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Burns Group Basic course Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher.

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1 Burns Group Basic course Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher

2 Chapter 1-Your thinking creates your mood Process is about consciously changing your mood-the way you feel is under your control! Your thoughts create your feelings We are conditioned to believe external events create our feelings Medical-blames biochemistry Sociology-blames your life circumstances Psychology-blames past trauma or internal conflict These influence how we create our feelings but are not causal

3 Chapter 1-You create your own reality The danger in attributing feelings to external events is that it creates a victim position and it is itself a cognitive distortion Your feelings point to the thoughts that created them See page 6 (what emotion causes most of your pain?) Learn to be specific- “I feel bad” is not helpful-what exactly do you feel? Also be clear about the difference between a thought and a feeling

4 Chapter 1-Much of your thinking is distorted! “I feel that you don’t show me your feelings” “ I feel that you are a good person”- are thoughts not feelings Most of your negative thoughts are distorted and unrealistic-it is hard to believe at first Probably at least 80% of your suffering is unnecessary! You are reacting to a mind created problem Probably only 20% of your negative feelings are healthy and appropriate Circumstance-(optional story)-response

5 Chapter 1-Your happiness depends on the story you tell yourself Study the 10 forms of twisted thinking and pick your favorites Self awareness-how do you create your own anger or fear or anxiety? What story do you tell yourself? How do you create your stress? What story is necessary? CBT is not merely an intellectual process-it is designed to change your perceptions of yourself

6 Chapter 1-Your thinking is conditioned CBT is not about being happy all the time-it is about being honest and realistic about what you think about The main work of CBT is overcoming conditioned thinking- created mainly by your upbringing and cultural influences Reading-Exercises-Group process will change the way you feel about yourself-permanently!

7 Chapter 1-What is “thinking” The “thinking” we are talking about here are judgments about yourself and others-not factual thinking “I made a big mistake on a case-I am a lousy lawyer and a worthless bag of crap” this causes problems- as opposed to “today is Wednesday” Most of your thinking, when you are depressed is negative, repetitive and useless and seems almost unstoppable

8 Chapter 1 –Consciousness V. Thinking Thinking is a part of consciousness- it is easy to get lost in attachment to your thinking and believe it is your “self” When your born you were conscious and aware but not thinking- Learning to speak and conceptualize is where the distortions begin!" “You are such a good boy when you do well in school”- is the beginning of attaching your self worth to endless achievement.” “We love you when you do what Mommy wants” is the beginning of attachment to people pleasing

9 Chapter 1-The story we tell ourselves The story we tell ourselves about anything will affect how we feel-Fact: I gained 5 pounds Story 1: I am a fat undisciplined slob and am worthless Story 2:I am happy to have gained this weight Story 3:I want to weigh less so I will diet Story 4: It is neither here nor there what I weigh I love myself just as I am Story 5:This the beginning of a huge weight gain I won’t be able to stop Story 6:My partner will think I am fat and will start looking around The feeling follows the story

10 Chapter 1-Shakespeare had it right “nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so” “you’re about as happy as you make your mind up to be” (Lincoln) “as a person thinketh,so shall it be” CBT has been around for a long time and many wise people “get it” Intellectually easy but can you actually change how you think? Can you stop thinking? Can you control your thinking? Can you control what stories you tell yourself? Are you doomed to torturing yourself with your negative self talk forever? This process provides a solution

11 Changing Your Thinking CBT is about changing old conditioned thinking and replacing it with new accurate thinking-erasing old tapes and replacing them with new ones The theory is simple-why is it so difficult in practice? Because you are in love with your thinking, believe it to be the truth and are very reluctant to give it up. Also there may be unconscious payoffs to the old way of thinking that keep you stuck I also believe your mind confuses beliefs about facts with opinions

12 Changing your Thinking For example the thought “today is Wednesday” is a fact-your mind won’t want to change this, and this is good because it is true-but if you believe “I am a terrible lawyer because I make so many mistakes” this is an opinion and is full of distortions-yet your mind clings to this belief as if it were also true-The mind clings vigorously to both thoughts and will resist change in either of those thoughts Another reason is simple habituation- people are very conditioned and think and do the same things day after day

13 Changing your Thinking Psychological research shows about 98% of our thinking is repetitive from day to day-also our daily routines seldom vary-every morning I make coffee and check my stocks on the internet Changing conditioned thought patterns is like changing anything else (like changing the amount of food you eat) it takes effort and repetition-the good news-once you have done it, it tends to stick!!

14 Changing your Thinking The ease that you change your thinking depends on how attached you are to it. This means how willing are you to give it up? If you are not very attached to your stories you can quickly replace them with more accurate thoughts. Example: “I am a terrible Lawyer, I made a mistake on a file” can be replaced with “I made a mistake on a file and will learn from it, all lawyers make some mistakes”

15 Changing your Thinking The new belief must be believable by your mind or it won’t work-some people are so attached to their negative story they have trouble with an equally valid more positive story The believability is more important even than accuracy, since a positive, empowering belief will work whether or not it is true-athletes do this all the time “ I will win the championship” works to the degree the person/ team believes it

16 Changing your Thinking You actually change your thinking all the time, in many areas of your life, all the time-at one time you may have believed an old guy with a white beard in a red suit left you presents Dec 25 th - this is not true!!, even though it appeared to be true for a while When you discovered this was not true (usually at school) you probably went through some process before you accepted the new belief. CBT is a structured way of changing your beliefs

17 Healthy Sadness vs. Depression How much of your negative feelings are OK? Life is such that some unhappiness is inevitable and thus the question of where to draw the line arises Some fear is very realistic, some sadness is unavoidable etc. accordingly it is useful to know within yourself when these emotions become unrealistic Some tests are useful: How long have you had the feeling?

18 Where to draw the Emotional line Some people simply obsess about a problem until it takes on a life of its own-I have a friend that talks as if her divorce were yesterday-in fact it was 15 years ago!-repeating and reliving the same emotions for years is way beyond healthy Does the worrying result in productive action or simply more worrying? There will be healthy sadness after a loss-a pet dies, a relationship ends etc. but at some point you are actually having a feeling about a feeling- not the actual event

19 Changing Your Thinking C-5 The process of changing your mind involves the continued use of a Mood Log-just thinking about changing your thinking does not work-it must be done in writing This process is necessary because your thinking mind resists change even though your existing thinking is creating many more problems than it solves One of the paradoxes in this process is that your thinking is actually creating the problem, in fact it is the problem!

20 The Paradox of Changing Your Thinking Another paradox is that your thinking mind believes it is completely accurate and seems to require proof in writing that its interpretation of events is inaccurate or distorted Your thinking mind is also quite sensitive to criticism of its point of view so we must be diplomatic when we suggest it’s interpretation is wrong so we use the phrase cognitive distortion so we won’t hurt its feelings-we are always very gentle even when the automatic thought is delusional or idiotic It is quite helpful to view your thinking mind as a separate entity-this is where meditators have an advantage

21 Completing Mood Logs Step 1: Write out the upsetting event-it must be specific-but don’t go into a story about it-Example “I asked out a woman I met at a conference and she said no” It can’t be vague like “Life Sucks” or “I’m bored with my life” it must be something that actually occurred or could occur Step 2: Write down the feelings this thought produces

22 Completing Mood Logs Use feeling words like sad, frustrated, disappointed, angry, embarrassed, upset, guilty etc. If it is more than one or two words it is a thought not a feeling “I felt like a loser” is a thought not a feeling-a feeling is a body sensation not a cognition Next rate the feeling on a scale of 1- 100 -100 being the maximum you could have this emotion and 1 being the least you could feel (You can use a scale of 1-10 if you want)

23 Completing Mood Logs This is allow you to rate yourself after the replacement thought and to break the habit of all or nothing thinking around emotions Step 3; Write down the thoughts that those feelings are the result of “I’m such a loser” is a thought which will likely produce sadness “I’ll be single forever” is another thought which will result in frustration or sadness or fear

24 Completing Mood Logs This is the story you tell yourself- it is an interpretation of events that are neutral until you add the story My partner came in late-is just a fact-it is what is- “My partner is so inconsiderate and arrogant” is a story-this will result in emotions Automatic thoughts are what comes up in your mind all by itself

25 Completing Mood Logs Believability is the key here-if someone says “the world will end tomorrow” you won’t have any feelings about it except to the degree you believe it If the stock market crashes suddenly you may think “Oh my God I will have no retirement savings left-I’ll end up collecting bottles from a dumpster” and have emotions arising from this or you could think “it goes up and down all the time only the long term matters” or “ I will worry about that when I am 65” Clearly, you will have different feelings depending on what your story is

26 Distortions Step 4: Fill in the distortions that are inherent in your automatic thoughts- this helps convince your mind it is making erroneous conclusions from events Become familiar with your favorite distortions for example: I often will get into fortune telling and work hard solving problems that don’t exist-some people think only in terms of good or bad with nothing in between-for example: if I quit my law job I will end up as a waitress at Starbucks

27 Rational Responses Step 5: Next we go to the replacement thoughts-we have erased (or at least challenged) the old thoughts, now we need new and improved ones, free of distortions The trick is believable, more rational, more realistic alternate beliefs The new belief will be useful and positive and will result in action rather than being stuck in victim mode

28 Rational Responses Example (after a relationship ending) ‘I’m old,unattractive and probably will be alone the rest of my life in misery and loneliness” Replacement belief “Endings are hard but being single is the same as being in a relationship except with a different set of problems and benefits” or even better “I walked the path of life with this amazing person and now it is time to walk alone for a while, I will continue to enjoy life either way”

29 Rational Responses Your thinking mind won’t like the new story and will rebel against it with thoughts like “this is ridiculous, I don’t believe the new thought because it is not true-my old thought is the truth” or “these Jedi mind tricks won’t work on me- I am too smart for them” At this point it is useful to know what the benefits are to the old beliefs-sort of a cost benefit analysis

30 Rational Responses The usual benefits of the old beliefs are: I don’t have to do or change anything, I can stay safe blaming others, it is comfortable-I don’t have to challenge my old beliefs-for some people there is an attraction to the sweet sorrow of “me and my problems”-what would I do without them? There is always a price to be paid for the old or new beliefs and it is helpful to know what those costs are-so we do a cost benefit analysis The new belief must be continuously repeated when the old thoughts come up

31 Ten Ways to Test Your Thoughts C-6 Given that ferocity with which your mind clings to its old beliefs, the mere recognition that a belief is false is of little use in trying to change the belief Recall that your mind thinks in narratives or stories (judgments/interpretations) and challenging its belief is helpful in releasing the story so you can change it Recall that your thoughts and stories create your mood-reality itself has little to do with it-happy stories result in happy thoughts

32 10 Tests Unfortunately most people think unhappy stories and get the resultant unhappy feelings Almost 98% of daily thinking is repetitive-meaning if you tell yourself an unhappy story it will be endlessly repeated in your mind-resulting in depression The first test is to look at the most common cognitive distortions -most stories are filled with these and point to the falsehood of particular beliefs

33 Cognitive Distortions Very Common distortions are fortune telling-dealing with catastrophes that have not happened and all or nothing thinking- “I am a terrible lawyer” rather than the more realistic “ I am good at some things but not everything” Test 2- examine the evidence -you may have a story that is inconsistent with reality “I am poor and therefore will never have a good relationship” is this a fact? Is there anyone you know who is poor yet still has a good relationship? Of course there are!!

34 Double Standard Many people are very forgiving of others but not themselves You are not critical of your friends since harsh messages rarely work-they just make people feel worse. News flash-they won’t work for you either!! A good test is –is this what I would say to my best friend in this situation? Also some people believe that they must be very hard on themselves or they won’t achieve anything-their motto is: the beatings will continue until morale improves!

35 Experimental Technique This involves designing an experiment to test a belief If you say “ I couldn’t survive a dance lesson” take one and see if you do-if you take the sad, unhappy, defeatist story out of the loop you usually can do it Thinking in shades of grey-this is the opposite of all or nothing thinking-for many people this is a key mental habit to break out of

36 Grey Thinking Very few self judgments are black and white-in reality almost everything is on a scale, nothing is totally good or totally bad Lawyers can lose sight of this in a win/lose-guilty/not guilty- successful/unsuccessful world Survey method-this is simply checking to see how many people hold your view Example: if I make a mistake other lawyers won’t respect me-ask around and you will see this is not a view supported by many people

37 Survey Method The reality is most people connect through imperfection-if you ever actually achieved perfection what is there to connect with? This can be used for self improvement –if you ask several people about a presentation and they say- it sucks big time- that feedback can be used to fix it-it is however rarely used Many law firms consider themselves to be outstanding, but when actual objective surveys are done of client satisfaction most law firms get disastrous results-some show levels of under 5%!!-no retail business would survive with those results Most people prefer their stories to reality whether its good or bad!!

38 Define Terms This combats labeling-it is almost impossible to define “losers” “fools” “jerks” etc. These labels when applied to people but are useless abstractions-there is foolish behavior but to apply that to a person in general doesn’t work Semantic method: this is effective in ridding you of should language. “Should language” is subtle yet dangerous since it sets up internal conflict-if someone tell you “you should do X” your inner rebel will say no way!!-this also happens internally making you feel bad or rebellous

39 Semantics Much better to say “I chose to” or “I chose not to” or “I could or It would be preferable” External shoulds: “this plane shouldn’t be late” this sets up non acceptance of what is and results in useless stewing Re-attribution: this means not automatically assuming you are the cause of the problem and no one else has anything to do with it; focus on solving the problem rather than self blame-blaming anyone including yourself is useless

40 Cost Benefit Analysis Seeing the advantages and disadvantages of a belief is helpful due to the self honesty it creates

41 Values that Work C-7 Your core beliefs or values are critical to your happiness-some are likely effective but others will be highly detrimental to your mental health Some values that are quite popular are very corrosive to your self esteem-for example “winning at all costs” or being competitive (I must be the best or I am nothing) may work in sports but are a disaster in life-Why?-Because they guarantee most of your life will be a failure-you can’t or won’t win all the time and even if you do win the Olympic gold medal, usually within weeks someone else is faster or better

42 Values that Work Values that lack faith usually fail-for example what is underneath competitiveness is the belief that you must push yourself and if you don’t you will become passive and useless- you have no faith in yourself, you have no faith that you are good at some things and you will be called to do those things Perfectionism is another disastrous belief system-there are many types, see page 221

43 Values That Work A helpful value is one that allows you to win at the game of life-An unhelpful value pretty much guarantees failure some or all of the time What is helpful is to know your own values-many people have been force fed values that are popular in the culture or in their family but are not their values Many people focus on the values they think they should have but actually they don’t

44 Drilling down to your core Values This process is described in C-7 and is called the Vertical Arrow Technique- another way to do it is to complete the self defeating belief scale Your values run your life –you will get your values met consciously or unconsciously and either productively or unproductively Your values change little throughout your life-what changes is the way in which your values are manifested

45 Values Knowing your own core values is critical, but it is actually somewhat difficult to get at them-your “should” values get in the way and your mind confuses behaviors and underlying values For example most people say “health is a value” but the way they live their life it is clear they don’t value their health- your real values are those that are so much a part of “you” they are not obvious-also following your real values is effortless and easy

46 Values In our society if something is effortless and easy it is considered worthless- especially if it is the way you earn a living-work for most people means doing something they dislike for money In fact super successful people don’t work at all-they do what they love, they do what is consistent with their values, what they are good at Many lawyers, however, insist on suffering- by trying to succeed at something they fundamentally don’t want to do

47 Values This propensity to seek out suffering shows that they value effort and hard work-nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as it is in the service of doing what you love Most happy people do what they enjoy and thus don’t work in the conventional sense of the word Also, many people are motivated by a story in the head (assisted by the Media) to be the person in their imaginary story (usually aided and abetted by people around them) and ignore their own values-many people ended up as lawyers this way!!

48 Testing you Values It is useful to test your values to see if the benefits actually outweigh the costs For example you could test a belief like “I must have a special man/woman in my life or I cannot be truly happy”- many people believe this and it is heavily pushed by the media-also endless friends and dating services will treat being single like it was a disease This belief then means you cannot be happy until prince/princess charming comes into your life and if they never do (or until they do) you are doomed

49 Testing Values Another alternate belief is “ I enjoy being single or in a relationship as each situation has its benefits and costs” this is a belief you can win at (and has no cognitive distortions) You can do this about beliefs about the past “I have been divorced twice so I am a failure at relationships” is a sad story which you could tell yourself over and over causing endless misery

50 Testing Values Another, alternate belief is “Relationships all end sooner or later (some by death) and I will enjoy them for as long as they last and easily let them go when it is time to end them” From these you can see how critical it is to have value and beliefs that allow to win at life!! What are you core values?

51 Pleasure Prediction Another useful tool is to accurately asses what brings you joy or pleasure- most people have a story in their head about what would make them happy but when it is put to the test it simply not true For example I used to think I enjoyed golf but when I actually tested myself after a game I find that it annoys me in many ways (especially if I didn’t play well) and just spoils a good walk in the country with friends It is helpful to note whether he activity is alone or with others and how much it costs, if anything


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