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Excerpted from The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. Copyright © 2005 by Edmund Bourne. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"The Worrier is typically busy telling you about all kinds of things that might happen if you were to actually face your fear."

  Edmund Bourne,
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,
Part 5

Exercise: What Are Your Subpersonalities Telling You?

Take some time to think about how each of the above subpersonalities plays a role in your thinking, feelings, and behavior. First, estimate how much each one affects you by rating its degree of influence from "not at all" to "very much" on a six-point scale (see the worksheets over the next few pages). Which subpersonality is strongest and which is weakest for you? Then think about what each subpersonality is saying to you to create or aggravate anxiety in each of four different situations.

1. Work (on your job, at school, or in other performance situations)

2. Personal relationships (with your spouse or partner, parents, children, and/or friends)

3. Anxiety symptoms (on occasions when you experience panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms)

4. Phobic situations (either in advance of facing a phobia or while actually confronting the phobic situation)

Here are some examples for the Worrier:

The Worrier

Work: "What if my boss finds out that I have agoraphobia? Will I get fired?"

Relationships: "My husband is getting tired of having to take me places. What if he refuses? What if he leaves me?"

Anxiety symptoms: "What if they see me panic? What if they think I’m weird?"

Phobic situation: "What if I get into an accident the first time I try to drive on the freeway?"

You may find that the Worrier’s self-talk in the latter two situations is by far the most common source of your anxiety. If you have panic attacks, the Worrier is prone to create anxiety about when and where your next one might occur. Should the bodily symptoms of panic actually start to come on, the Worrier will magnify them into something dangerous, which only creates more panic. Many of the coping strategies described in chapter 6 (in particular, the use of positive coping statements) are designed to help you deal with the Worrier during a panic attack.

If you have phobias, the Worrier is typically busy telling you about all kinds of things that might happen if you were to actually face your fear. As a result, you often experience "anticipatory anxiety" (anxiety in advance of facing a phobia) and try to avoid dealing with whatever your phobia may be. You’ll find it helpful to do a separate analysis of what your Worrier is telling you (in other words, your "what-ifs") for each of your specific phobias. Ask yourself what you’re afraid could happen if you faced each phobia.

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