Posts Tagged With: control

Day 1766: Trapped

Yesterday morning, somebody in therapy talked about feeling trapped and how that affects anxiety.

Later in the day, we heard how people in New York City were trapped, injured, and killed in a  pedestrian pathway .

This morning, I’m reading how New Yorkers are refusing to be trapped by terror.

Here’s how we worked on feeling trapped yesterday:


What do you do when you’re feeling trapped?

Do any of my other images relate to being trapped?





Here‘s  the New York Halloween Parade from last night, after the terrible attack.


My deepest sympathy to all who suffered losses. Thanks to all who do their best to heal  every day (including you).


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, therapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 271: Room For Error

I am in the middle of watching a lot of “Breaking Bad” episodes, in an attempt to catch up. I would like to watch the final episode on Sunday with people I love.

I’m probably not going to make it, but I’m going to do my best.

I’m going to make decisions, recognizing there are trade-offs at each point.

I want to take care of myself first.

My priorities may shift, throughout this process.

I am currently watching the Fly episode.


Walter White just said,

There is no room for error, not with these people.

Thank goodness I’m not dealing with people like that, these days.

Thanks to creative people, imperfectionists everywhere, and to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 140: We cannot control other people

Duh.  Isn’t that obvious?  We can’t control what other people do — to themselves, to us, to the rest of the world.

However, we can be clear about how their actions affect us.

We can also let them know how we feel about it. And we can control what we do , in response to their actions.

This applies on a personal level.

Let’s say that an adult, whom I love, has a toothache. This person has had toothaches before and — for lots of reasons — has not gone to the dentist.

While I think it’s a great idea for that person to go to the dentist, it’s not my tooth. It’s not my pain.

The best I can do is this:  tell the person that it bothers me to see them in pain. Let them know I’m eager to talk about what might be getting in the way of them seeing the dentist.  Find out and offer information that might be helpful.

And then step back.

As they say, you can lead a horse to the dentist, but you can’t make it sit in the chair.

(Depending upon where you live, that previous sentence might make NO sense. If that applies to you, the original saying is “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” See here for more about that English language proverb.) (I am not, at this writing, aware of any real proverbs involving dentists.)

That concludes today’s post, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you, so much, for bringing yourself here.

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

Day 26: What we can and cannot change

I expect that I’ll be posting on this topic throughout the year.  It’s a biggie, isn’t it?

Often when this really important issue comes up, I’ll say, “You know …. it’s the serenity prayer.”  I said that at a group session last week and everybody nodded. Then somebody asked me, “Exactly how does the serenity prayer go again?”  After I bumbled around for a little while (still spacier than usual because I was SICK, people), tossing words out like “control” “wisdom” “difference” “patience” —  I gave up, left the group room, went back to my office (just down the hallway), and got the notebook where I write down things that help and things that don’t help.  I knew I had written down the serenity prayer under “Things that Help” because …. it helps.

After I returned to the group, I read aloud what I had written in my notebook:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  

Man, that just blows my mind — how simple and profound that is.  I think I have trouble remembering it because it seems so …. perfect.  When I try to quote it from memory (and my memory can be so imperfect), I just want to stop trying to approximate it, and get to the Real Deal.

As we ended up discussing in the group that night, Part 3 of that Perfect Prayer is  REALLY tricky.  “The wisdom to know the difference.”  I don’t think I’ll ever reach and stay at THAT level of wisdom. I mean, I don’t think I’ll every attain a Personal Development Nirvana, where I’ll immediately know, in the moment, what I can change and what I can’t change. It seems like those are lessons I have to keep learning, again and again.

And even when I name “guidelines” about what we can and can’t change, I have to keep re-learning those, too.

For example, here’s something I often name as “something we can’t change.”

Other people.

Realizing that, over and over again, does seem to help. Now, that doesn’t mean losing faith in other people’s ability to change.  Geesh, if I didn’t believe in THAT, I couldn’t do the work I do.   And I’m not saying that we don’t have an effect on each other.

(Wow, this IS tricky.)

But we can’t make other people change, as much as we might (1) yearn for that change, (2) think we need that change,  and (3) believe they need that change.

This brings to mind another profound, ancient piece of wisdom:

Q:  How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: One, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.


Just some final thoughts before I end today’s post.  Acceptance of where other people are — and letting go of that need for other people to change — seems to help. That doesn’t mean tolerating a bad situation and letting go of your own needs.  It also really helps to clearly state the effect that other people’s behavior has on you, and to express your needs and wishes, and even name consequences, at times.  (I’ll write about “I-statements” in a future post, I’m sure, which is a handy-dandy prescription for more effective interpersonal communication.)

But, what other people think and do? Not in my realm of control.

And I’m still working on the wisdom to know THAT difference.  Like right now, writing this.

Thanks, dear reader.

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

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