Day 1102: Surprising

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:

  1. 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.)
  2.  It was surprising to me how many of us wrote down the words “weird” and “stupid” for this part of the exercise.
  3. People shared their negative self-talk with others in the group, who found it surprising how harshly the other members judged themselves.
  4. The group participants ripped up and threw away, in the trash, their negative descriptions, surprising themselves with how great that felt.
  5. Without any instruction from me, surprising and strong applause greeted every trashing of old, negative self-talk.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “Day 1102: Surprising

  1. No surprise that your readers enjoy an interesting column every day.

  2. I never know what your post will be about so in that aspect you surprise me too:)

  3. It’s not surprising to me to read about positivity here Ann! ❤
    Diana xo

  4. I love surprising! So long as I’m the surpriser and not the surprisee.

  5. I’m surprised you work full time in an emotionally taxing (I assume) job and yet still find time to write posts every day!

  6. Lovely.

  7. I’m not surprised by any of your pictures which surprises and also worries me. It makes me think of that quote by Einstein, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
    Now I surprise myself by thinking that should have been phrased positively: Those who pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe are the most truly alive; even when closed our eyes are open.

  8. Holly

    I absolutely love your final thought on today’s post. More people need to remember that when sharing what they see as good in others. ❤

  9. He or she was right. You are really a surprising person, Ann. You surprise me every day with your surprisingly posts 🙂

  10. I don’t know what’s surprising anymore, you are, always, with this beautiful blog.

  11. I’m not surprised that I might have to engage in the exercise and see its results. Happy new year, Ann!

  12. It is indeed surprising what surprises us! 😊
    When we are surprised we are open to learn 💛

  13. I am surprised to learn that others do have #7. I thought it is just me. I think it is a good thing.

  14. This image is the MOST surprising, as the cat looking at this goldfish is an impostor. I’m the only one allowed to inspect goldfish at this establishment.

  15. It would surprise you to know how hard I’m working with Hillmary, in the WH!

  16. We had a photo shoot today!

  17. It is surprising that a four-legged creature should be directed to start off on the right paw. Which of the two?

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