Chapter four has the title “Don’t Be a Jerk to Yourself” and addresses a topic which I often work on with my clients—our negative inner self talks—or as Duff phrases it, the “asshole language” that we use with ourselves. Our inner critic can be a friend or a foe and has a huge effect on our well-being and anxiety level.
Duff also reinforces taking breaks and doing nice things for ourselves instead of feeling guilty. Loving self-care gives us clarity and strength. He speaks about using positive mantras. As a belief change coach, my approach is to rather change the limiting subconscious belief than just use affirmations or mantras. However, the latter can be quite useful. Duff also mentions healthy food, plenty of water and enough sleep as important steps for self-care.
In the next chapter, the author addresses the negative and positive sides of technology when it comes to anxiety. Technology really is a “frenemy”. That we are accessible 24/7 is a double-edged sword. For some people, their e-mail (or other ways of communicating) have taken over their lives, and strategies like only checking our messages twice a day might need to be put in place. Social media, even though it provides ways to stay in touch or further our careers, also can trigger anxiety. How often have I heard clients share experiences of feeling excluded from events posted by others on social media, feeling pressure to keep up with others privately and professionally, or navigating the end of a relationship when everybody’s private life is out in the open via our social networks. Duff also reminds us that technology gives us access to apps for breathing and mediation or that it can be used to remind us of taking much-needed breaks.
I am very glad that in chapter six the author puts his original remarks of “slaying anxiety” or “kicking it in the balls” into perspective. Anxiety sufferers need to know that they won’t be able to make anxiety completely disappear from their life and that any effort put towards fully getting rid of the monster called anxiety is only going to backfire. However, we can learn how to better tolerate anxiety symptoms, and, I would like to add, live a full life and grow from having this challenge. Anxiety is not our enemy. We can treat it with mindfulness and like an overprotective friend who is unnecessarily worried for us and is not helping very effectively. To find out more about this concept, please read my blog “Hello, Old Pal Anxiety”. I have created a meditation specifically for anxiety.
Welcoming anxiety as a friend does not mean avoiding all situations which trigger anxiety. It simply means stopping to fight it and working with it. As Duff mentions, avoidance increase anxiety. On the other hand, gentle step by step exposure to the things that cause anxiety can give us our power back.
In chapter seven, Duff summarizes different anxiety disorders like GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), PD (panic disorder), phobias, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). What is generally referred to in our everyday language as “OCD” when commenting on people who tend to be very specific about how they want or need things, e.g. excessively neat and clean or attached to certain routines, is at most OCPD (an obsessive compulsive personality disorder) but not a true OCD. Any of these disorders require a proper diagnosis.
Chapter eight is an excellent bonus chapter giving suggestions on how to explain to other people what life is like for the anxious person.
It is challenging to explain to somebody how anxiety feels physically or what it is like to have a whirlwind of thoughts and worries inside of your brain. Duff suggests comparing the thoughts to a song stuck in your head or to imagine multiplying the feelings we all have in certain situations (like exams, giving speeches, important days like weddings etc.) to understand what anxiety is like for an affected person.
When an anxiety attack takes over, it is hard to express what we need. However, one simple question the anxious person can usually still answer is, “Do you want me to give you some space?” The author even wrote a “letter” (printable off his website) that the reader can read out to an uncompassionate family member or friend to enlighten them a bit. Beyond this downloadable letter, Duff offers different online resources throughout his book, most of them via his podcast “The Hardcore Self Help Podcast”.
Overall, I would recommend this book for young readers. Other than the tough talk of slaying the dragon and being a “badass anxiety warrior”, I don’t disagree with the essential points the author makes or the advice he gives. The important point is to act and do something about the painful anxiety you are experiencing. Do your own work and apply the anxiety reducing techniques Duff mentions or reach out to a Psychotherapist or Coach to work with them.
Before booking a session, you will get the opportunity to have a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can ask all your questions and we can determine if we are a good fit as coach and client.
You can contact Awakening Healthfor more information on either couple’s coaching or individual sessions. We can work on your own triggers and patterns in individual sessions or on your interactions with each other.