To see ourselves as others see us

August 11, 2016 by  
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I don’t know about you but there have been times in my life when I have been acutely sensitive to the gaze of others. I am not immune even now, although I am better at managing how it makes me feel.
Which is why I found this video interesting and I thought you might also. It shows how different our own impression of ourselves can be to that of others.
It is like having a window into the subtle ways we see ourselves (not the good ways) and how that can distort everything else we feel.

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I built my own prison and now I pay the rent

July 13, 2016 by  
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Eliza was talking to me recently and she started to list some of the rules that she deemed necessary to ‘contain’ her and make her feel safely ‘held in place’. I very much liked the way she put it and so I asked her to write another article to explain it all a little more. Here it is.

Eliza Burdon

I Built My Own Prison And Now I Pay Rent

One of the key contributors to anxiety and depression are the self imposed limits we create for ourselves. These could come in just about any form, there is a whole variety of possibilities – if you can dream it, you can have it. These limitations are what we hide behind, they are the basis of every “I can’t”, whether it’s conscious or not.

My prison

I make my own prison and now I pay rent.










For some, this could be a fear of letting go of their routine, leading to inflexibility. For others the limitations could include fearing responsibility or commitment. Whatever the reason may be, these limits give us a sense of control. Anxiety and Depression feel intensely
chaotic, especially when day to day life is bearing down on you too, and these limits allow us to feel as if we are on top of every situation. First things first, this sense of control is a lie. It is a false sense of security, like being partially wrapped in bubble wrap. The limits allow you to feel as though you’ve gotten your life and mental wellbeing under control, because you’re the one calling the shots. The reality is, these limits are only holding us hostage. By restricting certain aspects of your life, you’re only boxing yourself in. You are building a prison cell within which you’ll live as long as you uphold those limits, and even worse, the longer you stay there, the more you have to pay to live there. The charging rate is counted in lost opportunities, relationships and experiences which could create lifelong memories.

We normalise these limits so much that we barely notice how they’re impacting our lives, they’re just part of the natural order. We sit inside our tiny jail cell and we rarely consider what life is like on the outside, and when we do, we justify every reason to stay put. For every “I can’t”, there is a reason behind it, be it “that’s too much responsibility” or “that doesn’t fit my routine”. We justify every one of those missed opportunities with the limitations we set on ourselves, you say “I’m just not good with responsibility” and you truly believe it. But to take a step back, take a look at the bigger picture, there is no such thing as “not being good with responsibility”, only fearing responsibility.

Our misguided fears lead to locking ourselves in, imprisoned in a cell we have to pay for with our livelihood. Imagine for just one day, you chose to question just how realistic those limitations are, and started to push back against those walls. Imagine how much more freedom you could have by simply deciding that today, you no longer accept those barriers to happiness as a necessity.


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The Chaos Train

An article by Eliza Burdon.

I had a client recently (Eliza) who started to talk about the experience of panic as a seemingly uncontrollable journey. I liked that idea very much and we started to call it The Chaos Train. I asked her to write an article about it as it seemed such a useful idea.

The train stops at stations on its journey to the hub. Along the way it picks up passengers and freight, (burdens to take to the hub) as each hub is reached the burdens are delivered and the result of them expressed. In the case of this particular Chaos Train they are panic, anxiety and sadness.

I think the fascinating insight Eliza had was that it all felt really chaotic and out of control. Of course it feels like that because it is panic but it is not as chaotic as it feels. The train has to stop at the stations on the way to the hub and pick up burdens otherwise there is nothing to take to the hub and nothing to be expressed. By making choices and deliberately not stopping at the stations on the route Eliza places a structure on her sense of chaos. She fights the darkness and despair and she makes a journey she wants to make not the default journey her Chaos Train may make if left to its own devices. Here is Eliza’s article.

The Chaos Train

All aboard the Chaos Train, final destination Anxiety. All change for Sadness and Depression.

Living in a continuous state of anxiety is chaotic. Panic is predictably unpredictable. We seem to have no idea of when it will strike and yet somehow it is always a certainty that it will. When the panic finally loosens its grip on us, whether that means a panic attack has passed or a stressful phase has ended, we can’t find a reason for it happening in the first place. Our minds will tell us there is no reason, leading us to simply “accept” how chaotic and unpredictable our anxiety is. We lose faith in our bodies and lose sight of how we’re ever going to get better because we can’t ever establish a reason for our behaviours.


As you pass through the stations you pick up baggage.

As you pass through the stations you pick up baggage.

The truth is it’s not all that chaotic. Anxiety and the resulting sadness and depression comes as the final culmination of a series of bad behaviours and disordered thinking. The chaos we feel we’re living in is a symptom of our anxiety taking hold of our lives, and accepting that it is that way allows it to act up if and when it pleases. Last time you did this was a Friday and today is a Tuesday? Here’s a panic attack for you. Last time you were here you wore red and now you’re wearing blue? Panic attack for you. Nothing seems all that different? Have a panic attack anyway. Your anxious mind can sense any difference in a situation, and all the chaotic steps you’ve taken to allow anxiety into your life add together to produce what feels like a very unpredictable fear response to just about anything. Yet, in reality, it is entirely predictable, it’s going to happen because you’ve accepted the idea that it’s out of your own control.

The Chaos Train is the journey you take to those major hubs, Anxiety and Depression. At each stop on the way you collect more and more behaviours and beliefs that lead to full blown anxiety disorders and predictably unpredictable panic. Each one is an essential element, they work together to seize control of your mind and create chaos.

It looks a little like this, though each persons individual stops may differ.

Other stops could include inflexibility, a lack of willingness to try things out of your comfort zone or things which are not part of your usual routine will lead to anxiety and panic. Similarly being concerned that other people will judge you. Catastrophising is a major cause of both anxiety and sadness. Catastrophising means allowing your thoughts to run away from you, and believing in only the worst case scenarios. This could be that you won’t be able to cope and you’ll have a panic attack, or that you’ll never get better.

It’s simple to build up to the “Hubs”, a series of faulty thoughts and feelings of being out of control leads to panic fairly quickly. On the other hand, breaking it back down isn’t quite so easy. It’s a slow moving train back to where you started. The best way to approach it is to break it down, cutting one station out at a time. For example, if you can combat catastrophising, you’re less likely to believe in the worst case scenario becoming a reality. With a little more faith, seeing events more realistically instead of living in a fantasy world where everything goes wrong, you would be opened up to a whole new level of freedom. In the same way, combating each station on the Chaos Train journey one step at a time, picking up a little less baggage at each stop, your anxiety would have so much less control over you, and in that, the chaos would dissolve.

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How To Combat Anxiety

November 22, 2015 by  
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How to Combat Anxiety

In the previous video I explained how a terrible event that may have no actual connection to you can increase your sense of threat. A feeling of threat, without an obvious tangible focus for the threat can cause anxiety. If you find that after Paris you are more anxious then you may find the tool I share with you in this video helpful. I have used this with many clients and the simplicity of it comes from the fact that it uses the same processes and the same neuro-chemicals as anxiety but it transforms what they are used for. Turning fear into excitement.

You don’t have to live with anxiety you can choose to do something about it.

Stop being anxious

A link to the previous film


 Get the Panic Pit Stop app here

About Dr David Purves

Dr David Purves is a Reading based psychologist providing private CBT in Reading, Berkshire. Dr Purves is the clinical Director of The Berkshire psychology service and former Consultant Psychologist and Head of the NHS Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service. He treats trauma and PTSD at his clinic and writes and speaks internationally on matters of terrorist related trauma.

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After Paris does the world feel more dangerous and do you feel more anxious?

November 22, 2015 by  
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Terrible things do happen.

Terrible things that happen without warning can make you feel more vulnerable and anxious. The media play and replay their footage, with comment and analysis. All of this can have the the effect of making the terrible event seem more likely to happen to you or the people you love. Your brain is genetically tuned to detect threats to you. Indeed it is highly sensitive to any situation that may even turn threatening. So when a threat is perceived but there is no obvious focus for the threat your brain often goes into a worry loop.

If you find that the terrible events in Paris have caused you to be more anxious but you’re not sure why then watch my video. I will explain how worry gets started and why anxiety goes up.

Are you anxious?


The link to the next film

About Dr David Purves

Dr David Purves is a Reading based psychologist providing private CBT in Reading, Berkshire. Dr Purves is the clinical Director of The Berkshire psychology service and former Consultant Psychologist and Head of the NHS Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service. He treats trauma and PTSD at his clinic and writes and speaks internationally on matters of terrorist related trauma.

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What is anxiety?

October 26, 2015 by  
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Knowledge is power. Learn more about anxiety and be better placed to challenge and change it.

Anxiety is not inevitable. Now is the time to choose to lose it.

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Can I change?

October 19, 2015 by  
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Can I change?

A really important question for all of us this: Can I change?

By change we often mean, change how we feel, change how we experience things and ultimately change those aspects of ourselves that cause problems. To change is to learn. But we have always been taught that neurons in the central nervous system, (brain and spinal cord) don’t grow. Implying that to change is to over-write the existing learning with the new learning. But recent research has show that the most important brain structures actually grow new neurons ever day. Furthermore there are things we can do to facilitate this and things we can do to impede it. New neurons means that can are not automatically in perpetual decline but we can continue to develop and change ourselves.

This is particularly relevant to mental health problems like depression. Because greater neurogenesis seems to be linked to less depression.


In this TED talk the neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret show some evidence that we are able to shape our life throughout the lifespan by attending to our neurogenesis.

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How do I know I am anxious?

October 16, 2015 by  
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How do I know I am anxious?


If you spend time with your mind focused on these issues then you are likely to be anxious. It is really worth recognizing the fact of being anxious instead of ignoring it. Because whilst ignoring it feels like you are doing something, in reality you are only perpetuating the problem.

Seven varieties of anxiety

Anxiety can be never ending. It can constantly find ways to capture your attention and take you to terrible places. For many people anxiety is focused on a few specific worries. I will list the most common ones and then offer some tools you can use to take back control from anxiety.

The LIST Colour

1. What if I get trapped?

No one wants to experience being trapped. It seems the most horrible of things to happen. How often do you actually get trapped? You may imagine that you are trapped on a plane or a train. But the truth is you wouldn’t want to be outside of the plane would you? Trapped is usually a fear of not being able to control yourself, in particular your body. The mind focuses on the idea of being trapped because that is usually the most frightening thing we can imagine. We are never trapped unless we believe we are and in most of those cases it is for our own safety; planes trains and automobiles.

2. What if I worry and get anxious?

I understand that my problem is that I am anxious about being anxious. So even before something happens I am worrying that I will get anxious. So I do!

3. What if something goes wrong?

I don’t know what will go wrong and that’s the problem. When will it happen? The feeling is so strong it feels inevitable that something will get out of my control and go horribly wrong.

4. What if I can’t control things?

The world feels uncontrollable and incredibly complex and my ability to control things seems so small by comparison. I expect terrible things to happen and I won’t be able to control them enough to keep everyone safe.

5. What if I offended someone?

No one wants to deliberately offend and that is why it rarely happens but if you worry about being offensive then you are taking steps that go above and beyond the call of duty to avoid this happening. This turns a normal desire to be friendly into a worry about being offensive. And paradoxically the concern you have feeds to worry.

6. What if people can see inside me?

People will see I am not comfortable and they will know I don’t belong or I don’t know what I am talking about. They can see I look stupid.

7. What if I upset them?

Why didn’t they text back straight away? Was it something I said or did?
I can’t bear the thought of being judged
I would cringe and want the world to swallow me if I made a mistake and I thought someone was judging me for it.

How to make anxiety history

Don’t simply tolerate anxiety. It is not inevitable it is simply a trick of the mind. A dead end of thought that you don’t know how to get out of. But you can get out of it and it’s not that hard with the right guidance and a little bit of effort on your part. I know anxiety feels terrible and because it feels so terrible it seems impossible to defeat. In my clinical practice I have treated many hundreds of people with anxiety and through using my online tools many thousands of people have been successfully been treated for anxiety.

I want to start you off on the journey away from anxiety by having you watch A few selected films I have made and these will both inform you and deliver tools you can use in your everyday life.





Choose the link that seems most relevant to you.

I want to learn more about anxiety

I am troubled mostly by physical and panic symptoms

I am mostly troubled by thoughts and worry


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Three great insights into how to change anxiety and depression

October 14, 2015 by  
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My clients are a fantastic source of insight and inspiration.

In this video film I share three insights created by the friction that comes from trying to change your life. These are truly relevant if you struggle with anxiety, depression or stress.

  • Catastrophe is a journey I go there every day.
  • Reality is only an option!
  • Pressure oppresses.

In my view these insights speak to the universal nature of the problems everyone deals with.

Please let me know if these insights also resonate with you.


Mood Control

Is today the day you change your life?

Mood Control could be the best treatment for depression and anxiety that you’ll ever try. Imagine what it would be like to be able to experience life to the full again… feeling happy, relaxed, hopeful, energetic, and even blissful. Click here for further information

Sound effects were provided by


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