This podcast features David D. Burns MD, author of "Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy," describing powerful new techniques to overcome depression and anxiety and develop greater joy and self-esteem. For therapists and the general public alike!
Buddhist Strategies for Financial Abundance, Featuring Zeina Halim
#278: Buddhist Strategies for Financial Abundance, Featuring Zeina Halim Jan 24, 2022
Today, we feature the work of Zeina Halim, a beloved member and small group leader in our Tuesday training group at Stanford, who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.
This is Zeina’s third appearance on our podcast. Previously she helped us with a fabulous program on family conflicts at the start of the pandemic (Corona Cast 3, 4-06-2020) and later did live some personal work on one of the Self-Defeating Beliefs, the Achievement Addiction (Podcasts 211, 10-12-2020, and 212, 10-19-2020).
Today Zeina brings us something radically different: Buddhist Strategies for Financial Abundance. What in the world does that mean, and why should you care?
She starts by describing her study of Buddhist practices, and cites some books that have inspired her, including The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life, by Geshe Michael Roach.
Zeina explains the quasi-mystical concept of “Karma,” which is the idea that you get what you give. In other words, the energy and spirit you convey to others, and to the universe, will come back to you. For example, when clients who are not a good fit for her practice contact her, Zeina goes out of her way to help those clients find a great fit with another therapist.
This “Karmic practice,” she explains, has paradoxically caused many patients to suddenly seem to show up, asking for treatment. In other words, when she meets the needs of others, the universe meets her needs.
She says that she doesn’t need to do very much at all of the kinds of traditional marketing that most other therapists do in an attempt to build their practices. This “karmic practice” has been mostly sufficient and far more effective than traditional marketing methods.
This is a theme that I (David) resonated with, since I also give away almost everything for free, and have received an abundance of positive and loving gifts from the universe in return.
Zeina cautions that this, and all Buddhist practices, must be done with balance and thoughtfulness: “When I started, I gave too much, and this can actually cause self-harm.”
She said that some people have raised the question: “But isn’t this an inherently selfish practice, since you are hoping for abundance for yourself?”
Her response to this is that when you receive financial abundance, you can give even more to others for free.
She also described another book of Geshe Michael Roach’s, The Karma of Love, where you try to give to the other person and meet their needs instead of worrying about whether they’re loving you enough or meeting your needs.
In a previous relationship, this led to inner peace and, paradoxically, she felt much more loved, although nothing observable had changed in the way her partner treated her. The change in her feeling loved all came from changes SHE made, not her partner. This aligns very closely with the TEAM-CBT approach to relationships, as well as the teachings of most religions.
We also discussed group TEAM-CBT vs. individual therapy. I described my phenomenal experiences in Philadelphia creating a large intensive group therapy program at my hospital, which was in a rough, inner city neighborhood. Most of our patients had few resources, and many could not read or write. Some were homeless. The program was more or less free to all of them, and our patients and their families gave us so much in return.
I was absolutely thrilled that Zeina also loves doing therapy in groups. Many patients and therapists alike think of group therapy as a kind of inferior approach, but my experience has been the opposite. If given the choice, I’d treat everyone in groups.
Zeina will be starting a TEAM-CBT anxiety group within a week of this podcast. The group will focus on all the anxiety disorders, such as chronic worrying, shyness, phobias, OCD, PTSD, and more. There will be one
Rejection Practice: A Love Story, Featuring Dr. Cai Chen
Rejection Practice: A Love Story, Featuring Dr. Cai Chen Jan 17, 2022
Rhonda starts today’s podcast by reading two wonderful recent endorsements from listeners. A therapist from San Jose, Ca was moved and inspired by the two podcasts (Episodes 268 & 269, published 11-15-2021 and 11-22-2021) with Dr. Carly on the tragic loss of her baby via ectopic pregnancy, and another listener described TEAM-CBT as “revolutionary” due to the emphasis on reducing resistance. She compared the approach to the indirect hypnotic approach developed by the late Milton Erikson.
Dr. Cai Chen recently completed his psychiatric residency in Texas, and then moved to California to join the TEAM-CBT community and unite with the love of his life, who happens to be a member of our Tuesday group.
Cai attributes much of his dating success to one of the techniques he read about in my book, Intimate Connections, called “Rejection Practice,” because he practiced that technique to successfully defeat his negative thoughts about all the awful things that might happen if he tried to talk or flirt with an attractive woman.
He would tell himself things like:
She’ll think I’m being too forward. She’ll be offended and might call the police. People who see me trying to flirt will be offended. I’ll be rejected. He described what happened when he forced himself to get 20 rejections in a mall in order to overcome his fears. His stories about what happened are both funny and inspiring.
Cai also describes his initial intense resistance to using this technique, giving himself messages like, “I shouldn’t have to learn to flirt because it’s beneath me!” I heard excuses like that all the time when I was in clinical practice, working with shy, lonely men!
Rejection Practice is a powerful and potentially super-effective technique you might want to try if you’re also struggling with social anxiety or if you treat patients with this problem.
We also illustrated the hilarious Feared Fantasy Technique on the podcast, where Cai enters an Alice-in-Wonderland Nightmare World, and meets the “woman from hell” who represents all of his worst fears, and verbalizes things like this to him:
You’re assaulting me and I’m going to call the police. You’re the last person I’d ever date! You’re forgettable! you You’re too forward. I can see that you’re very insecure! In addition, he meets the “observer from hell” who verbalizes things like this to Cai:
I’m terribly offended that you tried to talk to that woman. It’s highly inappropriate to flirt like that in broad daylight. You shouldn’t be doing that. I condemn and reject you! Cai was surprised to discover that the monster has no teeth and experienced some enlightenment and freedom from his fears. Rhonda, Cai, and I had a lot of fun with these techniques, and hope you enjoy them, too. Again, if you’re a therapist, you might consider including these techniques if you work with shy individuals.
We also discuss the idea of “Physician, heal thyself,” a quotation from the New Testament (Luke 4:23). We are all convinced that doing your own personal work can vastly increase your skills and depth as a clinician, because you can tell your patients, “I know what you’re going through, because I’ve been there myself. And what a joy it’s going to be to show you how to overcome your shyness and develop greater confidence, and more loving relationships with others.”
And that’s exactly what happened to Cai. He found the love of his life. You’ll hear all about it if you listen to this heart-warming podcast!
Dr. Cai is just starting his TEAM-CBT practice at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California. However, since he is a trained physician and psychiatrist, he can also prescribe medications if patients need them in addition to the therapy.
Dr. Cai Chen is a warm and brilliant young psychiatrist. If you would like to contact him
Ask David: Why are People the Way They Are? with Special Guest, Dr. Matthew May
Here are the questions for today’s Ask David, featuring special guest, back by popular demand, the extraordinary Dr. Matt May, and of course, our super-special hostess, Dr. Rhonda Barovsky!
Why is my dad the way he is? Why are people the way they are? What can you do about positive distortions? More Should Statements! How can you talk to someone who refuses to talk to you?
Why is my dad the way he is? Why are people the way they are?
Hi Dr. Burns and Dr. Barovsky!
I love your show. Keep up the good work!
I'd deeply appreciate your time and insight.
My dad is 70, my mom is 67, and I'm 38. Throughout my life my dad has done things like he did earlier tonight.
I was at my parent's house and my mom was telling me how Thanksgiving was going to be at my parent's cabin with the whole family like we have in years past at which my point my dad firmly said "No."
My mom asked "Why?" and he just shook his head and shortly after walked out of the room to go to the bathroom, shut the door, and said "no" angrily three times in the other room to himself but loud enough for she could hear.
He'll seemingly randomly act extremely possessive by angrily forbidding family get togethers, or my mom from doing things, or family to borrow things. He'll just say "No" without further explanation.
Always, always, upon asking "Why?" to his "no."
He'll either say angrily, "Because I said so!", say nothing, or just repeat "No" further.
My mom says sometimes "Can you just gave me a reason?" and it's the same "No", silence, or "because I said so."
I don't jump into the aforementioned back and fourth communication because I know such a person can't be changed and don't want to make an argumentative mess.
He's never displayed any comfort with expressing the slightest vulnerability. He's very, very silent. All of my life he has displayed bullying type tendencies. Whenever I visit my parents he always shows tremendous eagerness to want to scowl and berate people for the tiniest mistakes (even people he doesn't know in public, like cashiers.) I think even the most skilled of five secrets practitioners might be outmatched.
My mom tonight, and all my life, has asked me why is he like this?
I've been haunted to try understand this question all my whole life too.
So, I'm putting the question to you Dr. Burns and Dr. Barovsky:
Why is someone like this?
You must've heard of similar situations and have insight?
I want to feel compassion and understanding for him. I don't want to live with baggage.
And mainly, mainly I just want to relieve myself from anger thinking should, labeling, and overgeneralizing thoughts like "He shouldn't act like this", "He shouldn't be such a bully", "He's being a jerk."
I can certainly understand your sadness, frustration, and anger, as well as your love and concern for your mom.
Scientists don’t yet know why people are the way they are. My focus is on helping people at specific moments of interaction when they want help. You have not asked for help in this email.
I do make this type of statement in practically every Ask David episode, but have not had much luck in getting people to listen, because the general questions that have no answers keep rolling in.
You say that your dad cannot change. To my ear, this statement is both blaming and untrue. People change at every moment of every day.
The real question I always have is this, and it might not interest you. Do YOU want to change the way you interact with him?
You and your mom probably both do things that trigger him, like silence, or asking WHY when it is abundantly clear that this response has a 100% guarantee of triggering him.
I apologize if this is not the answer you were looking for!
What can you do about positive distortions?
How much information is there in the book (or a particular podcast) on how we address positive distortions most effectively?
It is mentioned briefly that these
A Spectacular Advance, Featuring Professor Mark Noble!
Hi everyone! This special podcast features one of our favorite people, Professor Mark Noble from the University of Rochester in New York. Professor Noble is a world-renowned neuroscientist and cancer researcher, one of the pioneers in stem cell research, and all-around good guy. He contributed a brilliant chapter on how TEAM-CBT interacts with the brain for my book, Feeling Great. For the past two years he has been a very beloved member of the Wednesday TEAM-CBT Training group, adding his wisdom and clarity to the teachings. Rhonda and my co-teachers, Leigh Harrington and Richard Lam, and all of our students feel very honored to have him in our midst. This is our third podcast with Dr. Noble, and the first podcast to usher in the new year. We’re excited to speak with him again today. He will update us on his latest thinking on how the molecular biology of stress and learning are totally consistent with the rapid mood changes we see in TEAM-CBT. He also describes his latest writing project, tentatively entitled, The Brain User’s Guide to TEAM-CBT, and you can download it for FREE if you click here! (LINK) In this booklet Professor Noble presents the “brainological perspective” on TEAM-CBT. He emphasizes that this booklet is written at the 9th grade level so as not to intimidate anyone. If you’re curious, take a look, and feel free to share it with others who might be interested. Professor Noble explains that his new booklet was inspired by patients who ask how TEAM differs from traditional (aka “normal”) talk therapy. Of course, the differences are many and profound, but one of the questions new patients and therapists ask is whether the rapid recoveries we observe during TEAM-CBT treatment are just superficial and temporary, or even fake. Mark asserts that nothing could be further from the truth, and that the thing that makes TEAM-CBT so special is how closely it is aligned with how the human brain actually works. He explains that there are ten essential steps in TEAM, starting with Empathy. He defines Empathy as “being in a safe place, where you can share feelings without being judged.” Empathy allows the patient to access the networks in the brain where the patient’s pain may be stored as memories. The spoken and written language exercises used in TEAM actively and rapidly modify the networks that generate the feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, inadequacy and hopelessness. Dr. Noble places a great importance on the written Daily Mood Log, which he describes as arguably the “greatest development in the history of psychology.” He says that when you describe the horrible and traumatic things that happened to you, and you record your Negative Thoughts on paper in a systematic, step-by-step way, you can look at your thoughts, feelings, and painful memories as separate from your “self” and gain some distance from them. Then, when you pinpoint the many cognitive distortions in your negative thoughts, and substitute more realistic interpretations, you gain freedom and relief because you are actually re-wiring your brain. He said that most of our human thinking is called Fast Thinking. This is the automatic thinking that we do 98% of the time as we go through our daily lives. Fast thinking is great, but growth, learning and change can only result from Slow Thinking, where we reflect and analyze things. Slow thinking takes concentration and effort because you are changing actual networks in your brain when you challenge and crush your negative thoughts with powerful techniques like the Externalization of Voices. He says that we are not just telling people to “Stop it!” or “Get over it!” Quite to the contrary, we are teaching specific, powerful techniques that give you the chance to pinpoint and modify the exact brain networks that cause your negative feelings. He explains that “language is a powerful tool for figuring out exactly how we see the world when we’re feeling down, and TEAM g
Total Blow Away (Part 2 of 2)
The Sara Session—Total Blow Away! (Part 2 of 2) Last week, you heard the first part of the session with Sara, a woman haunted by feelings of anxiety and inferiority from the time she grew up in a village in Mexico. Because she received a great deal of mean-spirited put-downs, she same to see herself as an "outsider" who wasn't good enough. She has finally decided to challenge this crippling and disturbing mind-set, and in today's podcast you will witness her metamorphosis. She will also join us for the fascinating follow-up to her amazing treatment session.
If you click here, you can see Sara’s Brief Mood Survey at the end of the session, along with her Evaluation of Therapy Session. As you can see, the changes in her mood scores were profound, and her ratings of Jill and David on “Empathy” and “Helpfulness” were excellent.
If you click here, you can see Sara’s Daily Mood Log at the end of the session.
By the end of the session, all of Sara’s negative emotions had gone down dramatically, to zero or near zero levels. However, one negative feeling, jealousy, only went down to 30%, and this feeling was still nagging at her. She said she still felt inadequate and jealous of people who had accomplished more, since she’d been procrastinating for years at promoting and developing her private practice.
I don’t like to leave people with loose ends, if at all possible, and Sara clearly wanted to zap the feelings of jealousy if we could, since we hadn’t focused on this emotion at all during the session.
You may be fascinated by the surprise ending to the session, and the method that allowed Sara not only to blow away her feelings of jealousy, but a discovery of how she could use those feelings to connect more deeply with her childhood friends, including those who had accomplished a lot!
There were quite a few teaching points, including but not limited to these:
Rapid, profound, and lasting change is possible, even when people have been struggling for years or decades, or even since childhood, with feelings of depression and inadequacy. The goal of therapy is not just a reduction in depression, but a total elimination of depression along with being catapulted into a state of enlightenment, joy or even ecstasy. Sometimes Positive Reframing can blow away a negative thought, as you'll discover in the surprise ending to her session. Sara totally threw herself, body, heart and mind into this work. That commitment is a vital ingredient of success. Several days after the session, Sara sent this beautiful note to the Tuesday group.
Hello, Tuesday Group!
I apologize for just now sending this email. I had told David I would email the group this past weekend with an update, but I have been TOO busy dancing away (more about this in a second). 😝
Anyway, I will try to make this email short because I tend to go overboard and write too much, and I know everyone is busy. I will just share a few things that have happened since my personal work two weeks ago. I am also forwarding the email I sent David and Jill Tuesday evening after the magical evening.
First of all, THANK YOU all for your awesome support and empathy during that beautiful evening. At that time, I did not realize how much this is the story of many of us in the group (the learning disability and being bullied, humiliated and teased because of it.) I felt very connected to you and felt your love and deep compassion and understanding. Thank you!
So, I was not kidding when I wrote that I am dancing away. You see, during the last two weeks when I have been at a grocery or department store, I have been dancing away to the music playing in the store. For some reason my body just gets moving and doesn’t want to stop no matter what song is playing.
As you can imaging, this is not typical of me. As a matter of fact, I am not a music person let alone a dancer. I prefer to listen to NPR or a Feeling Good podcast when I’m in the car and don’t play any
Total Blow Away (Part 1 of 2)
The Sara Session—Total Blow Away! (Part 1 of 2) In one of my recent Tuesday psychotherapy training groups at Stanford, we reviewed the Interpersonal Downward Arrow Technique. This is a high-speed technique I created that allows you to rapidly identify the roles that you play in your relationships with others so you can pinpoint the patterns that create tension and unhappiness for yourself as well as the people you care about.
The Interpersonal Downward Arrow Technique is similar to what psychoanalysts try to do with free association on the couch, except it only takes five to ten minutes, as opposed to five to ten years. In addition, I have also developed fairly rapid ways to change and modify those dysfunctional patterns—IF this is what you want to do.
Some of the psychoanalysts call these hidden patterns “core conflicts.” The late Dr. Lester Luborsky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Luborsky), a prominent psychotherapy researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has written about core conflicts extensively.
He gave as an example of a core conflict, a person who might have the belief that “my needs will never be met in my personal relationships.” Beliefs like this not only create unhappiness, but they can also function as self-fulfilling prophecies.
In addition, most people re not aware of these “core conflicts,” and do not realize they are just beliefs. Most people just believe that “this is just the way the world is,” and think they have a profound insight into the reality of human nature.
But we actually create our own interpersonal realities at every moment of every day. Since we usually cannot “see” what we’re doing, we may wrongly conclude that we’re victims of the “badness” of others. And, of course, there is always a grain of truth in that belief as well!
During the training group, we had group members identify some of their own “core conflicts,” using the Interpersonal Downward Arrow Technique, and this hit one of our members, Sara Shane, like a ton of bricks. She discovered that she sees herself as “an outsider” and has always believed she is stupid and inferior to others. And this intense belief has caused tremendous suffering for Sara for decades, including her participation in the Tuesday training group, where she is usually totally silent.
Sara traced this pattern to her childhood, growing up in a village in Mexico, where she was bullied and put down because she was short and overweight, and had the darkest skin of any of her many siblings. In addition, she struggled with a learning problem and was frequently put down and labeled as stupid.
Sara’s sudden decent into emotional hell was fueled by the fact that she was planning the wedding of her niece at a town in Mexico which was only two hours from the town where she grew up. And the thought of showing her daughter that town filled her with feelings of shame and terror, fearing she would run into the people she grew up with, including the people who cruelly put her down.
Here’s what she wrote prior to doing personal work on this problem in a subsequent Tuesday group:
Hello Jill and David,
Where to begin…all day yesterday it was very painful as I thought about emailing you...
As I’m writing this, I am in tears and I know it is going to take me a while to write everything I want to say. But first let me say that it has taken me a long time to even sit in front of the computer because this has been very difficult for me. I had earlier said I would email you yesterday morning but I know now why I could not. I procrastinating mainly because this hurts a lot, beyond what I had earlier experienced. Right now, I am not even paying any attention to proper writing because I just want to write this without worry about correctness and just express my feelings.
Let me describe what I have been feeling physically all week long since Tuesday. I have been feeling sick to my stomach especial
Sometimes fantastically helpful
I haven’t always found CBT that helpful, and I’m not sure how well “TEAM CBT” translates into a self-help program. I was tempted at first to give the podcast four stars rather than five for that reason.
But SOME of the episodes are fantastically helpful, and the courage of the people who come online with their problems is often quite moving.
And then I listened to episode #40, describing the “interpersonal downward arrow” technique. I followed along with the process as it was being described, working on an issue in my marriage (which is well into its fifth decade), and it opened my eyes to something I’ve been doing all my life without realizing it. Whether the insight will lead to significant behavior change remains to be seen, but the insight alone was worth five stars. Thank you.
Love, love, love
I love this podcast. Has literally saved my life!
Just what I was Looking For
Was looking for a therapist for years. Came across the book, knew it was for me. Reading and actively reading both books. Thanks for he podcasts.