Yesterday, it was surprising to me that somebody described me as “surprising” during a group therapy exercise.
I’ve been surprising people with group therapy exercises for a surprising number of years. Because yesterday’s group therapy exercise was new to all the participants, they found it surprising how useful and moving it was.
I shall now explain, in surprising detail, yesterday’s group therapy exercise:
- People wrote down, on a single sheet sheet of paper, negative and unhelpful beliefs about themselves, which they’ve been carrying around for a surprising long time. (See here for a definition of “labeling” — a surprisingly common and toxic cognitive distortion.)
- It was surprising to me how many of us wrote down the words “weird” and “stupid” for this part of the exercise.
- People shared their negative self-talk with others in the group, who found it surprising how harshly the other members judged themselves.
- The group participants ripped up and threw away, in the trash, their negative descriptions, surprising themselves with how great that felt.
- Without any instruction from me, surprising and strong applause greeted every trashing of old, negative self-talk.
- It was probably surprising to the participants when I next instructed them to write down positive descriptions of themselves and/or others in the group.
- It’s not surprising to me that people find it much easier to write down positive descriptions of other people than to write down positive descriptions of themselves.
- It was surprising to every group member how many positive things others wrote about them.
I hope it’s not surprising that I will gladly clarify any aspect of that exercise, if you wish.
Here are some surprising images I captured after yesterday morning’s surprising group therapy session:
Which of those are most surprising to you?
Here’s my final thought about “surprising”: It’s not surprising to me that surprising and wonderful changes can occur when people are surprised by more positive images of themselves.
Surprising thanks to all the surprising people, cats, and dogs that helped me create today’s surprising post and special thanks to you — surprise! — for reading it.