Psychotherapy

Day 3259: What’s a story you tell about yourself?

Yesterday, between two therapy groups where people tell stories about themselves, I asked this question on Twitter:

Some people on Twitter pointed out that there were many ways to answer that question — is the story the truth or a lie? Is it a story you tell to yourself or to others? My story about the questions I ask is this: there is no right or wrong way to answer any of them. I deliberately made the question ambiguous, so people could answer as they chose.

Personally, I’ve been thinking a lot about the old, habitual stories we tell about ourselves and how those affect us. Many people tell negative, limiting, and outmoded stories about themselves. For example, I tell a story about myself making a mistake that might markedly harm myself and others, even though that has rarely happened in my life. This fear-filled story can make me hesitant to act and can cause me to agonize over something I might have done or will do “wrong.”

I can also get confused by the conflicting stories others tell. For example, which story should I believe: “Look before you leap!” or “He who hesitates is lost!”

What’s a story that today’s images tell?

Now I’m thinking about (1) stories that use strong language, (2) stories people tell to bartenders and (3) the unforgettable stories that movies tell us.

Also, the story I’m telling about the potato latkes Michael made yesterday …

… is that they are the best I’ve ever had.

This is what I find on YouTube when I search for “what’s a story you tell about yourself?”

I really appreciate the stories Dr. Tracey Marks is telling in that video.

What’s a story you tell about yourself?

Every story I tell here ends with gratitude for YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 3245: Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance is

  • something I first heard about when I was facilitating DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) groups in the 90s,
  • defined online (see link, above) as “when you stop fighting reality, stop responding with impulsive and destructive behaviors when things aren’t going the way you want them to, and let go of bitterness that might be keeping you trapped in a cycle of suffering,”
  • the title of at least one of my previous blog posts, and
  • this book by Tara Brach, which was recommended to me by one of my patients.

I’ve been trying to practice radical acceptance of the past and of the present — especially the things I can’t control — which helps me feel more ready to meet the future.

Do you see radical acceptance in any of my other images for today?

I am practicing radical acceptance about differences of opinion. For example, I don’t like carbonated beverages with caffeine and I don’t like to play Monopoly, and that’s okay!

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “radical acceptance”:

What are your thoughts and feelings about radical acceptance? Whatever they are, please accept my gratitude for visiting my blog, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 3224: Improve the Moment

“Improve the moment” is a set of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) skills, as follows:

Imagery

Meaning

Prayer

Relaxing actions

One thing in the moment

Vacation

Encouragement

If you want to improve your understanding of that set of DBT skills, see here.

Yesterday, I tried to improve the moment by posting this on Twitter:

Do any of my other images for today improve the moment?

Eating a nutritious meal on National Cat Day while planning a trip to New York City in November would improve many moments for me!

I think I can improve this blog post by including this video here:

How can you improve the moment, here and now?

Gratitude always improves the moment, so thanks to all who are taking a moment to visit this blog post, including YOU!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 3202: You’re only as good as your last _______.

“You’re only as good as your last …” is a phrase I’ve heard completed many different ways. For example:

Personally, I don’t think we’re only as good as our last anything. I think our goodness outlasts and is not exclusively dependent on our most recent activity or accomplishment. As I tell people in my therapy groups, we’re human beings, not human doings. If our sense of worth is irrevocably tied to the last thing we’ve done, we’re never free from self doubt and we never get a respite from constant exertions until we die.

With that in mind, I tweeted this yesterday;

If I’m only as good as my last photo …

… I’m also in trouble, although it does match up quite nicely with the last and good Daily Bitch Calendar:

I’m not only as good as my last blog post, even if the words and images are good.

This is not from Shane Filan’s last album …

… and this is not David Sanborn’s last record

… but they’re still good.

You’re not only as good as your last comment, but please consider leaving one below.

I’m not only as good as my last expression of gratitude, but thanks to all who help me blog day after day after day, including YOU!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy, self esteem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 3201: What can we achieve?

My late mother used to say to me, “Ann, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.” I think she was exaggerating, as mothers do.

I’ve noticed, as I’ve aged, that there are certain things I can NOT achieve (e.g., liking calculus, reaching the highest shelves in the supermarket, diagnosing our cats’ ailments, athletic prowess, an understanding of how politics work, and perfection in anything). I’ve achieved acceptance about that.

I have achieved this: I’ve helped people disconnect their sense of self worth from achievements, so they can accept and love themselves without needing to constantly reestablish their worthiness based on their latest accomplishments. People can achieve more if they love themselves unconditionally.

Let’s see what The Daily Bitch has to say today about what we can achieve.

I’m not sure how we can achieve a world without assholes, so I guess we’ll have to do the best we can despite them.

At this point, we need to achieve a state of civilization where we are working together to save ourselves and the planet for the future, and I sometimes doubt whether that’s achievable any more. I expect I’ll achieve more hope about this, soon.

What can I achieve by sharing my other images with you today?

What can I achieve today? Well, I’ve got my eye on National Noodle Day.

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “what can we achieve?”

What can you achieve if you leave a comment below? Let’s find out.

What can we achieve if we express gratitude to all those we appreciate? A lot, I believe.

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 3200: Transformative experiences

We’ve all had transformative experiences — events that fundamentally change us.

Last month, I had a conversation about these transformative experiences with my son Aaron. He defined these experiences as demarcation points, where you know that you were different before and after they occurred. He could identify one transformative experience in his life so far and I could identify two in mine — one of which was his arrival on this earth 23 years ago. (The other was my first heart surgery at age 10 on November 22, 1963 — the day President Kennedy was assassinated.)

Apparently, I have provided a sort of transformative experience for some of my clients. My annual review, which I saw yesterday, quotes people saying that therapy with me has been “life changing.” That felt transformative to me.

I don’t expect that looking at the images in today’s blog will be a transformative experience, but who knows?

I think our new cat Joan’s arrival has been a transformative experience for Harley. Here’s Joan …

… still waiting for the transformative experience of being rid of that ?&&@!! cone!

Here’s something I find on YouTube when I search for “transformative experiences.”

Consider transforming this blog by leaving a comment about transformative experiences, below.

Gratitude always transforms my day into a better one, so thanks for sharing my experience, here and now.

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

Day 3104: Sit with it

Whatever it is, sit with it. Be in the moment with it, savor it, adjust to it, before you react.

Are you ready to sit with my images for the day?

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There’s a lot to sit with these days!

When I search YouTube for “sit with it,” I find this

… and this:

What helps you sit with it?

I look forward to sitting with your comments. Thanks for sitting with this blog, here and now.

If you have trouble accepting that you’re the best, sit with it!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 3088: What emotion do you have the most trouble expressing?

Most people have trouble expressing at least one emotion, so I had no trouble asking today’s title question on Twitter.

Other people expressed trouble expressing affection, vulnerability, joy, disappointment, and other emotions. I had no trouble expressing that they were not alone.

I have no trouble expressing my belief that it is healing to own all your emotions and to learn effective ways to express them. I also have no trouble expressing my happiness about my son Aaron’s return from Scotland to Boston today!

Can you see the emotions expressed in the rest of today’s images?

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What emotion do you have the most trouble expressing?

Here’s what I find when I search YouTube for “what emotion do you have the most trouble expressing”:

I have no trouble expressing my hope that you’ll watch “Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Emotions,” the TED talk by Dr. Joan Rosenberg.

Finally, I have no trouble expressing this emotion: my gratitude for all who help me express my emotions in these daily posts, including YOU!

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

Day 3087: Sitting with the discomfort

Last week, when I was sitting at my laptop conducting an online therapy session, I gave somebody the assignment of sitting with the discomfort. When that person had some discomfort figuring out the details of the assignment, I said, “Sit for ten minutes every day, get in touch with the discomfort, and see what happens.” My belief was that it would not be difficult to get in touch with discomfort, because we are all feeling some discomfort these days.

Because I feel discomfort asking somebody to do something I am not willing to do, I committed to doing the same assignment of sitting with the discomfort daily for ten minutes until our next therapy session.

I have been sitting with the discomfort since then and, as I sit here with some discomfort (the aches and pains of early rising), I am comforted to tell you that I am finding that assignment helpful.

Too often, we deal with our discomfort with distraction, addictions, avoidance, and disconnection. It helps to just BE with the discomfort for ten minutes a day, noticing and observing without judgment.

Here are some images I captured yesterday when I was not sitting with the discomfort:

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There is some sitting, some discomfort, but mostly joy in “Good Morning” from Singin’ in the Rain.

I won’t be sitting with discomfort waiting for comments on this sitting-with-discomfort blog post.

I am grateful and comforted to be sitting, standing, walking, and blogging for you!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 3079: Compliments

Many people I know — through therapy and elsewhere — are uncomfortable with compliments and often don’t believe or even recognize compliments when they receive them.

I hope wonderful blogger Mark Bialczak and his lovely wife Karen consider it a compliment that I always want to spend time with them when they are visiting Cape Cod. Yesterday, I drove many miles and minutes to spend a delightful few hours with them and their adorable, 10-year-old rescue dog Ellie B.

As we spent time together in beautiful Dennis Port, Mark and I gave each other compliments about our blogs — which both are experiencing dwindling readership. Also, Mark — who used to review music for many years at the big daily newspaper in Syracuse — gave me inspiring and almost- hard-for-me to-believe compliments about my original songs which, honestly, meant the world to me.

I hope everybody considers it a compliment that I wanted to capture all these images of a fabulous day and to share them with you, here and now:

If the noble and irresistible Ellie B read my blog, I assume she’d consider it a compliment that I took so many photos of her yesterday.

I wanted to specifically compliment Karen on her “diamond painting” ..

… which Mark called “my wife’s beading.”

Mark also complimented me yesterday on my Twitter interactions, so I feel more confident sharing these with you today:

It’s more difficult being nice when you’re uncomfortable and our central air conditioning is not working, just in time for a heat wave here. I have to compliment my husband, Michael, who still cooked for me last night …

… and who is going to try to fix our air conditioning system today by locating and replacing the air filter, which is probably somewhere here:

I’m sure our air conditioning system …

… doesn’t consider it a compliment that we’ve never replaced the filter in the FOUR years we’ve been here.

Here’s one of my original songs that I performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, which Mark complimented me on yesterday:

I’ll consider it a great compliment if you comment on this blog post, below.

I’m grateful for all compliments, for great friendships, and, of course, for YOU!

Categories: friendship, life during the pandemic, original song, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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