on March 3, 2008
I have been to therapy in the past (for childhood abuse issues and
anxiety) and read other material on anxiety, and it truly did give me
significant relief from my symptoms, and helped my life overall. But
the goal was to totally get rid of anxiety for me. So I was always
left with the hang ups that came when I had anxiety, which every
human has, and is unavoidable. I would see the anxiety as proof that
something was wrong with me, I wasn't coping well, etc. It fed into
negative thoughts about life and myself. So I had obsessions and
hangups surrounding the residual anxiety itself. In the past several months I had started coming to some of the viewpoints in the workbook on my own, so when I found out about it, it just clicked with me on a deep level. It has been so helpful already to me, and enriched my life.
When I started identifying my values (an important step in the workbook), I realized for the first time
that a lot of what I have tried to do with my life, was about things
other people cared about and not me. I finally saw what *I* cared
for. It has already shifted the focus of my life. For instance, I'm
29 years old tomorrow, and I always thought I "should" be going out
and having drinks with friends periodically. Or doing the things
people my age "should" do. But I never really cared about that, OR
got any real enjoyment out of it. That's just a small example, but
to me was a big epiphany. The things I care about are my children,
raising them WELL. My marriage, my family, learning, doing something
meaningful with my life that helps others...etc.
So I kind of found myself in this book, and I'm not apologizing for
who I am anymore. I always felt "too serious". But I was judging by
someone else's standards.
In the realm of anxiety, I have been practicing mindfulness and
acceptance, and I keep getting these just awe inspiring moments. Where you just think, Wow! I feel like I'm getting in touch with something much bigger than myself, a place much bigger than me, where anxiety, worries, and fears are a very small and inconsequential thing. Another thing that has really changed my perception of anxiety and worries is the realization that there is much more "space" in me than just what I'm feeling at a particular time. There is "room" for a lot more in me than I thought. Room for the anxiety or fear to be there, and room for me to bring acceptance to them at the same time, and then peace. And no matter what, my values are always there, they are a constant. And they have within them much more energy than my fears to tap into. I've been feeling very spiritually peaceful and joyous at random times throughout the day since practicing this workbook.
Even my dreams have changed. Like last night I dreamt of riding an airplane and looking down at the world, viewing a beautiful sunrise, etc. It's a dream I've never had. I'm very hopeful and excited about living life this way, in acceptance. Something I've never been able to achieve before, b/c I didn't really know "how" to do it. I know I'll always have anxiety and fears and that change is going to take time, and for the first time I think that's ok.
Thank you to the writers of the book. It's an amazing addition to
First off, I usually hate workbooks. I can't stand to pay money for a bunch of pages filled with lines that I'm supposed to fill in, as if I am writing the book myself. THIS BOOK IS NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL. It's brief but thorough, with great ideas on every page. It takes you by the hand and explains in detail, but does it in a way that you don't feel talked down to.
Second, about half the people out there touting acceptance these days don't have any idea what they're talking about. There are a bunch of psychobabblers who go to one Steve Hayes workshop and think that since they read some Zen twenty years ago they know the whole ACT paradigm. John and Georg are really immersed in this work, and it shows up in the gentle way that they explain the key concepts. The subtle way they frame examples also shows their deep understanding of what this framework is all about. Because they understand it so well, the exercises flow from the central themes, so you can see how they build to an understanding of emotion. Readers will find themselves more forgiving of themselves and their own feelings. It's not a bunch of cognitive hoop-jumping that you see from other books that don't really understand this paradigm. Instead, you finish with the sense that this is really a way of life.
Last, you don't have to be anxious to benefit from reading this book! Much as I would love to pretend that I picked it up just to help clients and supervisees, I get wound up and freaked out like the next person. This book helps me identify moments of willingness, however brief and infrequent, and gets me to cultivate mindfulness throughout the day.
on January 24, 2008
I am a psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety. I found this to be a highly effective program for my anxious teens and adults. For many, it is life changing, liberating, and results in a level of peace they have not accessed before. I especially welcomed alternative ways of addressing and conceptualizing anxiety. I have found the approaches and philosophies outlined in this program to be well-received by patients. It is a great stand-alone program but is also a great adjunct to more traditional CBT approaches. The book is well written and easy to read, the illustrations are powerful, and the CD allows forms to be printed and contains excellent guided meditation exercises. What a great addition to the field of workbooks for anxious individuals!
on March 30, 2008
After years of struggling with stress and anxiety, trying everything under the sun to fix my problems (with some stuff making things distinctly worse!), the message behind ACT was like a breath of fresh air. My problem wasn't the anxiety itself - it was with my struggles and ineffective coping methods. After some good work and reading books like this one, I can happily say that I am living a meaningful live in the service of what matters most to me.
I've been a member of the ACT community going on four years now. I've read several of the books, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders so I eagerly anticipated the arrival of this new workbook. It's safe to say I wasn't disappointed. I can say hands down this is the most powerful and useful self-help book out there for people who are struggling with anxiety. Period.
The authors approach this work with gentleness, humility, and compassion. If you're like many people who have been suffering from excessive stress, fear, or anxiety, you don't need more information or knowledge. You need something that works, and that's just what they're offering in this new workbook. The emphasis is on finding workable ways of living a more valued and meaningful life.
Here it is in plain English. If you're struggling with worry, fear, stress, or anxiety, and what you've been doing to control or manage your problems isn't working, get this workbook. It might just change your life.
on October 30, 2014
This is a very unique and counter intuitive strategy for dealing with anxiety. The basic theory in layman's terms is that your struggles with anxiety - that is, your conscious, deliberate effort to "think away", suppress, or otherwise fight your anxious thoughts and feelings - are making you feel worse, not better. So, you must stop fighting and start yielding, and that act of yielding will ultimately result in decreased anxiety.
By fighting the anxiety, which is what just about all of us do (And why not? It seems natural to "fight" something you want to get rid of, right?), you are actually feeding it. Once the anxiety train gets rolling and continues to pick up steam, the brain chemicals are flooding your body, and the intense, uncomfortable feelings of anxiety take over. At this stage, virtually all efforts to just "talk yourself out of it" are futile.
Again, because we so hate feeling anxious, we immediately start trying to battle it when we begin to feel it, and this battle only adds negative energy and strengthens the anxiety. Which further explains why no matter how hard you fight against the anxiety you just see it getting worse. Now all the pieces seem to fit a bit better, and you come to understand why all your dutiful efforts to "fight" anxiety have not worked.
This technique has indeed been helpful, but it is not easy, or instant. It definitely is a new way of thinking and acting, and thus, takes practice. However, I don't feel there is anything wrong with trying to replace negative thoughts and irrational ideas with positive ones (cognitive therapy) as long as you don't become dependent on that as an avoidance strategy. Nor do I see a major problem with telling yourself there is no reason to be scared when, in fact, there is no actual reason to be scared. The authors would likely be quick to point out that if such approaches really helped, you'd be over your anxiety by now.
I think it is also fair to say though that by changing the way you view your thoughts, and by choosing not to resist them, you are, in fact, employing a form of cognitive therapy, even if you don't label it as such.
There is much to commend this book, but be prepared for something completely different, and maybe even a bit frightening. Time to face what you have been dodging. No more running away. The more you think about it though, and compare it to your own experience, the more sense it makes.
on December 13, 2010
I would give this book a hundred stars if I could. I've struggled with anxiety for over 25 years. I've been agoraphobic for 15 of those years. I've had therapy, have a virtual library of anxiety books and take tranquilizers. I am the person this book was written for. Within a few paragraphs, the authors had nailed my personality.
A few days of reading this book, I was able to stop engaging in struggle with the anxiety and go with the flow. I learned how to step back and observe the anxiety, rather than react to it. This is in spite of several anxiety attacks I have had as a result of the long process of withdrawing from Ativan, a highly addictive tranquilizer. I drove myself to a neighboring town for the first time in years. I'm doing a lot more than I used to do, and I am really thankful to the authors of this book for giving me the tools to do it.
I'm floored that after YEARS of therapy and after reading numerous other books about anxiety I have not been presented with the information contained in this book. If you feel trapped by anxiety, this book can help you get out.
I have to admit, I haven't even finished the book yet. The first four chapters turned on the light for me. I can't wait to read the rest!
on July 19, 2009
I enjoyed this book. The 'workbook' part of the title worried me at first because I disliked writing journals and tracking down thoughts all the time, but the information and exercises outweigh the writing, and the writing isn't as vast as cognitive therapy books.
This book is easy to comprehend, and the design and layout of the pages are simple, and the pictures are humorous.
But most importantly the content of the book is effective. It teaches that getting rid of anxiety isn't the answer. Rather, feeling the sensations from anxiety for what they really are, and noticing the judgments and fears that surround it, while doing things you care about (despite how you feel) is the key to finding relief. They constantly remind you as the reader, that from experience, you know following your habits hasn't worked.
Being kind to yourself and your anxiety is also emphasized. It helps soften the judgments of our anxiety, reminds us that these feelings are still a part of us, though don't define who we are.
Another significant component of the book regards values. The book introduces this subject with an exercise where you write your life as a worrier on a tombstone. This causes the reader to realize that life shouldn't be about trying to stop worrying, but doing things you want to do. So what if you're worried and scared to death? You let yourself be worried while doing these things (the exercises prepare you for this).
If various therapies for anxiety were diets, then, in my opinion, ACT is like the old school way of dieting. You work hard and put effort into it, and eventually succeed. There are fab diets, ones that claim instant success. But in reality, things like this take commitment, and effort--there are no shortcuts.
on June 26, 2010
I have struggled with a phobia for nearly 20 years. I have tried everything to heal it, from popular audio programs(think late night infomercials) to eft to changing diet to just trying to muscle through it, to cognitive therapy, to hypnotherapy, to YOU NAME IT. I have tried it. This book HAD MY ANSWER. Really and truly, this book healed my phobia. I still get anxiety, but I don't fight it now. I'm practicing every day and shocking myself how much more calm I am, not only with my phobia, but with my life! This book has saved my life. I can't thank the authors enough!
on March 6, 2008
I've enjoyed integrating ACT into my practice. I feel it is a solid approach and frankly haven't had much luck with other approaches. I do not believe that this or any other form of therapy is the be all and end all, however for clinicians and patients who are unfamiliar with the ACT philosophy, this book is practical and accessible.
on April 27, 2015
Oh boy, where do I start?
This book is a simple MUST read for anyone. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, insecurities -- as we all do -- then you definitely need to make your way through this workbook. I promise you, if you haven't already, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) will change your life by revolutionizing the way you connect with your thoughts and emotions.
The premise of this "third wave" behavioral therapy is simple and almost esoteric: By combating your issues, which is the norm in therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you feed them and create a cycle of avoidance that only aggravates the problem. The truth is that there is no need to conquer anxiety, phobias, etc. The battle cannot be won because the battle is simply *part* of living. With that knowledge, the battle does not need to be won in order to live a healthy, vital life. There is a way you can peacefully integrate your "issues" (which, at the end of the day, aren't actually issues but natural processes that all humans experience) into your life. It's extremely counter intuitive approach because it goes against everything that you are told in a "culture of feel-goodism." This simple foundation is enough to consider reading the book. ACT goes after the very undercurrent of contemporary therapy and attempts to revitalize the way people connect with themselves. The book knocks down various myths about anxiety that I, myself, didn't realize I had been hanging on to. Once I was able to let go of these thoughts and learn to accept instead of avoid, I began to be more mindful, more peaceful, and more productive in my daily activities.
One of the most powerful lessons I've learned is this (and forgive me if I'm not explaining it well!): Triggers and phobias aren't feared, so much as the FEELING of the fear itself. For example, you aren't afraid so much of being judged, so much as feeling the panic and distress OF being overwhelmed with anxiety. Now, to fix this, you would naturally attempt to avoid social situations that place you in this vulnerable position. But what good does it do? By avoiding, you let the fear in your life become a blockade that prevents you from living a vital existence. The thing is -- fear is not a blockade. Fear and anxiety are essential components of living, and HELP you ensure that you are doing the right things. The problem isn't suffering anxiety itself, the problem is creating habits of avoidance and escapism to prevent yourself from feeling that anxiety. The attempt at escape obscure what's really important -- LIVING. This was a powerful lesson that changed the way I acted. Knowing this, I began to embrace my anxiety and, knowing that it was natural and essentially helpful, use it to become more productive and compassionate towards myself. No longer did I chide myself for feeling certain ways that I didn't control. The entire premise of my behavior changed for the better.
The book itself makes no promises, and instead encourages you to see what works for you. The writing is effectively simple, clear, and engaging. Ideas are repeated throughout in order to reinforce them in your memory. Clean, easy metaphors and exercises are presented at natural moments, and simple exercises such as "Don't Think About A Pink Elephant!" (demonstrating the negative effects of suppressing emotions) helpfully engage your higher thinking and get you to see things in a different light. The authors, Forsyth and Eifert, present their cases well, and establish a good sense of trust in their research and writing. On top of that, the book is extremely quotable and goes out of its way to make sure you understand its core ideas -- essential phrases are highlighted in grey boxes, and summaries of the lessons are included at the end of each chapter, along with key questions to think about.
At heart, the book and ACT feels so much like common sense. It has a tone of Zen to it. That's not surprising, given how mindfulness, acceptance, and peace are key components of Eastern philosophies! I'm reading this book and also going through Mindfulness meditation practices in my daily life. My anxiety and insecurities have calmed down. But more importantly, I've learned to accept my fears as natural parts of existence; I've learned to integrate them into my life and let my emotions and fears pass through me; and -- this is very important -- I've learned how to *use* my anxiety and fear to channel me away from avoidance and into productive, healthier directions. I'm very much happier, accepting, and calm!
As I said, this book is a must read for EVERYONE. There's another book by the same publisher for depression by different authors, but I haven't read it. I'll be sure to check it out after this workbook.
It may not help you as much as it helped me, but it will change the basis of the way you look at things and live!