Defeat Dread

Natalie Mills San Francisco Psychotherapy and Coaching, San Francisco Counseling, San Francisco Therapy, San Francisco CA Therapists, San Francisco CA Therapist, San Francisco CA Couples Counseling, couples therapy san francisco ca, couples therapist san francisco ca, San Francisco Marriage Therapy, San Francisco Marriage Counseling, San Francisco Coaching, EMDR therapists in San Francisco, EMDR therapist in san Francisco ca, EMDR therapy in San Francisco CA, psychologist in san francisco, female psychotherapist san francisco, psychotherapist in san francisco, marriage and family therapist in san francisco, relationship therapy in san francisco, help with intimacy therapy san francisco, help with intimacy San Francisco, parenting issues san Francisco therapy, help for depression in san francisco, depression treatment san francisco, anxiety treatment san Francisco, help for anxiety san francisco, addiction treatment San Francisco, alcoholism treatment san francisco ca, help with substance abuse san francisco, eating disorders, help with anorexia san francisco, help with bulimia san francisco, help with binge eating disorder san francisco, learning self-care, EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, self-compassion therapy san francisco, family therapy san francisco, eating disorder therapist in San Francisco ca, eating disorder specialist san francisco, pre marital therapy san francisco, couples therapy san francisco, couples therapist San Francisco, pre marital counseling san francisco, recovering from an eating disorder san francisco, help with eating disorder san francisco, treatment for anorexia san francisco ca, treatment for bulimia san francisco ca, treatment for binge eating san francisco ca, addiction treatment san francisco ca, treatment for substance abuse san francisco, eating disorder treatment San Francisco, mental health san francisco, mental health therapist san francisco, mental health professional san francisco, healing from shame san francisco, recovering from infidelity san francisco ca, career counseling san francisco, trauma recovery san Francisco therapy ca, trauma treatment san francisco ca, mental health support in san francisco, treatment for shame san francisco, secual abuse specialist san francisco ca, treatment for sexual abuse san francisco therapy, trauma treatment San Francisco, PTSD therapist in San Francisco ca, therapy for PTSD in San Francisco ca, trauma specialist san francisco, PTSD specialist san francisco, treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder san francisco ca, anger management therapy san francisco, stress management therapy san francisco, help with communication san francisco, performance enhancement coaching san francisco, attachment-based therapy san francisco, attachment-based therapist san francisco, mindful meditation therapy san francisco, sex therapy san francisco, sex therapist san francisco, sexuality specialist therapy san francisco, treatment for sexual abuse san francisco, psychospiritual therapy san francisco ca, grief therapy san francisco ca, feminist therapy san francisco, treatment for Narcissistic personality disorder san francisco, treatment for borderline personality disorder san francisco, marriage counseling san francisco, attachment-focused therapy san francisco, internal family systems therapy san francisco, internal family systems therapist in san francisco, choosing a therapist in san francisco, choosing the right therapist in san francisco, how to choose a therapist san francisco, find a therapist in san francisco, female therapist in san francisco, finding the right therapist san francisco, ethical non-monogamy affirming therapist in san francisco ca, ethical nonmonogamy affirming therapist in san francisco ca, polyamory affirming therapist san francisco ca

What do you dread? What makes you procrastinate or immerse yourself in distraction or lose sleep or start and stop a hundred times before you actually do the thing? Some of us dread nearly everything. Some of us dread a few things here and there. (Some people don’t really dread much of anything and to you, I say congratulations, please show the rest of us how you stay so present, and this article isn’t meant for you.)


Many of us live in a constant state of dead (also known as anxiety); some of us are conscious of this and some aren’t. We dread things that will never actually happen, things that could realistically happen but aren’t right now, and things we can’t identify. We try out various types of behavior to manage this dread, but it doesn’t ever really abate.


In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Mastering Clinical Challenges (Butler, Fennell, Hackmann) anxiety is described as “a complimentary overestimation of the likelihood and magnitude of negative outcomes and an underestimation of internal or external resources by which catastrophe might be managed.” I love this. Anxiety/dread is the overestimation of obstacles and the underestimation of resources. It’s such an organized way of looking at anxiety and dread.


This overestimation of an event and underestimation of our ability to handle it manifests in the form of cognitive distortions. We find our brains swimming in thoughts like “I’ll never be in a loving relationship again,” “There is something wrong with me,” “I’ll never be able to handle this,” or “This is all my fault.” (And really that’s a tiny list of cognitive distortions. There is no limit to the thoughts we can think that will reinforce our fears.)


David Burns, M.D. compiled a list of the types of cognitive distortions we use. (And if you check out his book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, you might find some other useful information.) When we’re freaking out we are usually doing at least one of these:

-All or nothing thinking (black and white thinking, absolutes)

-Overgeneralization (viewing a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat)

-Mental Filter (dwelling on the negatives and ignoring the positives)

-Discounting the positives (insisting positives or accomplishments don’t count)

-Jumping to conclusions (mind reading and fortune telling- both from negative perspective)

-Magnification or Minimization (blowing things out of proportion or shrinking their importance)

-Emotional Reasoning (“I feel like an idiot, so I must be one,” or “I don’t feel like doing this so I’ll put it off.”)

-Should Statements (or “shouldn’t,” “must,” “have to,”)

-Labeling (identifying with mistakes or shortcomings. Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” saying “I’m a loser,” or “a fool.”)

-Personalization and Blame (blaming ourselves for something for which we weren’t entirely responsible or blaming other people and overlook ways that our attitudes and behavior might have contributed to a problem)


When we’re in them, it can be challenging to identify which distortions we’re using (or that we are using any of them at all). What to do? A helpful step is 1) slowing down and trying to identify what you are doing and which distortions you are employing so that you can gain a little bit of perspective and stop being dominated by your dread and anxiety. 2) If you’re having difficulty identifying any and it all just seems like rational thought, try getting out of your head and back into your body. Breathe deeply and notice how your abdominal muscles feel as you inhale and exhale. Notice any sensations you feel in your body and acknowledge them.

Some people find that the first two steps are enough, that once they have calmed themselves a bit and identified their irrational thinking, they are back in control. Sometimes the situation calls for more backup. When it does, you can try 3) examining the evidence that proves (or disproves) your distortion. If your distortion is saying “I never do anything right,” you can list things that you know you have done right. And even with the best tools, it’s still easy to fall down the rabbit hole of dread and anxiety. If you want to walk through it together, I’d love to tackle it with you.


Love and Be Loved,

Leave a Reply