Posts Tagged With: antidotes for cognitive distortions

Day 1257: Is that a helpful thought?

Is that a helpful title?

Since I try to be a helpful psychotherapist, I help people identify  automatic and unhelpful thoughts, also known as cognitive distortions. If you think it would be helpful to see a list of those unhelpful thoughts, I can help — click this helpful link.

Because unhelpful thoughts — including catastrophizing, personalizing, blaming, mind-reading, shoulds, and labeling — feel like “the truth,” it’s helpful to identify and challenge them. I try to help people do that with cognitive distortion “antidotes” (which I’ve helpfully listed here).

However, no matter what the unhelpful thought, there’s an all-purpose, one-size-fits-all way to help yourself challenge it: the helpful title of today’s helpful post.

So, if you notice yourself feeling worse because of a thought you’ve just had, please help yourself by asking this question:

Is that a helpful thought?

If the answer to that helpful question is “no,” then help yourself by dismissing that thought, however you can.

Here’s a short list of unhelpful thoughts I’ve encountered recently:

  • I don’t know what I’m doing.
  • Other people don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Nobody cares about me.
  • This is going to kill me.
  • I am not worthy of love.
  • People don’t like me.
  • I am clumsy.
  • Life will never get better.

Is that a helpful list?

Is that a helpful photo? Yesterday,in therapy, when somebody had the unhelpful thought  “It’s all my fault,” I helped them replace that unhelpful thought with the more helpful thought of “I tried.”

Are any of these helpful thoughts?

Is it helpful that WordPress just published this post before I was ready?

It’s not all sweetness and understanding.  Sometimes you have to kick ass with some helpful music.

Is it a helpful thought to thank everybody who helped me create today’s post?  Is it a helpful thought to appreciate you for reading it? I think “YES!”

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

Day 1080: Antidotes

Not since my first few months of daily blogging — almost three years ago  — have I used the word “Antidotes” in a post title.

If you have a burning curiosity to read those two early “Antidotes” posts, the antidotes for that are here and here.

I find it odd that I’ve not referenced “Antidotes” more in my blog titles, since antidotes are

1.a medicine or other remedy for counteracting the effects of poison, disease, etc.
2.something that prevents or counteracts injurious or unwanted effects.

Yesterday, in individual and group therapy sessions, people came up with several valuable antidotes, including:

  •  realizing that a worst fear is often unlikely to come true, since we are consciously and unconsciously working to prevent that,
  • increasing self-esteem by seeing oneself through the eyes of a beloved pet,
  • letting go of internalized harsh judgments about personal appearance,
  • imagining anxiety-provoking thoughts and images attached to balloons that float away,
  • affirmations of self-worth, and
  • realizing that traumas of the past are in the past and NOT in the here and now.

I wonder if the thirteen photos I snapped yesterday are antidotes for anything.






Here’s a possible antidote for my nervousness about trying out for The Voice in February: “singing” is the only antidote that appears twice in the lists of “What Helps” on the walls of my office.

What antidotes do you find helpful?

Here’s an all-purpose antidote for what ails us:  gratitude. Thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for reading it.

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

Day 1069: Your name here

Have you ever experienced people using your name as an adjective or a noun, implying they see you a certain way ?

Me neither, until yesterday, when it happened TWICE.

The first time was when one of my therapy patients said this about a relative of hers:

I think she needs an Ann in her life.

The second time was when my friend Carol said this, when I told her I was trying out for “The Voice” in February:

That’s a very Ann thing to do.

How can I know, for sure, what either of those people meant, using my name like that?

Googling “Ann” probably won’t help me, but I shall try that anyway (since, to me,  that seems like a very Ann thing to do).

Here is Ann’s first result of googling “Ann definition”:

The name Anne is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Anne is: Favour or grace. Prayer. God has favoured me.

That’s not how I spell my name, though.  Perhaps people whose name is spelled AnnE are graceful and favoured by God. Here‘s another way Google defines “Ann”:

Word Origin and History for Ann
fem. proper name, alternative form of Anna, from Latin Anna, from Greek, from Hebrew Hannah (see Hannah ). In U.S. black slang, “white woman,” also “a black woman who is considered to be acting ‘too white;’ ” also Miss Ann. She is the spouse of Mr. Charlie.

It’s true that I AM a white woman, but that’s not a particularly helpful definition, either.

If I could consult with my patient or with Carol as I’m writing this blog post, I could use the helpful skill of reality testing (see here for that and other antidotes for automatic and unhelpful thoughts). In other words, I could ask them what they meant.  However, that’s not possible. Therefore,  it’s up to me to decide what “Ann” might mean, when used as an adjective or noun.

I am deciding this, at 6:19 AM, Boston USA time:

 Ann — when  used as a noun or an adjective — is a compliment, not an insult.

I hope you can decide the same, now, about your name. Why? Because this Ann believes that’s a helpful thing for everyone to do, no matter what.

Ann is now going to check photos she took yesterday, to see if any of them are more Ann than others.




I think all those photos are equally Ann.

What do you think about that or anything else in this Ann post?

Finally, it’s very Ann to be extremely grateful that you visited here today, no matter what your name.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Blog at