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 boost low self-esteem

November 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Anxiety, Depression, Home, Worry

Human beings are complex and complicated. When people come to my consulting room one of the first things I have to do is create a map of their internal psychological world.  When I create a psychological map I almost always find a problem with low self-esteem and therefore help to increase self-esteem is needed. This is especially true if a mood disorders such as depression accompanies anxiety and stress.

Low self-esteem

This video film outlines the three options/choices you have if you struggle with low self-esteem and it includes a startlingly simple question you can ask yourself that will basically tell you everything you need to know if you feel down or anxious.

I have had the video transcribed in case you want to also be able to read it. The transcript is below.

Let me see if I can make this issue more real so that it resonates with you. To determine if help with low self-esteem would be useful to you ask yourself this question… and this is a question I ask my clients repetitively. ‘What is the most negative belief you have about yourself’? Well sometimes people say, My feet are too big and I say, ‘no that’s not what it is.’

Commonly people say things like, I’m worthless, I’m disgusting, I’m no good, I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, I’m a fraud, I’m useless, I’m stupid. These are very negative beliefs to hold about yourself. And if you hold one of these beliefs it’s a very distressing thought to have. It’s a distressing piece of information to carry with you and it always causes a problem by decreasing your self-esteem.

If you recognize one of these negative beliefs as being applicable to you or if you ask yourself the question and you realize that you have a similar negative belief, then it’s difficult to live a fully satisfactory life. Once you have recognized your most negative belief you have basically given yourself three choices.

The first choice and the most commonly taken is to – ignore it. If you ignore your problems with low self- esteem you think it might go away. If you ignore it you can carry on as if it doesn’t exist. You can put it behind you and get on with your life. The trouble is that ignoring it won’t make it go away. It just puts it a little out of sight, so that you don’t have to look at it but it still always exerts its influence.

It’s like having another moon spinning around the earth exerting its gravitational force. Every now and then the extra moon and the current moon line up and we’re going to have massive gravitational forces disrupting life. You can ignore self-esteem issues, to a degree, for a period of time… maybe. And then it’s going to be distressing. It’s going to be upsetting. It’s going to cause things to go wrong. Ignoring it is a commonly adopted strategy but it’s not very useful.

The second most common choice when thinking about low self-esteem is to accept that your negative belief is true; accept that the most negative thing you believe about yourself is correct.

So, if I believed that my most negative belief is that I’m a failure, then I will accept as true that I am a failure. And commonly people who are depressed will sit in my consulting room and say, ‘I am a failure.’ ‘Like 100%?’ ‘Yes.’

That acceptance of the most negative belief that you have about yourself typically goes along with a substantial mood disorder and we can call it depression or anxiety depending on if it’s an anxiety provoking negative belief or a depressing one.

The first two options out of the three possible options are not very useful in the longer term and will definitely cause a problem at some point. The third choice is a bit more interesting, however. The third option when looking at low self esteem help is to ask yourself these questions:

‘Is my most negative belief about myself objectively accurate?’

‘Is my most negative belief about myself true?

‘Does my most negative belief about myself stand up to scrutiny?’

‘For instance if my most negative belief is that I’m a failure I would habitually say, ‘I am a failure.’

‘If I was doing my own therapy at the same time I would say, ‘do you work?’ ‘yes I do work.’

‘Do you hold down a job and get a salary?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Can you drive?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Are you able to maintain a relationship?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Are you interested in things?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Have you achieved any academic successes?’ ‘Yes.’

‘So are you really a failure?’

The question is this. When people say, ‘I am a failure.’ They don’t mean I have failed in being able to make a cheese sandwich they say, ‘I am a failure.’ This is a global interpretation of their whole being.

Looking at my most negative belief objectively can I sustain the view that ‘I am a total failure?’ No, I can’t and when people say, ‘I am a failure,’ which is a common thing for people to say, it’s hard for them to sustain it because it doesn’t match the evidence.
The evidence is not actually that they’re a failure. The case is that they feel a failure. And challenging this distorted emotion is part of the third choice.

There is usually a disconnection between your feelings of low self-esteem and reality. And you’ll find that this is true if you inspect it a little bit. There’s a disconnection between what you feel and what is demonstrably true based on the evidence of the world in which you live.

So on the one hand we have, this is what I know to be true and on the other hand we have this is how I feel. These are not the same things.
How you feel is what’s causing the most negative belief that you have about yourself to have energy.
What you feel is not always well calibrated to the world you live in and that is why either ignoring it or accepting it is the wrong solution to this problem of low self-esteem. The first two choices simple mean that nothing will change. How you feel will not change unless you challenge it and change it.

So what we have to do if there is a problem with low self-esteem and we want to change this is to take the third choice:. Use CBT Therapy to Help Low Self Esteem.

As part of getting self-esteem help you will need to examine your most negative belief about yourself. You have to examine its structure, you have to become interested in your problems with self-esteem and then challenge it and change it. We have to take this feeling of, I am disgusting, I am not good enough, I’m worthless, I’m unlovable, I’m a fraud, I’m a failure, I’m stupid, and we have to challenge this feeling to make it account for itself and bring it in line with what we know to be true because we can demonstrate it to be true.

I might not feel very clever but I’m not globally stupid. This negative belief is over generalized and De-contextualised. I might not feel good enough but the evidence is that I’m good enough in many domains of my life. Applying this acid test of reality is part of the process of cognitive behavioral therapy. This is CBT therapy.

When we challenge the feeling and we make it change to be more in line with what we know to be true. Because what we know to be true is…well… true.

Our feelings are not a good guide to reality in a lot of circumstances and in particularly when we have very negative beliefs and feelings about ourselves. So the third option of using CBT therapy to get self-esteem help means challenging and changing the most negative beliefs that we have about ourselves.

If we don’t challenge and change them they will continue to exert a powerful influence over us and they will distort and eventually ruin the course of our lives. It’s inevitable that they will do that because if you believe something very negative about yourself it will affect the course of your life. Now, my proposition is this, It doesn’t have to do that!

There are three choices that you can take, choice one is you can ignore it, choice two, you can accept it and choice three – challenge it and change it by using CBT for low self-esteem.

If you want to take option three there are many paths that will take you from where you are to where you want to get to, which I would anticipate is to feel good, to have a reasonable level of self-esteem and to be accurately calibrated to your skills and attributes and to the world around you. This gives you the best opportunity to achieve the best life that you can have.

If you want to engage with the third option which is boosting your self-esteem to move forward while adopting a proactive and constructive attitude to your mental health then please check out the CBT System Mood Control.

Depression, anxiety and stress are massively common human problems. The sad thing is they don’t have to be. We have within us the necessary tools and resources, with some guidance from a system like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and Mood Control, to be able to resolve these. All we have to do is take the third choice.

Mood Control is a successful depression treatment and anxiety therapy that provides self-esteem help. Thanks for taking the time to watch and listen. I hope to see you on the inside of Mood Control and let’s get on this journey together.

Join Mood Control Today And Start To Feel Better

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The Worry Cure

July 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Worry

The Worry Cure

Active Self Help for Depression, Anxiety and Stress

If you’re looking for the worry cure you need to be aware of where you place your attention. You’ll understand a lot more about why you’re worrying if you can identify what you’re thinking about. Sometimes you’ll be thinking about the past in a negative way or you could be spending time thinking about an event in the future. Although it that hasn’t happened yet you might be thinking about all the things that could go wrong or how much you’re dreading it. Does this sound familiar?

The Worry Cure
So, you’ve identified what you’re worrying about. Now you need to know How to stop worry.

The Worry Cure: Control where you place your attention

Think about your brain as a super computer. As you know computers can create the most amazing realities. They can bring dinosaurs back to life, make cars talk, take us on adventures beneath the seas. Well so can your brain. It creates amazing realities of its own. Simulations of the world that it plays in your mind. This is fine when everything is working as it should be. But when things aren’t going well and you find yourself worrying excessively you need to take a look at what your brain is up to. What reality is it simulating for you?

The Worry Cure: Your reality simulator

Our minds drift. Have you ever noticed when you’re reading that you can’t recall anything that happened on the last few pages and have to go back and reread them? This is because your brain spends just a small portion of its attention on the task of reading. The rest is thinking about other things.

This is common but the problems occur when your mind is wandering off to negative things. If your brain is creating unhelpful fantasies then we need to take control of it.

Sam found himself sitting in a meeting at work wondering if he turned the iron off before he left. He wasn’t listening to what was going on around him in the present. His reality simulator was conjuring images of Sam’s house burning down. The images were so vivid and Sam was worrying so much he excused himself from the meeting to phone his wife to check she was OK and that the iron was off which it was.

This is a good example of how the reality simulator works.

The Worry Cure: Take control

The worry cure - peaceWhat can you do if your mind is creating these kinds of images? CBT therapy is a good method of helping you to take control of your mind and the realities your brain is creating for you.

CBT therapy will help you challenge and change what you’re seeing. It’s the tool that will allow you to analyse what you’re feeling and manage your reality simulator.

If you’re not keen to see a CBT therapist or simply can’t afford it there are free resources on the web, like the films below, that will get you started and there are also computerised CBT programs that you can undertake at home.

The Worry Cure: Identify the issue

Learn more about how the effect of where you place your attention can cause you to worry unduly.


The Worry Cure: How to stop worry

Watch this film and arm yourself with the tools you need to help you recognise and manage where you put your attention putting the end to worry.


Return from the worry cure to Home


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