Category: CBT

Stop worrying – the new model

When you google “stop worry” you find sites that redommend 5 steps, 9 steps or even 13 steps in order to stop your worry.

These steps sometimes are helpful for you to get rid of the worry instantly, but the worry unfortunately comes back. And that seems to be inevitable.

This new model for how to stop worrying and ruminating is aiming to train your brain to refrain from producing discomforting and worrying thoughts – to extinguish the habit of thinking discomforting and upsetting thoughts. This is a more permanent way to deal with the worry.

The new model was first presented in 2007 in the book “Quit ruminating and brooding“. It has now been tested in two very large scale studies (in press) with 140 subjects in the first study. In the second study (with 340 subjects) the new model has proven  to be even more effective than the standard treaments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) with their different stressmanagement methods.

What is so special about this new model?

It does indeed not strive to relieve your uneasiness immediatly, but to free you in a longer run and permanently.

It aims to train your warning or scary brain to refrain from seeking threats, dangers and producing discomforting thoughts when you are feeling low, guilty or are anxious and aroused.

The book “Quit ruminating and brooding” has become very popular in Sweden and the nordic countries (small countries in Scandinavia) and has sold more than 29000 copies to date. The book is easy to understand to anyone and it is appreciated by the common man as well as by psychologists and students. Why not try it? You might regret and worry about it if you do not.

The book is available in English since 2015

Get the book

  • Distraction might temporarily relieve the worry, but it is no cure. Instead it might prolong it.
  • Eagerness to quit worry in a wrong way intensifies it.
  • Refrain from comforting when afflicted by problems that cannot be solved.
  • Do not seek answers to questions that have no answers.
  • Do not try to understand things that are incomprehensible.
  • If you accept the presence of your discomforting and intrusive thoughts – you eventually kill them.
  • If you really want to learn how to quit worrying  Read the book.

If you consider buying the book – please buy the green och black version. AuthorHouse (the white version) retain my legal royalty because of a self-imposed rule.

Summary of posts below

Summary of posts below

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  • Ruminations are a stream of thoughts or a so-called behavioral chain, where thoughts shift between discomforting thoughts and comforting thoughts.
    • The comforting thoughts are cognitive safety-behaviors that are used to thwart, disprove, create clarity and decrease the discomfort that discomforting thoughts trigger.
    • The discomforting thoughts automatically become frightening as the comforting thoughts are used to escape the discomfort, unpleasantness, insecurity, and anger that the discomforting thoughts create. This happens through conditioning.
    • A person who ruminates gets an increasing number of discomforting thoughts as the comforting thoughts reinforce the behavior to think discomforting thoughts, and at the same time, they function as triggering stimuli for the next discomforting thoughts in a so called behavior chain.
    • The discomforting thoughts can become increasingly unrealistic through the generalization that the comforting thoughts (safety-behaviors) create, and since we in our thinking connect related information to our momentary thinking.
    • The dulling of our minds as a result of anxiety (the sympathetic nervous reaction) makes us uncritical and allows us to think and “approve” illogical and completely unrealistic discomforting thoughts.

      See the book

You get dumber during anxiety

cropped-Bild-23.jpgWhen you are afflicted by severe discomfort and anxiety, a number of things happen in your body. What happens is that the body prepares itself for fight or flight through a so-called sympathetic nervous reaction. Part of this reaction is, among other things, that the blood in the body is redistributed. Blood flows to the major muscle groups in the arms and legs, to make you stronger and more prepared for fight or flight. The blood is, among other things, redistributed from the skin. What is even more important for rumination is that the blood is also redistributed from the front parts of the brain, the frontal lobe, where our logical thinking is located. Hence, during anxiety, we become dumber since it is exactly this part of the brain that receives less blood.

When we have strong feelings as a result of our ruminations and broodings, our minds get temporarily dulled. That is, when we use thinking and our consciousness the most during ruminations, our intelligence is momentarily dulled. We become so illogical that we do not even realize the obvious, that it is impossible to solve unsolvable problems just by thinking. We become so dumb that we allow ourselves to be frightened by illogical and apparently erroneous discomforting thoughts.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.
The book can be ordered from Amazon.com  ISBN 9781511549776

 

Generalization (continuation of previous posts)

cropped-Bild-23.jpgWhen Albert had become conditioned to be afraid of the rabbit he escaped in any way possible from his white rabbit. With his safety-behaviors, he kept his conditioned fear alive, and another thing also happened. His fear spread to other rabbit-like objects. He was frightened by a white rat, later he was frightened by a piece of white cotton waste, and even a man with a great white beard. This is called generalization.

To apply safety-behaviors in order to escape things that scare us makes objects that are similar to what we are afraid of frightening. The fear “contaminates” things that resemble the things you were initially afraid of.

The more you try to escape from and fight your discomforting thoughts with the help of comforting thoughts, the more frightening the discomforting thoughts become, and the more often they appear. Generalization also makes new thoughts that are close to the initial thought frightening – compare the rabbit, the rat, a white piece of waste cotton and a great white beard.

                      The human brain also has an incredible ability to relate and connect old experiences and thoughts to ongoing thoughts. This, along with generalization, leads the contents of the discomforting thoughts to become increasingly distanced from the initial discomforting thought. The more comforting thoughts, the more imaginative the contents of the discomforting thoughts may become – even unrealistic. In the end, it is possible that you feel bad from completely illogical thoughts, even though your common sense tells you that these thoughts are not true.

The common sense in the comforting thoughts is no match for the conditioned discomfort that the discomforting thoughts automatically conjure up. You cannot fight conditioned feelings with logic and logical comforting thoughts.

Comforting thoughts make the contents of discomforting thoughts increasingly different, more fantastic and unrealistic. This is because of generalization.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

Continuation of article below

Albert had his attention directed towards the rabbit when he was frightened. The rabbit was removed and was not visible to him when he calmed down again. Fear (anxiety) and the presence of rabbit were connected, and calm was connected to the absence of rabbit.

An object or an event may acquire frightening characteristics if it disappears from you when you are frightened and is not with you when you are calming down. What happens is called conditioning, and the thing that acquires the automatically frightening characteristic is called a conditioned stimulus.

The fact that it was other people who removed the rabbit from Albert, and that he himself did not escape is of no importance. Only the fact that the rabbit was with Albert when he had anxiety, but was not there when he was calmed made him frightened of the rabbit. In the same way that Albert became frightened of his favorite rabbit, it is possible to become frightened by natural occurrences like standing in line, riding a bus, going to the movies, or the heart skipping a beat.

When you ruminate, you escape your discomforting thoughts with the help of your comforting thoughts. This leads to feelings of increased discomfort from the discomforting thoughts. As soon as conditioning has occurred, the discomforting thoughts automatically trigger discomfort. They have become conditioned stimuli for unpleasantness.

Escape, avoidances, and other safety-behaviors increase the sensitivity for the things that you escape or insure yourself against. In attempting to disprove, avoid or distract yourself from discomforting thoughts with comforting thoughts, you make them more frightening, painful and unpleasant.

When discomforting thoughts become increasingly discomforting through conditioning, it feels even more pressing to thwart them with more comforting thoughts. This makes discomforting thoughts even more discomforting, and may result in a vicious circle.

Comforting thoughts make you feel more discomfort in the face of discomforting thoughts through conditioning. This makes it feel even more necessary to use comforting thoughts to thwart the increased discomfort. In the long term, comforting thoughts make you feel worse from your discomforting thoughts, and even lead to more discomforting thoughts.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

Conditioning – How to Make Oneself Afraid of One’s Own Thoughts

cropped-Bild-23.jpgIf you get thrown off a horse you need to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. Everyone who has ridden a horse knows this. If you do not get back in the saddle immediately after being thrown off, you will automatically be scared of horse riding in the future.

If you perform some anxiety-lowering safety-behavior, such as avoidance or escaping, when you are frightened or feel anxiety, you get more scared of the thing you avoid or escape from. The thing that you leave or protect yourself from gets the “blame” for the anxiety, even if it was not originally the thing that frightened you.

And this will, in the future, trigger automatic fear or conditioned fear. Hence, you teach your autonomous nervous system to be automatically frightened of something that used to be neutral or harmless. It is called conditioning when a previously completely neutral stimulus has turned into a conditioned stimulus, a “trigger” for anxiety.

Little Albert, only a year old, sat playing with a rat. While the boy sat there, someone snuck up behind him and banged two metal objects. Sudden noises are natural frighteners, and Albert was naturally very frightened. The boy started to scream and cry. The rat was instantly removed from him. They helped him to escape the rat, even though it was not the rat that had frightened him.

He calmed down after a little while and the rat was not with him at the time. After this, Albert was automatically frightened and started to scream as soon as he saw the rat. Albert was conditioned to be frightened by the rat. The rat had become a conditioned stimulus that triggered automatic fear. The rat, which had become a conditioned stimulus, which means that Albert’s nervous system had learned to automatically trigger fear as soon as he saw the rat.

TO BE CONTINUED

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

Rumination is a chain of thoughts

We perform a lot of behaviors in chains. Anything from putting on a shirt to riding a bicycle, playing the piano or driving are examples of behavioral chains. All major and joint behaviors are behavioral chains where every small, well performed partial behavior leads to reinforcement which triggers the next partial behavior.

Allow me to illustrate a behavioral chain with the vacuum-cleaning example. You vacuum the left corner (R1) and observe with pleasure how the dust bunnies disappear (C1), this proviedes the impulse (S2) for you to move the nozzle to the carpet to vacuum there (R2), and when you hear pebbles rattling in the tube (C2), you are pleased and know that (S3) it is now time to move the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner again.

S1 – R1 – C1/S2 – R2 – C2/S3 – R3 – C3/S4 – R4 – C4/S5 – R5 – C5/S6 – and so on

This formula illustrates how behavior analysis would transcribe such a chain. S is a starter for (R1) which gets is reinforcement (C1). This reinforcement also acts as the trigger (S2) for the next partial behavior (R2) whose reinforcement (C2) acts as the trigger for the next behavior (R3) and so on.

Let us now look at the behavioral chain in ruminating as a chain of behaviors. Ruminating consists of the two parts, the discomforting thoughts (R), and the comforting thoughts (C). The comforting thoughts act both as reinforcements for discomforting thoughts as well as a trigger for thinking the next discomforting thought (R2). Rumination is driven forward by the comforting thoughts.

At the same time that the comforting thought thwarts the discomfort that the discomforting thought brings, which is pleasant, it also triggers the next discomforting thought. The result becomes a behavioral chain, driven by the effort to thwart/ reduce or eliminate discomfort.

We now understand the dynamics of ruminating, but we still do not have an explanation as to why we feel so bad when we ruminate. The answer to this is conditioning.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

It Is Nice to Take Off Shoes That Are Too Small

cropped-Bild-23.jpgI had a friend who jokingly used to say: “I always buy shoes that are too small because it is so nice to take them off.” There is something in this joke. It resembles the motivation for ruminating and worrying. If you want to feel comfortable in that way, the only chance to do so is to put on shoes that are too small over and over. If you want to feel eased and comforted, the only chance is to first make sure that you have something that requires comforting. In order to experience a small part of the security that the comforting thoughts entail, you first need to feel discomfort.

The comforting thoughts reinforce the discomforting thoughts and make them return and multiply. It does not matter that the discomforting thoughts are painful and unpleasant when the reinforcement that follows just increases their number and variety.

Ruminations are driven by the shifting between the unpleasant thoughts and the comforting thoughts. The comforting thoughts reinforce the discomforting thoughts, which in turn increase in number.

Yet another piece of the puzzle needs to be added in order for us to understand how ruminations function, and it is about how chains of thoughts work.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

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What drives ruminations and broodings?

Why is it so hard to make the hurtful thoughts disappear, even though you really want them to? What is the reason that ruminations go on and on despite our efforts to quit? What mechanism makes it persist even though we do “everything” to rid ourselves of it? Most of us have, at one point or another during our lives, wanted to end our ruminations instantly.

In order to clarify what drives ruminations I have to describe the driving force of human behavior, namely “reinforcement.

Reinforcement

We know from behavioral psychology and behavioral analysis that volitionally/voluntary, controllable behaviors are driven by their reinforcers. Reinforcement is something that is experienced as a positive or pleasant consequence of a behavior, which in turns increases the frequency of the behavior. Reinforcement always follows the behavior which is reinforced and influences what will happen in the future.

This should be written accordingly:

S———————- R —————————- C

Starter        Reaction/Behavior           Consequence which is pleasant (=reinforcing)

The pleasant consequence (C) makes the behavior (R) increase. The behavior will be repeated and more often so due to the fact that it led to a positive or pleasant consequence (C).  If a child skips with a jump rope (R) and finds it amusing (C), the child will skip with a jump rope again. The behavior to skip with a jump rope is reinforced, and what happens is called reinforcement.

Premack’s principle

A researcher named David  Premack made an observation that came to be of major importance for the understanding of human behavior. He claimed that certain behaviors were self-reinforcing.

The activities that we choose to spend time on are the kind that are reinforcing in and of themselves. This means that these behaviors do not need any other reinforcement in order to be repeated or sustained. They are so pleasant and nice that they are their own reinforcements – we do certain things because they are fun.

Premack then thought that these self-reinforcing behaviors must be able to function as reinforcements for other, less pleasant behaviors, if they follow immediately after these. We recognize this as the grandma law, and we often apply it in our child rearing. We tell our children that they have to do their homework before they can play computer games. To play computer games is a self-reinforcing behavior which leads to homework being done faster while making it more fun to do, since doing homework leads to the fun computer gaming. As such, computer gaming reinforces doing homework.

A behavior that leads to a self-reinforcing behavior is reinforced, and is hence repeated and carried out more often. This is Premack’s principle.

starter                         Behavior                              Reinforcement

S ————————-  R ———————————–  C
starter                  cleaning one’s room               is allowed to play football

Pelle will clean his room more often because he knows that immediately afterwards, he will be allowed to play football. To play football reinforces the behavior to clean his room, since he enjoys playing football.

In the same way, a pleasant and comforting thought reinforces a preceding, discomforting thought. A liked behavior reinforces a less liked behavior.

S   —————————-    R      ———————————  C
starter              thinks a discomforting thought             thinks a comforting thought
If Pelle thinks painful, anxiety-provoking and discomforting thoughts (R), and immediately afterwards thinks calming/comforting thought (C), the discomforting thought (R) will be reinforced. The behavior of thinking calming comforting thoughts (C) will hence function as reinforcement for the discomforting thoughts (R), according to Premack’s principle. In behavioral therapeutic theory, this is the reason that makes it hard to quit ruminating.

You want to quit the painful, anxiety-provoking and worrying thoughts, but you do not wish to quit the comforting, calming and reassuring thoughts. This is part of the explanation to why it is so hard to get rid of discomforting thoughts.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

The book is available in two similar versions. Please choose the green and black version. AuthorHouse (the white version) keep my legally earned royalty to themselves, because of a self-imposed rule.

Ruminating is the “tennis” of the brain – the internal argumentation

Ruminations can be likened to a game of tennis, where one side hits a frightening thought, and the calming side returns it with a comforting thought. Each time the “ball” comes over to the other side, it can be returned. The game can go on forever. Since we are intelligent beings, we keep finding new frightening aspects, or we get new irritating ideas, and find new comforting thoughts.

Ruminating is an internal dialogue, or discussion or debate.

Our ability to see new dangers leads to a never ending shift in the contents of ruminations, even if it is about the same subject or field.

Look at this example of how rumination can function. Let the tennis game begin.

Discomforting thoughts                   Comforting thoughts

  • What if the interest rate increases?
                                                        The interest rate has not increased for a 
                                                         year.
  • Sooner or later it is bound to increase. It has always been up and down. If it increases, our living costs will hit the ceiling and we will have to move.
                                                           No expert has talked about increased                                                                     interest rates recently.
  • In the thirties, the stock market crashed and interest rates increased overnight without people knowing about it ahead of time, because if they did, they would have sold their stock shares before the crash.
                                                            Economists are more competent now, so                                                              that could  not happen in such a surprising                                                           way these days.
  • But the monetary system is also more complicated now and, hence, more vulnerable. And if the interest rate increased by 2%, we might not be able to afford food. Then we will be forced to sell our house.                                                                                                We will be alright, one way or another.                                                                 We will get plenty of money for our house                                                             if we sold it now.
  • Then where would we move?
                                                                  There are plenty of apartments in                                                                           Olsberga.
  • In that case, the children will have to change schools, and they will lose all their friends.
                                                                  There are probably many teachers that                                                                  are better  out there, and the children                                                                    would not have as far to school.
  • They might get bullied.
                                                                    Why would they? They have always                                                                       been well liked and popular.

 

  • There are a lot of problems in Olsberga and my children might end up in a bad crowd and start smoking and drinking.
                                                                    Why would they do that all of a                                                                               sudden? That has not happened before.
  • If they do not make new friends, they might start hanging out with kids who do drugs.
                                                                   And so on.
  • And so on.

Ruminations can go on for a long time. There are really no boundaries for how long they might go on. Hereby, the intelligence and imagination of human beings become a burden.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

The book is available in two similar versions. Please choose the green and black version. AuthorHouse (the white version) keep my legally earned royalty to themselves, because of a self-imposed rule.

Rumination is a behavior stream

cropped-Bild-23.jpgRuminating is not really one behavior, but rather a stream of many behaviors. It is a stream of thoughts. The rumination-stream does not consist of the same thoughts repeating themselves, but rather it consists of two types of thoughts. Two types which each have their own different function.

Behavior analysis is the understanding of the function of different behaviors. One behavior can have different functions, depending on different situations. Different behaviors may have the same function, even though they differ starkly. In order to understand a behavior’s function or purpose, it is essential to see it its context. If you do not understand the function of a behavior, you might treat it improperly. Thoughts are also behaviors, which can have different functions.

Our feelings are affected by external and internal factors. We might get upset, angry, and frightened by things that we hear and see, but also by things that we think. In the same manner, we can be calmed by things we see, hear, and think.

Thoughts in ruminations have two different functions. One kind of thoughts leads to anxiety, insecurity, or discomfort and these thoughts function as frighteners or “triggers”. The other type of thoughts functions as calmers, reassurers, or comforters, also called safety-behaviors.

Thoughts that lead to concern, frighten, lead to uneasiness, anxiety or discomfort in general will henceforth be referred to as “discomforting thoughts”. Thoughts that function as safety-behaviors that are used to rid uncertainty, insecurity, concerns, feelings of discomfort and doubt, will henceforth be referred to as “comforting thoughts”.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadstrom. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

Ruminating in various types of anxiety

cropped-Bild-23.jpgNearly every human being has been ruminating. The everyday ruminating that we do does not distinguish itself in terms of characteristics from the ruminating and brooding that are parts of a more serious state of anxiety. The difference is that everyday rumination is not as persistent and longstanding, and it is not as painful. There are a few anxiety disorders that are known to be characterized by persistent rumination and brooding. The most common ones are Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, jealousy, hypochondria, Social Anxiety Disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

 

In cases of these anxiety disorders, ruminating is a major part of the problem. In some cases it is the dominant and most painful behavior for the patient. Ruminating is often a way to convince oneself, to calm oneself, to experience clarity and assurance and to finally feel better.

 This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadstrom. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

What is ruminating?

Ruminations are thoughts. Thoughts are a type of behavior, so called cognitive behavior. Other types of behavior are motor or external behaviors. These behaviors are what we do with our bodies and which are usually visible, while cognitive behaviors occur inside of us and are not directly observable. Autonomous behavior differs from the external/motor behavior in that it cannot be controlled by will, and it is run by an independent nervous system – the autonomous nervous system. Autonomous behavior includes things that happen in our bodies, often without us knowing about them, for example, our heart beat, our blood vessels expanding, sweating, our stomachs processing food and our intestines absorbing nourishment etc. Autonomous behavior includes what happens in our body when we get angry, scared, or excited.

We have three types of behavior. These are external/motor behavior, cognitive/thought-behavior and autonomous/emotional behavior.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadstrom. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

The book is available in two similar versions. Please choose the green and black version. AuthorHouse (the white version) keep my legally earned royalty to themselves, because of a self-imposed rule.

A book on ruminations – Why?

To my knowledge, there have been no previous behavioral analyses of rumination and brooding which have resulted in a conscious and clearly described strategy for treatment. I have taken the challenge to explain what keeps ruminating going, despite the fact that people claim that ruminating makes them feel bad, and that they want to be rid of it.

I have tested the methodology which was the result of my analysis on both my own patients as well as on my friends who had everyday ruminations. They claim that it has been helpful. They have also stated that the analysis makes ruminating more understandable, and that they can now understand why they have not been able to give it up earlier. The method which I suggest is not a new one, but rather an application of well-proven behavior therapy methods with scientific support. The exciting part is the application to ruminating – a cognitive (thought-) behavior.

My hopes are that this book will be able to help everyone who is ruminating and brooding to rid themselves of this self-torture. I have aimed at making this book simple and straight forward, so that it can be read and understood by the general public, but I hope that behavior therapists (Cognitive behavior therapists) and other therapists will embrace it as well. The content is wholly based on behavior analysis and principles of learning-psychology.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadstrom. Comments and discussions are encouraged.

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