Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Vinny's Toolbox" to help patients with Depression and Anxiety

What is the "Vinny's Toolbox".....

The first concept that I explain to patients is that we all have problems and in actual fact, if one day we have no problems, then this will become our "new" problem as we will get bored and have no more meaning and purpose.  So, in order to thrive, be resilient and not get stressed and depressed, one needs to know "how to solve problems".

This is where we consider using the "Vinny's Toolbox".

First of all, stop and define WHAT the problem ACTUALLY is.  Try to see the problem for what it is.  Not worse, not better.

Then consider which of the 4 following tools to use.....

  1. Run and Avoid.  This is a very important tool and in actual fact, if we don't have it, we will problem die an early death.  For example, if we see a snake in our path....Avoid!  If there is a bushfire nearby....Avoid!  However, most people use this tool inappropriately.  They avoid when they shouldn't avoid.  If you have a problem with your husband or wife, probably avoidance is not going to solve your problem.  So the key is to use the right tool for the right situation or problem.  If you need to put a screw in the wall, you would not use a hammer would you?
  2. The opposite of run and avoid is to Fight, Show aggression, Blame, and Frustration.  This is a very useful tool especially if you are in danger and you cannot avoid.  Blame and anger helps to give us that burst of energy in order to get ourselves out of that danger.  It is best used for your enemies and not for your family and friends.  Aggression leads to "counter" defensiveness and escalates into more aggression.  Aggression destroys relationship so remember, this tool is not for your family, friends or people who you need a continual relationship with.
  3. Best way to understand the usefulness of the 3rd tool is to ask yourself this question.  If you made $1 Million this year, the taxman is going to send you a tax bill for $300000.  What tool would you use for this problem.  ?Run and avoid ?Show aggression with the taxman or simply Accept and glad that you have made a lot of money.  In all sincerity, I would love to have a tax bill of $300000.  Again, some of us use this tool inappropriately.  For example, if our children is failing in their school work, should we just let that go and accept?  Maybe not.....
  4. The last tool is where most of us also lack and that is Assertiveness.  The problem is that most of us don't know the subtle difference between Assertiveness and Aggression.  One of the best way  to differentiate this is to ask yourself if there is blame or anger in your emotion.  Assertiveness with blame will come across as Aggression.  Examples of assertiveness and aggression are outlined below.....
"We need to talk or else it is over" = Aggression

"We need to talk" in a demanding voice = Can still come across as aggression as it implies that we need to talk, I don't really care whether you want to talk or not but I want to talk.

"I understand that you don't really want to talk about it and at the same time, this is very important for me and us, so do you think we can put aside sometime today to talk about it in order to solve this issue together? = Assertiveness.  Assertiveness has no blame and accepts that both conflicting ideas can coexist hence the word "and".

(Be careful not to use the word "but" after a validation e.g. I understand that you don't really want to talk but I want to talk.).......  So take away the "but"....... people in health coaching call this "Butectomy".

Imagine saying things like "You are a great singer artist but you don't have the right image for it".

In essence, if one predominantly uses the "avoidance and blame" tools....High risk of depression as chronic avoidance and blame teaches us powerlessness, and powerlessness leads to hopelessness, and hopelessness leads to depression.  If anyone comes in with depression, I can assure you that they tend to avoid and blame.......If you ever find someone who does not....please email me!

If one uses acceptance and assertive skills predominantly....This is "resilience".  The great news is that these can be taught!

Please share it to those who might benefit from this.

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