Posts Tagged With: Bernard Herrmann

Day 55: There is NOTHING I have to do today (AND antidotes)

The title of this post is a thought I had, right after I woke up today.

There is NOTHING I have to do today.

And that’s a rare thought for me, these days, for lots of reasons.

For one thing, this year I have committed  to writing a blog post, every day. That commitment is something I chose, for myself, but it’s also a commitment I’ve made to you, dear reader.

But yesterday — for the first time in This Blogging Adventure — I wrote a complete post ahead of time, which I intended to post today.

While I’ve created several drafts of Possible Future Posts before, yesterday was the first time I packaged up a complete post, spell-checked it, tagged it, and had it ready and raring to go. And I liked the post when I wrote it, and I still like it. I’m intending to post it sometime soon (even though I’ve decided, at this point, not to post it today).

However, having that post written and all ready to go affected me this morning. I felt different when I woke up. Instead of being uneasy when I first woke up, I could have this unusual thought:

There is NOTHING I  have to do today.

Now, one might argue that premise  —  that there is NOTHING I have to do today — was faulty, even though I had a post all ready to go. That is, when I woke up,  I DID have something I needed to do today regarding my blog post — I needed to Click and Publish that pre-written post.

But the obligation of clicking and posting the blog post didn’t count as Something I Had To Do — it was too quick and easy.

So I was still able to stay with that thought after I woke up.  There is NOTHING I have to do today.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I will now  present yet another possible challenge to this Amazing Premise, that There is NOTHING I have to do today.

There are things I have to do today, to survive — like breathing.

But I’m choosing not to count those, either.

Okay, now  — because this will help me — I’m going to Go Mathematical On Your Ass.  That is, I am going to formulate an equation of Something I Have to do,  in order to further convince myself that there is NOTHING I have to do today.

(For those of you who don’t like — or assume you’re incompetent in — math, don’t worry.  I’ve already pretty much stated these points, although not in mathematical form. The Mathematical Portion of this Blog Post will  be over soon, and you can always skim through or skip this portion of the post)

(And for those of you who DO like math and/or know more about math than my 60-year-old brain is able to remember right now, don’t worry. The Mathematical Section of this Blog Post will be over soon, and you can always skim through or skip this portion of the post.)

The Mathematical Portion of this Blog Post

Something I Have To Do =  Something I’ve Committed To Do OR Something That is Due by the End of Today AND NOT Something That Takes Less Than 5 Seconds AND NOT Something I Do Automatically or Need to Do to Survive.


Phew!  Now that THAT’s over with, I can present the evidence that There is NOTHING I have to do today, as follows:

It’s a weekend, so I don’t have to go into work.

My blog post for the day is written.

There is nothing else due by the end of today.

I’m not counting things that would take more than five seconds.

I’m not counting things, like breathing or eating, that I would do automatically or for survival.

Therefore, I have proven, to my satisfaction:

There is NOTHING I have to do today.


Here’s a 4-minute “peaceful interlude” I just found onYouTube to represent that “Ahhhhhhhhh” I just typed above:


That piece, from “Peer Gynt,” was the exact music I was hearing in my head, as I was imagining a peaceful interlude. And it only took me about 3 seconds  to find that video on YouTube.

Now, dear reader, at this point in this post (that I didn’t have to write, because There is NOTHING I have to do today), I have a question for you.

Did you watch the whole video?

Because I didn’t.

I could have. And that would have been great, I know.  I could have used it as a Mindfulness Exercise.

For those of you who might be interested in reading more about what I mean by “a Mindfulness Exercise,”  check out this italicized explanation:

When I say that I could have used the YouTube video as a Mindfulness Exercise, I mean that I could have focused on taking in — through my senses of sight and hearing — the experience of being present with that video, as much as possible. I could have used that video as a way to practice being in the moment, noticing that my mind might be wandering, letting go of judgment about that, and then gently redirecting my wandering thoughts back to focusing on  the video, again and again. (Here are some things I often tell people to prepare them right before we do a mindfulness exercise: (1) There is no right or wrong way to do this, (2) Your mind is going to wander, because that’s what our minds do, (3) This is not about focusing perfectly on something, (4) When other thoughts come in, notice them, let go of them without judgment, and gently refocus your attention, and (5) Mindfulness is not so much about the focusing, it’s about returning to the focusing, again and again.

I do a lot of mindfulness exercises, at work, with people. And I think practicing mindfulness is really helpful.

However, I didn’t want to do a mindfulness exercise for myself, while I was writing this post, using that YouTube video. And I didn’t have to (because There is NOTHING I have to do today).

Now I’d like to make another point about Things I Have to do, which is this.  Sometimes there are things that I have to do that I am glad to do.

For example, yesterday there were some things  I had to do, because it was my son’s birthday. For example, I had to pick up his cake.  Those tasks didn’t feel like obligations, at all, and I really enjoyed doing them — because they were about joy and celebration.

But there is nothing I HAVE to do today, even if it’s something I would enjoy doing.


(Same piece, from Peer Gynt, different YouTube video.)

Hmmmm, but there ARE some SHOULDs that I COULD think of, for today.  (See here and here for more about SHOULDs.)

For example,  I SHOULD be doing tax stuff!  It’s already February 24th!!

(You know what?   I have to say I’m enjoying this evolution of my skills — my mastery —  in blogging. On Day 45,  I invited people to imagine that scary Bernard Herrmann music. Today,  I can just put it in the post!)

So, yes,  SHOULD Statements (particularly those regarding taxes) can be an automatic anxiety-trigger for me.

But I’m letting go of that anxiety, while I am writing this blog post.

And how am I doing that, dear reader?  Well, several ways, including the following:

(1) I clicked on one of the tranquil videos above, and I watched it and listened to it for a little while, and

(2) I gave myself credit for something I’ve learned and mastered at this point in my blogging (i.e., incorporating sounds into posts).

And both those things helped.

And — as often happens to me, while I’m writing a post — this post (which I did not HAVE to write today), has gone somewhere I didn’t expect.

It’s gone to the topic of Antidotes.

Antidotes are one of my names for Things That Help — tools for challenging Cognitive Distortions.

If you have read other posts in this blog, you may know that there are 13 Cognitive Distortions (as identified by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and which I have listed here).

During this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, I have been working really hard to identify and share as many tools as I can that will help challenge the 13 Cognitive Distortions. I’ve been collecting antidotes, skills, ANYTHING  that will help in my quest to battle these Dread Distortions, which seem to plague me (and, as far as I can tell,  most members of the human race).

And, in today’s blog post, I have referred to and demonstrated some of these tools, including:

(1) Examining The Evidence,

(2) Mindfulness,

(3) Giving Yourself Credit (e.g., for developing mastery and for working hard),  and

(4) Repetitiveness (a.k.a as  The Broken Record Technique).

(Regarding #4, here’s a quiz question for you, if you’re playing along at home. How many times did the phrase “There Is NOTHING I have to do today” occur in this post?)

Okay, one more digression for this post before I put this puppy to bed.  (It’s self-reflexive digression, because it’s about digressions!)

( I wrote — and then cut out — a digression in this post about how digressive and long my posts are on weekends. This digression included a discussion of the skill of Pros and Cons, but  I cut it because of one of the Cons of a long, digressive post: By including so much information in one post, I run the risk of confusing and losing people.  So I cut it.)

Where was I before that digression?  Oh, yes.  I was trying to let you know about antidotes and other tools I HAVE written about in this blog, so far, including these in previous posts:

(1) Focusing on what you are doing, rather than on what you’re not doing,

(2) Losing the investment in the outcome, and

(3) Using personal medicine.

I’ve been working on compiling lists of tools, including a hand-out, called “Antidotes to Distortions,” which I’ve been using in individual and group therapy.

And, just as I eventually figured out how to post The 13 Cognitive Distortions  here, I will also post this List of Antidotes, so you, dear reader, can access them and read them at your convenience and pleasure.

But not today!

Because there’s NOTHING I have To Do Today.

Thanks for being here with me today, in a place where none of us HAD to be.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 45: Mistakes, where art thou sting?

I woke up early this morning, with the title of this post in my head.

And I understand why.  Over the last couple of days, the few times I have felt bad, it’s been because I’ve believed that I have made …..


(Imagine very, very scary music here) (perhaps written by Bernard Hermann, John Williams, or another film composer who has written very, very scary music.)

And I thought it was interesting that this particular title came up for me, because here is the original quote:

Oh, death, where art thou sting?

which is apparently from the bible. (I looked it up.)

So it’s interesting to me that the original quote was about death.

Because THAT’S how scary it can feel to me, when I make a mistake.

I will try to make this blog post short (although, probably, not quite as short as yesterday’s post), because I would like to go back to sleep.  I WILL try to complete it in about 30 minutes, no matter what the length.

I would just like to mention Two Dread Mistakes I’ve made in the last two days, at which I  (literally) went cold, when I realized what I had done:

Dread Mistake # 1

The day I got back to work, one of the other social workers at the hospital, named Tom, wrote an e-mail to all the other therapists there, asking if people could recommend a psychiatrist for a patient of his to see.  There was a typo in his e-mail, so instead of “I am seeking a psychiatrist for a woman,” he wrote, “I am seeing a psychiatrist for a woman.”  And I got a kick out of that, and wrote him an e-mail back, pointing that out to him.

In that e-mail I wrote him, I  also told him that I loved that typo, and it helped me, because I always felt bad after I had sent an e-mail and realized that I had made a typo.  So I told him he had made my day.  And when I sent my e-mail, I specifically made sure to send it only to him, rather than press “Reply All.”   I didn’t want to point out his mistake to everybody — that seemed snarky and ungenerous.  I just wanted to communicate with him about it.

So, later that day, my supervisor at work told me that she had received my e-mail, too.  And I couldn’t believe it. I figured that mistake was due to (1) all my Windows programs at work being updated a few days before I left, which has been confusing the hell out of me and (2) the fact that I was soooo exhausted my first day back at work.

And I felt AWFUL.  And I knew my feeling that way was all out of proportion to the Sin that I Had Committed (which was negligible).  But I just … could … not … shake … that …. feeling.   And I tried, really hard, because my supervisor told me this right before we started conducting an interview with an intern, who is going to work with me next year.

Before and after the interview, my supervisor helped me deal with my … shame, I guess, about this mistake. She knows me well enough to have seen me struggle with mistakes. And, we actually told the intern we were interviewing (who was great, by the way) about how I was worrying about this dopey mistake I had made, and how my supervisor and I — and other therapists in the department — were learning how to deal with our own perfectionism.

So, after the interview,  my supervisor and I discussed how I could feel better about this mistake I had made, of broadcasting my reply to Tom’s e-mail to dozens of other people.  I called Tom and left him a message, letting him know how I had accidentally pressed “Reply All.”

And,  he wrote me a very gracious, sweet, and funny e-mail back, telling me he liked my e-mail, that a lot of people had pointed out his mistake to him, and that it was all fine.

Dread Mistake #2

Hey!  This one relates to my blog post, from yesterday.  I wrote that post at 7 PM last night, when I was tired and hungry.  I almost titled it “The 30-minute Blog,” because I wanted to “get it over with” quickly, so I could go out to dinner.

And I DID write that post in about 30 minutes, and I felt a  feeling of satisfaction about that. And I thought the post was fine. So I was really glad when I pressed the “publish” button.

Then, at dinner, I checked the post briefly and realized …

(more scary film music, perhaps Bernard Hermann again, with shrieking violins, like from “Psycho”)

… that the post hadn’t really published, even though I had gotten the “You Published 43 Posts” message back from WordPress.

This has happened to me before.  I think if I have two windows open while I’m writing, and I publish the post from the second window I’ve opened, it doesn’t work. Instead, it saves the draft.

So I KNEW that all I needed to do was to republish the post from the saved draft, when I got home. But I HATED that I had screwed up (with a computer, again! just like with Dread Mistake #1). I pictured people who follow my blog getting an e-mail (or seeing the post published on my Facebook page), clicking the link, and then receiving an error message about an empty post ( like what I saw when I checked at dinner).

And, again, I worked hard at letting go of the bad feeling, recognizing — rationally — that I was over-reacting. I realized that,  honestly, who would care?  This was no big deal and quite fixable, within an hour or so.

So, there are my confessions, about my two dread mistakes.

And I’m letting go of shame, right now, about how I can get so upset about such trivial mistakes.

And I’m working on this, dear reader, throughout this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.  I’m working on this, really hard.

And I’m definitely making progress.

You know, I wrote a chapter about Mistakes in the book I’m working on.  (Possible title of that chapter: “Mistakes Won’t Kill You.”)  And I talk to people about mistakes, in my work, a lot.  And I know I’m not alone in beating myself up about mistakes.

I know I’ve written about mistakes in earlier blog posts here, but you know what? I’m not going to look at my past blog posts right now and provide some links.

This post doesn’t need to be perfect.

And neither do I.

And neither do you, dear reader.

Done! Back to sleep.


Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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