Stop Trying to Think You’re Way Out of a Thinking Problem

Is it better to try and think your way out of, or through your problems or are you only making things worse? How can simply acknowledging your issues, and looking at them with curiosity actually help? Tony discusses the article, “How Analyzing Your Problems May Be Counterproductive,” by Ray Williams

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[00:00:00] Last week I mentioned that I left my AirPods at a motel in Rexburg, Idaho, and I am now using a new pair. But I cannot lie. I find myself pulling up my old AirPods a couple of times a day to see what they’re up to. I mark them on, find my phone as lost, but they are most definitely being used. They are not lost. The funny thing is that I had the case custom engraved. It literally says Virtual Couch Podcast and my name. So as I’m recording this, I guess I sort of hope that the person keeping them for me right now is listening. And if they are, I really did mean to try and clean off the earwax that has built up around those silicone ear tip things. And that is absolutely my bad. I will take ownership and accountability of that. But why do I keep watching them? I purchase new ones. And again, to the person that may be using them right now, my kids will will eat again next week and it’s almost summer. Who needs soles on their shoes anyway, right? But I’m kidding. I know that continually checking and wondering and ruminating, it really doesn’t help me pretty much in any way, shape or form. And speaking of wondering and ruminating, how often do we find ourselves trying to psychoanalyze why we did something that perhaps we aren’t very proud of? Or why did my spouse not tell me that they were unhappy? Or Why did my partner engage in an emotional or a physical affair? So why do you think she did that? That is a question that I was asked three different times yesterday, literally in my office, followed closely by, well, why do you think he did that? Being asked two different times.

[00:01:24] And then receiving the bronze medal in therapy yesterday was, Well, why do you think that I did that? So we really do want to make sense of things. We want to try to figure things out. We want to fix, we want to solve and bless our little pink, squishy hearts. If that isn’t just the most adorable thing, because in all honesty, we’re trying to figure out why someone else did something without being them and without having their lifetime of experiences. That, in essence, led them to do whatever they did, whatever that is. But just trying to figure everything out, trying to understand why somebody did something or why we keep doing what we do. Is it actually the most productive use of our time now? I am not saying that you don’t go back and review the game film of what happened. That is absolutely and can be extremely helpful. As a matter of fact. Am I path back recovery program. Shameless plug. It really is changing lives. Go to for more information. When somebody does have a relapse or a setback or whatever we want to call it, the most productive thing that one can do is not beat yourself up.

[00:02:21] Don’t head down a shame spiral. But note what you did. Yeah, you did that. Take ownership of your part. And then, as I like to say, analyze the game film. What happened? What was I pretending not to know that this time after my wife takes the kids to school and then goes to work herself, that I won’t want to go to places that aren’t productive and helpful for me on the internet. Or do I just say, okay, I need to get out of the house and I need to go and I need to do something. How much time do you spend reviewing and ruminating on the events of your life? And why do we so desperately try to make sense of why our partner or our kids or our colleagues do what they do? And I realize this might even sound counterproductive coming from a person who makes their very living, talking with people every day in hopes of helping them enrich and better their lives. So is the key to life trying to understand why and what happened or is the key recognizing, well, that happened, isn’t that interesting? And then taking a few notes and moving on or is the answer see all of the above? Well, we’re going to explore those questions and so much more coming up on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:03:37] Come on, take a seat.

[00:03:44] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 318 of the Virtual Couch. I’m your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, and we are going to get right at today’s topic. But with my value of authenticity and absolutely wanting to just share my experiences, I have to tell you that I’m a little rattled. I’m a little rattled in recording this episode today, and that is because I recorded this episode first yesterday. And again, I have this value of authenticity. I also have a value of curiosity, and I love looking at new technology. And I was trying a new product yesterday. I got to my office extremely early and I was recording audio and video and I finished the recording and when I hit Stop, something went a little bit south and the file is somewhat corrupted. And I went back and forth with tech support of the company, of the product that I was using and to no avail. So I did take that audio file and I uploaded it to this program that then will create a machine generated transcription. And I know this is kind of the behind the scenes or inside or baseball, but I just love this stuff. I love when other podcasters talk about some of these things that go on behind the scenes. So I get the machine generated transcription and it’s about 70% readable because of this corruption of the audio file. I kept repeating myself in the audio file and in this weird robotic way.

[00:05:02] So then I sat and I tried to go through the transcript and almost write out a script for today’s episode because I really enjoyed I felt so passionate about what I was talking about yesterday. And so I realized that it was just pure madness of trying to recreate this transcript or basically lay out a script because that’s just not the way I role. So today I have this transcript up in front of me, and it is all I can do not to look at it and try to make sense of the transcript. So there are a couple of funny things that the machine generated transcript pulled and I will talk about those, but I just am going to do my best to somewhat recreate what happened yesterday. Oh, and one of the reasons I wanted to tell that story, the behind the scenes is, again, have an absolute value of curiosity. If I point myself in the direction of my value and I love talking about this stuff, then my brain is going to say things of, Yeah, but if you try new technology, things might happen, your file might become corrupted, or you may record something and it might go south, where if somebody has this value of order, then they they most likely are going to have this process and it is going to be just every single time it’s going to be something they can most likely count on.

[00:06:06] So this is not the first time that I’ve had a corrupted audio file, but I have absolutely tried a variety of programs and I’ve been able to integrate certain things from each one of the programs, and I absolutely love that. So is there a chance that a file might be corrupted? Because I’m out there in the Wild West of digital recording and something might happen? Absolutely. Now, when it happens, then I’ve got to own it. I have to absolutely take ownership and say, yeah, that happened. This is one of the things that comes with the territory of wanting to be somewhat of a pioneer of sorts and trying new things. I had somebody back in the computer industry way back in the day say the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land. And I enjoy trying to be somewhat of a pioneer in trying different things when people send me different programs, recording tools and that sort of thing. So if you are acting in alignment with your values, your brain is still going to throw up the Abbotts. Yeah, but you might run into some problems. Yeah, but what if you end up recording something and that product isn’t really solid or that product doesn’t end up being what you hope it would be? And I have to acknowledge, yeah, well, that could be a possibility, but if I’m really living in a line alignment with my value of curiosity, authenticity, adventure, then those things are going to happen.

[00:07:17] But I’ve got to own it and I got to just recognize that it’s all part of the process. It’s all part of the journey. So let’s let’s get back to today’s topic now. I want to begin by plugging my magnetic marriage virtual workshop that I held back on April 7th. And I am absolutely not suggesting time travel that you go back to April 7th, but I recorded the workshop and you can go to Tony over Baker workshop and you can access it for a very small cost of $19. And I went about an hour and a half and I mentioned leading up to the workshop, I laid out the tools for a better relationship, and that is because I believe that everyone could benefit from the workshop, honestly, because I maintain that even if you don’t think that your relationship is well, do you ever wonder if it could be better? And if you do, then you are a normal human being. Because I really believe that No one and I know that that’s an all or nothing statement, but I feel pretty confident in that one, that no one has the tools to truly feel heard and understood, as well as the tools to truly know how to hear and understand their spouse, their partner from the factory. But people typically just assume that either their relationship is as good as it can be because it’s not bad, or they feel like, well, the relationship is naturally going to devolve over time.

[00:08:24] Where to that? I say, says who? Because maybe they weren’t modeled a healthy relationship growing up. Because as cliched as it sounds, we really don’t know what we don’t know. And I feel like with tools of. The better relationship that often couples either just say this is as good as it’s going to get or it’ll be better in the next life. Or who knows what? Or they say, All right, I don’t know what. I don’t know. Maybe I need to go to a therapist. Maybe I need to take a course or a program or read more books and then be able to improve my relationship. Because the potential of what your relationship could be is pretty, pretty phenomenal. It’s pretty overwhelming. But sometimes we just don’t even know what that looks like or what that means. So I’m really confident you’ll learn something in the workshop enough that if for any reason you don’t believe that it is worth the $19 that I’m asking, then just let me know and I’ll immediately refund your money. So go to Tony over Baker slash workshop. And yes, I’m talking about marriage and communication more lately because my magnetic marriage co-creator Preston Meyer and I are about to run the fourth round of the course and the first three sold out pretty quickly. And I’ll be talking about the hows and wins very soon on the podcast when I’m opening up the course.

[00:09:28] So you can reach out through Tony, over and let me know you’re interested. I’ll make sure that you are one of the first to know about the dates of the launch, or if you take the workshop, then I’m sure you will definitely be kept in the loop on what is going to happen next. But today’s topic, it really is about how overanalyzing our problems or our lives, even for that matter, may actually be counterproductive. And we’re going to take a deep dove, a trip back into the world of my favorite therapy modality act, acceptance and commitment therapy. And I really believe in in the acceptance and commitment therapy world that this it really speaks to why I think that we struggle as a society. The more that it feels like we’re talking about mental health issues and the more we’re trying to destigmatize, talking about mental health that and I’m going to just go big on this. This is my opinion. But I really feel it’s because the more we talk about it, I don’t know if we have the absolute best tools that we’re talking about out in the wild. And this is what I think the most about a lot of and I’m not trying to offend anyone, but a lot of the motivational speakers, which again, I am one or influencers, which I am absolutely not. But we are putting out this message of just choose to be happy, choose a happy thought, and then just hit the ground running and just say, today, this is it.

[00:10:47] I am going to be happy because as good as that sounds and is as exciting as that might feel, and I believe it’s absolutely a good thing to to try a good thing to to aspire to. I would love to just say today, this is it. I am going to be happy. And there are mornings where I do that. I felt that a lot this morning, even after this day yesterday of this unfortunate example with my recording. But here’s what happens is we say, all right, this is it. Today I’m choosing to be happy no matter what happens. And then life happens literally Monday. And I’ve talked openly about my daughter Alex. She was on the podcast with her husband Mitch and my wife a few weeks ago talking about her accident. I have a go fund me that is active and Alex’s road ahead is very long and it still breaks my heart and everything about it. If you want to hear more, go listen to that episode. But yesterday or Monday I get a text from my wife and it’s one of those that just it just stops me in my tracks where she just says, Hey, can you call me before your next client? And usually she’ll say, It’s okay, everything’s okay. So I know that’s not there. So I absolutely give her a call before the next client.

[00:11:51] And one of my other daughters was involved in a hit and run driving on her way home from Southern California. And the person who hit her hit her good enough that then they, when they ran their car, eventually stopped. I hate to do the whole justice was served because I don’t know if you ever felt that way. When somebody goes blow and body at 100 miles an hour and you almost hope that you’ll go down the freeway a little bit and see them pulled over by a cop. But my daughter was hit. She goes off to the side of the road, an amazing Good Samaritan who I don’t know, I haven’t talked to yet, an older and old man. It pulls over and just says, hey, I wasn’t involved in the accident, but I saw what happened. And he called the police and got them involved. But then as they pulled over to a nearby town, then a cop comes up and says, and of course, looking at her car says, Were you involved in this accident? Yeah, they’re right up there. Their car died. And so we’re going to get insurance involved and that sort of thing. But I get that call and it absolutely does just break my heart. And so I go back to why am I telling you this story that let’s say that that morning, Monday morning, if I said if I’d had a rough weekend and I just said, that’s it.

[00:12:55] I’m listening to a couple of motivational speeches and I just decide that me thinking that, man, I just don’t feel good. And I’m worried about this next week because I feel overwhelmed that one of the traditional models of therapy says that, okay, those are automatic negative thoughts. There’s even a cute acronym called An Ant, or That’s my stinking thinking. And so I have the choice to choose to make Monday, the greatest day in the history of all days. So I hit the ground running. I’m going to give myself positive thoughts and affirmations, and then I’m 2 to 3 hours in to the day and I find out that yet another daughter is is in a car wreck. That is absolutely not her fault. So if I can still maintain this, the world is my oyster and everything is great and rosy. I actually think that’s kind of odd. That’s where I say, if I didn’t get frustrated, then that is something that is strange. That is something that is odd. So I hope you can see that I could have a great day. That may not have happened. I might have solved all the world’s problems. And everyone that came to me in therapy on Monday was amazing and my recording went perfect and everything was smooth. And then I can say, See, it works. Everybody is right. All the motivational speakers, all the books are right. You just need to change your thought.

[00:14:07] You just need to be positive. But then when things happen, then instead of feeling like the world is my oyster, then we say, Oh my gosh, I can’t even be happy. And I made the choice today. And so that’s part of the problem that I really believe and I’ve spoken about this often and again, not trying to say that if that works for you, then I am so glad it does. But when you look at the world of what is called cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, and these are just my opinions and I’ve mentioned this on previous podcasts, but most all therapists are trained in CBT therapists coming out of school. That was a CBT therapist for six or seven years, and the CBT model says that your thoughts lead to your emotions and your emotions lead your behaviors. So if your thoughts are automatically negative, if your thoughts are these stinking thinking, then just replace them. Instead of having a negative thought. Think of the positive instead. And the theory is that that will lead to a more positive emotion, and then it will put you in a position to have a more positive behavior. And again, I taught that for years, so there is no way for me to say that and it never works because I absolutely had success with that. But more often than not, people would come back and say, okay, let’s go through the drill again. Let me change my thoughts.

[00:15:19] Let me change the narrative. Let me reframe the story that I’m telling myself so that I can show up and then say, No, I really feel this way, or I know I shouldn’t be thinking a certain way. So let me work through some drills or exercises so that I can think a different way. And one of the challenges with cognitive behavioral therapy is it takes this mechanistic view of the brain, that the brain is just this thing that you replace a part and then it leads to a different outcome. But in reality, we have the thoughts and the feelings and the emotions we do because we are human beings. And you are literally an absolutely the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. And in acceptance and commitment therapy, we start not with what’s wrong with me, not with a stinking thinking, not with I’m broken, not with the automatic negative thought concept. But we start from a concept of we have thoughts, we have emotions because we’re human. And so when I feel nervous or worried or scared or heartbroken, when I find out that yet another daughter has been in a car wreck, that was not her fault, then if I am going to absolutely get sad and worried and just just have all those feelings and all those emotions, because I am a human being, I’m a father. I just went through this horrific experience with one of my daughters.

[00:16:33] And all I can think about is all of the things, oh, my gosh, why couldn’t I protect this daughter as well, even though I can’t wrap her and bubble wrap or be her chauffeur everywhere? And even if I was, then who’s to say that that would have happened to me as the driver as well? So we again, we have thoughts, we have feelings and we have emotions because we’re human beings and we need to accept that. And so that leads even more to today’s topic, where I am going to be talking or referring to an article from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science sounds fun and nerdy, but it’s a site called Contextual Science dot org. I’ll put a I’ll put a link to the article in the show notes. But this it’s ECB’s Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. But ECB’s has some a lot of nerdy things for therapists and then things for just people that are curious about mental health. And they have a whole section on acceptance and commitment therapy. And there’s an article on this ECB’s website, and it is from February 2010. It’s by a gentleman named Ray Williams. And in 2010, I know seems like a lifetime ago, but that is one of the beautiful things about acceptance and commitment therapy is that there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of peer reviewed articles and journals that back up the acceptance and commitment therapy model or the tools that are taught in acceptance and commitment therapy.

[00:17:50] The article How analyzing your problems may be counterproductive, says When you’re upset or depressed, should you analyze your feelings to figure out what’s wrong, or should you just forget about it and move on? New research in theory suggests that if you do want to think about your problems, do so from a detached perspective rather than reliving the experience. The answer is related to this psychological paradox. Processing emotions is supposed to help you facilitate coping and just start right there that a lot of times we feel like, No, I got to figure it out. I need to process this, I need to ruminate. And I can think often about people that will come into my office. And I still remember when I was a fairly new therapist where they would say, Hey, do I need to process some things that have happened in my past? And I would say absolutely, that is part of what we need to do. We need to process things. And some people do. But I’ve learned. Sense of saying, well, what does that mean? And what do you feel like you need to process or what you feel like you haven’t processed? And a lot of times people say, I don’t know. I mean, I think I’m okay. And it’s fair to then say, okay, why am I even asking, do I need to process something? But I think that comes from this concept that race talking about where processing emotions is supposed to help you facilitate coping.

[00:18:55] But attempts to understand painful feelings often backfire, and they perpetuate or strengthen negative moods and emotions, he said. The solution seems to be either denial or distraction that according to research. And he’s pulling a particular bit of research from the University of Michigan and psychologist Ethan Kross, who says that the best way to move forward emotionally is to examine one’s feelings from a distance or a detached perspective. And the example that I go to is in this situation, in acceptance and commitment therapy, they have a concept called self as context. So when I view myself in the context of that moment, then I can take a look at, of course, this is how I felt, or I’m noticing that is how I felt that when I step back and say, okay, I had a daughter go through one car accident and then I learn through a text from my wife, Can you call me? And it doesn’t have the everything is actually then I am going to feel panic and I’m going to give that give her that phone call. And then I am absolutely going to have the feelings, thoughts and emotions I do. And when you look at that in context or from this a distance, then you’re basically saying, okay, check out how I thought or how I felt in that moment. And isn’t that interesting or isn’t that fascinating? I can understand why I feel that way.

[00:20:05] And I go back to that example I gave at the opening about losing my AirPods and on a podcast last week or the week before. And admittedly I thought I was pretty clever with this, but I was trying to say that, hey, things happen, they do, they just happen. And then we need to just take a look at those things. With curiosity, is there anything we can learn from what happened in that scenario where I lost my AirPods in in Rexburg, Idaho? And here’s the part I thought I was pretty clever about that. The way I laid that out was I said, okay, check this out. I lost my AirPods and I did still have those familiar feelings of wanting to beat myself up and say, Holy cow, those are expensive. And what was I thinking? And my wife’s going to be so disappointed and none of those things are productive. They really aren’t because I didn’t actively try to lose my AirPods. I have lost other things in the past, but what I said on the podcast was, So here’s the data. If I really step back and take a look at everything in context, that every single time that I am 52 and I travel to Rexburg, Idaho, after picking up my daughter McKinley and Salt Lake, and we make the drive and have an amazing time and sing so loud on the way there that my voice is basically out for the April 7th workshop, which you’ll hear or it’s a little bit scratchy, but every time I do that and then I happen to stay an hour outside of town because I didn’t pay attention and I book a nonrefundable room.

[00:21:22] And then I realize on the last day that I really don’t like being an hour away. So I booked yet another hotel room in Rexburg, that is. It was a fine hotel, but it was not as wasn’t the most elegant of places, but that doesn’t even matter. But every time I do these things, then when I wake up the next morning and then head back Salt Lake with my daughter Maggie. And let me even add that after having watched my son in law, Mitch, graduate with my daughter Alex, watching from her wheelchair in Arizona, every time that situation happens, I lose my AirPods. Can you believe that? So that’s in context. Okay, that happened. That’s a lot of things that were going on. And then lo and behold, I lost my AirPods. So that happened. We’ll note that I don’t beat myself up about it. I wasn’t trying to do that, and even if I go with my head hung down and say to my wife, Oh man, I feel so bad I left my AirPods can’t believe it. I really believe that actually even plays into. One of the other concepts I love talking about is this need for external validation where I want her to tell me it’s okay.

[00:22:19] But in reality, if I am handing my need for validation to someone externally, even my wonderful wife, there’s a good chance that she won’t nail that, that she won’t say the exact right thing, because if she says, Oh, man, I can’t believe you did that, do you know how expensive those are then I’m going to feel? Yeah, I feel pretty bad already, so that makes me feel worse. You must not care about me. Or even if she says, Oh, okay, then I might even feel like, okay, did you even hear me? Do you care? So if I am having that need for external validation to someone else, I’m basically handing them the keys to my emotions and saying, Oh, hey, good luck. I’m not sure how I feel about it, so I want you to make me feel better and there’s a good chance you’re not going to do it. And then when you don’t do it, I actually going to feel like you don’t care about me and I’m a bad person that has a lot going on. Instead of just noticing what happened and viewing it from a perspective or a distance and saying that happened and realizing I’m still the the good person that I was right before I lost my AirPods and had I not lost my AirPods, I wouldn’t even be having those thoughts, those negative thoughts. So in essence, then it’s acceptance. It’s viewing something from context, from a different perspective, and not ruminating about it and not overanalyzing it.

[00:23:30] Because I have I’ve gone back and thought about it. And the funny part that I was talking about in the intro to this episode. Is I can still go back and watch my AirPods travel all around Rexburg. A couple of days ago I sent a screenshot to my buddy Preston who lives near that area and I said, Hey, I don’t know if you want to go see where they are, maybe you can go meet up with them. And he said, Oh dude, those are a Burger King right off the freeway. And so I just I found that funny. I need to go and remove although you’re listening to this right now and you’re wearing well, yeah. You know what? Enjoy them, because I do have a new pair. Just listen to the virtual couch and spread the love. So I need to just remove them from the find my phone because I do find myself wanting to go to them and my apologies person who is listening to them because I know that I can play a sound and I know I do that. And when I do that, I am being a little bit mean because it says warning. If you’re trying to play this sound and then they’re in your ears, it can be very loud. So I hope that hasn’t freaked you out too much because I know I do that about twice a day and sometimes I laugh inside, so I need to remove them from the find my phone because I need to not continue to go back and ruminate about them because that is not it is not productive.

[00:24:30] It really isn’t. So back to the article by Ray. So he talks about this psychological paradox about that processing emotion is is supposed to help us facilitate coping but it can be quite the opposite. So this Ethan Kross, University of Michigan psychologist along with University of California colleague Özlem idk and I’m sure I mispronounced that and I’m so sorry about that. But they conducted a series of studies that provide the first experimental evidence of the benefits of taking a detached perspective on your problems, Kross says. Reviewing our mistakes over and over, re-experiencing the same negative emotions we felt the first time tends to keep us stuck in negativity. Their study that was published in July of 2008 in the issue of personality and social psychology, described how they randomly assigned participants to groups that required them to focus or not focus on their feelings, using different strategies and a guided imagery exercise that led them to recall an experience that made them feel overwhelmed by sadness or depression. So in the first analysis condition, participants were told to go back to the time and place of the experience and relive it as if it were happening to them over and over again, and then try to understand the emotions that they felt along with the underlying causes.

[00:25:40] And that sounds like that would be helpful, right? That sounds like no, I’m going to go back and I’m going to figure this out. I’m going to process I’m going to see what all was going on. Now, in the detached analysis condition, the subjects were told to go back to the time and place of the experience, take a few steps back and move away from the experience and watch it unfold as though it was happening to them from a distance and try to understand what they felt and the reasons for the feelings or what lessons were to be learned. Not what’s wrong with me, not the why did I do this, but what lessons can be learned? What am I pretending not to know? How can I get closer to a place of accountability? So the results of the experiment. He said that immediately after the exercise, the distance analysis approach subjects reported lower levels of anxiety, lower levels of depression and sadness compared to those subjects who use this immersed analysis strategy. So one week later the participants were questioned and those that had used the distance analysis strategy. So again, taking a step back and viewing themselves in the context of that moment, not continually finding themselves in the moment and reliving the moment and trying to figure out what in the heck happened, what is wrong with me? But those that had used again the distance analysis strategy a week later continue to show lower levels of depression, anxiety and sadness.

[00:26:53] In a related study, these two same psychologists showed that participants who adopted a self distanced perspective while thinking about their problems related to anger showed a literal reduction in blood pressure. So stepping back and viewing your problems in the context in which they were happening, not trying to continually ruminate and process and worry can literally change the chemistry of your body. And that’s the stuff that I find so powerful with acceptance and commitment therapy that by just being able to step back and view what happened in context, that you really can find your blood pressure lower. And what happens then is then that means that your heart rate is less. You don’t have an elevated heart rate. And again, an elevated heart rate is what gives someone more cortisol. And more cortisol is what leads to the fight or flight response. So you can see how being able to even just take a step back and view these problems in from a distance or in the context of what happened about, hey, that happened and I am a human being and I can notice that that’s what happened and not beat myself up and not ruminate and not worry and overanalyze that I can literally control the physiology of my body and I can keep myself away from the fight or flight response so I can tap into that area of my brain that is more logical and more rational and more reasonable.

[00:28:09] And so I can tap into the tools to allow myself to just notice that I have a lot of thoughts. So why am I given such importance or value to certain thoughts and not others? And I really tried to frame that well of certain thoughts, but not others, because we have thoughts as well to say that we’re a pretty good person or we have thoughts as well that say, okay, even to somebody that’s struggling with impulse control disorder or. Also have behaviors or even addiction that they’re a good person 99% of the time. But then when they do have a setback because they were in a certain context or in a certain moment, or there were certain triggers that cause their brain to say, hey, we could act out, that doesn’t mean that they are all bad. It means, in essence, they are an amazing person. But then the need to reach to out to an unhealthy coping mechanism basically ascends down upon them in a certain set of situations. So when you can step back in context and say, check that out, every time that I am alone and I’ve had a rough day, then I want to turn to an unhealthy coping mechanism, whether it’s food or gambling or pornography or one’s phone, whatever it is. When we can view that in the context of the moment, then we can have a little bit more control on what do we do to avoid those moments and or when we find ourselves in those moments.

[00:29:27] Now we can just sit there and notice, Oh, check that out. I’m thinking that old thought again about I could act out right now. And with the acceptance of I absolutely could, but I’m going to choose to do something value based. I’m going to take action on something that really matters to me. So cross and I do research supports the work done by a psychotherapist, Dr. Stephen and Ray Williams. When he talks about Dr. Stephen Hayes, he’s talking about the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Traditional cognitive psychotherapy may not be the best intervention, according to Dr. Hayes, a renowned psychotherapist and author of Getting Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. Hayes has been setting the world of psychotherapy on its ear by advocating a totally different approach, Williams said. Hayes and researchers Marcia Linehan and Robert Kahlenberg at the University of Washington and Wendell Segal of the University of Toronto are what we would call third wave. Psychologists and third wave psychologists are focusing less on how to manipulate the content of our thoughts, which is the focus on cognitive psychotherapy. So cognitive behavioral therapy, again, is focused more on how to manipulate the content of your thoughts. And this third wave of psychology in acceptance and commitment therapy is a big part of the third wave of psychology is now focusing more on how to change the context, to modify the way we see thoughts and feelings so they don’t control our behavior.

[00:30:46] Whereas cognitive behavioral therapists speak of cognitive errors and distorted interpretation. That’s where I again say that we talk about stinking thinking or automatic negative thoughts. Hayes and his colleagues encourage mindfulness the meditation inspired practice of observing thoughts without getting entangled by them, imagining the thoughts as being a leaf on a stream or canoe floating down the river. And so these third wave psychologists would argue that trying to correct negative thoughts can paradoxically actually intensify them. And that is that was where the game changing mindset came when I switched from being a cognitive behavioral therapist to an acceptance and commitment therapy therapist is that you realize that trying to correct the negative thoughts, ironically, makes them a bit more intense. It’s as if the more focus we put on them, it’s like that thought suppression technique I just got. I don’t think this anymore. Then my brain’s like, I will think more of this. I mean, it’s that that psychological reactance, that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. It’s in essence just bringing out our inner teenager of that. I often say that if I were to go home and say to my son, Hey, bud, here’s $100, I feel like his immediate reaction would say, Back off, Dad, I don’t want your money. Hang on, I’ll take your money.

[00:31:55] But that immediate response is this psychological reactance. I will absolutely not do that. It’s a built in defense mechanism so we don’t get taken over by an alpha male or a. So the third wave psychologist methodology is called ACT Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which says that we should acknowledge that negative thoughts recur throughout our life, and instead of challenging them or fighting them, we should concentrate on identifying and committing to our values and life. Hayes would argue that once we are willing to feel our negative emotions, then we find it easier to commit ourselves to what we want in life. And I see that every day. No, no joke. Not trying to blow this out of proportion, but every day. One of the reasons why we turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms are one of the reasons why we shut down when we’re with our spouse or any person that we’re having communication with. Is that when somebody says something and let’s say that it hurts our feelings, or let’s say that we think that they don’t understand us or they don’t even know who we are, then we feel this intense amount of feelings. And so rather than sit with those feelings, we shut down because we want to take control of that moment. We have a hard time just leaning in when somebody is causing us to feel. If they don’t understand who I am, then I feel hurt, I feel upset, I feel offended and I don’t want to feel any of those things.

[00:33:05] So I need to take control of the conversation again. And how am I going to do that? I can get angry. That will take control of the conversation or I can completely withdraw. I can remove myself from the conversation, to which then the other person may say, Hey, hey, you okay? Sorry if I offended you. And so now the conversation is it’s out in the weeds because we’re conditioned or we’re trained to want to avoid feeling those emotions. And I talk a lot about the world of emotional immaturity, especially over my waking up in our. This isn’t podcast that sometimes if we just take the word narcissism and we replace it with emotional immaturity, then it makes the conversation a lot more palatable or a lot more digestible. But there’s a belief or a concept there in that world of narcissism or emotional immaturity that says that whenever we are questioned or we feel like someone is telling us that we did something wrong, and that can come as simply as somebody saying, Hey, tell me why you did that, or what do you think about this? Or even people that come in and they say, Hey, my spouse walks in the door and they say, Hey, what were you up to today? And they immediately take that as criticism. They feel like, Oh, my spouse is obviously saying that they don’t think that I do anything during the day.

[00:34:11] So you can see how we can take anything as criticism or a slight. And when we feel like someone is telling us that we are wrong or that we did something bad, now we’re channeling that inner childhood stuff. Now we’re going immediately even. It might be subconsciously to shame. And remember, shame is saying that I am a bad person. So if somebody says, Oh, why did you do that? Why did you tell our teenager that? Or Hey, why did you not put the lid back on the milk? Whatever our emotionally immature brain goes to. They think I’m a horrible person. They think I’m a horrible husband and a horrible father. So when we feel attacked, when we’re in our emotional, immature state, then we are going to respond with anything to defend our fragile ego. We’re going to gaslight. We’re going to say, Oh, I didn’t even say that. I didn’t do that, or we’re going to get angry or we’re going to withdraw instead of just leaning in, staying present, even though we feel these this these emotions, because it’s okay to feel emotion instead of challenging or fighting our thoughts or our negative or our emotions, we concentrate on identifying and committing to our values. Hayes would argue that once we are willing to feel our negative emotions, then we find it easier to commit ourselves to what we want in life, and that is taking action on our values, things that matter to you, but only individually, to you.

[00:35:24] What are your values? Not what you think people think you should do. And again, no one likes to be should on, but also just that whole process of discovering your values is a pretty fascinating experience. There are some quick ways to do that. Think of somebody that you really care about or admire, and what is it that you admire about them? Or Shoot me an email and I will send you a PDF file that has a values worksheet that has 40 or 60 values on it, as well as a brief description of the value. And then go through on your own and discover what your values are, what really matters to you. Because then when you can turn to your values, now you’re going to live a more purposeful life. Ray Williams says this approach may come as a surprise to many because the traditional cognitive model permeates our culture. That’s what I was mentioning earlier. I really feel like this is most most influencers, a lot of coaches, motivational speakers that they are working off of this. Just change your thoughts, change your mind and change your life, those kind of things. So that permeates our culture. Race that is media and in the media is reflected in the Dr. Phil Show. Again, he wrote this in 2010, but he said The essence of the conflict between traditional and cognitive psychologists and psychotherapists is to engage in a process of analyzing your way out of your problems, where the third wave approach says accept that you have negative beliefs, negative thoughts and problems, and focus on what you want.

[00:36:43] Third wave psychologist acknowledged that we have pain, but rather than trying to push it away and then say trying to push it away or deny it just gives it more energy and it gives it more strength, he says. It’s interesting that the third wave psychologist approach comes along at a time when more and more people are looking for answers outside of the traditional medical model which psychiatry and traditional psychotherapy represent. And this is where, again, this is 2010, and I really felt this as a therapist. The stigma was starting to lift of therapy. Here we are 12 years later and it is absolutely lifted. But we’re still going back to that same model of think your way out of this or just choose to be happy. And that’s where I go back to how I started that. I believe that is is a big challenge. One of the big problems is I still feel like we’re getting the wrong message out there that now we’re just going bigger. The more we talk about mental health and the more we talk about ways to try and get yourself in a better place, the more that we are permeating these these tools that and again, if they help you, then that is absolutely wonderful. But the majority of people that are coming into my office are coming because they feel like something is wrong with them because they can’t just choose to be happy.

[00:37:48] And one of the first things I want to let them know and that I think gives them a relief, is saying, join the club. Yeah, you’re going to have all these thoughts and feelings and emotions. So Ray Williams said, just look at the 2002 study in Prevention and Treatment, which found that 80% of people tested who took the six most popular antidepressants of the 1990s got the same result when they took a sugar pill or a placebo. Now, that is not saying that medication is not necessary. My ADHD medication literally changed my life and I know plenty of people that an antidepressant has helped them from having their emotional baseline go all the way down into the basement. But my this again, my opinion I will absolutely own this is a lot of times I feel like medication is necessary to help someone raise their emotional baseline up to a point where they can access the tools they need. Because a lot of times when people feel so down, they even hear the tools and they say, it sounds like a great tool, but I can’t get. To it. And there’s another thought. This is funny. I was talking with someone about this last week where a lot of times people say things like, you know, I don’t want to have to take a sleeping pill because I don’t want to to have to do that to get rest.

[00:38:45] But then if they had rest, then they would find themselves in a much more productive state the next day. So the fact of where if they say, I don’t want to start taking one because I don’t want have to rely on one, but then if somebody starts taking the sleeping pill, getting the rest they need, and now all of a sudden their entire day is better. Now they’re saying, I don’t care if I take a sleeping pill the rest of my life because my life is so much more improved. And that has been my experience with my own medication of at first I thought, well, I don’t want to take this stuff for a long time. And at this point then that is what has changed my life. Now, I would still rather not necessarily take it, but I don’t care right now because my life is so much more enriched and fulfilling, because it has helped me get to a place where I can access the tools that I need to live a more productive life and a more exciting and vibrant life. So we’ll wrap it up right there. I really appreciate you joining me today. And absolute positive affirmations and hitting the ground with the I am going to be happy today. If that works for you, then I’m not just saying this facetiously of saying, okay, well, good luck.

[00:39:42] No, I’m saying that’s awesome. That really is. But if you’re someone who has tried that over and over again and you find yourself going back to this, what the heck is wrong with me? Nothing. You’re a human being. You have the thoughts, feelings and emotions. You do because you’re a human being. And if you didn’t feel the way you did in certain situations, that’s what would be odd. But then it’s what do you do with those thoughts and emotions? Recognize them, view them from an outside perspective, or view them in the context of that moment. And they happen because they happen. And then once you acknowledge them, once you accept them, now you can take action on a value based goal, and then you’re still going to have the ups and downs in life. That’s absolutely a part of life. But if you are living a life more committed to your values and purpose, then you are going to have a much more fulfilling and satisfied view of life, even when there are ups and downs. All right. Hey, I appreciate the support for this. If you think it will help anybody reach out to me through my contact form on Toni Overbay dot com. If you have questions, thoughts, want your values exercise. I want to know more about the magnetic marriage coming up the course that’s coming up. Or if you want to just take the the mini workshop, head over to Tony or Wacom slash workshop. And I will see you next time.

[00:40:53] Compressed emotions flying past. So I headed out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind. It’s wonderful. And that’s the question, Robert A are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter.

[00:41:13] Most to the world. Takes up all my time.

[00:41:53] News of discount price. A million opportunity. But chance is yours to take or lose. It’s worth. Always on the back burner until the opportune time. You’re always pushed to go farther. Shut up. My.

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