Psychotherapy

Day 2557: How to be more self-confident

Yesterday, people in a therapy session started a list of how to be more self-confident.

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I’m self-confident enough to

  • ask if you know other ways to be more self-confident and
  • share my other photos from yesterday.

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One of those turkeys looks more self-confident than the other. Do you see more self-confidence in any of those other photos?

I am confident that YouTube will have a video about “How to be more self-confident.”

Since #5 is “Play Music,” here’s me playing two original songs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe three months ago:

That helps improve my self-confidence about applying to do more shows at the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Are you self-confident to leave a comment? If not, how might you be more self-confident about that?

Gratitude helps me be more self-confident, so thanks to all who help me be self-confident enough to share this daily blog, including YOU!

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Categories: group therapy, original song, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2555: It’s safer than it feels

When people with a history of trauma (which seems to include everybody, these days) are feeling shaky, anxious, and fearful, I often encourage them to focus on this helpful phrase:

It’s safer than it feels.

Yesterday, our scaredy-cat Harley was safer — even if he didn’t feel like it — when our new vet, Dr. Jo, came for a house call.

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Michael, who wanted everybody to feel safer, had spent days developing a plan for how Dr. Jo could safely examine Harley and give him his shots.  When Dr. Jo arrived, Michael was closed up in Aaron’s bedroom with Harley, having set up the room so there was (as Michael said), “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.”

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Dr. Jo helped us all feel safer as she quickly, efficiently, and kindly examined Harley and gave him his yearly shots, declaring our “chunky” cat safely healthy.  Miraculously, Harley felt safe enough to be in plain sight minutes after we allowed him to escape from that safe room.

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In the past, when Harley felt unsafe, we would see neither hide nor hair of him for hours, if not days.

Now that we have a great vet who makes house calls, we all feel safer. Can you tell that I was feeling safer when I took the rest of the photos in today’s blog?

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Who feels safe enough, here and now, to dance to “Nowhere to Run” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas?

I hope it feels safe enough for you to express your thoughts and feelings about this “It’s Safer Than It Feels” post, below.

Thanks to everybody who makes this world feel safer, including YOU.

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

Day 2550: Narrative

Because of the kind of narrator I am, I’m going to start today’s narrative with a definition of “narrative”.

NARRATIVE

noun
1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
2. a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story.
3. the art, technique, or process of narrating, or of telling a story:
“Somerset Maugham was a master of narrative.”
4. a story that connects and explains a carefully selected set of supposedly true events, experiences, or the like, intended to support a particular viewpoint or thesis:
“to rewrite the prevailing narrative about masculinity”; “the narrative that our public schools are failing.”

Because I’m a psychotherapist who uses narrative therapy, I’m going to add to the narrative here with a description of that.

Narrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to help people identify their values and the skills and knowledge they have to live these values, so they can effectively confront whatever problems they face. The therapist seeks to help the person co-author a new narrative about themselves by investigating the history of those qualities. Narrative therapy claims to be a social justice approach to therapeutic conversations, seeking to challenge dominant discourses that it claims shape people’s lives in destructive ways.

Yesterday, I noticed some self-destructive, outmoded, and fixed narratives, including

  • I am worthless.
  • I cannot trust anyone.
  • I am stuck forever.
  • I am weak.
  • If people knew the real me, they would reject me.
  • I am worthwhile only when I’m at my best.
  • People don’t want to listen to me.
  • Speaking up is dangerous.
  • Not speaking up is dangerous.
  • People who dislike me can ruin my life.
  • I am helpless.
  • If I ask for help, I won’t get it.
  • People, including me, are not capable of change.
  • There is no hope.

I always have hope that people can change their narratives.  After all, there are so many different ways to tell a story, even the story of your life.

Do my photos from yesterday create a narrative?

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The people at SoundBot are sharing the narrative, above, that every moment deserves a song. Here‘s a song — which intertwines lots of narratives — that I was listening to yesterday with my new SoundBot wireless musical earmuffs:

We all have a different, personal narrative of the events of September 11, 2001, but we all share elements of that painful narrative.

I look forward to the narratives in the comments, below.

I end every narrative here with gratitude, so thanks to all who help me create these daily posts, including YOU.

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

Day 2469: Daily Tasks

One my favorite daily tasks is creating this daily blog.  That helps me face all my other daily tasks, no matter what I’m in the mood for. My daily blogging tasks include sharing my photos from yesterday:

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What’s on your list of daily tasks?

My tasks today include

  • getting ready for work,
  • driving to a parking lot near Boston’s Fenway Park,
  • pronouncing “Park” unlike a native Bostonian,
  • walking the mile to the hospital where I work,
  • being on “Quick Response” for the doctors and patients of  the Primary Care Practice at the hospital,
  • eating the right amount of greens to maintain a good INR level,
  • ordering a half-portion of the best hospital macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had in my life,
  • facilitating a “Coping and Healing” group,
  • doing individual therapy, and
  • enjoying the start of a long weekend.

Tomorrow, my tasks include

  • doing individual therapy,
  • taking my car in to be serviced,
  • looking for comfortable, affordable, and spectacular-enough clothes for my 45th college reunion, and
  • enjoying the long weekend.

Here‘s “Relaxing Concentration Music — designed to help you work, study, and focus on your task.”

 

Perhaps that music will help you focus on the task of leaving a comment, below.

Another one of my daily tasks is finding gratitude and sharing it with you.

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Thanks to all the people who help me with my daily tasks and thanks — of course! — to my wonderful readers, including YOU.

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 2336: The difference between worry and helping

As I described in last week’s post — Day 2328: A Year of No Worry — I have pledged to not worry for a year, which has been helping!  As also described in that post, I told an employee at Home Depot — who said, “It’s my job to worry” — that there was a huge difference between worry and helping.

Yesterday, in a therapy session, the difference between worry and helping came up again.

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As you can see from those lists, worry entails many negative experiences and helping includes much more positive experiences.  In some cases, the experiences are almost opposite (“frozen” vs. “warmth” and “future” vs. “in the moment”). And yet, people often intertwine worry with helping, believing that unless they worry about others, they will focus too much attention on themselves — becoming selfish jerks rather than helpers.  As usual, black and white thinking (one of the cognitive distortions found here) causes us to think it’s all or nothing — either we are selfish jerks or worrying helpers.

What I’m discovering, in my year of no worries, is that letting go of worry is helping me become a better helper to others.  Worry saps my energy and gets in the way of my being as much as possible in the moment with others and therefore more sensitive to their needs.

I’m not going to worry about whether my writing in today’s post or my other photos from yesterday are helping.

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If you need help interpreting any of those photos, don’t worry.  Ask for help and I’ll give it, worry-free.

Here‘s what comes up on YouTube when I search for “The difference between worry and helping”:

I think that video about differences between humans and animals is very helpful.

The  human band Golden Earring has at least two songs about worry:  “No Need to Worry”

.. and “Don’t Worry.”

 

No need to worry and don’t worry about leaving a comment, below.

Worry-free and helping thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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

Day 2330: Many faces

Face it, I’ve written many blog posts about faces during these many year(s) of living non-judgmentally. I think and write so much about faces because our experiences of faces are vitally important to human beings as we develop and grow.

Yesterday, I was facing more thoughts about faces as I faced another day at work, where I  face a variety of expressive faces in individual and group therapy. I thought about faces I saw when I was young — loving faces, anxious faces, and angry faces — and how I tried to make sense of all the faces of human interaction.  I know that the loving faces helped me feel safe and secure, the anxious faces taught me to be cautious and careful, and the angry faces  eventually invited me to realize that people have a wide range of feelings.

As I thought about faces throughout the day, I noticed many faces around me.  What do you see in the faces in my photos?

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What we see in faces is often influenced by what we saw in the faces of our childhood.  However, we can learn to see faces in new, more expansive, and less restrictive ways.

Here‘s “Ooh La La” from a Faces reunion concert:

 

As those Faces sing:  “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.”

I look forward to seeing all the faces in the comments section, below.

Thanks to the great faces who helped me face and create today’s blog post and — of course! — thanks to YOU.

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

Day 2327: Why? Why?

Why oh why am I writing a fourth blog post about Why?  Why am I linking to the previous three posts (here, here, and here)?

Why did I write “Why?” on two different white boards at work yesterday?

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Why do white boards consistently get more difficult to erase?

Why were people in therapy yesterday asking so many WHY? questions, including:

Why is there so much traffic?

Why did it take me four times as long as usual to get here today?

Why do people back their cars into spaces in parking lots?

Why do people do what they do?

Why do I deliberately act like a mischievous child?

Why am I in so much pain?

Why am I in therapy?

Why aren’t other people in therapy?

Why did I take the rest of these pictures?

 

Why is it taking so much longer for me to access and transfer my photos? Why does that happen periodically?  Why does it bother me less each time it happens?

Why am I still having trouble writing that letter from the President for my professional organization’s newsletter?  Why did I start fresh yesterday with a new topic?  Why did Michael say he thought my first, abandoned topic  (the rejuvenation of Spring) was better? Why am I going to finish the second topic and then write another letter with the first topic if I have time? Why am I using the quote “If you want something to get done, give it to the busiest person” in my letter?

Why did I ask all the questions I did in this podcast (starting at 19 minutes and again at 28:34)?

 

Why did Michael not want to listen to that podcast last night? Probably for the same reason he doesn’t usually read this blog.   Why did I think I could find the post that explains that by searching on “Why Michael doesn’t read this blog”?

Why would you leave a comment today?

Why would I thank all those who help me write these posts and also YOU?  Why do you think?

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Categories: health care, heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 2308: Anger and The Skill of Doing Nothing

Yesterday, in group and individual therapy, several people talked about anger. Those discussions included:

  • wishing there were some good role models for dealing with anger,
  • acknowledgement that the current U.S. President unprecedentedly expresses anger every day through Twitter or a microphone,
  • brainstorming better ways to deal with anger (like walking away, owning the anger, respectfully expressing the anger, or writing angry letters, emails, text, or tweets that one does NOT send),
  • recognizing that anger is just another feeling that should not be judged or repressed,
  • defining anger as the human response to one’s needs not being met,
  • realizing that judging or repressing anger blocks it from being discharged in a healthier way,
  • role-playing healthier expressions of anger,
  • deciding to deal with the “wish to break something” by going to a dollar store and buying an inexpensive breakable item, and
  • considering the skill of doing nothing.

I’m wondering if there will be any anger about the amount and quality of my photos today. If so, please consider expressing that anger in a healthy way.

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Harley is contentedly demonstrating the skill of doing nothing.

Here‘s Johnny Duke covering James Taylor’s “Angry Blues:

If I were Johnny Duke, I might be angry about that having only 458 views and nine likes on YouTube. Maybe not, though, because he seems like a very cool cat.

Feel free to express yourself in the comments section, below, or to practice the skill of doing nothing.

I shall now practice the skill of expressing my thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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

Day 2212: What’s the worst thing that anybody ever called you?

Yesterday, on Facebook, I posted and posed the question: “What’s the worst thing that anybody ever called you?”

Was that called for, to invite people to remember the worst thing they had ever been called?  I believe that if we expose and share the worst thing we have ever been called, we can

Now, somebody may call me out and ask, “Ann, what if the worst thing that anybody ever called me IS true?”  If  there is truth in it, you can decide what you want to do about it. However, in all my years of asking this question, and people answering

  • stupid,
  • lazy,
  • worthless,
  • crazy,
  • selfish,
  • fat,
  • ugly,
  • incapable, and
  • other harsh, hurtful,  and over-generalized judgments,

I have seen no helpful truth there.

We could do worse than examine today’s photos for worst things we’ve been called.

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Has anyone ever called you despicable, including yourself?

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Has anybody ever called you gross? Artificial?

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Has anybody ever called you out for  hanging on for too long?

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Has anybody ever called you weird-looking?  Scary?  Too starey?  Too expressive?   Too transparent?

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Has anybody ever called you an ass? Too distant?

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Has anybody ever called you too spacy?

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Has anybody ever called you foolish?  Greedy?  Not knowing what’s good for you?

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Has anybody ever called you vain?  Up-tight?

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Has anybody ever called you pushy?  Has anybody ever told you you’re not doing enough with your life?

 

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Has anybody called you thoughtless?  A doormat? Catty?  A baby?

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Has anybody ever called you a psychopath?

I’m working on a song called “Don’t Call Me” (and I’ve called out the lyrics here). Before I can call that song finished, here’s “Call Me” by Blondie.

Also, I found “The Worst Thing You’ve Been Called” on YouTube, which shows the same exercise I’ve done in my therapy groups.

I call that effective.

Now’s the time I call for comments.

I’ve never been called ungrateful (at least to my face). Thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 2210: The exception that proves the rule

I wonder if this post will be the exception that proves the rule.  In order to know that, we need to know what “the exception that proves the rule” means.

“The exception proves the rule” is a saying whose meaning has been interpreted or misinterpreted in various ways. Its true definition, or at least original meaning, is that the presence of an exception applying to a specific case establishes (“proves”) that a general rule exists. For example, a sign that says “parking prohibited on Sundays” (the exception) “proves” that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule). A more explicit phrasing might be “the exception that proves the existence of the rule.”

An alternative explanation often encountered is that the word “prove” is used in the archaic sense of “test”.[1] Thus, the saying does not mean that an exception demonstrates a rule to be true or to exist, but that it tests the rule. In this sense, it is usually used when an exception to a rule has been identified:[clarification needed] for example, Mutillidae are wasps without wings which cannot fly, and therefore are an exception that proves (tests) the rule that wasps fly. The explanation that “proves” really means “tests” is, however, considered false by some sources.

Does that exceptional definition, from Wikipedia, prove anything?  Maybe we need to know what the rule is, here, before we prove any exception.

One of my rules here is providing some clarity and explanation about why I’m writing each of my daily posts.  Maybe this post will be an exception to that.

Or maybe not.   In narrative therapy, it’s important to identify exceptions to people’s unhelpful, generalized, negative rules about themselves and their lives.  For example, if somebody sees themselves as a loser or a failure, the narrative therapist helps them identify and talk more about the exceptions to that self-defeating rule.

When I hear exceptions outside my therapy office, I sometimes say, “That’s the exception that proves the rule.  Whatever that means.” I’m realizing now that I do know what it means.

Let’s see if any of my photos today illustrate “the exception that proves the rule.”

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Usually we don’t have balloons of woodland creatures in the cafeteria at work.  Yesterday, there was a holiday celebration called “Wintery Woodlands,” where employees received hot chocolate, chocolate-covered pretzels, a calendar, and a lunchbox.  Because I’m exceptionally distracted these days, I left my calendar and lunchbox in the cafeteria. The rule is only one calendar and lunchbox for everyone, so I guess I’m out of luck.

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That’s my new and exceptional co-worker, Alice.  She’s also taking a picture of the wintry woodlands in that photo.  I have a rule, in this blog, of not identifying where I work. I don’t think this photo is an exception to that. (Although I have slipped, one or two times, during the two thousand, two hundred, and ten days of blogging, so I guess those posts are exceptions that prove the rule.)

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I’ve taken a lot of photos of this hotel marquee, but none of them have ever said, “12 Days of Music.”   I am predicting that this photo won’t be the last one that says that. I’ve also included a lot of music in this daily blog, but I don’t remember ever including any punk.  If so, today will be the exception that proves the rule.

Here’s a punk rock cover of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

 

If you usually don’t comment, why not make today the exception that proves the rule?

I’m considering not thanking people at the end of this post (which definitely is a rule at this blog), but some rules I do not want there to be an exception to.  So, exceptional thanks to all those who helped me create today’s blog and — of course! —  to YOU.

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

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