a change and pat yourself on the back.
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108Behavioral Group Activities
(ideas for your hierarchy)
Behavioral Therapy Group Activities:
General Group Conversations
Circle of Death introductions - formal and informal
Circle of Death "call on you" questions
Mingling, conversations, small talk, "pass the conversation",
"walking into a conversation", ending a conversation,
"conversing across the room", the house shout
Simon Says, "pillow talk",
Impromptu skits
Impromptu presentations / talks
Karaoke / deliberately doing something foolish in public
Controversy Conversations / Stating an Opinion
Individual Activities:
Reading to the group
Impromptu talks
Being in charge (of a group, a meeting, a committee, etc.)
The Stare Chair, the stand stare, etc.
Taking impromptu questions
Deliberately doing something foolish in public
Being the center of attention: "birthday parties"
Paradoxical strategies (for writing difficulties)
Saying "no" to other people
Expressing an opinion
The Job Interview
Being rejected
Use of microphone, videotaping
Experiments outside SAI - in the "real" world
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109Ways to Decrease Self-Consciousness
If it feels like people are watching you, or that you are on display,
test this out by using the
"Look-Around Technigue":
Don't add to your inhibitions by keeping your gaze fixed in one
direction. Instead, slowly and naturally, look around your environment
to see how many people are actually staring back at you with judgment
in their eyes.
As you look around slowly, gradually move other parts of your body as
well. For example, shift from one foot to the other, reach out for a
magazine with your hand, scratch your face, or clear your throat. What
you will observe from watching other people will surprise you -- and
will help you loosen up your inhibitions.
Do not do this only one time. The "Look around technique" needs to be
done repeatedly, and in different situations and circumstances. As you
do this, however, your perceptions will begin to change, and your
inhibited feelings will begin to decrease.
Always plan your behavioral exercises and experiments slowly, and start
at the bottom of your hierarchy. Work up as the rung you are on
becomes easy or no longer challenging. But keep moving forward every
day and keep moving up step by step.
Any time you have the chance to do something that you normally wouldn't
do -- in fact something that you think right now would make you appear
foolish -- take the chance and try out the situation.
For example, one way to slowly and gradually start this hierarchy is by
deliberately clearing your voice in a room full of people... if this is
a behavior you feel uncomfortable doing because of your social anxiety.
By deliberately clearing your voice, and then observing peoples'
responses, you will find that no one is really noticing you at all, and
this will help lower your self-consciousness and inhibitions.
Other steps in this hierarchy may include speaking a little louder than
you usually do when it is appropriate, talking a little longer to people
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
110that you know, going out of your way to welcome a new person at work or
in a group, sitting in a slightly different way that you have never
felt comfortable about before, and stretching your body and yawning
when it is appropriate.
All of these behavioral exercises have the power to begin to lower your
self-consciousness and inhibition.
Pick the ones that fit logically on your hierarchy, add things that fit
in your life that I didn't mention, and put them in order in terms of
difficulty for your hierarchy.
Then, start at the bottom, and gradually move up - step by step. By
doing these activities every day, you will soon prove to yourself that
others are not really noticing you or judging you like you think they
Your self-consciousness will decrease as you look around and notice
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111Individual Hierarchy Suggestions
Here are some suggestions for individual "experiments":
1. Choose something you enjoyed while you were at a restaurant, such as
the service, the food, or the atmosphere, and deliberately find a
waiter / waitress, manager, owner, or chef and convey your compliments
to them.
2. Borrow a small item from a neighbor or co-worker.
3. Ask someone for directions on how to get someplace you're going,
even though you know perfectly well how to get there.
4. When you receive a call from a salesperson at home, say "No thank
you" and then hang up. Do not wait for their response and do not let
them keep talking. As you grow stronger with this, just hang up the
phone when a salesperson calls and interrupts you.
5. Say something positive about yourself to someone else, in context.
6. An eye contact exercise: Make direct eye contact with a person on
television, perhaps someone who is lecturing or reading the news to
you. A step up would be to maintain short eye contact with people you
meet in the real world at work, school, social events, or just walking
down the street. A second or two of eye contact is quite normal.
Practice on this until you feel comfortable in doing it.
There are many other individual behavioral exercises we could practice,
and I imagine that you have already thought up some of your own. Work
on one or two of these -- and more if you can -- this week.
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112More Individual Hierarchy Suggestions
Here are some additional behavioral exercises that you can begin doing
by yourself, without a group, right where you are. Add them to last
week's list and work on the ones that you know are going to help you.
1. Call a number on the telephone, and when your party answers, ask if
you can speak to Mrs. Franklin. If you are told there is no Mrs.
Franklin or that you have the wrong number, say "thank you" or "I'm
sorry" and hang up. That was really no big deal - people call all the
time and get wrong numbers. If you reach someone who is nasty or
abrupt with you, remember they are in a bad mood, but they can't put
you in a bad mood unless you let them. So what if someone hangs up on
you... that is a normal human thing to do and it is definitely not
personal. Just laugh, accept it, and go on.
2. When you're at work, in class, or at a social gathering, look for
someone who is obviously alone, and go up and initiate a conversation
with them. They will be grateful to you for taking the initiative and
making them feel less out of place.
3. Start a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store that is
limited to questions about the food and food products. (In context, you
can do this at any type of store.)
4. Smile, establish two seconds of eye contact, and say "hello" to a
stranger as you meet them in public, and continue walking.
5. While you're in your car, turn on the radio and sing along to songs
that you know. Particularly, sing when you are stopped at a traffic
light and another car is beside you.
6. When you are driving outside of your own neighborhood, wave at a
stranger in their yard like you know them.
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1137. Return something you purchased that doesn't work or doesn't fit --
instead of just taking the loss.
8. Make it a point to wave at and acknowledge your neighbors FIRST when
you see them outside. This is the beginning step. When you are
feeling more comfortable, talk briefly with one of your neighbors, and
gradually increase the number of neighbors and time spent talking.
9. Go in to a bookstore, find the section of books that you enjoy, and
see if there is a person there reading a book. If so, ask them a
question about the book or the subject matter, even if you know the
answer already. You'll find that most people respond pleasantly and
you will have many positive short conversations.
It is a good idea to list out on a piece of paper the behavioral
assignments you are working on. They should be organized and you
should do something every day. What you do and how fast you move is up
to you and your ability.
The main point is to work on these behavioral activities and do them.
You will find that they are easier to do than they sound like as you
listen to me explain them. But get going and don't let anything hold
you back. Even if you have a bad day, realize that everyone has bad
days and you do not need to beat yourself up over it. You're a human
being and you are entitled to bad days as well as good. It's all a
part of life.
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I accept myself for who I am.
I have many good, creative talents I can use to help others and myself.
That old, emotional baggage from the past can only drag me down, so I
reject it.
I choose to live in the moment and be happy and content.
When I am happy in the present moment, it guarantees that my future
will be happy.
I give up and set free all the negativity of the past, no matter how
far down in my brain it is buried.
I accept myself for who I am, knowing that I am walking the road to
becoming healthier.
Any thought, memory, or experience in the past that is weighing my
brain down today and causing my progress to stall -- I let it go, I set
it free, I give it up. I give up anything that is buried in my past
that makes me unhappy today.
I take a deep breath, loosen up my muscles, feel the calmness and
peace, and set free all the negative emotions of the past. I release
the negative feelings that I repressed in the past. I can see they
only harm me.
I release them and let them go. I watch as they disappear completely
into the air...
Negative feelings and emotions can only weigh me down and cause me
problems. So I choose to move forward. I choose to move forward with
a clear mind.
I release all the negative emotion of the past and I breathe in the
positive power of my peacefulness. I accept this peace. I accept my
I am free from the shame, embarrassment, and guilt of the past. I
fully release those negative emotions and set them free. I allow my
mind to release them naturally.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
115I choose to move forward into my peace, my health, and my clarity of
thought. As I close my eyes, I can see my old negative feelings rise
above me and disappear into the air.
No longer does shame, embarrassment or guilt bind me. No longer am I a
captive of these negative emotions. All they do is hold me back, make
me miserable, and make my thoughts confused and irrational.
I let these negative emotions from the past go. My mind is releasing
them now this very moment. As I set them free, my mind feels more and
more at peace.
I choose peace, tranquility, understanding, and confidence. I choose
to grow strong and healthy. I let go of the shackles that have held me
down for so very long. I accept the good, the better, and the
beautiful. I accept the rational truth that lies before me.
And so, I turn away from the old responses of the past, and again, I
set them free. All the old negative emotions have no choice - they
MUST go away. They cannot co-exist in my mind with peace and strength
and confidence.
Shame, guilt, embarrassment, and feelings of failure are nothing more
than ways to hold me back. I set them free. I release them. I let
them go. I accept myself and my healing. I allow my mind to work in a
positive manner, for my good, and for my health.
My strength comes now, in the present, as I release all my old negative
emotions, and deliberately allow my mind to be saturated with rational,
realistic, and healthy emotions.
As I fix my gaze toward health, I begin to feel peace, strength,
confidence, power, and clarity. This feeling of peace and security is
already inside me, and it will grow with time.
I am in touch with my peace, my calmness, and my tranquility. Inside
my peace, there is healing and power. I accept these as part of my new
life. No old, negative emotion can stand in my way. I only accept
this peace, power, confidence, and healing. These emotions are much
more powerful than anything from my past.
Inside my peace, I can find myself. I can find my purpose in life. I
can find answers to all of my questions. Inside my quietness and my
peace, I can find my new life.
So I accept them: Peace, power, calmness, strength, clarity of mind,
and purpose. They are mine.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
Are you depressed?
Get up, get more active, refuse to give in to ANTs fatigue, break the
negative thinking cycle up by using distractions, slow talk, singing,
Determined Slow Talk. Look up those handouts and do something.
Do NOT accept this ANTs depression - break the cycle.
If you break the cycle enough times, depression has to shrink and
cannot be as strong.
ACT AGAINST your negative feelings.
Feel down and defeated? Remember the ANTs thoughts and feelings WANT
to make you feel this way. They are deliberately trying to sabotage
Realize this and refuse to let them.
Get out your ANTS handout, the Anxiety Monster handout, decide to do
some exercising, jogging, walking, or dancing.
Get busy and do something - your thoughts and feelings of defeat will
Feel like you're treading water,
that you're not making any progress?
Recognize this as a big, big ANTs lie. You have made progress (a lot
of it) or you wouldn't be reading this handout... you would have
already given up. BUT you didn't.
You made it this far and you can refuse to let the ANTs thoughts /
feelings take control.
You have control over your own thoughts and feelings. Remind yourself
of the truth -- and reject and ignore those OLD lies.
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117Read over the ANTS handout, the "Deserving Statements", and the "Moving
in a Positive Direction statements". Listen to the Deserving
Statements recording, which is on tape #19 side A.
Then, talk to yourself in Determined Slow Talk and say,
"I am moving ahead and that is just a FACT. I don't care what lies the
ANTS are trying to make me think and feel. I know the truth and it is
a fact. I turn my back on those lying ANTs and I'm going to move on...
We always have a CHOICE of what we decide to run through our mind. If
we're ruminating, dwelling on the past (which is already gone),
torturing ourselves with negative, obsessive, scary thoughts, we are
feeding the vicious cycle of ANTs feelings/thoughts.
You have control. Exert this control using the method, technique, and
/ or strategy, which is strongest for you at this time.
Throw a few strategies together and sing at the same time.
Do anything except give in to ANTs thinking. ANTs can never tell the
truth. They are always liars. They are an amalgamation of your old
Don't go down that road - don't head back down that nasty pathway.
TURN YOUR BACK on those old pathways and move forward with peaceful
Decide to choose peace, calmness, clarity, strength, power, and truth.
Do NOT believe lying ANTs thoughts or feelings.
Believe in the truth - believe in your present and in your future.
ANTs die when you don't pay attention to them. Kill a few every day
and they can't keep springing back to life.
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118Stay Away from Perfectionism and Pressure
I don't need to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself any longer.
No one can be perfect, and besides, there is no "perfect" way of doing
If I'm not doing something as well as I'd like, I will rationally and
calmly accept it. By trying harder and pressuring myself to do more
things in a precise and perfect way, I only make myself more miserable,
and I will actually hurt my performance.
I will do what I need to do, and realize there is no perfect way to do
it. I accept this calmly even if I have anxiety or if I don't
understand something. There is no need to be perfect. I won't expect
that of myself any longer.
There is pressure in a situation if I put it on myself. Nothing is
that important. It's all small stuff.
If others disapprove -- who cares? There is no pressure because I no
longer allow it. There is no pressure because there is nothing I have
to do in a given situation.
I can do whatever I want. I can accept it if someone judges me to be
nervous, therefore there is no pressure. There is no need to be
perfect - no precise way to do things. Since there is not a precise
way to do things, there is no pressure.
There is no pressure because I can do whatever I want. There is
nothing I have to do. There is no exact right thing to do. There is
no pressure because I can handle the consequences of my actions.
There is no pressure because other people's opinions do not determine
how I feel about myself -- or whether I am a worthy human being.
There is no pressure because I don't have to be perfect. I won't
expect that of myself any longer.
I put a great deal of pressure on myself when I analyze every situation
for the perfect way to do it. But, I remember: Analysis = paralysis.
When I feel pressured, I'll stop the thinking and start the doing.
There is no universally perfect way of doing anything, so whatever I do
will be acceptable.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
119If after doing something, I think I could have done a better job, I'm
just going to say to myself, "Well, I learned something here, and this
knowledge will help me do a better job next time. It's OK. I don't
need to be perfect. I am satisfied with my efforts."
My self esteem is not determined by how I perform at a certain task --
or whether others judge me as being intelligent, competent, interesting
or good-looking.
There is no pressure because I accept it when someone judges me to be
anxious. If someone judges me as a failure in a certain regard, I
accept this too, because I don't need their approval to sustain my self
My opinion concerning the value of my work is more important than
others' opinions. My belief about whether my attitude is good is more
important than anyone else's. My comfort with how I carry myself and
what I do is more important than anyone else's.
And there is no pressure because as a human being I have the right not
to justify to others what I do.
Even when the "perfectionism" monster hits, this doesn't mean that I am
less valuable as a person or that I should feel ashamed.
I have some more progress to make but I will keep using the methods I
am learning with cool, calm, confident, peaceful determination. I will
do things for my own enjoyment and growth and not for other people.
Thus there is no pressure, because if other people look down on my
performance, looks, or the way I conduct myself, I can still be happy
because I am doing things for my own personal satisfaction, not for
other people's.
I have the right as a human being to say, "I don't know", "I'm not good
at this task", "no" or "I don't care".
I'm going to avoid using words like "should", "must", "can't" and "have
to" because they make situations very rigid and pressuring. I will do
whatever makes me happy.
The more I try to pressure myself into doing a perfect job, the more
problems I cause for myself and paradoxically the more my performance
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Seeking perfection only leads to frustration and defeat.
Why should I expect perfection? Why should I set myself up for
frustration and defeat?
Instead, I will do my best, and then move on. I can never make
anything "perfect". My best is good enough.
I can do the best I can. That is all I can ever do -- and it is always
If I search for perfection, I will never find it. It will always elude
me. I will be trapped in anxiety and defeat.
If I try to be perfect, the ANTs thoughts and feelings will cause me
stress, doubt, confusion and turmoil.
I choose to slow down, reach my peace zone, get clarity of mind and do
what I can do.
That is always good enough. I don't need to push for the impossible.
I will do my best and my best is good enough.
Human beings are never "perfect". It is a futile, impossible task to
even attempt. All I can do is my best -- and my best is good enough.
As I live in my peace zone, I realize that my mind can be clear, I can
do what I need to do, and then I can move forward.
I move on and I move forward because I did what I could. I did my best
under the circumstances. That is more than good enough.
I make mistakes like everyone else. It's no big deal. It proves that
I'm human. It does no good to try to be Superman.
The more I pressure myself into doing a perfect job, the more problems
I cause for myself.
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121So, I deliberately slow down, relax, calm myself and accept the peace
and strength that belongs to me.
Perfectionism leads to negative, anxious thoughts and emotions. Trying
to be perfect is a big ANT. It is doomed to failure and it will make
me an unhappy person.
Instead, I choose to go with the truth. I choose reality. I can do
what I can do. And that is enough.
I can gently, nicely, and peaceably move on.
I am not perfect. No one is perfect. It does no good to try.
I clear out my mind, settle myself down, and do what I am capable of
doing. There is strength and power in this peace.
If I do what I am capable of doing, that is enough, and I can move on.
Trying to be the best at something is competitive, comparative, and
fuels ANTs thinking.
I choose the path of acceptance and calmness. By choosing this
pathway, I feel better, get more quality work done, and am able to move
on and move forward.
My peace and my calmness are stronger than myoid perfectionism.
I am a human being and I can't expect and seek after perfection.
I can accept peace, calmness, and strength. They allow me to do what
needs to be done in a time-efficient manner. I deliberately reject the
striving, pressuring feelings. I deliberately accept my calmness, my
peace, and my progress.
I am moving ahead in the right manner. I accept my strengths and
I am moving ahead into my peace zone.
I will get more done by living in my peace and my strength.
I accept this positive emotion and I move on in calmness and in
I am whole.
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
with yourself EVERY DAY
Sit down, when you are alone, and talk to yourself rationally.
Use slow talk to calm yourself down and keep the emotions away, so that
the rational thoughts (the things that we know are true) are in the
We are not going to be swayed by negative emotions, like anxiety. We
are going to be rational -- We are going to pay attention to the truth.
Remind and congratulate yourself for all the things you are doing to
get better. This is rational talk; it is just a fact. The more you
slow yourself down, and become rational, the more clear everything
becomes to you.
Because feelings are so powerful and strong, we must remember to talk
with ourselves RATIONALLY every day.
Find a place and a time, slow yourself down, and talk to yourself
rationally about what is happening in your life.
By staying in slow talk mode, in your peace zone, you will be able to
keep your thinking calm and rational.
Remind yourself and reinforce the truth... constantly expose your brain
to these rational (true) ideas - and this will continue to make them
stronger and more permanent.
Making this a daily practice is a very good idea.
Use the "Attitudes" along with your rational talk. This will cut any
irrational negative feeling down to size.
- So what? Who cares?
- I don't need to take life so seriously.
- Lighten up.
- Good grief! I've survived before and I'll survive, again.
- I don't need to blow this thing way out of proportion.
As you are being rational, remind yourself that you can be happy
despite any external circumstance.
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123Your peace, calmness, and happiness is not contingent on waiting for
something good to happen.
We can't wait around for "something better to happen" before we allow
ourselves to be happy. Rationally, we must choose to be happy now. If
we wait around for external circumstances to change, we'll be waiting
around forever.
Take the initiative. "Act" if you need to.
Do something proactive, something that moves you forward in the
direction you want to go.
Remember that you have the control, and take charge of your life.
You are fine just the way you are. You do not need other peoples'
approval of you or what you do.
There isn't much in life worth worrying about anyway. What we worry
about rarely comes true, and all we do is make ourselves miserable in
the process.
Worry never solves anything.
Let's rationalize these areas of our lives and make it a habit to keep
telling ourselves the truth.
Lighten up and let it go. Release the worry, tension, fear, and doubt.
Everything will be fine.
Embrace and accept the peace that you have, knowing that as you do
this, your peace will only grow stronger.
You CAN be happy in the present no matter what the old ANTs thoughts
and feelings may have led you to believe in the past.
Slow down, slow talk to yourself, and see things rationally.
Choose to be happy - make a decision to be happy -- and it will begin
to happen...
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If you think you are beaten... YOU ARE!
If you think you can't do something, YOU CAN'T!
If you think you'll lose... YOU'RE LOST!
If you want to win, but think you can't, then you WON'T!
It's all a state of mind. What are you going to believe?
Success begins with a person's will.
Your mind believes everything it repeatedly sees and hears.
It's all a state of mind. What are you going to believe?
And who are you going to believe?.
Those OLD negative anxiety thoughts that would love to ruin your life?
Or can you decide to slow down and be more rational and realistic?
It's all a state of mind. Who are you going to believe?
If you think you're outclassed... YOU ARE!
If you think you won't make it... you WON'T!
Your mind believes everything it repeatedly sees and hears.
You've got to think clearly to rise,
you've got to be sure of yourself,
before you can win the prize.
What are you going to believe?
Life's battles don't always go
to the stronger woman or man,
but sooner or later the one who wins -
is the one who THINKS they can.
What are YOU going to believe?
If you think you can make it... YOU WILL!
If you think you can do it... YOU CAN!
If you think more rationally and turn your thoughts around,
There is nobody, anywhere, that can ever pull you down.
It makes a BIG difference what you choose to believe!
Your brain hears and believes everything you say.
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125Now That You Know:
Attitude Is Everything
Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good
mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask
him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be
He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day,
Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side
of the situation.
Seeing his reaction to life really made me curious, so one day I went
up to Michael and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive
person all of the time. How do you do it?"
Michael replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Mike, you
have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can
choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time
something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to
learn from it. I choose to learn from it."
Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept
their complaining, or I can point out the positive side of life. I
choose the positive side of life."
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.
"Yes, it is," Michael said. (Special Note: Michael obviously never had
an anxiety disorder.)
Michael continued.
"Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every
situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You
choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good
mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."
I reflected on what Michael said.
Soon thereafter, I left my job and Michael and I lost touch, but I
often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of
reacting to it.
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126Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious
accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18
hours of surgery, in which rods were inserted into his back, and weeks
of intensive care, Michael was finally released from the hospital.
I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him
how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see
my scars?"
I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through
his mind as the accident took place.
"The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my
soon to be born daughter," Michael replied. "Then, as I lay on the
ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live --
or I could choose to die. I chose to live."
"Weren't you scared? Didn't you lose consciousness?" I asked.
Michael continued, "... the paramedics were great. They kept telling
me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I
saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got
really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man.' I knew I
needed to take action."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said
Michael. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. I said 'Yes'".
The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I
took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity'".
Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on
me as if I am alive, not dead'".
Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of
his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the
choice to live fully.
Attitude, after all, is everything. You have two choices in life right
now: you can choose to be happy in the present moment, and thus be in
control of your life, or you can choose to be upset by the
circumstances around you - a perpetual victim to anything and
everything that comes around.
These choices are yours.
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I woke up early today, excited about all I get to do before the clock
strikes midnight.
I have responsibilities to fulfill today that no one else can fulfill.
No one else can take my position in the world and do the things I need
to do.
My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.
Today, I can complain because the weather is rainy, or I can be
thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money, or I can be glad
that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely -- and guide
me away from waste.
Today I can grumble about my health, or I can rejoice that I am alive.
Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me when I was
growing up, or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.
Today I can cry because roses have thorns, or I can celebrate that
thorns have roses.
Today I can mourn my lack of friends, or I can embark upon a quest
(even if it is slowly at first) to discover new relationships.
Today I can whine because I have to go to work, or I can shout for joy
because I have a job to do.
Today I can complain because I have to go to school, or eagerly open my
mind and fill it with rich new pieces of knowledge.
Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework, or I can
feel honored because I have a shelter over my head for myself.
Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the
sculptor, who gets to do the shaping.
What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day
I will have!
So, have a GREAT DAY... unless you have other plans.
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Extra Therapy Not Included in Audio Series
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director
129Addendums - First edition
"Paying Attention to the Anxiety Monster" is a concept mentioned in the
audio series, but it is not treated fully in the therapy sessions.
We do not want to pay attention to anxiety (or the anxiety monster, as
we call it here), because when we pay attention to it, it grows larger
and bigger.
Read over this handout yourself (it is next), and note that the main
point of this concept deals with anticipatory anxiety:
1. If we can do something about an upcoming event, we should do it.
That is, if we have something due in class or at work, and we can
prepare for it, we should prepare as much as is reasonably possible.
2. If we have done everything we can to prepare, there is no value in
worrying about it or having anticipatory anxiety. The best strategy is
to focus away from anxiety - that is, focus externally on something
else in the present moment that we can enjoy and become interested in.
3. Some events which we have anticipatory anxiety about, we can't
change anyway! If we cannot change an event, there is absolutely no
rational reason for us to worry, be anxious, or allow the ANTs to take
over our thoughts and feelings.
What should I do?
Stop the thinking... and start the doing.
Thinking about upcoming events that cause anticipatory anxiety is
disastrous to our mental health. We do not want to over-think. We do
not want to analyze. We do not want to worry about events over which
we can exert no control. We want to be rational.
Thinking, worrying, and dwelling on anticipatory anxiety takes anxiety
and turns it into a monster. We can always defeat the anxiety monster
by stopping our (negative) thinking and starting to do what needs to be
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The more you pay attention to and dwell on your anxiety, the more the
anxiety will grow. We all know that it's the anticipatory anxiety that
"kills" us, so when we can bypass it, LET'S DO IT!
If you have to make a telephone call, don't think about it, just do it!
If you have to do something anxiety-arousing, stop the thinking, cut it
off, and just do it!
You'll save yourself hours and hours of worry and emotional pain... and
you'll be decreasing the amount of activity along the brain neural
circuitry that leads to the anxiety monster.
Our "old" "conditioned-in" circuitry takes over and our old habits of
worry, anxiety, fear, and depression are now in control.
are pathological liars - they have no real power to bring you down or
make you anxious.
DON'T pay attention to the anxiety monster.
MOVE AWAY, DO NOT FOCUS on these thoughts.
Tell them to GET LOST - you have better things to do!
We tend to think way too much. We overthink. We overanalyze. We run
everything through our minds a hundred times. This is not healthy.
ANTs thoughts must be stopped. So whenever you can...
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Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D.
131Put yourself in someone else's place
Sometimes, it helps to put yourself in someone else's shoes (to view
things from their perspective) when you find that you are judging
See things from their vantage point: Would YOU pick apart, judge, or
condemn yourself if you were ________ ?
If others are not tearing you up, picking you apart, and evaluating you
harshly, WHY are you doing this to yourself?
Watch yourself on the videos and learn to focus on all the good things
you see. There are MANY of them. Look at your poise, confidence, and
your actions.
Listen to your answers. They may not be perfect, but they are already
better than the average person on the street.
You are doing a good job and it is essential you give yourself some
credit for it.
You need to be nice to yourself.
Beating up on yourself will only make social anxiety worse and prevent
you from moving ahead.
We need to be more rational - see things more realistically - be nice
to ourselves.
We are not perfect - but we are all doing a pretty good job. Begin to
consider and accept this, and you can move even farther forward.
Accept yourself and let's go!
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After all, I've been doing it for such a long time, it must be fun,
When I beat myself up:
1. ... I get to feel depressed, anxious, and worthless all at the same
time. THREE emotions for the price of one! Very economical.
2. ... I pay attention and focus on events and situations that no one
else thought were very important. By deliberately noticing all the
little "mistakes" I make, I create my own "Hell" all around me and get
a chance to live in my own little world of pain and misery.
3. ... I'm only listening to ANTs thoughts, and I have found them to be
very "truthful" and "accurate". By continuing to beat myself up, I am
guaranteeing that my ANTs thoughts and feelings will always rule my
4. ... I reinforce the absolute fact that I am a failure, a loser, no
good, and have nothing to offer anyone at any time. This fuels my
anxiety and my deepest depression. It will mess up my life for good,
and insure that I do not have a future.
5. ... I know I will continue to see things in the way the ANTs want me
to see them... inaccurately, irrationally, and skewed to the negative.
This is exciting... maybe I can be known as the "most depressing person
on the face of the planet" if I keep this up.
6. ... I will not be allowing rational, accurate, and healthy thoughts
to enter my mind. By beating myself up, I can keep these nasty
rational thoughts away forever. I am learning to love anxiety,
depression, fear, worthlessness, hopelessness, and failure.
Now, what are some other ways I can beat myself up?
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134Now that you've finished your audio sessions...
1. You have many handouts emphasizing the methods, strategies,
statements, and concepts that are a part of cognitive therapy.
Continue to slowly read over each. relevant handout until you can FEEL
it working. Take a rest every once in a while. Do not "kill yourself"
over these handouts. A good "quiet time" or "peace zone" time of at
least 30 minutes a day is about right.
2. Work on the areas in which you experience the most difficulty.
Highlight those beliefs, methods, or concepts and continue to GENTLY
get them into your mind. Use study techniques that work for you (i.e.,
index cards, highlighting in different colors, recording statements on
a tape recorder, etc.).
3. Keep up your day-to-day behavioral "moving out". Find something you
like to do, preferably social, and do it. Don't just make plans to do
it and sit at home letting the "Anxiety Monster" laugh at you. Stop
the thinking... start the doing. But, please, rationally think it
through first, and do not overtax yourself as you begin. Keep slowly
moving up (step by step). Moving up and out is essential. You cannot
sit at home and hope to keep continuing your progress.
4. Always allow yourself to feel good when you attempt or do something.
We cannot look for perfection here. If we do, it will frustrate us and
it will never come. If you move out a step at a time, are nice to
yourself, congratulate yourself, notice that you are moving in a
positive, good, healthy, and helpful direction, then you are making
greater progress than you can see right now. Even more importantly, by
refusing to give up, you guarantee success.
5. Sometimes it helps to refresh yourself with the tapes or handouts
first... and then use them as accurate reinforcements when you are done
with an experiment.
6. You cannot be defeated if you refuse to give up. You cannot be
defeated if you learn to deal with setbacks as progress. You cannot be
defeated if you take one step at a time. You cannot be defeated if you
move ahead and do not expect perfection. You cannot be defeated if you
accept yourself and continue to gently move ahead.
7. You have more of a choice in how you see things than you once
thought. ANTs are worse than pathological liars, because, if we
believe them, our lives become entrapped, entombed, and immobile.
We've had enough of believing those pathological liars. Now, we choose
to believe the truth and move forward. Gently, firmly, and one step at
a time.
8. This is my life. And now, as I move on, it has become a positive
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135Keep on Going and Do Not Give Up
In many ways, the title of this handout is the most important single
thing you can do to overcome social anxiety.
That is why I emphasized -- on the website before you even purchased
this series -- that repetition, reinforcement, and reprogramming your
mind were the golden keys to success.
Nothing has changed, except now you have the tools. You MUST keep on
going... you must keep practicing... you must get the cognitive therapy
down so deeply into your brain that you could not forget it even if you
tried... (Heard that one before, haven't you?)
But no "truer" statement has ever been made.
There is no pill, no injection, no magic wand, and no operation that
can help you overcome social anxiety.
It is your brain -- your thinking habits, patterns, and beliefs -- that
must be changed.
Do not give up when times get difficult. They get difficult for all of
us. Keep going even when you feel you are not making progress. Please
remember that your feelings, at this point, may not always be rational.
Feelings (emotions) can be ANTs, too.
When you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and be happy with
yourself for moving on. As long as you continue to move on, you will
make it to your destination. It is only the people who fall and stay
fallen who become stuck and do not reach their goals.
PLEASE -- keep on going and do not give up. When that last restriction
on your life melts away, and you are free to live the kind of life you
want, you will be very happy that you kept on going -- even when the
times were tough.
Keep moving on. Do not give up. Do these two things and social
anxiety will be a thing of the past. You really will have a new life
ahead of you.
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