cognitive behavioral therapy

Day 3187: Throwing out what no longer fits

Today’s Daily Bitch Calendar is about throwing out what no longer fits.

We all have things that no longer fit — unhelpful thoughts, toxic people, harsh self judgment, second guessing, crippling fears about the future, regrets about the past, hopelessness, body shame, etc. — and wouldn’t it be great to throw those out?

At the end of every therapy group, I invite people to throw out what no longer fits them in a “magic” waste paper basket, which either holds or reduces the power of whatever they throw away. Over the years, people have thrown away a ton of trash in these magic waste paper baskets.

Because all my groups are remote these days, here’s the “home version” of the magic waste paper basket:

Next to the magic waste paper basket is the magic hat, an addition recently suggested by a group member. Out of the magic hat, people can pull whatever they want, like self love, courage, acceptance, strength, and hope.

Do you see anything that fits the magic waste paper basket or the magic hat in my other images for today?

Yesterday, I threw my rough day into the magic waste paper basket and it fit in there just fine.

This is the first thing that comes up on YouTube when I search for “throwing away what doesn’t fit”:

This is the second thing:

What do you need to throw away that doesn’t fit?

Gratitude always fits, so thanks to all who help me create these daily blog posts, including YOU.

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 3157: Clearing your mind

Minds can get so cluttered up with fear, worry, judgment, guilt, shame, dread, distractions, self-consciousness, regrets, assumptions, cognitive distortions, other people’s behaviors and thoughts, the past, the future, and SO ON, that clearing your mind is an important skill.

I’ll be working on clearing my mind as I start my two-week vacation from work. Over-thinking is an old habit for me, so here and now I’m clearing my mind of everything except the current task, which is to create today’s blog post.

In each moment, I am taking a breath and letting go of any distractions (of which there are many).

Do any of today’s images help in clearing your mind?

As I’m clearing my mind for National Ride the Wind Day, how are you clearing your mind?

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “clearing your mind”:

I also find this:

If you do have thoughts and feelings about this clearing-your-mind post, try clearing your mind of them by leaving them in a comment, below.

Clearing my mind still leaves room for gratitude, so thanks to all who help me create this mind-clearing daily blog, including YOU!

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 3076: Walking the walk

Before I began walking my walk yesterday, I tweeted this:

Why did I post that I was better at walking and talking than I was at tweeting? I was doing the familiar and unhelpful cognitive distortion of comparisons — feeling “less than” because everyone I looked at on Twitter was getting way more likes and replies than I was.

Usually I tweet just for fun, not caring about numbers; yesterday, I got caught up in comparisons and felt worse and worse. I kept tweeting, hoping I would get more responses. I didn’t. I knew I would feel better if I stopped tweeting and started walking, but I didn’t, for TWO HOURS on a BEAUTIFUL day.

This reminded me of a therapy session earlier when somebody was talking about the difficulty of breaking old patterns of taking risks with money. This person was stuck in those behaviors and in unhelpful comparisons, too, which we talked about.

I broke my own comparison/tweeting cycle by posting the tweet above, putting on my shoes, and walking the walk.

.

After watching that duck swimming the swim, I tweeted this tweet:

Eventually, I stopped walking and saw impressive evidence of Michael decking the deck:

.

I messaged this message to my friend Jenn, who loves pugs …

… and enjoyed eating the eats.

I prepared for blogging the blog by capturing all these other images:

As usual, the Daily Bitch is bitching the bitch.

Here’s what was playing when I was walking the walk by the sea:

I can’t believe there are only 106 likes on YouTube for that amazing performance of the wonderful “Sea Journey” by the late, great Chick Corea, who always walked the walk. Here he is walking his fingers all over the keyboards with his Elektric Band in “Side Walk”:

Who wants to comment the comment?

Thanks to all who help me walk the walk, talk the talk, tweet the tweet, and blog the blog, including YOU!

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 2898: Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Over the years, I have heard many people say they are waiting for the other shoe to drop, meaning “to await a seemingly inevitable event, especially one that is not desirable.”

If you’re waiting for more information to drop about “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” here it is:

I know I wrote about waiting for the other shoe to drop before, here at the Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally. I’m not going to wait to drop the sole important point of one of those posts, as follows:

Waiting for the other shoe to drop is another form of fortune-telling and catastrophizing, human cognitive distortions we all do. When I realize that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, I ask myself, “What am I so afraid of? It’s just a SHOE.”

If you are waiting for my other images of the day to drop, here they are:

.

I’m sick of waiting for my 2019 tax refund to drop, so I’ll be waiting on hold today for the other shoe to drop about that.

Here’s Roger Bartlett with “Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop.”

While I’m waiting for your comments to drop, I’ll drop some more gratitude on you.

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, definition, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2866: Living with uncertainty

Living with uncertainty is very difficult, yet we do it every day. Certainty is often an illusion — a denial of mortality and the constant changes we are barely aware of.

Here and now, as we live with the uncertainties of the pandemic and the results of the USA election, the level of uncertainty is very difficult to live with. I’m certain how this uncertainty is affecting me, my family, my friends, and my patients:

  • insomnia,
  • changes in appetite,
  • stress eating,
  • anger,
  • hopelessness,
  • helplessness,
  • worry,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • lack of motivation,
  • a reversion to old unhelpful habits,
  • withdrawal,
  • fear,
  • catastrophizing,
  • blaming,
  • all-or-nothing thinking,
  • mind-reading, and
  • the rest of the cognitive distortions (which I’m certain you can find here).

I’m uncertain how I and millions of other people are going to live with so much uncertainty in the days ahead.

In a sea of uncertainty, I’m certain that routines — like daily blogging — help. I’m certain I have new images to share but I’m uncertain exactly what they are.

I’m certain that I felt less uncertainty about the future when I took those photos than I’m feeling now.

Here‘s “The Courage to Live with Radical Uncertainty” — a Ted Talk given by “Compassion-Driven Oncologist Shekinah Elmore” in March 2020, right before our current age of uncertainty.

Here‘s “Coping with Uncertainty” by MindTools Videos:

What are your thoughts and feelings about living with uncertainty?

No matter how I’m living with uncertainty, I’m certainly grateful to all who help me create this daily blog, including YOU.

Categories: 2020 U.S. Election, 2020 U.S. Presidential election, blogging, cognitive behavioral therapy | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 2754: Reasons you should speak up

Are you ever in situations where you don’t speak up, and you’re not sure why you are silencing yourself?

I’ve noticed this in myself and in others. And this tendency to not speak up is especially critical these days, when silence can equal violence.

Besides that article about speaking up against racism (linked to in the previous paragraph), I’m also looking at a helpful article by Kevin Daum that discusses 5 Reasons You Should Speak Up (Even When You Think You Shouldn’t).  For me, the highlights of that article are that

  • Silence is deemed approval and is not an effective way to avoid conflict.
  • Many stay silent because they don’t want to do any harm by criticizing or offending someone.
  • It’s important to show your commitment to the process by being vocal.
  • Honesty builds trust, especially when combined with tact and empathy.
  • What’s obvious to you might not be obvious to others.
  • You may not be alone in your thinking.

Are there other reasons to speak up? What might get in the way of you speaking up about that, here?

For me, what gets in the way of speaking up includes:

  • fear of doing harm,
  • fear of being misunderstood,
  • fear of feeling alone,
  • fear of being attacked for my opinion,
  • fear of exposing myself or others,
  • fears that are difficult to describe but which have lived in my heart for a long time,
  • wanting to maintain harmony whenever possible,
  • internalized sexism,
  • internalized ageism,
  • the saying “silence is golden,”
  • not being sure, in the moment, of what I want to say,
  • wishing to hear all sides before I decide what I want to say,
  • denial about what is going on (if the situation feels uncomfortable),
  • believing that the time  to speak up has passed,
  • distraction,
  • exhaustion,
  • mind-reading, catastrophizing, and other cognitive distortions.

However, when I don’t speak up, I usually regret it. It’s helpful for me to

  • remember that I CAN  speak up next time and
  • forgive myself for my past silences, because guilt and shame are silencers.

Are there reasons to speak up about my pictures from yesterday?

fullsizeoutput_4729

IMG_5522

IMG_5523

IMG_5524

IMG_5525

IMG_5526

IMG_5527

IMG_5528

IMG_5529

IMG_5530

IMG_5531

IMG_5532

fullsizeoutput_472a

fullsizeoutput_472b

IMG_5535

IMG_5536

IMG_5537

IMG_5538

IMG_5539

IMG_5541

fullsizeoutput_472c

IMG_5543

IMG_5548

 

IMG_5547

IMG_5546

Please don’t be afraid of those right and wrong buzzers and speak up in a comment, below.

I also want to speak up about my friend Megan

IMG_5531

… who gives me the courage to speak up. Yesterday, we spoke up to each other about the pandemic, racism, privilege, our work as therapists, the death of a shared patient from COVID-19,  difficult people, uncertainty, masks, politics, hopes, our children, the past, the present, the future, and our long-time friendship.

Here‘s “Speak Up, Speak Out” from Melinda Carroll:

 

Nothing gets in the way of my speaking up  about my gratitude to all who help me create these posts and — of course! — to YOU.

IMG_5369 2

 

 

 

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, friendship, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 2209: Expendable

Yesterday, in a therapy session, somebody talked about feeling expendable.  When someone labels themselves in a painful way, I write the word up on the board, to get it out of the person’s head and so that we can look at the label with different perspectives, perhaps making the unhelpful label expendable.

IMG_2493.JPG

A definition of “expendable” may be expendable, but I’m sharing it anyway.

ex·pend·a·ble
/ikˈspendəb(ə)l
adjective
of little significance when compared to an overall purpose, and therefore able to be abandoned.
“the region is expendable in the wider context of national politics”
synonyms: dispensable, able to be sacrificed, replaceable
(of an object) designed to be used only once and then abandoned or destroyed.
“the need for unmanned and expendable launch vehicles”

As I read that definition, it occurs to me that many people might be feeling expendable, as the current U.S. government shutdown drags on and on.

In that therapy session yesterday, I invited the expendable-feeling person to name what is opposite to expendable.  Here’s one non-expendable word:

img_2494

Another opposite-to-expendable word was “valuable.”  Apparently a picture of that word was expendable.

Wait! I found “valuable” on this scale, which I drew on the board:

img_2495

It might be valuable and appreciated, here and now,  if I ask my readers these questions: Do you ever feel expendable?  Appreciated?  Valuable?  Where are you on that scale, as you read this?  What helps you feel less expendable and more valuable and appreciated?

I wonder if any of the photos in this post are expendable, appreciated, and/or valuable.

img_2491

img_2496

It’s always appreciated when my non-expendable boyfriend Michael asks me to dance, and last night, after his very appreciated and valuable dinner (pictured above), we danced to this music, which is the opposite of expendable to me.

I really appreciate that Michael danced with me for the full eight-and-a-half minutes of that highly valued McCoy Tyner tune.

I hope you know that your comments are very valuable and appreciated.

Finally, here is some non-expendable gratitude for all who helped me create this post and — of course! — for YOU.

fullsizeoutput_369e

 

 

 

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, definition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 2196: Who is your harshest critic?

For years, I would have answered the question, “Who is your harshest critic?” like so:

“It’s me.”

Many of the people I work with in therapy also say that they are their own harshest critics. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, and other proven techniques, we acknowledge the harm of that harsh criticism and reduce its toxicity.

There are times in my life when my answer to the question, “Who is your harshest critic?” would be, “It’s not me.”  I remember, decades ago, when I agonized over whether to leave my job as a writer at a technology company, which had not worked out as I expected.  I said many harshly critical things to myself  (including “you make terrible decisions!”  “what makes you think you’ll find a better job?”)  as I went through the  painful process of pros and cons about staying or leaving.  One of the obvious advantages of leaving was that I did not respect management at that company, so  I did end up resigning. Before I left,  one of the top managers said harsh things to me, including labeling me “a quitter” and somebody not capable of sticking to things that are challenging and difficult.  Once this man externalized my internal harsh criticism, I was able to recognize the unfairness in his reaction, stand up straight, look him in the eye, and say, “That’s not true. I’m leaving because I know I can be happier elsewhere.”

I’ll never forget how good that felt — to directly confront those harsh messages and say, “That’s not true.”

Since becoming a therapist, I’ve done a therapeutic exercise in groups where people write down their harsh internal criticisms and we externalize them.  Somebody in the group reads the harsh critical statement out loud, and the person gets a chance to respond back, sometimes being coached by others.  It’s always inspiring to witness people challenge their internalized harsh critics, replacing those old and toxic messages with more accepting and helpful ones.

Last night, when I performed my latest original song, “It’s Not Me,” about a toxically critical person, I became my harshest critic, again. For one thing, I went on immediately after the featured performer,  a 13-year-old prodigy “– The Mighty Quinn”  — who blew out the joint with his fiddle playing and his singing.  Here’s a photo of Quinn and his father:

fullsizeoutput_35f0

They were the proverbial tough act to follow.  I considered saying, “Let’s hear it for my opening act!” before I started performing, but I harshly criticized that and said something else instead.  As I started playing,  I realized that my ukulele was out of tune. I blanked on something I wanted to say,  and I didn’t like that I needed to use a cheat sheet to remember some of the chords and words.  After I finished,  I sat down, ignoring the applause and the positive comments from people in the audience, listening, instead,  to my harsh inner critic.

I then asked my new co-worker and friend, Alice (who is also a musician), whether she felt bad when her performances weren’t up to her own standards. She said many supportive things, including, “I think you’ll feel better when you watch the recording.”

And, when I watched the recording later, I did feel better. I let go of the role of my own harshest critic and, as always, it felt great! Here‘s the recording, which Alice made:

When I watch this, I use one of my helpful phrases: “It’s good enough AND I can make it better.”

In the past, I’ve been the harshest critic of my blog writing and my photographs, like these:

img_2040

img_2042

fullsizeoutput_35e9

fullsizeoutput_35e8

img_2047

img_2050

fullsizeoutput_35ea

fullsizeoutput_35ef

For now,   I’m celebrating not being my own harshest critic.

Thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course — to YOU, for your kind acceptance (of me and yourself) (I hope!)

img_2041

 

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 2190: Framed

One of my favorite bloggers, Christopher, included this in his comment on my “Who is It?” post yesterday:

It looks like you’ve been framed.

Soon after Christopher framed that comment, my dear cousin Lani brought over this perfectly framed house warming present:

IMG_1882

The cats that are framed in that cat frame gift set look like our cat Oscar and the late, lamented Milo.  I wonder what photos will be framed in those frames in the future?

Here are the rest of the photos I framed with my iPhone yesterday.

fullsizeoutput_35af.jpeg

fullsizeoutput_35b0

fullsizeoutput_35b1

fullsizeoutput_35b2

Here‘s a photo of Lani I framed with my  iPhone over three years ago:

img_6074

That’s Lani in the frame with her late, precious kitty, Jewel. As Lani and I framed many thoughts and feelings yesterday, she said she’s almost ready to consider getting another cat.  I framed a request that Lani include me in her search for a new kitty, when she’s ready.

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), we talk about reframes, defined here.

Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique that consists of identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts. Reframing is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions to find more positive alternatives.

I’ve also experienced people reframing events, ideas, concepts, and emotions to find more negative alternatives.  In those cases, people might feel framed, like The Coasters describe in “Framed.”

I’m looking forward to the comments framed by my readers about this post.

Now it’s time for me to frame my thanks to all those who helped me frame this “Framed” post and — of course! — to YOU.

IMG_1732

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 2167: Consider the source

Consider the source of today’s post — it’s my blog!  Is that a source you trust, know, can vouch for?  Is it a source that’s helpful, doubtful, consistent, confusing, reliable, familiar, new, or whatever for YOU?

Consider that the source of this post is a discussion earlier this week in a therapy group, where the participants were evaluating negative messages they had heard from others.   When I asked people in the group to consider one of the antidotes to cognitive distortions — Consider the Source — they considered that a helpful cognitive reframe.

Consider the source of this definition of “Consider the Source,”  which is this list of antidotes for unhelpful thoughts.

Consider the Source. If you’re receiving negative, upsetting messages, take a step back and look at where those messages are coming from. Is that source reliable? Is it usually negative? How do other people see that source?  If the source is your own internalized critic, consider that you may be too harsh on yourself.

Consider the source of today’s photos — it’s my iPhone!

IMG_1441

IMG_1444

 

IMG_1446

IMG_1445

When you consider the source, you might think

  • yippee!
  • hooray!
  • way to go!
  • high five!
  • terrific!
  • you got it!
  • RIGHT!
  • too bad!
  • sorry!
  • try again!
  • not quite!
  • next time!
  • oh well!
  • WRONG!

Here‘s Consider the Source with “Many Words of Disapproval.”

 

Consider leaving a comment, below.

Consider the source of extreme gratitude for all who help create these blogs and for all who read them — it’s me!

IMG_1074

 

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.