Psychotherapy

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: , , , , , , , , | 8 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

Day 1543: Backgrounds

My background includes technical writing, marketing communications, and psychotherapy.

In the background, I’ve been looking up the definition of “background.”

Definition of background

  1. a :  the scenery or ground behind something – a picture of her son with mountains in the background – background scenery for the play

    b art :  the part of a painting representing what lies behind objects in the foreground – dark shadows in the background of the painting

    c :  an image that displays on a computer screen underneath the various available icons and windows – As they participate, they earn “Kinetic City Points,” which they can spend on downloadable prizes, such as screensavers and computer backgrounds. — Science

  2.  an inconspicuous position  – shy people who try to stay in the background

  3. a.  the conditions that form the setting within which something is experienced… set in a background of tropical luxuriance. — Tom Marvel

    b (1) :  the circumstances or events antecedent to a phenomenon or development – the economic background of the American Civil War took place against a background of increasing tension

    (2) :  information essential to understanding of a problem or situation – background information

    c :  the total of a person’s experience, knowledge, and education – comparing the candidates’ backgrounds –  ran a background check to make sure she had no criminal record

  4.  a. intrusive sound or radiation  that interferes with received or recorded electronic signals – a recording with a lot of background noise

    b physics :  a more or less steady level of noise above which the effect  being measured by an apparatus is detected;  especially :  a somewhat steady level of radiation in the natural environment (as from cosmic rays)

  5.  a level of computer processing at which the processor uses time not required for a primary task to work on an additional task — compare foreground.

In the background, I’ve been inconspicuously trying to correct the inevitable formatting errors and complications that occur whenever I try to bring a definition into the foreground of my blog.

Here’s the background of how I chose the title of today’s post: Yesterday morning I was changing backgrounds while I was self-soothing with a game of on-line solitaire.

Congratulations to me for winning at solitaire and congratulations to worldofsolitaire.com for offering so many backgrounds.  I usually use the first background shown above; perhaps from now on I’ll use different backgrounds, depending on my mood.

After I solitarily photographed all those backgrounds, I noticed other backgrounds throughout my day.

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That last photo, with the artwork and books in the background, shows my EMDR therapist, George Sawin, moving some EMDR equipment at the end of our session. George’s background includes psychotherapy, law enforcement, flower shops, and  business management.  When we were discussing the importance of backgrounds, I mentioned this poem to him:

THE INVITATION
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
 
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
 
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
 
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
 
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
 
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
 
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
 
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
 
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
 
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
 
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
 
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.
.
Want to know the background of this background, shown above?
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Somebody in my therapy group yesterday morning suggested we project a YouTube video of a beach in Hawaii on the screen in the group room. We used that for our mindfulness exercise and then we left it running in the background throughout the group.
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What’s your background? Are backgrounds important to you?
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Please don’t stay in the background; instead, leave a comment below.
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My background includes an appreciation for acknowledging and expressing gratitude, so thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — no matter what your background.
Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 1535: Impulse Control

“Impulse control” is a phrase we use in the psychotherapy biz.

I now have an uncontrollable impulse to share a definition.

Impulse control disorder (ICD) is a class of psychiatric disorders characterized by impulsivity – failure to resist a temptation, urge or impulse that may harm oneself or others. — Wikipedia

I am impulsively and uncontrollably thinking about impulse control this morning, probably because

  • the President of the United States demonstrates impulse control issues on Twitter and
  • some people I know have not controlled their impulses to share their  doubts with me about a decision I recently made.

I hope I control my impulses in responding to people who do not control theirs.

I had photographic impulse control yesterday — I took only these four:

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I will not control my impulse to share this video from YouTube:

 

Please share your thoughts about impulse control in an impulsive and/or controlled comment.

As always, I shall not control my impulse to express gratitude to all who helped me impulsively create today’s post and to you — OF COURSE! — for impulsively reading it.

 

Categories: definition, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Day 1528: Other people’s worries

Hello, people!  Do you have worries, right now?

If you do have worries, how might that affect me or other people?

Does anybody worry about how your worry might make other people worry?

Don’t worry, people!  I’m now getting to the point of this post.

Lately, as I recover from open heart surgery, I have noticed other people’s worries about me.  Other people’s worries result in worried questions, like “Are you sure you’re up to this?”  “Are you doing too much?”  “Are you taking on too many things, too quickly?”

I’m not worried about these other people’s worries. Instead,  I appreciate their concern.

However, I do not take on their worries.  I’ve got enough worries, of my own.

Today, I’ll be seeing my cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem. If he’s worried, THEN I’ll be worried.

Are other people worried about whether I have any photos to share today?

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Don’t worry, people, I’m going to explain that last photo.  Yesterday, a water main broke in the Longwood Medical Area  of Boston.  Other people besides me were very late to work.  Did that worry me?  No.   Did it affect my sense of self worth?  Don’t worry about that, either. I and many other people have been working on keeping our sense of self worth protected from everything that comes at us, including other people’s worries.

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I hope people aren’t worrying about what YouTube video I’m going to share. When I search “Other people’s worries,” THIS comes up:

I’m not worried about those dogs. Are other people worried?

Other people who regularly read this blog are not worried, I’m sure, about whether I’m going to express gratitude to all who helped me create this post or to you — of course! — for being here, now.

 

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

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