Ep. 87: Dr. Joel Minden — How to Move Through Anxiety and Live Your Best Life

My guest this week is Dr. Joel Minden, a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety. We focused on the ideas from his excellent new book, Show Your Anxiety Who’s Boss (affiliate link). You might remember Joel from my first discussion with him back in 2018. He has a great way of explaining his CBT approach and why it works, which is probably why that first discussion was one of the most listened to episodes so far.

As you’ll hear us discuss, Joel’s emphasis is on finding effective long-term strategies that can change our relationship with anxiety in a big way, rather than on trying to find tricks to use in the moment to just get through spells of high anxiety. He stresses the importance of letting our values determine what’s important and how we live our lives, rather than allowing anxiety to have that power.

We also discussed the ongoing coronavirus, and the high anxiety that so many of us are dealing with related to the pandemic and the strange place we find ourselves in. Joel’s research-tested approach has a lot to offer at any time, and definitely in the current crisis. He and I also talked about:

  • The possibility of feeling guilty about not being as badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Making the transition to online psychotherapy
  • The timing of the release of Joel’s new book
  • The three big ideas in Show Your Anxiety Who’s Boss
  • Finding options for how you respond to anxiety
  • The problem with trying to eliminate or control anxiety
  • Biased thinking that can drive anxiety (“anxious fictions”)
  • The STUF acronym for experiences of anxiety: sensations, thoughts, urges, and feelings
  • The drawbacks of focusing on reducing anxiety in the moment, vs. longer term strategies
  • Parallels between therapy and medication for short- vs. long-term anxiety reduction
  • The downsides of trying to distance oneself from anxiety through avoidance
  • The value in taking meaningful action when feeling anxious
  • The powerful role of acceptance in dealing with anxiety
  • Redirecting away from a focus on anxiety and toward actions that matter to us
  • The distinction between unproductive distraction and productive redirection
  • The power in realizing we can still function when anxiety is high
  • How to get started when anxiety is really overwhelming
  • The value in starting small when facing our fears
  • Giving ourselves proper credit for moving through anxiety, no matter how “small” the step
  • Whether we can fundamentally change our automatic anxious reactions

Check out Joel’s blog on Psychology Today: CBT and Me.

Here’s the book about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that Joel recommended (affiliate link): Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, by Dr. Steven Hayes.

Joel Minden, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, director of the Chico Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, diplomate of The Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies, and adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Chico.

Find Joel online at his website and on Twitter and Facebook.

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