Posts Tagged With: childhood hospitalization

Day 1262: Pain

It pains me slightly to realize, here and now, that I have never, ever written a blog post with the word “pain” in the title during all my twelve hundred and sixty-one days of uninterrupted daily blogging, before today.

Even when I wrote about the important concept of “absence of pain” two months ago, that post did not include “pain” in its title.

I shall now take pains to speculate why I have avoided naming “pain” in my blog titles.

  1. My work as a psychotherapist centers so much on people’s pain.
  2. The news is  always filled with pain.
  3. I avoid, whenever possible, taking medication for pain.
  4. I suffered a lot of pain when I was in the hospital as a child.
  5. I worry about future pain.
  6. Because I’m a mother, I fear the possibility of my son experiencing pain.
  7. In almost every therapy group I facilitate, the common themes include “physical pain” and “emotional pain.”
  8. Pain – even though it’s an important warning signal from our bodies blah blah blah — sucks.

Here are all the photos I took yesterday, in a world of pain and hurt:

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It pains me to think of a world without personal power or without love.

It also pains me to imagine dealing with pain without music. Here‘s Sting and The Police performing King of Pain:

Humor also helps me relieve pain. Here‘s “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s parody of King of Pain:

 

Would it pain you to join me in focusing on pain today? If not, please take pains to comment below.

It doesn’t pain me to repeat myself, especially when I’m expressing gratitude to you all.

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

Day 330: What I am doing differently

Yesterday’s post was about “Doing Things Differently.”

I figured I would make today’s post more specific, about particular things I’m doing differently.

They all share this in common:

I’m judging less. Which is nice, especially considering the friggin’ title of this blog.

Here’s an (off-topic)* thought: If I keep blogging next year (which I probably will), I will perhaps change the title of the blog to this:

The Year of Living Less Judgmentally

Why?

  1. That is a more accurate title, since I — a human being — do not really expect to attain that Heaven of Non-Judgment, and
  2. There’s no annoying**  hyphen in the title.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yes, ways I am judging less, these days:

I am judging myself less, for my fear and anxiety about the on-coming cold.

Rather than saying to myself, “What is the matter with you?  Why are you so anxious about THAT?” I am telling myself, “That makes sense.”

How does it make sense?

Perhaps my cold-related anxiety relates to my spending a lot of time as a kid in the hospital, where the temperature was really cold  in certain rooms, and where I didn’t have any control over that.

And/or, my cold-related anxiety relates to any human being’s primal fear of freezing to death.

It feels good to judge myself less, for these things.

I am judging myself less for lots of other things that are commonly judged, but which I cannot control.  

That is, I am judging myself less for:

  1. Growing older.
  2. Having more physical ailments, as I do #1, above.
  3. Forgetting things every once in a while, as I do #1, above.
  4. Becoming less conventionally good-looking, as I do #1, above.

It feels good to judge myself less, for these things.

Okay!  Time for an image, to close this post.

Hold on while I check my iPhone for a relevant (enough) photo.

My expectation, right now, is that I might not find a good enough iPhone photo, this morning.

Why is that my expectation?

Because it’s been so friggin’ cold around here, that I’m taking fewer photos.***

No need to fear, though.

Here’s a photo I took yesterday,  of the boots I was wearing at work:

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Notice anything?

Maybe not. The angle I used for that photo sucks****, because it doesn’t highlight the surprise.

Here’s a photo, I just took, that DOES highlight that:

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I wore two different boots to work yesterday.

Which is particularly funny, since this was one of the images in yesterday’s blog post:

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I chose to point out this mistake to some people at work yesterday.

I chose the right people. How do I know? Here were the responses:

“I’ve done that!”

“Nobody will notice, and if they do, who cares?”

“That’s adorable!”

And, I am happy to report that I did not judge myself for leaving the house with mis-matched boots.

Or more accurately, I judged myself less.

And it felt great!

Thanks to everybody who has ever worn two different types of footwear to work (or anywhere else), judgers of all kinds, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

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* One thing I say to people in individual and group therapy, who express concern about going off-topic, “There is no such thing as off-topic.”

** I use the word annoying because (1)  I’m human and  (2) looking for hyphens (or any punctuation marks) these days IS more annoying, because they are in different places on different devices.

*** Pardon me for being selfish, but these days, when I’m outside, I would prefer to keep my friggin’ hands in my friggin’ pockets , rather than take photos for my readers.

**** Sometimes it’s fun to be judgmental.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 318: Other people’s mistakes

I’ve written several times, this year, about perfectionism. (For example, herehere, and here.)

Nobody is perfect — including the writer and the readers of this post.  As humans, we all make mistakes, every day. (Probably, we all make mistakes every hour.)

I react differently to the Making of Mistakes, though, depending upon who is doing the mistake-making.

When I realize that I have made a mistake, this is my usual response:

I feel awful.

Here are some typical, automatic thoughts I have:

Oh, no!  I made a mistake!  I should have paid better attention. This is really going to be a problem for other people, too.  What’s the matter with me?

It’s a different story, though, when somebody else makes a mistake. Often, I forgive other people their mistakes.

It’s much easier to remember that everybody makes mistakes, when it’s everybody else.

However, when somebody makes a mistake that has a direct, negative impact on me,  that’s a different story, too.

Then, this is my usual response:

I feel awful.

Here are some typical, automatic thoughts I have:

Oh, no! This other person made a mistake!  And that really caused me some discomfort. What do I do now?  How do I tell them about it? They’ll probably think it’s MY fault, too!  How can I prove it’s NOT? Maybe it IS my fault, somehow! And what if it’s NOT my fault and they don’t own up to that? THEN what do I do?   Also, if I mattered and was important enough to them, they would have been more careful!  Now I’m angry!  NOW what do I do? If I express my anger, I’ll probably alienate them!  I don’t want to lose them!  But I don’t want to pretend that it’s all okay with me, either, because it’s NOT!

This is what I notice about THAT, now.

When somebody else makes a mistake, I tend to have MORE thoughts.

Why?

Well, I’m really used to my own mistakes. I KNOW (by living with myself) how imperfect I am: I’ve got lots of proof about that. At times in the past, I’ve thought of myself as a screw-up — somebody who constantly make mistakes.

So THAT’s familiar.

But, somehow, I’ve never gotten used to other people’s mistakes.

Why is that?

This is my best guess, right now: When I was a little kid, I needed important people — upon whom I depended —  to NOT make major mistakes.  (And they made mistakes, of course. They were human.)

I know I’m not alone, in that.

Here’s a personal example of that: I  needed the doctors keeping me alive —  through surgeries and new technologies — to NOT make major mistakes. Big time.

So, my wish —  even as an adult — is that people NOT make mistakes. But they do, of course, every day.

Also, if somebody makes a mistake that has a negative effect on me and doesn’t own it, I can feel some anger about that (naturally). And as I wrote, two days ago, I can be a little clueless about anger, once I have it.

So there you have it: My reactions to other people’s mistakes.

It’s easy for me to write this post today, dear readers, because somebody — whom I’ve yet to meet —  made a mistake last night which did have a negative impact on me.  At this writing, the person is not owning the mistake, which may or may not change.

This is what I’ve done, so far, this morning, to deal with this:

  1. I wrote an e-mail to the person, pointing out the facts.
  2. By focusing on the facts, I let go of any wish to affect the other person’s feelings about this in any way.
  3. I worked on this blog post.

All those things helped.

What’s missing, for me, right now?

A cool image, for this post!

My next step: consult my iPhone for recent photos.

Oh!  Here’s one:

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Recently, I saw this hand-written message on a sign, regarding a overdue repair to a machine.

So there you have it, my dear readers:  Another way to respond to other people’s mistakes.

Thanks to everybody who makes and responds to mistakes and to you — of course! — for visiting here today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 296: The other side of containment

“The other side of containment.”

That was the title on my mind, when I woke up today.

And I just want to warn you: it’s going to take me a while to work back to that title.

So let’s digress together, shall we?

I’ve blogged a lot about cognitive distortions, this year, including this one:

Shoulds. We have ironclad rules about the behaviors of ourselves and other people.  For example, “I really should exercise. I shouldn’t be so lazy.” A more effective way to motivate ourselves is to identify positive results, rather than whipping ourselves with guilt.  For example, “When I exercise, I feel better.”

I’ve seen “shoulds” do a lot of damage to people; and yet, people naturally think those thoughts.

There is a particularly nasty form of “should”-ing, related to feelings.

Two examples:

I shouldn’t feel this way.

I should be over this, already.

As I’ve written before, cognitive distortions are human, so I assume that you have thoughts like those. I know that I do.

So they’re human. Yet, I have never experienced a helpful “should” thought, about feelings.

And that sentence I just wrote? That fits the “duck test” for another cognitive distortion:

All-or-Nothing thinking (also known as “Black-and-White thinking”).

Things are either all good or all bad, people are either perfect or failures, something new will either fix everything or be worthless. There is no middle ground; we place people and situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray, or allowing for complexities.  Watch out for absolute words like “always”, “never,” “totally,” etc. as indications of this kind of distortion.

It was the word “never” in my sentence,  that tipped me off.

However, that sentence IS also the truth. I have never experienced a helpful “should” thought, about feelings.

I think it’s time for me to re-approach my topic, for today:

The other side of containment.

Why was that on my mind, this morning?

Because I have been having some difficult feelings lately. And I often hear people talk about containing difficult feelings.

What are the difficult feelings I’ve been having?

Fear, for one.

It’s time to go to my old friend, Google, for images about fear:

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Speaking of fear,  I fear,  right now, that I won’t be able to complete this post before I need to leave today.

And why am I afraid that I won’t finish in time? Because fear wasn’t the emotion I was intending to write about.

Here’s the emotion I planned to tackle, this morning:

anger

But it’s more difficult to write about anger. At least it is for me.

I have some fear about anger, people. And I know I’m not alone in that. Here’s  some immediate evidence, from the Google Image Buffet:

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Here’s a particular fear I have, about anger: I fear that I (and others) judge and disown our anger.  And I think THAT can be dangerous.

When I see that fear of anger in others, sometimes I respond by saying:

Anger is just one of the basic human emotions.

Anger is the human response to not getting our needs met.

And I hope that’s helpful.

But what does this all have to do with containment, my alleged topic for the day?

Here’s what:

When I was hospitalized as a young child, I got some messages that anger and fear were not okay.   I got the sense that people did not want to see — or deal with — any anger or fear I might have about what was happening to me.

Therefore, I believed  (whether or not the messages were really there) that I needed to contain those feelings.

In this blog, I have written about several containers, for feelings and thoughts (like here and here).  And those containers can be useful, for sure.

However, I will say this:

When  a therapist talked to me, recently, about the technique of imagining a container for difficult feelings, I replied, “Personally, I would need such a  container to be open.  I wouldn’t want to believe that I have to close off my feelings, no matter how difficult they are.”

Therefore, I imagined a container, like this:

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but opened, like this:

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And that seemed like a good idea.

Before I end, I want to mention/brag about one more thing.

I am going to Game One of the World Series, tonight!

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Earlier this morning, I had this thought about that:

What’s the matter with you?  You should be ecstatic!

There it is, again: another “should” thought about feelings.

Earlier this morning, I also had the urge to yell, to get some anger out. And I thought, “I can’t do that!!”

But what about this, as a solution?

I’m going to the World Series tonight! What better place to yell??!!?

YAY!!!!!!!!

Much better.

Thanks* to the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, to containers of all kind, to people who have fear and anger, and to you, too, for visiting today.

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Also, for the images, to theguardian.com (for the “fear face” and an interesting article), chrisperruna.com (for another “fear face” and interesting article), HowStuffWorks, rozsavage.com, Rebuilding Divorce Recovery, and what-buddha-said.net.

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

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