By Stan Friedman
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (May 1, 2014) — Psychologist Linda Solie hopes her new book, Take Charge of Your Emotions: Seven Steps to Overcoming Depression, Anxiety, and Anger will help put her out of work.
Solie, a member of Bethlehem Covenant Church and a lecturer at the University of Minnesota, wrote the book based on 30 years of experience as a cognitive behavioral therapist. Patients who have fully engaged in the process have needed to see her far less often, she says, adding that readers who have never seen a therapist have told her of dramatic improvements in their lives.
People wrongly believe that feelings and emotions drive our behaviors when the opposite is true, says Solie. By taking time to look at situations rationally and then acting, individuals are better able to take control of their emotions.
The seven-step approach requires people to write down situations over which they feel anxious, the emotions and negative self-talk associated with them, the behaviors that result, as well as the positive emotions and behavior patterns that emerge while working the process.
Solie, who graduated from North Park University before earning her doctorate at the University of Minnesota, says people need to spend 45 minutes a day, five to six days a week doing the writing. After five to six weeks, they can significantly reduce that time. By then, individuals often show as much as 90 percent improvement in the approach to previously anxiety-producing situations.
“I used to be apologetic for the amount of work this requires but not anymore,” Solie says. “People have no problem going to a gym and working out. Why can’t they take the same amount of time to change their emotions?”
Solie adds that the method also has several health benefits. The writing helps relieve immediate stress, and research has shown that exercising the brain actually strengthens it because neural pathways increase.
Although the seven steps are about changing unhelpful self-talk, Solie is adamant that they are not about positive thinking or affirmations, which she thinks are unhelpful at best. They only deal with immediate surface behavior and never really lead to any meaningful results, she says.
Instead, Solie suggests using two “power tools”: the words “because” and “which is a problem because.” By filling in the blanks behind “because,” writers can get more specific as they define or come up with evidence as to why a situation leads to anxiety. “By the time you get to the root of it, the reasons often are kind of silly,” she says.
By answering, “which is a problem because,” the writer discovers why their reasons for the unhelpful self-talk might be weak.
Solie says, “I don’t consider anxiety and depression a disease. I think they are bad habits. People think I’m blaming them when I say that, but I’m not. It’s that people have become trapped by bad thinking.” She is careful to add that people should not discontinue medication when they start on the seven steps.
Solie supplies templates and examples for working through many types of anxiety as well as depression and anger. “I wanted to include 15 more, but the publisher said that would be too many. The book was getting long enough.”
Solie says her approach is biblical. “Paul talks about taking every thought captive. People think cognitive behavioral therapy is new. It’s actually 2,000 years old.”
“A relationship with Christ also is crucial to helping people to taking charge of their emotions and experiencing transformed lives,” Solie says. “Our image comes from him. We trust in too many other things for our self-image and our strength. The only solid foundation for our lives is the worth we experience in Christ.”