Posts Tagged With: cognitive distortion of mind reading

Day 628: Where do you get your ideas?

Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of wonderment, amazement, surprise, and disbelief — from people in the Blog-o-Sphere and in the Non-Blog-o-Sphere — about the fact that I blog every day.

I, in response, have a lot of wonderment, amazement, surprise and disbelief that this seems so incredible to people.

Honestly, though, if I had not started blogging on January, 2013 and kept that going daily, I would also find such once-a-day, long-sustained blogging … wonderful, amazing, surprising,  incredible, and — probably — beyond my capabilities.

We never know what we can accomplish until we do it, right?

While many people have told me they are impressed and surprised that I have maintained a streak of Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven posts in a row,  nobody has asked me this specific question, so far:

Where do you get your ideas?

If they did ask that, I would probably answer — in my usually digressive way — by telling this at-first-seemingly-unrelated story:

When my son, Aaron, was born 16 years ago, on February 23, 1998, almost everybody I knew expressed wonderment, amazement, surprise, and disbelief that Aaron had red hair. Why? Because both I and Aaron’s father had dark brown hair.

As Aaron was growing up, he (and we) heard this question, over and over again:

Where did that red hair come from?

I taught Aaron to reply to that question a certain way, which I shall reveal momentarily, in my usual digressive way.

Before I do reveal that, I want to let people know that I stole this answer from a social worker who went to graduate school with me and who just happened to be working in the hospital where Aaron was born.  This nice, red-headed social worker (whose name I cannot recall, in the moment) told me that her family taught her to answer the above question, as follows:

It came with my head.

Now, with just a little re-writing, I think I can use that same response — which Aaron said many times as he was growing up — to answer the title question of this post.

Hmmm.  But what IS the best way to rewrite that, now, to:

Should the answer to the question “Where do you get your ideas?” be:

  • they came with my head?
  • they come with my head?
  • or something else?

Geesh! Rewriting, to make something fit perfectly, can take a lot of time and effort.  It’s a good thing I’ve let go of any dream of perfection, here.

If I hadn’t, how could I possibly blog every day?

While I don’t include perfection here, I do include photos. Let’s see if I have any recent shots stored on my iPhone that might fit this topic — if not perfectly — well enough.

Aha!  Here’s a photo I took at the Teacher/Parent Open House at my son’s high school, a few evenings back (when I was looking for C words for this post):


That suggests — to my brunette head — another possible answer to the title question of today’s post:


One final question, today, before I publish this post: How might you answer today’s post question, for yourself? In other words, where do you get your ideas?

Hmmmm.   I’ve just looked at the time and realized I’m finishing this post earlier than I expected. Is it okay to publish this post on 7:17 on a Saturday morning?  Or, would that confound, confuse, or otherwise craze my regular readers, who might expect me to publish this at a later time today?*

Just in case, I shall stall the publishing of this post, one more time, by searching for a piece of music that fits this post — if not perfectly —  well enough.

I just went to YouTube and searched “where do you get your ideas song.”  This is what I found:

That’s American singer-pianist-songwriter Billy Joel explaining to school students, in 1983,  the answer to the question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

While that video IS interesting, it’s not meeting MY needs, for a music-related video. (And, believe me, I write these posts, daily, to meet my own needs.)

Here’s one that does meet my needs:

(Bee Gees performing “Idea” found here)

Okay!  It’s time to publish this Six Hundred and Twenty-Eighth (but who’s counting?) post!

Thanks to my son, to my son’s teachers, to nice social workers everywhere, to Billy Joel, to the Bee Gees, to ideas (and idea-generators), and to you — of course! — for doing your best to understand all these ideas, today.

* New readers might not recognize this, but I’m “mind reading” here.  For more about mind reading and other CBT cognitive distortions, see here.

Categories: blogging, friendship, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 613: I don’t know what I look like

When I was driving into work yesterday, the traffic was awful.  It was okay, though, because I knew my first patient had cancelled. I don’t know what I looked like, behind the steering wheel of my car, but I assume I didn’t look scared about being late.

As I dealt with what looked like the last of a long series of multiple detours and cars battling it out for survival of the fastest, the Talking Heads tune  “Life During Wartime” came on the radio.

Here’s the version I heard yesterday:

(YouTube video found here)

I don’t know what Talking Heads looked like while they were singing the studio version of that song, but here’s a live performance version* of that song:

(YouTube video found here)

Yesterday, when I heard the line “I’ve changed my hairstyle so many times, I don’t know what I look like,” I wondered … could that be my next blog post title?

I haven’t changed my hairstyle that much lately (although I’ve been considering it), so only the second part of that line made the title, today.

Why did I choose that title — instead of another one that looked different — today?

Because I don’t know what I look like (and I hope I am not the only one who feels that way).

I think it’s difficult to tell what we look like. We are on the inside looking out, as everybody else is on the outside looking at those parts of us we can’t ever really see.

As Robert Burns said, in his poem “To a Louse

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

(Or, in the current vernacular:

And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!)

(as quoted in Wikipedia)

While we can’t know what the louse in Robert Burns’s poem looked like, I will tell you that I’ve been quoting Mr. Burns elsewhere (sometimes, it looks like, erroneously):


Och.  I’m glad Robbie Burns — the Bard of Scotland — cannot see how I mangled part of his famous poem “To a Mouse.”

I don’t know what it looks like I’m doing in this post, but I better get back to the topic, fast.

So … can we see ourselves as others see us? Do we want to?

As I had many thoughts about perception, yesterday morning, I wondered what people were seeing as I passed by them.

IMG_8653 IMG_8656 IMG_8660 IMG_8665 IMG_8671 IMG_8674 IMG_8678 IMG_8679

I suppose I could ask the wonderful people in those last two photographs (Julia, Alex, Kevin, Erin, and others at the Starbucks I frequent at work) what they saw. Yes, I could use the antidote of Reality Testing, a very effective cure for the cognitive distortion of Mind Reading.

I wonder what Julia, Alex, Kevin, Erin, or the baristas whose names I do not know would say, if I DID ask them? I’ll let you know, if I get up the courage to ask the question.

Finally, as a fan and a student of stand-up comedy, I shall allow the late Joan Rivers to have some last words:

“I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.”

Thanks to Talking Heads, to Joan Rivers, to all the talking and non-talking heads I looked at yesterday, and to you — of course! — for looking at this, today.

* I don’t know if you want to look at a third version of “Life During Wartime,” but here’s the Stop Making Sense performance I looked at, with wonder, during the 1980’s:

(look at the YouTube video here)

Does anybody have any questions?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 423: Teaching an old dog new tricks

Yes, that’s the title for today’s post.  “Teaching an old dog new tricks.”

First of all, what does that mean?  It’s an English idiom, defined as follows, according to

Idioms & Phrases
teach an old dog new tricks

Change longstanding habits or ways, especially in an old person. For example, His grandmother avoids using the microwave oven; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks . This expression, alluding to the difficulty of changing one’s ways, was first recorded in 1523 in a book of husbandry, where it was used literally. By 1546 a version of it appeared in John Heywood’s proverb collection.

I’m noticing the reference to microwave ovens there, something I blogged about here (and which actually does relate to teaching an old dog new tricks).

As I look at the other definitions of that idiom online, I’m learning it may be the oldest proverb/idiom/saying/whatever-you-want-to-call-it on record. Wow. That’s impressive.  I’m also reminded that the actual idiom is the negative form, that is: 

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

Prov. Someone who is used to doing things a certain way cannot change. (Usually not polite to say about the person you are talking to; you can say it about yourself or about a third person.)  I’ve been away from school for fifteen years; I can’t go back to college now. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Kevin’s doctor told him not to eat starchy food anymore, but Kevin still has potatoes with every meal. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.


Geesh!  I have so many reactions to THAT definition, I’m wondering this: Will I be able to avoid my old trick of digressing and digressing away from what I wanted to say, like a dog off the scent, with a dog’s chance of getting back to where I want to be?

Well, I’ll quickly say this. That last definition:

  • Encourages indirect communication (also known as “politeness”) (also known as “talking behind somebody’s back”).
  • Encourages negative self talk.
  • Made me hungry.

Okay!  Back to some things I knew I wanted to write, today.

First of all, is it even okay to use my idiom du jour?  Or is it too politically incorrect?

Well, I AM using it, aren’t I?  This IS my blog, after all, and every dog has its day. But is it nice, or helpful, to use that idiom?

Three of the words in that saying DO make me uncomfortable, actually:

  1. The word “old,” which can be interpreted as an insult.*
  2. The word “dog,” which can be interpreted as an insult.*
  3. The word “tricks”, which can be interpreted as an insult.*

Also, I hesitate to use the original saying:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

… because it is the absolute opposite of what I believe:

People can change, no matter where they are in their lives.

So why did I choose that saying, this morning? Because I’ve been aware of some old, doggedly automatic habits of mine, lately.  And I’ve been working like a dog to change them.

Here are two old, dogged, tricky thought patterns I’ve been noticing:

  1. After I publish a post and I notice something “wrong” with that post — a grammatical error or any other type of mistake — I tend to dismiss or minimize any positive comments I get from readers before I can correct the error(s).
  2. If a stranger smiles at me, my automatic response is this: to check myself, to see if there is something ridiculous about how I look.

Those are old tricks, for sure, dear readers.

How am I changing those and teaching myself new ones?

As always, it helps — a lot — to catch those puppies in the act. It also really helps to name them.

Maybe I’ll call the first one “Fido” and the second one “Spot.”

Okay! I see I’m up to some old tricks in this blog post, dear readers. That is, I’m approaching the end, without a helpful and/or playful image in sight.

Let’s see what pictorial bones I can toss out there, right now.

Hmmmm. I can’t find my iPhone.  That’s an old trick of mine: hiding — or temporarily losing — important things, perhaps to make my life more interesting. (Here’s a new trick in response to THAT: having faith that I’ll find my iPhone, in one of the old familiar places.**)

So, let’s go to Google Images, and see what we can retrieve for “teaching an old dog new tricks.” Yes, let’s see if that dog will hunt.


(I found that image here.)


(I found that image here.)


(I found that image here.)


(I found that image here.)

My conclusion for this post? There’s life in the old dog yet.

Thanks to dogs of all kinds, all humans who contributed to the images in this post, and to you — of course! —  for barking up this tree/post, today.

* Especially for a woman.

** My phone usually hides in my pocket, my bag, or my car.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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