Only the Dead Fish go with the Flow

This is the first of a three part series called, Only the Dead Fish Go with the Flow, that helps explain how human problems come into being. In this film I explore the negative consequences of going with the flow, like the dead fish, and how it ultimately leads to a loss of control. 

I then go onto explain what happens when you move from a comfort zone to a discomfort zone, with common consequences being low mood, depression, anxiety and stress.

The Dead Fish

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT Therapy)

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a very effective strategy for helping you go against the flow, so that you’re not one of the dead fish, once again to regain control of your life and thereby helping you move from your discomfort zone back into your comfort zone.

It is often very surprising for people when they realise the consequences of going with the flow but even more so when they see how little effort it really takes to go against the flow. 

If you suffer depression, anxiety or stress then you have probably been going with the flow like the dead fish. 

The text from the film is here in case you prefer being able to read it.

Hi I’m Dr David Purves

Have you ever wondered how human problems such as stress, anxiety and depression come about?

If you have you’re not alone. 

Virtually every client I’ve ever had in my consulting room has said, "I didn’t think this would happen to me. How did this happen?"

Well if you want to know the answer to that question stay tuned.

Some years ago a client said to me only the dead fish go with the flow which I thought was a very profound statement. 

Only the dead fish go with the flow … and that brings me to the River Thames here in Berkshire where I live.

The River Thames

The River Thames originates in Gloucestershire and goes through some counties, through Berkshire, through London and down in to the sea.

Now, the non tidal part of the Thames always goes the same way. It never goes the other way. If you had a boat on the River Thames and you went with the flow like the dead fish you’d have no control over where you went. You wouldn’t be able to stop and start. You wouldn’t be able to have any control over your destination, like the dead fish. 

To gain control you have to go ever so slightly against the flow and then the rudders and propeller can bite and you can steer and you can do whatever you want.

So the first part of the answer to the question of, “how did I get here” is that going with the flow gives you no control over the destination that you’ll end up in or the quality of your journey.

From Dead Fish to Boiling Frogs

Now a client, a different client, said to me a few years ago, “If you get a frog and you put it in a pan of cold water and you put the pan of cold water on a cooker  and you very slowly heat the water, the frog will stay in the water until it eventually boils to death. Alternatively if you put the frog straight into the boiling water it will jump straight out.”

Now why might a frog stay in the boiling water until it boils to death? What’s the mechanism by which that could happen?

Well, frogs and cats and pretty much all animals and humans have change neurons in the brain.

Now change neurons are designed to notice change on a moment by moment basis. They’re really interested in contrast.

So if you were to put a frog in the water and heat it up very slowly the change from comfort zone to discomfort zone is so slow that the change neurons don’t fire and the frog doesn’t recognise that it’s moving inextricably from a comfort zone to a discomfort zone. And isn’t that the part of the answer to the question of how do human problems occur?

Comfort Zones and Discomfort Zones

We start off in a comfort zone and we say yes that’s OK. I’ll cope, it’s not too bad. But slowly, as the process of change occurs we move from our comfort zone to our discomfort zone. All of a sudden you wake up and say, “How did I get here? I don’t like this at all! Ahhhhhh!”

Now if you find yourself in a discomfort zone you feel low, depressed, anxious or stressed. You’re going to be underestimating your strengths and resources and you’re going to be overestimating your faults and failings.

The present experience that you’re having is not going to be something that you’re really enjoying  and the future just does not look attractive at all.

If you’re anxious you’re feeling unsafe and vulnerable. You’re probably putting quite a lot of effort into trying to stay safe but what that means is you’re squeezing your life down until you have a much much smaller living space that feels a bit more like a comfort zone but actually you’re doing less than you used to do. You’re pushing yourself out less than you did before and you’re actually restricting your life by a substantial extent.

If you’re stressed, the tasks and the things that you need to achieve far exceed your perception of your ability to achieve them; you don’t have enough time, not enough resources to do things adequately. 

So if you find yourself in a discomfort zone what can you do about it?

Well traditionally some form of psychotherapy has always been good to help you to go against the flow and to move back from the discomfort zone towards the comfort zone.

Of course not everyone wants to access face-to-face therapy. Not everyone wants to embark on it. Not everyone wants to go through that process.

If you did, however, cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT therapy is the treatment of choice. It’s what the Government recommends. It’s what the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends but CBT therapy is relatively scarce in some parts of the world. It’s expensive and it’s not something you might want to embark on.

For that reason I’ve created the Mood Control CBT System. Mood Control enables you to have the benefits of CBT in your life via your own computer. Mood Control delivers a CBT coaching course to you wherever you are in the world.

Now, I’ll be telling you a little bit more about Mood Control in a later film. This film is part of a series. In the next film I’m going to offer you a very strange thought.

Your brain is not your friend.

Your brain will actually create goals that you wouldn’t sign up for and then it can motivate you to achieve those goals.

Your brain can create anxiety and stress. It can create those experiences for you and then keep you trapped in them.

Well, if you want to know how that happens. If you want to know the means, the mechanism for how that occurs, make sure you watch the next film.

If we have your email address you’ll get it automatically. If not you can sign up below to receive the next film, free.

I hope that you’ve found this film interesting and potentially thought provoking. Whatever problem you struggle with – depression, anxiety, stress, panic, OCD, generalised anxieties – it’s likely that the benefits of CBT therapy will reduce the burden of the problem you have and potentially take you all the way back from the discomfort zone in to your comfort zone.

Thanks for taking the time to listen. 

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