Ever found yourself caught in a whirlwind of anxious thoughts? We delve into the heart of anxiety, identifying critical thoughts that heighten it and exploring how to manage it.
I share my own recent experience of having to manage anxiety through the backdrop of my youngest daughter’s life-altering medication change and the fear of life-threatening side effects. It’s all on the table as we explore how the principle of radical acceptance helps alleviate anxiety.
We talk practical steps and the importance of creating a plan forward. I also share about Dr. Professor Steve Peters’ life-changing book, “A Path Through the Jungle.”
About Dr. Liz
Winner of numerous awards including Top 100 Moms in Business, Dr. Liz provides psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and hypnosis to people wanting a fast, easy way to transform all around the world. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and has special certification in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy. Specialty areas include Anxiety, Insomnia, and Deeper Emotional Healing.
Do you have Chronic Insomnia? Find out more about Dr. Liz’s Better Sleep Program at https://bit.ly/sleepbetterfeelbetter
A problem shared is a problem halved. In person and online hypnosis and CBT for healing and transformation. Schedule your free consultation at https://www.drlizhypnosis.com.
Listened to in over 140 countries, Hypnotize Me is the podcast about hypnosis, transformation, and healing. Certified hypnotherapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Dr. Liz Bonet, discusses hypnosis and interviews professionals doing transformational work
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Welcome. I’m Dr Liz, an entrepreneur, speaker, podcaster, mom and wife. This podcast is about hypnosis, but also about all kinds of ways to help you live your fullest life, to heal, transform, to play the long game and go after the joy. You can see more about me at drlizhypnosiscom. Hop over there to get a free hypnosis file to decrease fear and anxiety, or one to increase emotional stability. They’re there just for you. I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I do. Peace, hey everyone. Dr Liz here.
Today’s episode is going to be pretty personal, so just to let you know that ahead of time. Originally I was going to do an episode about radical acceptance, which is a concept that comes from Buddhism originally and was popularized through dialectical behavior therapy, dbt, which is a therapy that I’m trained in and originally was created for suicidal people and then it became expanded to be helpful for all kinds of struggles that people are going through.
Now I do have a specialty in borderline personality disorder, BPD, working with BPD people. I’ve said many, many times on the podcast that I think you can recover from BPD to the point where you don’t really meet criteria anymore.
Some therapists are very scared of working with those people, won’t take them in their practice, because often when they’re starting therapy they’re what we call dysregulated, meaning they’re sort of a mess you know like emotionally they’re all over the place, and the hope and the goal of therapy is to really help them learn the skills to regulate better.
There are several ways that therapists do that and one is simply by being in the room with them. We know from research around mirror neurons in the brain that the brain up regulates to the person with the more stable mirror neurons. So that’s why a therapist is hopefully calming to the person in front of them, because they’re more regulated, typically do not just a training but the personal work that they do as well as part of their life.
Most therapists, let’s say so, that’s one but two. It’s also due to learning techniques that they can use in their personal life. Because you can only go to therapy so much. Even if you’re hospitalized, you’re only actually in therapy for a certain number of hours a day. That’s not 24, seven. But when you’re living your life and working and taking care of kids, loved ones, then you’re typically going to therapy once, maybe twice a week, unless you’re doing more of an intensive DBT program, which can often then be daily.
So the hope is to use those techniques to regulate, to feel better, to feel like you’re in control, and radical acceptance is one of the foundational techniques in DBT, like when you foundational meaning when you get that, then it’s going to help you get everything else. And I begin to teach radical acceptance to my other clients as well that we’re coming in with anxiety, that we’re coming in with insomnia, that we’re coming in with depression, that we’re coming in with eating problems. So I think it’s an incredibly useful concept.
But when I began to record the episode about it, I got sort of I don’t know along this windy path and I had to stop and say what do I really want my listeners to know? And what I really want you to know is how to use radical acceptance to find a thought that you can hold on to to help you deal with whatever you’re dealing with. Now. This is where I guess personal.
I’ve talked before about my youngest daughter, who’s going to be 18 in about a month now, and her struggles. She was diagnosed with autism level one, as well as ADHD, in 2021. And this is airing in 2023. And these last two years have been quite a journey in finding her a good school and finding her a medication that works in getting her treatment that she needs, and this is the first time that anyone had ever been put on medication in my family for anxiety or depression. And I think that there are all kinds of things that you can do outside of medication to help improve your life help improve how you feel, help you feel more stable. But sometimes medication is needed, and in her case it really was. So it’s really helped her. She went from a very withdrawn, almost nonverbal teenager to one who likes to talk to me and tell me funny stories and send me funny videos and share what was going on with her. I really felt like it helped her come back into who she really is, who she grew up as a child. She could always make me laugh.
Even this morning she made me laugh. We had come out of the pediatrician about to tell you part of why you were there and how I used radical acceptance to soothe myself. And before the appointment I had said do not let me forget to get the doctor’s note. And she’s like, okay, but of course we forgot. Okay, so luckily we were still in the parking lot. Often I don’t even remember until we’re home, but luckily we were still in the parking lot and I said oh, eva, run back in and get a doctor’s note, because you need that doctor’s note for it to be an excused absence at school. And she said is it okay if I walk or do you really want me to run? Am I being literal here? And I laughed and we both laughed actually. I said, yeah, you’re being literal, like it’s okay if you walk, it’s just an expression. Run back in. So even this morning she made me laugh. Let’s get to radical acceptance and the thoughts and those type of things.
Okay, here we go, people, when we have a thought that’s super distressing, it is often hard to soothe ourselves. That’s why he’s distressing. We’re having a hard time soothing ourselves. We’re this like chicken and egg thing and, like I said, she’d been doing really well. But then things began to take a downturn and she shared this with me last week and the doctor changed her medication to one that can be truly helpful but also cause a life threatening rash. Okay, so this is called Stevens Johnson syndrome and if it progresses, it can be fatal. It can be life threatening If you don’t get help for it or if you don’t notice it soon enough.
You can imagine that this is super distressing for me, and so I’ve been very anxious about it. I’ve been researching how it would look, how it would start, how much time would I have, and not really finding a whole lot of answers around that, like, do I have hours to get her to a doctor, or do I have a day or two to get her to the doctor? The neurologist is about 45 minutes from us and that’s who typically prescribes her psychiatric medication. So he had said, look, if she gets any kind of rash, you need to take her to her pediatrician, which is around the corner for us. The pediatrician will check and see what’s going on. But this is really important.
I said, okay, I’ve been very anxious about it. I’ve been looking for information, which is one of the first things I do when I get anxious and I’ve really been trying to find a thought to hold on to and I could get one for a couple of hours and then it would sort of float away. It was fleeting. These thoughts are fleeting and most of the thoughts are really around oh my God, is this worth the risk? Like perhaps, as her mother, I should say no, this is out. But then, also, as her mother. It’s like I’m taking her to a doctor who really knows her, spends like 30 minutes at an appointment with her, sometimes more, which is unheard of in these these days, in the US at least, and who I trust is making the best decisions for her. So he thinks this is the best medication for her and I weigh that against. She could die. Okay.
So that’s a hard one. That’s a hard one. I’ll tell you people it was. It’s really hard. It’s so hard for me, even as I’m recording this. It’s hard for me, but it’s like, all right, the benefits outweigh the potential risk. And I know we’re starting this medication around the holidays and so I can keep a closer eye on her in case some rash develops. And I’m running this stuff through my head, but I keep struggling to find this thought and I keep finding myself popping out of radical acceptance.
Radical acceptance is truly accepting what’s going on right now, right here. And there’s clues when you’re popping out of radical acceptance. One of those clues is that you keep wishing things were different. You keep wishing that you had done things differently or you had said something different or you had made a different decision.
And this happened a couple of weeks ago when we were doing some demolition in my house and I kept thinking we should just left this alone. And it’s like the demolition’s half done, you can’t stop it. You already started it Like a move into radical acceptance that this has to be done. It’s just really physically hard. That’s it.
Once I radically accepted that, then I can make some choices. I don’t actually have to do this myself or my husband he was helping with the demolition. I can hire someone if I can afford that. I can ask my daughter to help or her boyfriend or something like that. But you can’t do any of that if you just keep fighting it. Like I shouldn’t have to do this, I shouldn’t have done this, I shouldn’t have made this decision.
So I found myself popping out of radical acceptance, doing the same thing with this medication, like I wish that her original one was just working just as well. I wish I didn’t have to face this anxiety. I wish I didn’t have to make these decisions. It’s like sorry about that. You decided to become a mother. You know, like that’s it.
Once you decide to become a mother, then you’re gonna have all these decisions that come with it, even if you didn’t decide to become a mother and you are a mother, then you have these decisions that come with it.
So I did some things to help soothe myself.
I got on a 12-step meeting and if this is the first time you’ve ever listened to the podcast, then I’ve never been addicted to alcohol or drugs, but I attend other 12-step programs that have been super helpful for me under earners anonymous, or overeaters anonymous, or Al-Anon, or there’s a chronic pain anonymous. That’s a good one too.
So I got on a meeting and I just talked about what I was going through, which really then helped me work through it. I talked it out loud. I had talked it out loud with my best friend and with my husband, both of whom are really good listeners, but I needed to talk about it again and that was okay.
When you’re talking with a best friend or husband or you’re getting feedback from them, it’s a conversation typically, unless you ask them just to listen. But in a 12-step meeting, there’s no commentary on what you’re sharing and there’s something really beautiful about that. Sometimes people really don’t like that.
When they first start 12-step programs, they don’t really understand that concept, but it is stated at the beginning of almost every meeting I’ve ever been to and I have been in 12-step recovery for like 10 years now in December coming up on 10 years. I started in 2013. So eventually you get the concept that you’re not commenting on what other people are sharing in the meeting and they’re not commenting on what you’re sharing.
I believe that it creates a sense of safety that’s unique.
So I got on a meeting and I shared what was going on and I was sharing the sadness that came up and the hard decisions. I shared about struggling with trust. So I was struggling with trusting myself that I’d made the right decision, trusting my higher power, that my daughter was going to be taken care of. But when talking that out, I realized I do trust her neurologist. I trust that he has her best interests in mind. With the thought that I trust her neurologist, that he’s making the best decision for her and he has the medical knowledge and the know-how and the personal relationship with her, then I can move into radical acceptance of this is exactly where I have him. I don’t control everything. I do not have all the medical knowledge. I do not understand some of the complexities going on. I do my best to do that, but I do trust him to make what he feels like is the best decision for her to keep her safe.
And that’s the thought that helped me move into radical acceptance of all. Right, we are on this medication and this is what’s happening, and I am able to keep a good eye on her and we know what to do if something does happen.
And then she wakes me up at about 4 am and says mom, I think I have a rash. So you’re supposed to look out for a rash with this medication. And I wake up and we go in the bathroom my eyes are barely working because it’s 4 am and I look and I think, yeah, I think, I think that is something. I think it is. It’s not like this big rash that I’d spread, but it’s just like this one single lesion let’s call it hive and she’s a teenager, so she has a little acne here and there and I was like that doesn’t look like a pimple to me, like that looks like a lesion hive. She said okay. So I was like all right, go back to bed. We will go to the pediatrician first thing in the morning to get this checked.
And I knew I was probably not going back to sleep, so I had a choice. As a insomnia specialist. I know all the choices. Okay, I can either watch TV or work or read some. I have options. It was 4 am so it was a little bit early to work out for me. I usually wait until about 5 am to work out, so I’m like I don’t think I’m doing that.
It’s very individual for people. Some people like crafts and people like to work, some people like to play games on their phone or iPad or whatever.
But for me it’s usually TV or reading. So I picked reading and I did manage to drift off a little bit until the cat woke me up for breakfast. So we woke up in the morning and I took her to the pediatrician who said you did exactly the right thing coming in.
When you have little kids, you take them in for a lot of stuff, but as you age as a parent it’s like I don’t know if this is worth going to the doctor for. You know you make that judgment call Like let’s just wait and see sometimes. But for this I was like it’s a single lesion. This has warnings all over the internet, so I’m gonna go ahead and be on the safe side and take her in. And the pediatrician validated that and gave us a plan forward, which is how I started the story. Okay Of run back in and get the doctor’s note.
Now, if I didn’t have any plan forward, I think that would have been much harder for me. So I think the plan is important when you’re trying to move into radical acceptance.
It’s not just looking at the past here. Looking at the past helps you question whether you are in radical acceptance.
If you’re constantly going back to the past and wishing something was different, then it’s a clue – I’m not in radical acceptance. Let me see if I can be present right here right now. These are the decisions that I made. There were reasons for those decisions my case. One of the reasons is that I trust her neurologist and I’m willing to give this a shot because I think the benefit outweighs the risk. That first step is really recognizing that you’re not in radical acceptance and you’re resisting reality.
I’ll give you another example is, let’s say, one partner files for divorce and the other partner is really struggling emotionally to accept this. So they keep thinking well, this will get worked out, this is going to pass, she’s gonna come back to me, something like that. So you can know at the point that someone’s filed for divorce, they’re probably done, not that it doesn’t ever happen that people get back together, but the path forward right now is to respond to that paperwork.
Sometimes, when someone’s not in radical acceptance, they put that off and put that off and put that off and that’s a clue that they’re not in radical acceptance, sometimes thinking this isn’t fair, why me? If you find yourself saying why me, why me, why me? That doesn’t change the facts, that really only causes pain and we don’t always know, we don’t. The answer to that can even vary with your spiritual beliefs. Sometimes it’s like well, this is my journey, this is the journey I’m on. I don’t quite know why, but this is it. That would be radical acceptance. So if this is the journey I’m on, I have these decisions to make about that journey.
Let me give you an example, for like an example you will see in kids sometimes who don’t like a teacher. They don’t like a teacher and they complain about the teacher and they think the teacher’s doing stuff wrong or they’re grading stuff wrong and they refuse to follow the teacher’s instructions. They’re not in radical acceptance. This is your teacher. You are in a school system where you have to play a certain game and do what that teacher is requiring you to do. If the teacher can’t be changed, sometimes parents intervene and change the teacher or change the school. If those aren’t options, though it’s accepting, okay, this is the game I have to play to make it through this class, and my long-term goal is to graduate school. That’s another example.
An easy, easy example that people relate to is traffic. They’re stuck in traffic and there’s been an accident or something and they’re frustrated. They’re gonna be late to something. They curse, they’re upset, they’re thinking I should have taken a different way. They’re not in radical acceptance. When the should-haves come up, there are flags that you’re not in radical acceptance, so recognize them.
I live in South Florida, where the traffic is really bad, objectively, and sometimes I tell myself there was no other way. Sometimes there really is no other way. There’s no way to get off that highway until you hit an exit. So it’s like that’s it. We’re here, we have choices to make. Here. We can remain in upset, we can put on a podcast or the radio or music, we can have a conversation. If I’m with somebody I can call a friend.
I have options here to make this reality a little more bearable. So that’s the choice how do I make this more bearable? How do I change the thought so that my anxiety decreases instead of increases?
So the thought that increased my anxiety is my daughter may die. This can be fatal. This reaction to this medication can’t be fatal. She may die. Well, that only creates a lot of anxiety in me. I mean a lot. Most of us try to keep our kids alive as much as we can, so that created a lot, a lot of anxiety. The thought that brought it down was I trust her doctor. I trust that he’s making a decision for her that is for her benefit and that he believes that I can handle the risk, that the risk is manageable. That’s another one that really helped me. The risk is manageable. Is typically life threatening if someone doesn’t get help. And we live like a couple of miles from a children’s hospital, so it’s like we have help. We have other adult hospitals all around us, so we have help. There’s a pediatrician down the street, we have help. So those begin to soothe and bring the anxiety down.
Identifying it as a trust issue that helped me bring anxiety down.
Before I was just sort of flailing around and of course you’re gonna be anxious. The of course is sometimes a trap and a flag, someone’s flailing around and saying, of course, of course, I feel this way and it’s like, yes, of course you do. This is an anxiety producing situation, absolutely, and it doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
Acceptance of what’s going on can lead to choices about how you think and feel about this. Once you begin thinking about it differently, then your feelings can often follow. That’s not always the case. Sometimes we have feelings first and then the thoughts, but it was the case and what I was dealing with the thinking about it is what I needed to change the going a little bit deeper, identifying it as this is a trust issue.
Do you trust this doctor? And when the answer was yes, because he has a longstanding relationship with her and I trust his intentions. He’s a good person. I’ve known him now for years. Do I trust him? Yes, I do. All right, then let’s move into radical acceptance. I made this decision with him. I am responsible as well. So is her dad. Her dad also made this decision, and if something really awful does happen, then I will take responsibility for making that decision. That’s an even deeper down the well.
Sometimes people don’t wanna go there and that’s what keeps them stuck in anxiety. They stop at a certain point and often in my office I’m asking and then, what’s the thought?
Since I’m an anxiety specialist, all kinds of anxiety related problems come into my office. Driving is a common one fear of driving and people will stop at well, I’m just scared of driving, okay, and what? Well, I’m scared I’ll get into an accident. Okay, and what? I’m scared I’ll get into an accident. And one of my children, something will happen to them. Sometimes parents don’t really wanna state it out loud One of my children may die, because it’s really difficult to say that out loud, or sometimes there’s superstition around it. So if they can’t really get to that, then they get stuck in anxiety versus yes, one of your children may die and you would be responsible for that because you are driving a car. Now, I’m not assuming that the person is completely responsible for that, because all kinds of different accidents happen.
Or sometimes the spiritual helps somebody of perhaps that’s how it had to be for your spiritual path and the child’s spiritual path, I don’t know. Sometimes that’s not helpful for someone. They don’t have that belief. So then it becomes yes, we accept all kinds of responsibility when we bring a child into the world. All kinds of awful things that can happen, some of which we have more control of and some of which we have less control of. That’s really difficult to accept. So what I would really encourage you to do is follow the path and see if you can get to the deeper issue that’s going on. Once you identify it, then it helps you really move into radical acceptance.
Once you move into radical acceptance, you can find the thought that helps bring the anxiety down instead of up. You have to test those out.
Sometimes You’ll find the skills to soothe, even before you find that thought. You can use the skills to soothe, my skills to soothe. We’re talking to my friend, talking to my husband. Researching that’s not so soothing. Okay, I have to stop researching sometimes as one of my tasks. Getting in a meeting, talking about it, letting sadness feeling come up. Sometimes it’s hard for me to let the feelings out. Doing some art we’re just looking at like an art magazine is often soothing for me.
So you find your own list. What helps me feel a little bit better, what helps me feel like life is a little more manageable, what helps me feel like I can handle it a little bit more, even if that helps for five or 10 minutes, even if it helps only while I’m doing it. And then how do I look at the deeper issue and then making a plan forward from that. So the plan is often helpful for people to bring down anxiety. If you have no plan, the anxiety can feel stuck or it can go up or it can just simmer right there. It’s the plan that often helps people bring it down. So I encourage you to make a plan.
You know I’m reading this great book and, in case I don’t get back to this on, another episode is called A Path Through the Jungle by Professor Steve Peters, p-e-t-e-r-s. Steve Peters A Path Through the Jungle, and it is life changing, life changing people. I wanna do a whole another episode on this book. I could do 10 episodes on this book. Maybe that’s what I’ll do all next year for the podcast. It’s just go chapter by chapter through this book. Who knows could be its own podcast A Path Through the Jungle.
But my point in saying this is that he identifies making a plan as a critical factor in managing how you’re feeling. If you don’t have a plan, then it’s very difficult to manage how you’re feeling, even if your plan is. I’m going to take a shower and I don’t think I can sleep, but I’m going to. I’m gonna watch kitten videos on my phone. That’s a plan that’s gonna help you more than no plan at all. Let’s say, something really, really awful happened. Even if your plan was, I’m going to cry and lay in bed all day tomorrow. That’s a plan. It’s gonna help you more than no plan at all. So the plan is critical.
All right, I have gone on long enough. I hope that you have some practical steps that you can use here to help you move out of a feeling of anxiety, to help you move out of pain, basically To help you move out of not feeling good into feeling better. I hope you’re healthy and safe Peace.
I hope you truly enjoyed today’s episode. Remember that you can get free hypnosis downloads over at my website, drlizhypnosiscom. D-r-l-i-z. Hypnosiscom. I work all over the world doing hypnosis, so if you’re interested in working with me, please schedule a free consultation over at my website and we’ll see what your goals are and if I can be of service to you in helping you reach them. Finally, if you liked today’s episode, please subscribe to the podcast or tell a friend. That way, more and more people learn about the power of hypnosis. All right, everyone, have a wonderful week, peace. This podcast is not mental health treatment, nor should it replace mental health treatment. If you need therapy or hypnotherapy, please seek treatment from a trained professional.
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