Psychotherapy

Day 1634: Warnings

WARNING:  This post has warnings in it.

Yesterday, my EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapist, George, talked to me about my over-developed mental warning system.

WARNING: I keep forgetting what “EMDR” stands for and I have to look it up every time I write about it (like here and here).

George gave me an important warning, yesterday, in our therapy session. He warned that I give myself this warning way too much:

I have to hyper-vigilantly protect myself against the world’s incompetence, ignorance, hostility, lack of understanding, ambivalence, negligence, etc.,  in order to get my needs met and to survive.

WARNING: I write important warnings down so I can remember them.

George warned me that these constant warnings are probably bad for my health. He suggested I tell myself this instead:

I am safe. I have everything I need.

Do you see any warnings in my photos from yesterday?

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WARNING: If children scare you, be warned that The Warning is a hard-rock band of three young sisters from Monterey, Mexico. Here‘s The Warning’s TED talk (and play):

 

WARNING: This writer loves comments on her posts, which you can leave below.

WARNING: I have everything I need, here and now, thanks to all who helped me create this post with warnings and — of course! — to YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 1632: This place matters

This place matters, because we’re here, now.

Your place matters, no matter where you are.

This place in downtown Boston matters:

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The place where I’m writing this blog matters, even though we’re leaving it this summer. Yesterday, I took care of legal matters in selling this place.

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The law matters, every place.

My office —  where people learn to recognize and reduce  cognitive distortions — matters.

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I placed that sign back up on my office wall yesterday, because those cognitive distortions matter. Does it matter that I’ve placed parentheses around the feelings caused by those all-too-common human and automatic thoughts?

Do these photos of other places matter?

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The meals that Michael places on our plates matter, because they are SO delicious.

Searching “this place” on YouTube matters.

When I was in a difficult place as a kid, seeing David McCallum on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. mattered a lot to me.

Your comments make this place matter much, much more.

Gratitude matters!  That’s why I place it at the end of every post.  Many thanks to all who help me place my daily blog on WordPress and — of course! — to you, for placing yourself here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 1627: Love, Validation

As I was reading the news online this morning, I felt many painful emotions. Then, I saw this headline:

Two-Headed Porpoise Just Wants Love, Validation

And I thought, “That two-headed porpoise is just like us.”

I just want love, validation for these photos I took recently.

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Did you notice any love or validation in those pictures?

I looked for love, validation on YouTube and found this

and this:

I wonder: will there be any love, validation in the comments for this post?

Love, validation, and thanks to all who helped me create today’s blog and — of course! — to YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1606: Self conscious

I am very conscious that many selves have shared being self conscious this week, in individual and group therapy.

Yourself, are you conscious of the meaning of “self conscious?”

self-con·scious
adjective
feeling undue awareness of oneself, one’s appearance, or one’s actions.
“I feel a bit self-conscious parking my scruffy old car”
synonyms: embarrassed, uncomfortable, uneasy, nervous

Why do so many selves feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, uneasy, and nervous about awareness of oneself?  This week, self conscious people described pain, mind reading, personalization, paranoia, projection, isolation, and a drastic restriction of activities.  This self is conscious of a wish that consciousness of self could lead to  self-confidence and self-worth, not self-judgment.

Should I feel self conscious about today’s photos?

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I don’t think cats are particularly self-conscious.

Here’s Ellen being self conscious:

I am conscious that I, myself,  love comments from my readers.

Conscious gratitude to all who helped me create this self-conscious post and to you — of course! — for being yourself, here and now.


Minutes after I published this post, I became conscious of today’s New York Times piece on being self conscious.

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 1591: Helpful

If you read any of my helpful posts on this blog, you’ll see that I use the word “helpful” a lot.

I shall now provide helpful links to my four previous helpful posts with “helpful” in the title (here, here, here, and here).

I wonder if it’s helpful for me to remember that the last time I wrote a blog post about a word I use frequently (Day 734: Actually), somebody actually tried to be helpful by advising me about how to use that word less. Is it helpful for me to confess that I don’t want to use the word “helpful” less, because I like the word “helpful”?

Is it helpful for me to speculate why I like the word “helpful” so much?

I guess I like to be helpful to other people, especially in my work as an individual and group therapist. I also think it’s helpful for me to remember that people I want to help are in control of any helpful changes I might wish for them. Perhaps it would be helpful to quote this helpful lightbulb joke right now:

How many psychotherapists does it take to change a lightbulb?

One, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

Here’s my first helpful photograph from yesterday:

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It might be helpful if I explain that photo. “Is that a helpful thought?” can be a helpful challenge to any cognitive distortion, including shoulds, fortune-telling,  catastrophizing, mind-reading, blaming, labeling, comparisons, and overgeneralization. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a helpful book by Mark Manson.

Are any of my perhaps inexplicable photos from yesterday helpful?

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Since people liked the octopus cookie in yesterday’s post, I thought it would be helpful to take and share that last picture.

Here‘s a helpful video from YouTube:

I always find comments from my readers very helpful.

Helpful thanks to all who helped me create this post and — of course! — to helpful you.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 1572: What’s the worst that could happen?

What’s the worst that could happen?

That’s something I ask my patients, to invite them to face their fears and to consider how likely it is that those fears will come true.

What’s the worst that could happen to you, here and now?

Is the worst that could happen to you related to

  • money?
  • harm coming to somebody you love?
  • work?
  • technology?
  • people in power?
  • illness?
  • legal issues?
  • family?
  • friends?
  • strangers?
  • time?
  • transportation?
  • the weather?
  • sports?
  • food?
  • expectations?
  • language?
  • the media?
  • the internet?
  • local politics?
  • national politics?
  • global politics?
  • natural disasters?
  • man-made disasters?
  • fire?
  • water?
  • change?
  • taking risks?
  • going outside?
  • staying inside?
  • accidents?
  • making mistakes?
  • misunderstandings?
  • malice?
  • something else?

What’s the worst that could happen, at this point, in this post? Would it  be my defining “catastrophizing” AGAIN?

Catastrophizing.
This is a particularly extreme and painful form of fortune telling, where we project a situation into a disaster or the worst-case scenario. You might think catastrophizing helps you prepare and protect yourself, but it usually causes needless anxiety and worry.

Would the worst that could happen in this post be seemingly random pictures?

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I hope that the worst that could happen to my son today will be his mother posting a picture of him on her blog.

Here’s  “The Worst that Could Happen” music from YouTube:

 

The worst that could happen, right now, would be my forgetting to thank all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1563: Make a wish.

Okay, everybody!  Let’s each make a wish, using whatever method we prefer for wishing.

When people wish at my office, they sometimes use one of these:

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Do you believe that if you make a wish and share that wish, it won’t come true? Just to be safe, I’m not going to share the wish I just made, but I do wish to share all the other photos I took yesterday.

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I do make a wish, every day, that I will help and awaken somebody, sometimes by encouraging them to wish.

I also wish to help and awaken somebody with “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder.

I shall now make another wish: that my readers comment on this blog exactly as they wish.

I wish, as always, to end this daily post with thanks to all who help me  blog exactly how I wish and — of course! — to YOU, no matter what you wish.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1562: The mind

I hope you don’t mind that I’m starting out this post with a drawing of the mind that I did not draw.

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My mind noticed that drawing of the mind on the white board of my fellow psychotherapist, Megan, yesterday.  My mind is now doing its best to remember Megan’s explanation of that drawing — I believe it represents confusion on the top of the mind and the attempt to go deeper into the mind, past the confusion.

I hope Megan, who reads this blog, does not mind the way I explained her drawing.

Because the mind makes connections and comparisons, my mind is now remembering a drawing of the mind I made several years ago (which figured in this old post, if you don’t mind my linking to that).

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My mind is now noticing that both Megan and I have observed that human beings often have negative and uncomfortable thoughts and experiences on the top (or the front) of their minds and that they have to work hard to get past those.

Indeed, my mind has been struggling, lately, to get past negative and unhelpful thoughts including fortune-telling, catastrophizing, mind-reading, comparisons, shoulds, and the other common cognitive distortions listed here (if you don’t mind another link in this post).

I hope you don’t mind that today’s post has so few pictures:

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As my mind thinks seriously and thinks honestly, it wishes I had photos of last night’s family Seder.  My iPhone was otherwise engaged, FaceTiming with my son Aaron (whose fine mind is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh). Family members asked me last night if I minded Aaron being so far away from me. My mind seriously and honestly answered this way, “I miss him, but I don’t mind, because Edinburgh is the perfect place for him.”

My mind now wants to share this with you:

My mind now has the strange feeling I’ve ended other posts exactly like this before:  Thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for reading it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 1556: Worth more than gold

Yesterday, I saw a sign that asked a worthy question.

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Who is worth more to you than gold?

My family, friends, patients, and readers are worth more to me than gold.

My trusty iPhone camera, which captures precious moments, is worth more to me than gold.

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Michael‘s cooking and music I love are also worth more to me than gold.

Guess what? Your comments are worth more to me than gold, too.

Worth-more-than-gold thanks to all who helped me create this post and — of course! — to you.

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 1550: Worrying and Planning

Earlier this week, I spoke to somebody in therapy who believed  worrying was a necessary part of planning.

I replied, without worrying about it, “No, no, no, no. Worrying is never helpful.  Never.”

While I rarely plan to use all-or-nothing statements like that, I do believe that worrying never helps. People often believe that worrying helps motivate planning. Actually, worrying wastes valuable time and energy while you’re planning.  Planning is much more productive and fun without the burden of worrying.

Even though we weren’t planning on it, we had a good discussion about the uselessness of worrying.  At the end of the therapy session, we both said, “No worries.”

Right now, I’m planning

  • to sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” accompanying myself on a Kalimba and
  • to see a house by the water, which we might make an offer on.

I’ve been planning to write today’s blog post in order to let go of any worrying about all that.

I’m planning on sharing all the photos I took yesterday, without any worrying.

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Are you worrying about what music I’m planning to include here?

If you’re planning on leaving a comment, I’m not worrying about that, either.

I’m always planning to end each post with gratitude to all who helped me create it and to you — of course! — no matter what you’re planning today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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