Malibu Times

Malibu author Tim Gallwey’s new book helps stressed individuals stay balanced.

“Inner Game of Stress” Malibu author W. Timothy Gallwey (center), with doctors and co-authors Edd Hanzelik, M.D. and John Morton, M.D. Through “The Inner Game of Stress” Gallwey hopes his readers outsmart and circumvent stress. Photo by Marie Catherine Toulet

By Patrick Timothy Mullikin / Special to The Malibu Times

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:16 AM PDT

Stressing over which stress-relief book to buy?

Sounds silly, but minor stress, such as fretting over which book to buy, has become part of daily living. We simply grin and bear it and move along.

Major stress? That’s another matter. Malibu author W. Timothy Gallwey estimates that up to 75 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders.

Simply stated: stress is making us sick, even killing us.

“The Inner Game of Stress: Outsmart Life’s Challenges and Fulfill Your Potential,” the latest in Gallwey’s “Inner Game” series, is being touted as the only book on stress you’ll ever need. And while that’s quite a claim, Gallwey is quick to back up this statement, making it clear his book approaches the stress issue from a completely different direction.“It doesn’t deal with stress management. The whole idea of the strategy around stress is not to try to fight it, but to try to build an inner stability so that when the inevitable stressors come your way, they won’t throw you off balance,” Gallwey said last week during a phone interview from his Malibu home.

“In other stress books we see mostly diets, exercise, buy a puppy, various things to alleviate your current stress. You have to have the stress already to apply those books.”

Through “The Inner Game of Stress” Gallwey hopes his readers outsmart and circumvent stress.

What he and co-authors Edward Hanzelik, M.D., and John Morton, M.D, offer readers in “The Inner Game of Stress” is a series of steps and exercises-preemptive strikes, if you will-to keep stressors at bay and “to discover your inner stability so you can respond to inevitable life stressors before they happen.”

At first blush this sounds like New Age psychobabble, but Gallwey et al. do in fact present the reader with concrete-some of it common sense-examples of how to discover this inner stability, including: The STOP (Step back, Think, Organize and Proceed) Technique; The Attitude Tool: Feeling resentment? Try gratitude; The Magic Pen: Use it to develop your ability to open up your intuition and wisdom; The Transpose Exercise that allows one to imagine what the other person thinks, feels, wants-and develop empathy, kindness, and better relationship skills; The PLE (Performance, Learning, and Experience) Triangle that uses goals to redefine success and enhance enjoyment.

The book can have the feeling of a PowerPoint presentation at times, making it an easy read, and Gallwey makes references to the stress seminars he and his colleagues conduct. (A few of the case studies are, in fact, about seminar attendees who have put Gallwey’s principles to test, with positive results.)

Sprinkled throughout the book’s three sections-“The Game of Stress,” “Outsmarting Stress,” and “The Inner Game Toolbox”-are case studies written by Hanzelik and Horton (hence their billing as coauthors) illustrating the effects of stress on health and showing how Gallwey’s principles have helped these patients. These “Patient Files” are at times austere, even Kafka-esque, in their descriptions: “When Ruth, a young woman in her thirties, first came to my office,” writes Hanzelik, “she was desperately unhappy to the point of being suicidal. On the face of it, Ruth had every reason to be happy, but she couldn’t find what she was looking for in life. She was consumed by a relentless inner dialogue led by the Stress Maker.”

The “Stress Maker” that haunts Ruth, we learn from Gallwey, “is another name for fear, doubt, confusion and ignorance, an inner voice that unless vanquished or diminished can lead to stress.”

Each chapter ends with an exercise to put Gallwey’s principles to test. In the case of the “Stress Maker,” it’s a how to bypass your stress maker: “Review the bothersome fear you noted above and see if you can bring the Stress Maker down to size. How much of the fear is real, and how much is invented? What would your voice say to bypass the Stress Maker’s concepts rather than buy into them?”

The obvious question: Does the book work?

Although the book was released on Aug. 18, the reaction so far has been positive, Gallwey said. “We had a book launching in mid-August and 400 people came to it. Lots of people had read the book already and were extremely enthusiastic about it,” he said.

Gallwey said he uses the book’s principles all the time in his own daily life, with positive results, and hopes the book will help others, too.

“I have a feeling of compassion for people who are depriving themselves of a really high-quality life because of stress. There’s a choice. There’s a real choice, and I hope more and more people will take that choice, through my book or any book or anything that can help them.”

Copyright © 2009 – Malibu Times

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