that I have developed to bring long-lasting relief from anxiety and depression. It is a therapy that combines the best of cognitive behavioral therapy , insight, and mindfulness with the client's own innate knowing and creativity to address the whole person.
Why? Because you are more than just your symptoms. And because your symptoms, annoying as they are, are meaningful. They are your body, mind, and soul's way of working together to get your attention to alert you that something in your life is out of balance, some well-learned lessons have become obsolete, and that you are ready, believe it or not, to grow.
Who would know those miserable symptoms were just trying to help?
with trying to apply popular cognitive therapy tools and my own realization that I had experienced the same frustrations in my own attempts to manage my own anxiety.
No matter how much they might have spent on workbooks, programs, or therapy, many clients told me they gave up after page three, chapter three, or session three--seemed like I was always hearing "3." My curiosity lead me to investigate the literature out there and, sure enough, the magic "3" is most often where the anxious client receives an essential instruction: to begin to recognize, record, keep an inventory of, "catch," or otherwise focus on the negative thoughts they are having that result in the anxiety symptoms they are experiencing.
The idea is that these thoughts, once recognized, can then be challenged and changed, thereby making the client realize that his or her ideas and beliefs are faulty or outgrown, and often not rational. Now, once the anxious person becomes aware of what they're doing, all they have to do is change their thoughts and behaviors and, voila!: bad feelings go away and good feelings reign supreme! Sounds good, right?
Anxious people who focus on their negative thoughts become so overwhelmed
with anxiety that they often give up before getting to the part about how to fix it.
In my own experience, I noticed that as I became conscious of my negative thoughts, I also became aware of all the negativity around me. I was suddenly homed in on other people's negative statements, beliefs, and behaviors, not to mention the constant barrage of negativity directed at all of us by the media, both in news stories and fear-based teasers, and advertising. I felt like a tuning fork for negativity. It was, in a word, overwhelming.
It's ok, the cure is just around the bend, this first part is yucky for everybody. But then I asked myself, "Why?" Why is it so important to immerse one's self in so many negative thoughts and beliefs just to begin to identify "the right one?"
Anxious people are highly sensitized to their trigger thoughts, even when they're not in conscious awareness. Soul-Focused Therapy finds it much more efficient and user friendly to respect that soul sensitivity by strengthing the client before bombarding them with everybody else's issues.
They usually boil down to some version of "I'm no good," "I"m not worthy, lovable, wanted, smart enough, or pretty enough." When anxiety is the overriding symptom, it can be boiled down to this--"I'm not safe."So rather than kicking up a fire storm of negative thoughts, emotions and anxiety, in my practice I decided to simply eliminate the "3's" and began instead with a basic assumption:
If we are anxious, we are on some level feeling unsafe.
Since we are feeling unsafe, we are undoubtedly thinking thoughts that create this feeling.
If we introduce a more productive thought to divert our attention from whatever it is we are thinking subconsciously that makes us feel unsafe and consciously focus on a more truthful, comforting, and productive thought, our feelings will reflect this new mindset by rewarding us with symptom relief.
Good thoughts = good feelings.
As mentioned elsewhere on this site, I most often use the affirmation, "I AM Safe" to calm my anxious clients, at least as a starting point. A thorough explanation for why is found on the Stress Management page.
Here, I want to give you another piece of the puzzle: a carefully chosen and worded affirmation, in this case, "I AM Safe," speaks not just to the mind or emotions but directly to the soul--that part of us that actually knows who we are, what we're doing, and what we really need. When we are heard, we are calm.
When we are feeling better, and know we can feel better, we can take a deeper look at our own personal brand of less-than-useful beliefs, thoughts and attitudes, without terrifying ourselves further. When we're less fearful and feel more confident in our ability to feel better, we can gain some insight, if we want to, and learn some cool techniques and lifestyle changes to keep us feeling well and to get us out of a pickle should one come up in the future.
If we start with good or productive thoughts, this process is is comfortable and affirming and encourages us to put our focus on our confidence in ourselves and in the world.
If we start with negative or unproductive thoughts, this process leaves us confused, unhappy and miserable, and we become more focused on things that are wrong with ourselves or in the world.
Which do you choose?
We are more than the sum of our parts, so SFT works with the body, mind, emotions, and spirit which all together equal the whole self, or the soul.
Since the soul speaks a different language and communicates with more than than the words or ideas that are the focus of more traditional humanistic talk and cognitive therapies, Soul-Focused Therapy works with language, symbols, metaphor, intuition and creativity as well as words, theories, and constructs.
But not to worry, there's no need to go all airy-fairy on you to get there (or at least not excessively so). Soul-Focused Therapy is most centrally based on practical, usable, understandable tools to help you feel better, now.
and end your anxiety?
Click here to contact me today and let's get started.
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