Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Revelations of talk

And what they suggest

By William A. Johnson

Long ago I realized that talking is more revealing than writing. We don't edit our talk as much as we do our writing. We let things emerge that we could hide if we were writing. Psychotherapists of course gain insights into a person from these revealing disclosures. Someone says that he "he would like to have done something," and the use of the future perfect tense is a tip-off that he is highly unlikely to actually do it.
    A woman who came to me for therapy years ago said she needed help because she "worried about everything, all the time." Such an exaggeration seemed clearly a case of a negative thought's having become automatic to the point of reinforcing the belief that plagued her. She wanted to be free of it, but she didn't see how she could. After all, she "worried about everything, all the time."
    I suggested that she try something. "Set aside a two-hour period each day during which you will 'worry about everything.' Anything worrisome that comes up outside those two hours, don't worry about it then but make a note to worry about during the two hours you have set aside."
    When she came back the following week, she apologized that she had found herself unable to worry for as long as two consecutive hours.
    My sense of what had happened was that the mild resistance she was able to muster to worrying about anything outside the prescribed two hours had already seated itself and established a resistance to worry altogether. She had gained control over worry.

Copyright © 2015 by William A. Johnson
William A. Johnson was born in the Pacific Northwest and moved to North Carolina in 1993. He is the founder of a management consulting company and is an executive coach. He is passionate about animal rights and is the parent of two dogs and a cat. Bill is married and lives in Mebane, North Carolina.

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