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Mar 21, 2022

284: Ask David, Featuring Matt May, MD

Defeating your Self-Defeating Beliefs.

Help with fear. Dealing with people who gossip.

Today, Rhonda, Matt and David answer three challenging questions submitted by fans like you.

  1. Caroline asks: I’ve done Cost Benefit Analyses (CBAs) for many of my SDBs (Self-Defeating Beliefs), and the disadvantages greatly outweigh the advantages? What’s the next step?
  2. Al asks: Can you help me with fear?
  3. Khoi asks: How do you deal with colleagues who gossip about your boss?

Note: The answers below were generated prior to the podcast, and the information provided on the live podcast may be richer and different in a number of ways.

1: Caroline asks: I’ve done Cost Benefit Analyses (CBAs) for many of my SDBs (Self-Defeating Beliefs), and the disadvantages greatly outweigh the advantages? What’s the next step?

Hi David

I finally got all the CBAs from my Self-Defeating Beliefs done. I have a ton of them. I also did a CBA on Self-acceptance and a CBA on Self-Criticism. I found out, that the disadvantages of my Self-Defeating Beliefs are massively higher than the advantages. Only with Self-Acceptance the Advantages were much higher than the Disadvantages.

Now that I have got all these CBAs done, what do I do with my findings? Do I rewrite my Self-Defeating Belief into something more realistic or lets say, into something with acceptance?

Thanks for your help!

Many greetings


David’s reply

Great work. Yes, you can, as a first step, or next step, rewrite each belief so the disadvantages disappear, and you get to keep the advantages. This will be different for each person, and it is called the Semantic Technique, but here is an example:

SDB: Achievement Addiction: My worthwhileness depends on my productivity and achievements.

Revised version: I can enjoy working hard and being productive, but my “worthwhileness” as a human being does not depend on my successes, failures, or hard work. There are many things in life I can love and enjoy. It isn’t just all about achievement and productivity. I can learn from failures and mistakes. They make me more “human,” and not “worthless” or even “less worthwhile.” In fact, I have no desire or need to be “worthwhile.” It’s a nonsensical, meaningless concept. People don’t much care about how “worthwhile” I am. They care about how I treat them!

That’s just an example of how I deal with this particular belief. Giving up the “Achievement Addiction” actually helps me achieve more, because the pressure and the anxiety is gone. But I still enjoy working and creating stuff!

Another dimension has to do with giving up the habit of beating up on yourself.

We are talking about depression and inadequacy here. It touches also on anxiety, but anxiety can have other SDBs as well.


2: Al asks: Can you help me with fear?

Dr Burns, I need help with fear. Can you send me podcasts dealing with that subject? Thank you very much.

David’s reply

Tell me which of the many already published, and available via search function on my website, you have already listened to? And how much of my book, When Panic Attacks, have you read?

May make this an Ask David, since it seems lots of folks are not using the massive free resources I’ve already developed.

Have you take the free anxiety test and course on my website, The free anxiety course is, in fact, a compilation of some of the best podcasts on fear.


3: Khoi asks: How do you deal with people who gossip about your boss?

Hello Dr Burns,

Thanks for your time to write so many great books and creating this podcast.

I am from Vietnam and know about you and your book thanks to the publisher to translate into Vietnamese. When I read your book, it is very simple fact but very true at the same time.

I wonder how can I not know about your book earlier? Actually, I read a lot of self-help books but I find most would say about what should I become or be, but don’t really show me how to do it.

As you said, the idea I feel because I thought is not new, but I don’t know how to change my thought and beliefs after reading these books. Your books show me simple techniques but very useful and effective.

And I really like your 5 Secrets of Effective Communication, especially these podcasts, because it helps me understand more clearly. One difficult situation that I don’t know how to apply, is when somebody attacks somebody else, not me.

For example, my colleague criticizes my boss (behind his back) via email message or face to face with me. I am afraid if I agree with her, my boss might think I talked behind his back too. So, should I just keep silent for this case because she does not attack me?

Another situation is when 2 people attack each other, like 2 of my staff argue with each other, and I cannot agree with one side because it will make the others get mad with me.

Do you have any advice on this?

Thanks Dr Burns.

David’s reply

Good question, and I will include in an Ask David, if that is okay. My short answer is that in most situations, and especially in a business environment, I do not try to "help" other people who are arguing or not getting along. That is simply asking for trouble and push back. When someone is bad mouthing another person, you can possibly use Feeling Empathy and say "it sounds like you're pretty unhappy with person X, and I know that can be uncomfortable when you're not getting along with someone," or some such general comment. Then you could distract the person with some Stroking, like "I really admired your report at the company meeting," or some such thing.

We can check with Rhonda and Matt and see what they think on the live podcast. In a personal situation, you could use an "I Feel" situation, like "I actually get along with person X, but of course we all have our flaws, or some such thing. But in a work environment, I think you are right that it is important to play it safe and to be thoughtful about interactions with colleagues!

So, I commend you on your excellent questions, even though I might not yet have the best answer for you!


 Rhonda, Matt, and David