Posts Tagged With: Catastrophizing

Day 1907: A grain of salt

People I love keep telling me to take things with a grain of salt, even though I should be restricting my salt intake.

If you don’t know the meaning of the idiom “a grain of salt,” take this!

“(With) a grain of salt”, (or “a pinch of salt”) is an idiom of the English language, which means to view something with skepticism or not to interpret something literally.

In a pinch, here are more grains of wisdom from that Wikipedia page:

Hypotheses of the phrase’s origin include Pliny the Elder‘s Naturalis Historia, regarding the discovery of a recipe for an antidote to a poison.[2] In the antidote, one of the ingredients was a grain of salt. Threats involving the poison were thus to be taken “with a grain of salt”, and therefore less seriously.

The phrase cum grano salis (“with a grain of salt”) is not what Pliny wrote. It is constructed according to the grammar of modern European languages rather than Classical Latin. Pliny’s actual words were addito salis grano (“after having added a grain of salt”).

An alternative account says that the Roman general Pompey believed he could make himself immune to poison by ingesting small amounts of various poisons, and he took this treatment with a grain of salt to help him swallow the poison. In this version, the salt is not the antidote. It was taken merely to assist in swallowing the poison.

The Latin word salis means both “salt” and “wit”, so that the Latin phrase “cum grano salis” could be translated as both “with a grain of salt” and “with a grain (small amount) of wit”. The phrase is said “with a pinch of salt” in British English and said “with a grain of salt” in American English.


These days, we could all use grains of wit, salt, and other antidotes to poisons.

Lately, I’ve been encouraged to take gloomier forecasts about my rotator cuff injury with  grains of salt. Those grains of salt are more helpful than rubbing salt in that wound.

Also, I should have taken yesterday’s forecasts about a “four-easter” in Boston with a grain of salt. I woke up early to find very little snow on the ground, which means fewer grains of salt on the highways and byways today.

Michael, who sometimes tells me to take things with a BIG grain of salt, just said, “I don’t think there’s going to be anything to shovel, baby. If you need any help with your car, wake me up.”

What do you take with a grain (or a pinch)  of salt?  Any of these photos?





You may take this with a grain of salt, but I think New England ducks have fun in the salt water.

There are at least three “Grain of Salt” songs on YouTube (here,  here, and here).

I look forward to the grains of comments about today’s post.

Grainy thanks to all who helped me write today’s salty post and — of course! — to YOU.


Categories: definition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 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?

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?













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 1133: Shorts

There is no shortage of shorts on my mind, right now, including these:

  1. Last night, I saw the Oscar-nominated movie The Big Short,  which (a) was longer than 2 hours, (b) felt short and (c) did NOT fall short of my tall expectations.
  2. I am short, at 5’3″.
  3. During my shorter than usual winter vacation (starting in a short 11 days), I will not be wearing shorts, because I’m traveling  a short distance to cold Philadelphia and New York.
  4. A short year ago, there was no shortage of snow in the Boston area (where my short self has lived for all of my expected-to-be-shorter life).
  5. If I come up short when I try out for the TV show “The Voice”in Philadelphia on February 21,   I hope my disappointment lasts for a very short time.
  6. Shortly after that “Voice” audition, I’ll be attending an American Group Psychotherapy Association  (AGPA) conference for a short two days.
  7. If my very short try-out for “The Voice” on 2/21 is successful, I’ll be expected to return within a short time (one to three days) for a call back audition, which may short out my AGPA conference plans.
  8. I’ve had a pain between my short ribs for a short two weeks.
  9. Since my short mind can jump to worst case scenarios in a short amount of time, I’m wondering if that pain could indicate that one of my old cardiac pacemaker wires is shorting out (or otherwise shortly causing problems for short me).
  10. I think there a very short chance my fear about short pacemaker wires shorting out are true, but if that pain doesn’t resolve, I’ll notify one of my short or tall doctors shortly.
  11. When short or tall people don’t get back to me within a reasonably expected short amount of time, I can get short with them.
  12. When people don’t respond to my short requests, it can remind me of when I was a short child, in the hospital, feeling powerless and alone.
  13. I can have a short amount of patience and comfort with my own shortness.
  14. Two of my charging cords for my Apple products and one pair of headphones have frayed wires, which might result in a short. 
  15. Before this short day is over, I’ll be meeting with the piano teacher of my no-longer-short son, who will be laying down a short keyboard track for the short and beautiful Todd Rundgren song “Soothe,” which I will shortly take with me for my short “Voice” try-out.
  16. Right now, there is a total shortage of new photos on my iPhone, because yesterday was too short a day for short me to seize any short moments to take any pictures at all.
  17. If you wait a short time, I’ll return with some photos of something short which is a short distance away from your short blogger.
  18. For some reason —  which I hope to understand and resolve shortly — my iPhone camera app (CP Pro) now pauses for a short time after I push the button before it takes photos of anything, short or tall,  a short or long distance away.  That can short out my attempts to capture what I want, in the moment.

If I take a short moment to breathe, I realize a short photographic pause doesn’t prevent  my getting good-enough photos of a short cat with short paws.

If you take a short pause to leave a short comment about this post, I’ll get back to you shortly.

Short thanks to short Oscar and all other short or tall creatures who contributed to this not-so-short post. And thanks to you — of course! — for taking whatever time you needed — short or long — to read it.



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

Day 1105: How to Catastrophize

This is the 1105th consecutive day I’ve posted for this cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-oriented blog, and it’s the first time I’ve ever used the word “Catastrophize” in the title, much less explained how to do it.

Oh no!  This is a catastrophe! Horrible things are going to happen!

What horrible things might happen?

  1. My readers will be disappointed!
  2. Some will stop reading this blog in disgust!
  3. People  will look up the word “catastrophize” and realize it’s a made-up word!
  4. I will lose all credibility in the elite group of CBT bloggers!
  5. I’ll get lots of angry comments, below!
  6. WordPress will finally look at one of my posts to consider me for “Freshly Pressed,” realize what a failure I am, and put me (or keep me) on a list of “Never Freshly Press this Blog, NO MATTER WHAT!”
  7. My life as a blogger will be over!
  8. Word will get out to the real world, and all my patients will stop seeing me for CBT-oriented therapy!
  9. I’ll get fired from my job!
  10. I’ll become penniless!
  11. All my friends and family will abandon me!
  12. My life will be irrevocably ruined!
  13. This will kill me!

See how it works?

If you want to apply my humble example of catastrophizing, above, to any situation, it helps to

  • identify all your worst fears,
  • link them to your current situation,
  • use the prodigious powers of your imagination, and
  • don’t hold back!

For some reason, human minds seem to be designed for catastrophizing. So if  you start today, soon you’ll be catastrophizing with the best of them!

I’m catastrophizing, now, that if I don’t give you a list of possible side effects of catastrophizing, I might be in big trouble with some powerful people and organizations (whoever they might be).  Therefore, I will now tell you that side effects of catastrophizing MIGHT include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • increased stress
  • lower self esteem
  • sleeplessness
  • lack of appetite
  • increase of appetite
  • exacerbation of physical illnesses
  • isolation
  • death.

Hmmm. I wonder what catastrophes my using the word “death” in this blog post will unleash in the blogosphere?

If this blog post helps you become SO good at catastrophizing that you have trouble turning it off (like lots of other people), try these antidotes:

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Tell yourself: “I am safer than it feels.”
  3. Soothe yourself with nature, music, or other things that have helped in the past.
  4. Connect with somebody trustworthy, if possible.
  5. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by getting enough nourishing food, water, sleep, etc.
  6. Remember you are not alone.

Okay!  Let’s see if I have any photos on my iPhone to illustrate “How to Catastrophize.” I know I took very few pictures yesterday, so chances are all those photos are going to suck!




Any potential catastrophes there?

Catastrophizing thanks to all who helped me create this catastrophic post and to you — watch out! — for reading it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , | 61 Comments

Day 1048: Time Stops

Every day, I stop and take time to blog. Yesterday morning, after I’d taken the time and the room to write my post, I dropped one of my favorite watches. It fell face down and — with the sound of glass meeting wooden floor — time stopped for me momentarily, as I  catastrophized and imagined the worst:

I’ve broken that watch. I know it’s ruined.

When I picked up my beloved  time-keeper, my negative thoughts stopped because I saw a face neither broken nor scratched.  I then stopped to take the time to put on my watch, carefully.

Later in the day, I glanced at my watch to discover it had stopped.


I realized it was stopped at the exact time I had dropped my watch at home.

For the rest of the day, time was stopped at five minutes to 10, according to my watch. Nevertheless, I did not stop using my time at work.

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After my time at work had stopped, I went to see a dance concert at one of Boston’s most popular venues, The Orpheum Theater. Throughout my life, I’ve stopped to enjoy performances at the Orpheum by Bruce Springsteen, Pat Metheny, the Moody Blues, and many other amazing musicians.

I stopped to snap these photos:

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At some point during the night, time stopped again as I heard about the violence in Paris — at a soccer field, cafes, and a concert hall much like the Orpheum.

I hope the violence stops.

I’m stopping this post to express my grief about time stopping for so many, last night.

Finally, I never stop feeling grateful for those who dance, those who read, and those who work for peace.

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 985: Worry about Worry

Do you ever worry about worry?

If you do worry about worry, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. If you don’t worry about worry, don’t worry about that, either. Let me worry about explaining worry about worry to you, now.

Actually, I’m not worried about explaining worry about worry,  since so many worried people worry about that in therapy sessions, every day.

Worry about worry can include:

  1. worrying that worry is going to have a negative effect on your health or the health of others and
  2. worrying that you’re not worrying enough about something that would usually worry you.

I’m not going to worry about having only two examples of worry about worry here, but I will add that worry about worry is similar to:

  • stress about stress,
  • guilt about how much guilt you feel,
  • shame about your level of shame,
  • anger about anger, and
  • fear about fear.

All of those feelings about feelings can grow upon grow, expanding way beyond your initial reaction.

Should we worry about that?

Let’s not.

Instead, should we worry about the fact that — after months of my worrying about transporting my iPhone photos over to my laptop and therefore worrying each and every word of these posts on my iPhone keyboard — I’m not worrying about that, this morning?

If you’re worried about that last worried paragraph, here’s what I mean about what I meant there:

I’m back on my laptop, today,  writing this worried post.

Worried about whether I’ll be able to worry recent photos from my unworried iPhone into this Worry-about-Worry post?


IMG_4765 IMG_4776  IMG_4774

No worries.


Let’s be jovial about Jovial, instead!

I’m not going to worry about inserting any music into this post. Would anybody like to worry some music about worry into a comment, below?

Unworried thanks to ME for figuring out how to transport photos quickly and painlessly between my iPhone and my laptop, again, and special thanks to you — of course! — for not worrying about worry, as best you can.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

Day 937: Everything’s falling into place

My boyfriend Michael, who fell into place in my life five years ago, likes to say

Everything’s falling into place

after I’ve fallen into relief after being in a place of

Michael has been saying

Everything’s falling into place

a lot lately, as I’ve been doing my best to let go of scary, health-threatening experiences that were falling into place in my life, starting in November of last year.

Since May, when an Implantable Cardiac Device fell into place in my heart, I’ve been gradually falling into a place of hope about the future.

Now that Michael’s oft-repeated phrase

Everything’s falling into place

has fallen into place in my blog, I’m wondering what Michael means, exactly, when he says those words, a smile falling into place on his face.

For example,

  1. What are these things that are falling?
  2. Where is this place they are falling into?
  3. Will they break when they land?

I can’t ask Michael those questions  (because he’s fallen into a place of slumber) but this is falling into place for me: Question #3 , which fell into place above, reflects how catastrophizing — and other automatic cognitive distortions  — can so easily fall into place in the human mind.

Do unhelpful, fearful, and unnecessary thoughts fall into place, sometimes, in your mind?

If so, let them fall into place where they belong:

The trash.

Let’s see if any other photos fall into place, in this post.

Lots of chocolate candies have fallen into place in that display case.


Two pieces of candy and coin have fallen into place on that countertop.


Harley has fallen into place on that rug, which — if my memory is falling into place correctly  — also has fallen into place somewhere in the home of WordPresser Diana Schwenk.


Oscar seems glad that some water has fallen into place in his dish.

Because I was so busy, yesterday, making sure that informational messages about my 45th high school reunion were falling into place for my classmates, no other photos fell into place on my phone.

However, here‘s some music that falls into place, right now:

The Beatles song “I’ve Just Seen a Face” fell into place quite nicely there, don’t you agree?

Which parts of this post fell into place for you?

My thanks are now falling into place for Michael, my Implantable Cardiac Device, our cats, chocolate,  the Beatles, the Loading Dock, and faces I like to see, including yours!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 885: Believe that you’re going to be okay

Yesterday, during a therapy session. I wrote this on my office whiteboard:

I wrote that for somebody who’s been having  some very painful and stubbornly unshakable worries about the future. Recognizing that as a helpful antidote for the cognitive distortion of catastrophizing, she took a picture of it, so she could look at it whenever the negative, frightening thinking came back.

As you can see, I took a picture of it also, to help with my own automatic, fortune-telling thoughts.

I think that picture  has been working, because I do believe that I’m going to be okay … today, tomorrow, and the next day.

Do you believe that, now, for yourself?

Here are some other things I believe that helped me (and perhaps others) to be okay, yesterday:


Okay! I do love adventure, but I don’t think I should howl at this particular moment.  I believe that howling is okay, but it’s extremely early in the morning, right now.

Believe that I’m going to be okay today at a conference on medical practice innovation in Boston (and afterwards, at one of my therapy groups at work).

Before I leave, is it okay if I share some “Believe that you’re going to be okay” music?

I believe that you’re going to be okay with one of these “Believe” songs.

“Believe”‘by Mumford & Sons:

“I’m a Believer,” performed by the Monkees:

“Reason to Believe” by Bruce Springsteen:

I believe this is the last song it’s okay to post: “I Believe in You” from the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying starring Robert Morse (who I believe that you’re going to know  from “Mad Men”):

Believe that I’m going to be okay if you suggest another song (or express anything you believe is going to be okay, in a comment).

Believable thanks to everybody who helped me create this okay post and to you — of course! — for believing enough to visit here, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 775: Awkward

Yesterday (my last work day before a two-week vacation),  I decided that the right thing to do was to go into work for a few hours in the afternoon, despite my running an awkwardly inconvenient fever two evenings before.

During my time at work yesterday, this was the only thing I awkwardly wrote on my white board:


I hope I can explain, non-awkwardly and clearly, why “Awkward” was hanging around on my white board yesterday, awkwardly alone like that.

I wrote “Awkward” during a final “termination” session (terminating therapy is described further and perhaps somewhat awkwardly in this here post), when a patient and I said goodbye to each other after working together for several months.  This termination session had been cancelled and rescheduled several times over the last week or so, because of the extreme Boston winter weather, which is making it supremely awkward to get anywhere these days.

I asked the patient, in yesterday’s termination session, what it was like for him to say goodbye to me (or to anybody else), and that’s when “Awkward” showed up.

Personally, I did not feel awkward about the word “Awkward” showing up in that way, because I think a lot of people feel awkward when saying “goodbye,” and I think it helps make the situation less awkward by naming the awkwardness.

What do you think of that awkward sentence, above?

I hope you don’t feel awkward about expressing your thoughts and feelings about anything I’m awkwardly including here today.

(I feel a little awkward writing this now,  but I think I might have too much to show and tell today about the topic “awkward,” which might make this post awkwardly long and confusing.)

Where was I, before that awkward digression?

Oh, yes. After I took that first photo yesterday, I knew “awkward” would be the topic today, and then I saw “awkward” everywhere, especially when I was trying to make my way home through the very awkward snow, ice, and super-cold temperatures in the Boston area. But I didn’t want to stop in the middle of any road and take photos — that would have been awkward, for lots of reasons.

I did manage to capture this one shot of the awkwardly-not-so-great outdoors:


Hey!  That photo reminds me, awkwardly, that it’s Valentine’s Day today. However,

  • we’re all awkwardly cold and snow-bound, where I live,
  • it’s awkward to get out to buy flowers, candy, and other non-awkward or awkward gifts (depending upon your thoughts and feelings about Valentine’s Day), and
  • my son and I are flying to California today, leaving my boyfriend Michael behind with our cats, which seems like a particularly awkward Valentine’s Day present.

Also, the name of that shop  — “Paradise Flowers” — is awkward, considering the current circumstances in the Northeast USA.

A few nights ago, when I was unknowingly coming down with an awkward fever and awkwardly taking these photos at Whole Foods Market (awkwardly presented before in this blog post, here) …

IMG_5428 IMG_5429 IMG_5430 IMG_5432 … I awkwardly slipped away from Michael and found a Valentine’s Day card for him. Then, I awkwardly ran to an open line and asked a nice cashier to RING THIS UP, QUICK! because I was buying it for my boyfriend who might awkwardly appear at any moment, and she got awkward and frazzled, but we managed to complete the transaction without Michael awkwardly spoiling the surprise.

I just took an awkwardly fuzzy photo of that Valentine’s Day card, but uploading photos has been awkwardly inconsistent for me lately (which is particularly awkward timing, because of the previously awkwardly mentioned two-week trip to California), so I’ll just awkwardly tell you this: the card has a picture of a duck.


More “awkward” thoughts from your awkward WordPress host, in the awkwardly cold and snowy here and now:

  • For some awkwardly unknown reason, writing these blog posts is very technically awkward for me these days —   my cursor is awkwardly freezing; linking to other sites, fixing typos, etc. are now all awkwardly and unexpectedly difficult;  and I am awkwardly thrown out of each post I’m composing at least once.  I awkwardly don’t know who to blame …  WordPress, my laptop, or me.  Here’s an non-awkward solution: I shall blame nobody and just keep awkwardly posting on.
  • With post creation here more obviously awkward and difficult for me, I’m awkwardly catastrophizing that WordPress might awkwardly go away some day, AND WILL ALL MY HUNDREDS OF POSTS DISAPPEAR, TOO?  That would be VERY awkward.
  • I awkwardly read a WordPress post by another blogger whose name I’ve awkwardly forgotten the other day that put that catastrophic scenario of LOSING EVERYTHING awkwardly into my head, but when I tried to follow the instructions for saving all of my awkward and non-awkward posts for posterity, that awkwardly did NOT work.
  • I can easily feel awkward in new situations, so I may very well feel some awkwardness when I awkwardly encounter all the adventures ahead of me for the next two weeks in California. I believe I am awkwardly ready enough for all that.
  • Yesterday, when I was awkwardly looking at the awkward weather forecast for the Boston area (which included ANOTHER !*!!(@)!!!?@ AWKWARD BLIZZARD), it seemed like the timing of that blizzard might awkwardly delay the flight later today that my son and I have been awkwardly anticipating for several weeks. For now, I am awkwardly keeping my awkward fingers crossed.
  • That next awkwardly anticipated blizzard has already caused the awkward public transportation system in the Boston area to totally and awkwardly shut down for tomorrow, Sunday. That’s going to make things awkward for a lot of people.

Here’s another awkward segue: After I got home from work, yesterday, my downstairs neighbor Karen’s dog, Faxy, ran upstairs into our apartment and had a close-if-not-awkward encounter with our very non-awkward cat, Oscar. I would feel very awkward if I did not show you some of these pictures, as I promised Karen yesterday I would, but it’s awkward for me to decide which ones of the many photos I awkwardly took yesterday to awkwardly share with you now.

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That last awkward photo includes the awkwardly elusive and shy Harley under the table, who actually seemed to feel LESS awkward with a STRANGE DOG than he does with two of the humans who live with him (including one who actually CHOSE AND RESCUED HIM FROM THE SHELTER).


Here is one more awkward image I noticed last night:


That’s an awkward birthday card I unexpectedly received from one of my old college roommates, Nancy. I just tried to change the awkward sideways orientation of that photo the way I usually do, but that didn’t work.


Would it be awkward for me to ask you what awkward music you might include in this awkward post?

Last night, I decided to choose this song, which has some awkward lyrics about California:

Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald are singing “The Lady is a Tramp” here at YouTube.

I shall now awkwardly ask, again, for any comments, awkward or not.

Thanks to all awkward and non-awkward humans, animals, weather systems, and computer interfaces who/that (awkward!) helped me compose this here awkward post and I hope it doesn’t seem awkward that I’m particularly grateful to YOU, for visiting today.

Categories: blogging, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Day 773: Getting warmer

I am so looking forward to flying to California in two days to get warmer.

California will definitely be warmer than Boston, these days.

Here’s an unexpected way I’ve been getting warmer.  I’m running another fever.

Sometimes when I’m upset and  having catastrophizing thoughts, like “I won’t be able to fly to California on Saturday!” I feel warmer, too.

I’m trying to stay cool about all this, by letting my doctors know, staying home from work today, and letting go of worst-case thinking.

I’ve also been feeling uncool this morning, because none of the photos I took yesterday on my iPhone are loading to my laptop. I thought I’d be getting warmer to fixing that problem by using a new cable, but the photos still won’t load.

That’s okay. I’m staying cool about that, too, by including these never-before-blogged photos, demonstrating how Boston is a long way from getting warmer:

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What song would help with getting warmer today?

(This cool scene from West Side Story found here on YouTube.)

Thanks to all who keep their cool when things get warm and to you — of course! — for the warmth of your visit here today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 43 Comments

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