How to control your anxiety level. An e-book by Dr Jim Byrne

This e-book on Anxiety and how to cure it was originally published in 2001 as 'Overcoming Fear and Anxiety'. It has been read by hundreds of individuals during that time, and many have written to Jim Byrne to thank him for the gains they made as a result of following the ABC model to defeat various problems of anxiety, at home, at work, and in social situation, performance contexts, and so on.

How to Control Your Anxiety: A rational approach using REBT/CBT

A book by Dr Jim Byrne

Product Description you're currently experiencing anxiety or panic, or other symptoms of stress, it's important that you visit your GP (MD) for a general medical check-up. If your GP considers that you could benefit from counselling and therapy, then it's a good idea to contact a local practitioner and make your own arrangements. This manual is not intended to replace either of these important services. It's a self-help resource for individuals who have satisfied themselves that they are physically and mentally well and capable of benefiting from a self-educational process so that they can manage their thoughts, emotions and behaviours more effectively in the future. It is important to recognize that, ultimately, you are responsible for your own physical and mental health, in consultation with your GP.

In this manual, I want to do two things: (1) To present a basic understanding of the Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT/CBT) approach to dealing with anxiety'; and (2) To provide a set of exercises for you to do so that you can learn how to analyze your problems with anxiety; identify solutions; and implement those solutions so as to eliminate your anxiety. In that way, you can become your own "counsellor", in the area of anxiety and fear, because you can learn to fix your own emotional and behavioural problems.


Buy this book

This book is currently being rewritten, and will be republished in due course.



Contents Page

1. Foreword    

2. Introduction    

3. Distinguishing Anxiety and Concern    

4. The ABC Model    

5. Where Did the Anxiety Go?    

6. The B-C Connection    

7. The Elaborated ABC Model    

8. Disputing Irrational Beliefs    

9. Effective New Philosophy    

10. Homework Assignments    

11. Conclusion    



About the Author    

Footnote 1:   

Appendix A:  Summary of ABC Model    

Appendix B:  Some Typical Questions for Disputing Irrational Beliefs    

Appendix C: Disputing "Awfulizing"    

Appendix D: Schematic Summary of the ABCDE Model 


Buy this book

This book is currently being rewritten, and will be republished in due course.


Extract (continued)...


3. Distinguishing Anxiety and Concern

In Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), we distinguish between helpful and unhelpful negative emotions, and show our clients how to get rid of their unhelpful negative emotions. We are not aiming to produce "unemotional" individuals, but rational, calm individuals who have a full range of emotions appropriate to the events in their lives, which help them to focus on their objectives and to come to terms with the facts of their lives. So if you are facing a threat or danger, it's a good idea to be reasonably concerned about it. Concern will help you to deal with the impending problem. But anxiety will disrupt your thinking and behaviour.  (See Footnote at the end of the main text).

In this manual I will be contrasting anxiety against concern. Anxiety, as I have just hinted, is an unhelpful negative emotion, while concern is a helpful negative emotion.

(a) Anxiety: Anxiety comes in two forms: ego anxiety and discomfort anxiety. If a person feels anxious about being shown up, or put down, then that is called "ego anxiety", because it's an over-concern about losing face. On the other hand, if a person feels anxious about impending difficulty, pain, injury or some high degree of effort, that's called "discomfort anxiety". Being out late at night, in a strange city, or travelling in a lift, can trigger discomfort anxiety for some individuals; while it would take something like speaking in public, or screwing up at work, to trigger ego anxiety. However, these emotional reactions are not directly caused by the dark, the lift or appearing in public, or any other external event, as we shall see later.

Anxiety, of whichever type, is an unhelpful negative emotion, because it involves excessive arousal of that part of the nervous system which controls heart rate and breathing, plus that part which (temporarily) changes our brain chemistry and body chemistry to prepare us for fleeing actions; and these reactions get in the way of clear thinking and constructive action taking.

Anxiety is not caused by what happens to you - whether that involves appearing in public, being threatened in some way, or getting to do difficult or uncomfortable tasks. Actually it is more directly caused by an "irrational belief' (iB) about an impending threat or danger. (I know this will seem counter-intuitive, but please bear with me while I explain the connections). Irrational beliefs (iB's), as defined in REBT, contain an absolute demand: which will take the form of a "must", a "should", a "have to", "ought to", "got to" or "need to". Once we trigger a demanding belief, we then also tend to "awfulize" when what we demand "should not happen" actually happens. Awfulizing involves the use of words like "awful", "horrible" and "terrible", "catastrophe" and so on. Once we believe we are in an "awful" situation which "should" not be happening, we "logically" tell ourselves that we "cannot stand" being in this type of situation. Finally, we look for someone to condemn and damn for producing this "intolerable" mess - "is it me?", "is it you?", or "is it the way the world works?" (But all of these thoughts are irrational; meaning they are unrealistic, illogical, unscientific, unreasonable and unhelpful!).

Let us now introduce concern, before continuing with our consideration of anxiety:

(b) Concern: Concern is a helpful negative emotion, because it draws our attention to something which may be about to go wrong, so that we can take appropriate action to avert it, or to defend ourselves against it, or to be willing to accept the unpleasant or painful outcome if we cannot avoid it.

Concern, like anxiety, is not caused by what happens to you - whether it is a threat to your ego or a threat of some impending pain or discomfort. Rather it is more directly caused by the holding of a "rational belief (rB)" about an impending threat or danger. Rational beliefs (rB's), as defined in REBT, involve a core of "preferential thinking"; e.g. "I wish...", "1 want...", "I would like...", "I would prefer to...", etc.

Once you prefer some kind of outcome - such as this: "I hope I don't get made redundant in my company's current cutbacks" - then, when this threat seems imminent, you are likely to perceive it as some (smallish) degree of badness, instead of "awful"; to recognize that you can stand it (even though you'd prefer it if you didn't get to); and to accept yourself, the company and the world despite this regrettable and unfortunate outcome. (All of these are rational attitudes and beliefs: meaning they are reasonable, verifiable, logical and self- helping thoughts).


Buy this book

This book is currently being rewritten, and will be republished in due course.