Friday, January 22, 2010

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Revelations

I've been steeping myself in the waters of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy lately. Eve's therapist suggested a few books to me and they are the kind of books that, when you read them, you go, "Duh!" Duh in a good way. Like, why didn't I realize that? Why have I been doing the absolute, complete opposite of that for the past several months (or my entire lifetime, as it turns out) and expecting different results?

Thankfully, neither my therapist nor Eve's reprimands me for it. They both assured me that it's perfectly normal and reasonable to live the way I've been living, but that now it's time to change. For everyone's sake.

As to the anxiety and fear Eve is struggling with, we've been encouraged to work toward it. Face it. Walk through the fire and realize that as we come out the other side, we are just fine. Do that 495 times and eventually the notion that fire is not so scary will sink in. One day at a time, this notion is scary. For Eve, the idea of sitting right inside the vortex of her fear is overwhelming to say the least. But her therapist said something last Monday that really struck me. She said, "The anxiety feelings can't hurt you. They feel awful and they make your heart race and your stomach flutter and your palms sweat, but your body can't maintain that level of anxiety for long so if you just sit with it, your body will eventually calm down. In the meantime, the feelings can't kill you. You won't bleed or have a heart attack or stop breathing. They can't hurt you even though they threaten to."

I don't know if Eve believes it, but as her mother, that was what I needed to hear in order to let her sit with it. Each and every mothering instinct I have urges me to do the opposite; fix it, rescue her, swoop in and save her, but if I can continue to remind myself that she is not going to die, maybe I can let her conquer this on her own and reap the rewards.

*The books I am loving are: Tamar Chansky's "Freeing Your Child From Anxiety," and Dawn Huebner's "What to Do When You Dread Your Bed" and "What to Do When You Worry Too Much."


Carrie Wilson Link said...

LOVE hearing this! Sounds like you've found the PERFECT therapist! The books sound great, too!


Deb Shucka said...

So glad the insights are pouring in and beginning to help. Looking forward to hearing how this works for all of you.

Anonymous said...

It's hard sitting with anxiety, with fear, with ambiguity, but your therapist is right, the feeling won't kill us. And the feeling does pass, except we don't know that until we learn to live with the feeling, to sit with it. Your daughter is lucky, I'm only now learning this at 47. said...

I hope your little one is feeling better soon.

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