Being a mental health professional helps me to remain consistent in my efforts
to keep my life (and mind) balanced. I still have bouts of depression and
anxiety, but I have learned to cope – without using harmful substances and
behaviours.

I use a variety of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT) to help me
manage my symptoms and remain free from addictions.

Cognitive therapies target the cortex – the thinking brain – and help change thinking
patterns by changing how you process information. The neuroplasticity of
the brain makes it possible to sculpt & strengthen synaptic connections with
repeated practice. What we practice grows stronger!

I also use a therapy called IFS – Internal Family Systems – developed by
Dr. Richard Schwartz. In his 40 years of practice, Dr. Schwartz realized
that many of his patients struggled with what he first thought was multiple-
personality disorder, because they kept referring to parts of themselves.
Dr. Schwartz discovered that these people basically had a dysfunctional
family living inside of them!

I have spent the last few years studying and using IFS, and it has taught me a
way of dealing with my anxiety and depression that has a more lasting effect
for me.

With CBT, I learned to sit with the discomfort of some emotions.  With
IFS, I have learned to communicate with that discomfort. Now, when I have any anxiety-provoking events – like attending a networking group, social event, or giving a presentation – instead of being
frozen in fear, I focus on the emotion and the feeling and ask some
questions.

It may sound strange to ask questions of an emotion, but IFS has taught
me a way of finding out what my emotions are upset about and give them a
chance to get what they need. It’s a form of hypnotic self-soothing that is
very effective for me.

I have learned how to talk to those parts of me that have been shamed or
abused and might have been frozen in a state of fear.
I hold that little girl and remind her that I’m there and that she’s safe and not
expected to perform. I let her know that no matter what happens I love her,
and she immediately calms down. I sense the knot in my stomach release.
The whole interaction takes less than a few minutes and then I’m good to
go!

Learning to have compassion for the critical and fearful inner parts of
myself has not only reduced my symptoms of depression & anxiety but has
also improved my relationships.

Once you start having intentional conversations with your emotions you
might be surprised by the answers that come up. It’s possible that you can
help your inner antagonists become your allies!

If you would like some more information on the IFS technique, send me an
email: info@redroofrecovery.com.

Tanya MacIntyre is a Certified CBT Practitioner, Mental Health Professional, and
owner/operator of Red Roof Recovery.

DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to constitute, or be a substitute for,
medical diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from your doctor, or delay in
seeking it, because of something you have watched, read, or heard from anyone at
Red Roof Recovery.