Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Experience the joy of Feeling Good - Book review
“These two books are extremely helpful for learning practical ways…[to enhance your leadership effectiveness]. The exercises taught in these books are the single most effective way to begin changing a pattern [of ineffective behaviour]”…. read manual for The Leadership Circle Profile (LCP). We use LCP for profiling and leadership development of senior executives. This book was recommended at 5 places in the manual!!
I bought the book. The cover said: “Feeling Good, the new mood therapy: The Clinically Proven Drug Free treatment related to Depression”by David D Burns, MD
My first reaction was: “How is leadership development related to depression? Why did I waste my money???”
I read along and found a treasure trove. Don’t let the cover fool you into avoiding this book thinking that it is meant only for clinically depressed people. It is one of the essential reads for any human being in my opinion.
I found the book very powerful. It has simple, scientifically proven techniques. It helps in enhancing one’s outlook to life in any situation:
- Recognize causes of mood swings
- Nip negative feelings in the bud
- Deal with guilt
- Handle hostility and criticism
- Overcome addiction to love and approval
- Beat do-nothing-ism
- Build self esteem
- Understand and handle any level of anger
The exercises, rationale, role play, various self-assessment questionnaires, sample stories are simple, practical, easy to use.
Dr Burns explains how our moods and actions are a result of our own thoughts and perceptions.
I particularly like the chapter on cognitive distortions that result into negative thoughts. Especially on
- Labeling: Your self cannot be equated with any one thing you do. Your life is a complex and ever-changing flow of thoughts, emotions, and actions. To put it another way, you are more like a river than a statue.
- Personalization: Personalization causes you to feel crippling guilt. You suffer from a paralyzing and burdensome sense of responsibility that forces you to carry the whole world on your shoulders. You have confused influence with control over others.
An excerpt is given at the end of this mail.
I found ways to resolve some long pending behaviours and assumptions of mine: being a perfectionist, avoiding criticism and confrontation, approval addiction, linking self worth to achievements etc.
May this book help you and your near and dear ones to develop a sustained positive outlook on life and experience the joy of ‘feeling good’.
(PS: in case you are wondering, the other book recommended by TLC is The Feeling Good Handbook: The Groundbreaking Program with Powerful New Techniques and Step-by-Step Exercises to Overcome Depression, Conquer Anxiety, and Enjoy Greater Intimacy. Next on my reading list !)
Excerpts from Feeling Good by David D Burns, MD:
Labeling and Mislabeling. Personal labeling means creating a completely negative self-image based on your errors. It is an extreme form of overgeneralization. The philosophy behind it is "The measure of a man is the mistakes he makes." There is a good chance you are involved in a personal labeling whenever you describe your mistakes with sentences beginning with "I'm a..." For example, when you miss your putt on the eighteenth hole, you might say, "I'm a born loser" instead of "I goofed up on my putt." Similarly, when the stock you invested in goes down instead of up, you might think, "I'm a failure" instead of "I made a mistake."
Labeling yourself is not only self-defeating, it is irrational. Your self cannot be equated with any one thing you do. Your life is a complex and ever-changing flow of thoughts, emotions, and actions. To put it another way, you are more like a river than a statue. Stop trying to define yourself with negative labels—they are overly simplistic and wrong. Would you think of yourself exclusively as an "eater" just because you eat, or a "breather" just because you breathe? This is nonsense, but such nonsense becomes painful when you label yourself out of a sense of your own inadequacies.
When you label other people, you will invariably generate hostility. A common example is the boss who sees his occasionally irritable secretary as "an uncooperative bitch." Because of this label, he resents her and jumps at every chance to criticize her. She, in turn, labels him an "insensitive chauvinist" and complains about him at every opportunity. So, around and around they go at each other's throats, focusing on every weakness or imperfection as proof of the other's worthlessness.
Mislabeling involves describing an event with words that are inaccurate and emotionally heavily loaded. For example, a woman on a diet ate a dish of ice cream and thought, "How disgusting and repulsive of me. I'm a pig." These thoughts made her so upset she ate the whole quart of ice cream!
Personalization. This distortion is the mother of guilt! You assume responsibility for a negative even when there is no basis for doing so. You arbitrarily conclude that what happened was your fault or reflects your inadequacy, even when you were not responsible for it. For example, when a patient didn't do a self-help assignment I had suggested, I felt guilty because of my thought, "I must be a lousy therapist. It's my fault that she isn't working harder to help herself. It's my responsibility to make sure she gets well." When a mother saw her child's report card, there was a note from the teacher indicating the child was not working well. She immediately decided, "I must be a bad mother. This shows how I've failed."
Personalization causes you to feel crippling guilt. You suffer from a paralyzing and burdensome sense of responsibility that forces you to carry the whole world on your shoulders. You have confused influence with control over others. In your role as a teacher, counselor, parent, physician, salesman, executive, you will certainly influence the people you interact with, but no one could reasonably expect you to control them. What the other person does is ultimately his or her responsibility, not yours.