How the iPhone App, Shrinky, Works

How do the iPhone® and iPod Touch® apps,

Shrinky’s Anxiety Remedy™, Shrinky’s Anger Remedy™,

and Shrinky’s Cheap Chill™ work?

Scenario One: You sit in the airport with your stomach in your mouth. You are sure that once the plane takes off you will have to force an emergency landing to let you off the plane. But that won’t matter. By that time the plane will have lost all engine power and you’ll be crashing anyway. You look at the gate and have this powerful urge to run. If you don’t pop an anti-anxiety pill, you’ll never be able to convince yourself to get on the plane.

Scenario Two: You’ve been working 90 hour weeks. You come home, exhausted. The kids aren’t asleep and the house is a wreck. Your wife asks you if you’ve gotten around to fixing that curtain rod she asked you to take care of three weeks ago. The thought pops in your head that your wife couldn’t care less about you. You start screaming at the top of your lungs. The kids look at you with horror.

Scenario Three: You’ve been trying to quit cigarettes for years. You’ve gone six weeks without a cigarette this time. You’ve had a rough week. You’ve been unemployed for 4 months and you didn’t get a call back from your last interview. You go out to pick up some beers. You see the cigarettes behind the counter. You think how good it would taste. You tell yourself you’re a worthless piece of garbage, so what difference would one cigarette make? You buy a pack.

What do these stories have in common? In each case, you don’t realize what the real problem is.

In the first story, you think the problem is the plane, but the real problem is that you feel anxious.

In the second story, you believe the problem is your wife, when the problem that needs to be dealt with is your anger.

In the third story, you’re sure the problem is your own worthlessness, when the problem is really an addictive craving.

The Problem is, You Don’t Know When You Feel

Anxiety, Anger, or Cravings.

Very often, when we have strong, uncomfortable feelings, we are not aware of that. As a psychotherapist, I often fall into the cliché of asking my client, “What do you feel?” Very often the answer will be something like, “I feel that he’s a stupid jerk!” That is not an emotion. That is a judgment. A feeling is usually one word: happy, sad, angry, scared. Very often we are not aware of our feelings. We are more aware of our assumptions.

In order to deal with situations like the plane, the wife, or the cigarette, we have to know what we feel.

Strong feelings make us want to act. They motivate us, but not always in the best ways. If you feel anxiety, you’ll probably want to avoid something. If you’re angry, you’re going to want to attack. If you have a craving, you’ll probably indulge.

We act, we do these things, instead of dealing with the real source of the problem, which is the discomfort you feel having a strong emotion.

So if you don’t want to avoid elevators, yell at the kids, or smoke yourself to death,

what else can you do?

When we have a strong emotion we react instead of respond. The key to being able to handle these kinds of situations is to be aware of, and do something about, your feelings. If you can name it, you can tame it. You need to shift your focus from the desire to run, attack, and indulge to taming your strong feelings.

How can you learn to be aware of your feelings? An emotion has three parts. We feel something in our bodies. We have a thought. We have a feeling. If you can become aware of what’s going on in your body, and the thoughts that go along with your distressing emotion, then you can have your focus on your emotions, and do what you need to do to calm yourself down.

Here’s how it works.

You come home from your long day at work. Your wife asks about the curtain rod. Immediately, you have this urge to yell. You stop and pause.

You tell yourself, “Oh, when I feel the urge to yell, that’s a signal for me to check in with my body.”

You say to yourself, “What is going on in my body? Oh, I feel this tightness in my belly. That’s a signal I’m feeling angry.”

You ask yourself, “What am I thinking? I’m thinking my wife doesn’t respect me. Oh, that’s another signal I’m feeling angry.”

You check in with yourself, “Yes, I’m feeling angry!”

Then you say to yourself, “Now that I am aware of my emotion, I recognize that the way to take care of this is not to yell, it is to calm down my body.”

Now that you know you are having a strong emotion

like anxiety or anger,

how do you calm down your body instead of running, attacking, or indulging?

When we feel anxious, angry or some other distressing emotion, what is usually happening is that the body thinks we are in terrible danger when we are not. We think we are about to get trampled by a mastodon, but really we are just driving home from work.

When the body believes we are about to get trampled or eaten, it turns on the body’s emergency system. We gear up to run, fight, or play dead. But since we aren’t really in danger, the body is acting in a way that is not good for it. Hitting the driver in the other car with a club is not an appropriate response. What we need to do is not avoid, yell, or indulge. What we need to do is shut off the emergency system and turn on the body’s “all clear.” Once you can do that the urge to run, fight, or indulge disappears.

In order to turn off the emergency system and turn on the “all clear” you need to stop, put your feet on the ground, and breathe. You need to feel your body and your feelings, and release your body tension. You need to visualize getting rid of your toxic emotion. You need to focus on something better than the crashing plane. It’s pretty simple and you can do it in a few minutes. This is not hooey. It is scientific fact. (There are scientific names for the emergency system and the all-clear, but I won’t go into that here.)

This is where the SHRINKY APPS come in!

Now that sounds great, but its hard to remember to do this when you are in the grip of the strong emotion, right? That’s where my Shrinky apps come in. Shrinky is there to take you through the steps of focusing on your body and your thoughts, turning off the emergency system and turning on the all-clear signal when you can’t do it on your own. Shrinky not only reminds you that the problem is your emotion, but provides you with the tools to chill out.

It all takes just a few minutes, and the more you practice the better it works. (That’s scientific, too, but I’ll save that for some other article.) Just follow the steps and in minutes, instead of feeling anxiety, anger, or cravings, you’ll be getting on the plane with a smile on your face, kissing your wife, and buying a goji juice instead of the cancer sticks.

So when you need something to help you manage your stress and anxiety, provide anger management, or help you overcome addictive cravings, and more, Shrinky is your man.

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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