Mariusz and his wife, Aleksandra,
who is also a psychiatrist.
Personal Work with Mariusz,
Mariusz and his wondaful
Last week, you heard Part 1 of the personal work that Rhonda
and I did with Dr. Mariusz Wirga, which included initial T =
Testing and E = Empathy. Today, you'll hear the conclusion of our
work, including the Assessment of Resistance, Methods, final
Testing and follow-up.
I am repeating this darling photo Mariusz's beloved cat, with
his tail strait up, showing pride and love for Mariusz!
Orangina at her favorite scratching
post, with tail straight in the air to show pride and love for
A = Assessment of
Once we empathized, we issued a Straightforward Invitation,
asking Mariusz if he needed more time to talk and have us listen,
or was ready to focus on the problem and see what we might do to
Mariusz wanted to get to work, and said his goal for the
session was to reduce his perfectionism, but when I asked the Magic
Button question, he said he would not press it, even if the Magic
Button would bring about a sudden and dramatic elimination of all
of his negative thoughts and feelings.
So, together, we listed the many positives and advantages of
his negative thoughts and feelings, including:
My anxiety keeps me on my toes.
My feelings of inadequacy keep me humble.
My hopelessness protects me from disappointment in the session
with Rhonda and David isn’t effective.
My hopelessness and loneliness show how much I care.
My hopelessness shows how helpless I feel to free myself from
the many pressures and heavy weights I have been carrying for many
My negative thoughts and feelings show how much I care for
others, including my wife and kids.
My suffering with depression and anxiety increases my
compassion and understanding of my patients who are suffering and
My anxiety protects me from danger.
My anxiety is motivating.
My self-criticisms show that I have high standards.
My loneliness shows that I welcome intimacy and close
My sadness shows that I am realistic and willing to look at the
dark side of life.
As you likely know, this process is called Positive Reframing,
which is looking at the positive side of things that appear to be
negative. Effective Positive Reframing isn’t just listing positives
from a list or book, like Feeling Great, It’s
suddenly “seeing” something that you hadn’t previously realized,
and having an “ah-ha” moment.
So, I asked Mariusz if he could see any additional positives in
his fairly intense feelings of sadness and depression. To help him,
I primed the pump a little bit by pointing out that sadness and
depression are the feelings you have when you’ve lost something or
someone your really cared about, or when you notice that something
incredibly important is missing from you life.
At this point, Mariusz became tearful and said he’d been very
lonely as a child. Saying this gave him a “choking pain.” But he
said he always turned away from his pain, and distracted himself,
with work and activities. He said
“I was an obedient child, and I was an only child. Both of my
“You say something is missing. I think what is missing is life
I’m too busy. I’m always distracting myself. But I’m afraid that if
I slow down, I won’t be able to pay my bills. I believe that 95%.
Then I’ll be a burden. I’ll lose the respect of my family.”
At the end of the Positive Reframing, he set his goals for the
session, which you can see if you click on his Daily
Mood Log again. As you can see, he did not seem
to want to reduce his feelings to super low levels, which was
surprising to me.
M = Methods
Rhonda suggested we could do a Feared Fantasy and asked what he
thoughts others would think about him, but never dare to say, if he
did slow down and they judged him. They’d think:
We won’t include you anymore.
We hate you.
We reject you.
We’ll tell the world about you.
And his worst core fear was ending up in a homeless camp.
We did role reversals using the Feared Fantasy Technique until
he hit the ball out of the park, and did the same using the
Externalization of Voices to defeat the negative thoughts on his
Daily Mood Log.
When you listen to the session, you’ll see that there was a lot
of tenderness at this point, and we discussed our love for cats,
and what we can learn from them—the joys of being average and loved
and loving your life.
We gave Mariusz several homework assignments:
Finish your Daily Mood Log in writing, completing the Positive
Thoughts and make sure you’ve crushed all of you negative
Experiment with being open and vulnerable with loved ones (wife
and family) as well as colleagues.
Practice saying no to colleagues who make requests on your
time, and cut down on activities that are not cost-effective.
T = End of Session Testing
You can find Mariusz final
Daily Mood Log if you click HERE, and his end
of Session Brief Mood Survey if you click HERE, and his Patient’s
Report of Therapy Session if you click HERE.
David, add three links when you get
Rhonda and I wish to thank you, Mariusz, for a brave and
touching session! You gave me the chance to process some of my own
perfectionism, and to express my gratitude once again for the stray
cats that my wife and I have adopted who have taught me so much
about love, acceptance, and the simple things in life!
I emailed Mariusz to find out what happened when he decided to
become more open and vulnerable with wife, patients, and
colleagues. He wrote back:
Right before the Eureka moment,
there is this state of dense confusion. So I was hesitant about
where to go, but there was no visible path to choose yet. It feels
like your brain is not getting it. It feels dense, also in an
intellectual way. Like your brain stops working. It is quite dark
and heavy. And then suddenly, the tears come and things become
clear and light (in the sense of brightness and lifted weight). And
that you all for listening today! Last month, January, was our
biggest month so far, with more than 182 thousand downloads of
Feeling Good Podcasts, and this is due, in large part, to your
support of our efforts and sharing the show with friends and
colleagues who might benefit from it!
Thanks again, Mariusz! You are shooting into orbit! I'm SO
proud of you and happy for you, and grateful to have had the chance
to get to know you on a deeper and more human level, and to share a
little of myself with you, too!
This podcast features David D. Burns MD, author of "Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy," describing powerful new techniques to overcome depression and anxiety and develop greater joy and self-esteem. For therapists and the general public alike!