Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Soul Sustenance: Freedom from Anxious Thoughts & Feelings

If you are like any of the 40 million adults in the U.S. that currently suffer from an anxiety disorder and experience racing and panicky thoughts, or the tens of millions who are vulnerable to destructive moods, you’ve probably heard about mindfulness and how effective it can be in easing worry, anxiety, and other life-constrictors—but how do you do it, exactly?

In Clinical Psychologist Dr. Scott Symington’s go-to guide, Freedom from Anxious Thoughts and Feelings: A Two-Step Mindfulness Approach for Moving Beyond Fear and Worry [New Harbinger], he presents an intuitive and accessible approach called the Two-Screen Method® (TSM) to help when you feel overwhelmed and overcome with worrisome thoughts. Using this simplified mindfulness approach, you learn to make space for the challenging thoughts and feelings, while redirecting your attention and life energy to your values. By using the two-screen method, along with its three anchors—mindfulness skills, healthy distractions, and loving action—you learn to relate to your thoughts and feelings in a whole new way. When the internal challenges show up—worries, fears, dark moods, etc.—you’re equipped with an easy-to-follow game plan, so you can experience relief and get back to living your life.

I had a chance to interview him to learn more.
1. Why did you decide to write Freedom From Anxious Thoughts and Feelings?

Mindfulness can be extremely helpful in addressing worries, anxiety, and other internal challenges. The challenge is knowing how to apply and take advantage of mindfulness principles in the spaces that count—when you’re hit with an anxious wave or the worries start streaming in. In these spaces it’s hard to know exactly what mindful acceptance, for example, looks like, in terms of what to do with your mind or how to relate to the feelings in a way that embodies this theoretically helpful approach. The book I wrote features a user-friendly application of mindfulness called the Two-Screen Method which emerged out of my clinical work. It shows you what to do inside your head—the specific mental and emotional steps—that free your mind from worries and anxious feelings.

2. Mindfulness can be a tricky thing - how can it be broken down into just two steps?

The advantage of the Two-Screen Method is its reliance on a mental image. Analagous to a graphical user interface (GUI), it gives you the ability to apply some of the most advanced psychological strategies simply by relating to the image of two screens—in your mind—as directed. As you bring the image to mind, you’re naturally placed in the seat of internal observer and are able to apply mindfulness principles, such as mindful acceptance and present-moment awareness, by following to simple steps. 

3. Why is mindfulness important?

There is a lot of research demonstrating the effectiveness of mindfulness in addressing a host of psychological symptoms and conditions. In addition, as you practice mindfulness and increase your capacity for present-moment awareness your everyday stress level decreases and your sense of well-being increases. 

SCOTT SYMINGTON, PHD, is a licensed clinical psychologist dedicated to helping adults overcome worry and anxiety, negative moods, addictive behaviors, and other conditions stealing people’s joy and freedom. He regularly speaks at professional conferences; large church groups; graduate schools and universities; and business groups, including the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

Dr. Symington earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology and completed an M.A. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. His career path began in the business and consulting world. Then in 1998, after much soul searching, he decided to leave a lucrative position brokering agricultural products to pursue his true passion—clinical psychology—a profession that lined up with both his head and heart.

One of his primary interests, which is informed by his diverse experiences and training, is making the evidenced-based methods of psychology and spiritualwisdom easy to understand and apply to your daily life. Dr. Symington practices and resides in Pasadena, California.

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