Posts Tagged With: cognitive distortion of labeling

Day 493: Dogged Determination

Our cat Harley saw a new veterinarian yesterday — Dr. Jake Tedaldi.   During the introductions,  I told Dr. Tedaldi that the vet at the shelter where we got Harley in October had written that Harley was “kind.”

I want to share with you the first sentence from Dr. Tedaldi’s visit description, which he left with us:

Harley is a cautious, possibly fretful fellow, but the term “kind” may actually be quite appropriate.

This strikes me as a helpful instance of the sometimes-not-so-helpful automatic process we humans have of labeling others (and ourselves).

Harley wasn’t the only one who saw a doctor yesterday. I saw one of mine, too, and it looks like I won’t be returning to work next week.

Now, might it not seem strange that this post —  describing a cat and a non-working human — has the title “Dogged Determination”?

Well, this post is about to take a turn, people.

Yesterday evening, I went for a leisurely walk with my boyfriend, Michael, at an outdoor location (rare in these parts) where dogs can run free, without leashes.

Here are some photos from that walk:

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The next four photos show a dog determinedly retrieving a ball, from a pond (my apologies for shooting into the sun):

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The next group of pictures features another water-loving dog. While we weren’t formally introduced to any of the other canines in this post, we were to this one:   Zoomy Bear.

When I first noticed Zoomy Bear, he was living up to his name — leaping over a fence to get to the water.  Unfortunately, I did not capture any of his impressive jumps on my iPhone. This was my first shot of him:

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His zoomy-ness blurred him a little, there.

He became less blurry once he returned to the walkway. Here’s Zoomy Bear with his owner (whose name I did not get):

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Here’s what I especially remember about that encounter:

  • Departing from my usual routine, I neither (a) explained I was taking photos for this blog nor (b) got her email to send her this post.
  • She told us several interesting things, including how she and Zoomy Bear celebrated his most recent birthday (which included doggy pastry),
  • When I requested photos of the two of them, she said, “Oh!  That will be a study in contrasts: He’s dirty and I’m clean.”
  • She used other labels about herself, including “loopy.” I disagreed with that label, in my thoughts and out loud.
  •  Zoomy Bear’s breed name  included the word “miniature” and (I think) “wolfhound.”
  • My phone died after that last photo, as I was trying to show her the images.
  • When I apologized for that (or, perhaps, for something else), she said, “Don’t worry.”

I am taking her advice.

I’m just glad that — despite not being able to record it on my phone — I remembered the name “Zoomy Bear.”*

Thanks to doctors who care for animals and humans,  kind creatures everywhere, dogs (unleashed and leashed),  those who zoom as best they can, and to you — of course! — for coming by here, today.


* I wonder if I’m spelling that correctly.  It might be “Zoomy-Bear.”

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

Day 379: I’m a loser

Yes, I confess. I’m a loser.

You may think I am guilty, right now, of the cognitive distortion of labeling, as follows:

Labeling or Name-calling.

We generate negative global judgments based on little evidence. Instead of accepting errors as inevitable, we attach an unhealthy label to ourselves or others. For example, you make a mistake and call yourself a “loser,” a “failure”, or an “idiot.” Labels are not only self-defeating, they are irrational, simplistic, and untrue. Human beings are complex and fallible, and in truth cannot be reduced to a label. Consider this: we all breathe, but would it make sense to refer to ourselves as “Breathers”? *

And perhaps I have used that distortion, about myself. But I want to be clear about what kind of loser I mean, today.

A glove loser.

It seems like there is always something I am losing (or fear I’m losing). These days, it’s those things that protect me from the cold, namely scarves, gloves, and hats.

So far, this season, I have (apparently) lost the wonderful scarf I bought a few months ago — to prepare myself physically and emotionally for the coming winter season — at Urban Outfitters in Cambridge (which I wrote about here).**

Yesterday, after I finished the morning’s blog post, I was scrambling, more than usual, to get ready for work. The reasons for the increased scramble level?  The temperature was allegedly going to turn warm, despite a chilly start. So, deciding on the appropriate outer attire was more of a challenge than usual.  I chose a lighter coat, and checked the pockets for gloves. To my dismay, there was only one. Here is that lone glove:

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This was particularly distressing because of my feelings about those gloves. I like them, very much. Also, I was wearing those gloves when I first met my boyfriend, and in the email he sent me after our first meeting, he singled them out, in his expressed appreciation of our encounter.

Yes, I felt sad, upon seeing that lone, solitary glove.  Based on past experiences being a loser, I knew there was a good chance its partner would never be found.

I had mixed feelings — worried that I had finally lost one of these precious gloves, but with some hope the glove would be found.

What did I base that hope on? A lot of data, actually. Not only have I had several false alarms — over the years —  about losing one of those cool gloves, but I’ve had many experiences of fearing I’d lost something, only to find it again.

Yesterday, after locating another pair of favorite gloves — bright red ones! — I set off to work, letting go of fear and sadness. And those red gloves kept me nicely warm, during the (surprisingly) cold walk to the hospital.

And I had a good day, doing work I love.

At the end of the day, as I prepared to venture out — into much warmer weather than I had encountered that morning — I looked for my gloves in their usual residing place — my coat pockets.

And there was only one red glove, to be found.  WHAT? I thought.  How can that be?

That is my usual response, when I  first find that I’ve lost something.

WHAT?  How can that be?

And, more so than with the first lost glove, this latest loss seemed  …. inconceivable.

I thought, “How could I have possibly lost ANOTHER FAVORITE glove, in one day?” I retraced my steps, mentally, as advised when you lose something.  I knew I had worn them until I entered the hospital. I knew I had entered the hospital through the main entrance, which is a five-minute walk away from where I work.***

My conclusion was this: the glove HAD to be in the hospital. Before I left the hospital to return home, I checked with a couple of lost-and-found locations. Nada. Other lost gloves had been turned in****, but not a red one, like this:

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Ah, well.

Now, I must prepare to leave the house to return to work.

Maybe I’ll find that glove today. And who knows?  Maybe I’ll find the other, more beloved, glove, too.  They’re both out there, somewhere.  I know that.

For now, it’s warm enough to venture out gloveless, today.

And if***** it turns cold again?

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Thank goodness, those two are still together.

Thanks to losers everywhere and to you — of course! — for visiting today.


  1. See here for more definitions of cognitive distortions.

  2.  Alas, I did not capture this beauteous scarf in a photo, nor is it available to view online. However, I still recommend visiting that post where I got it, especially since it includes a guy wearing a bear coat!

  3.  Sometimes I deliberately walk through the interior of the hospital, so I can repeat a helpful mantra to myself: ” You are not a patient at this hospital. You work here.” This is helpful because of my extensive experiences, as a child, spending time in a different hospital, because of my congenital heart condition. At other times, I deliberately walk through the interior of the hospital for another reason: just to warm up before my first appointment with patients.

  4. I guess I’m not alone, in being a loser.

  5.  More precisely: “when”, not “if.”

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

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