Posts Tagged With: increasing self esteem

Day 1166: Take up space!!

I’m going to take my own advice and take up space in this post by explaining why I’m urging us all to

Take up space!!

A lot of people I see in therapy are afraid to take up space, because they have been told by others and/or by circumstances that they do not deserve to take up space.

Yesterday, when several people were taking up space in a group therapy session, I took up space to write this:


I also took up space yesterday on two whiteboards, inviting people to take up space with all their different feelings, thoughts, and experiences:




I am now going to take up space with something I just found online when I searched on “Take up space.”

Take up space with a comment, below, or however else you choose.

Taking-up-space thanks to Vanessa Kisuule, to people who heal in therapy, and to you — of course! — for taking up space, here and now.


Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 921: Messages

Has everybody gotten the message that I love my work — doing group and individual therapy at a Boston hospital-based primary care practice ?

Part of that work involves helping people let go of  esteem-damaging messages they’ve heard from others (and internalized), including

You haven’t accomplished enough

You’re never good enough

Parts of you are unacceptable

You’re not worthy of love

I encourage people to challenge these toxic and habitual messages with health-promoting, affirmative messages, such as

I deserve to be seen, heard, and loved, exactly the way I am.

What kinds of messages do you give yourself?

At work, I receive lots of messages, every day, through email and voicemail.

Yesterday, I received one of the best voicemail messages, ever:

My doctor said you were good at talking to people who are not good at talking to people.

What messages do you get from these photos I took yesterday, before and after I heard that voicemail message?



Here’s some message music for you all:

The first public performance of “Message in a Bottle” by The Police is still sending out messages here, on YouTube.

Any messages — bottled or otherwise — you’d like to cast up on the shores of this post?

I hope you get the message that I’m grateful for people I work with, for my bf Michael (who cooked me something delicious when I got home last night at 9 PM), for Edmund Bourne (who wrote a great book about letting go of unhelpful messages), for Yankees, for ducks, for dogs, for cats, for bicyclists, for  flowers, for bright colors, for The Police, and — of course — for you!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 317: Challenging Negative Messages

Yesterday, in a therapy group, we did an exercise where we challenged negative messages.

As I tell people, I have yet to encounter a human mind that does NOT generate negative, self-critical messages, like these:

You’re too selfish.

You’re not smart enough.

Why try anything?  You’ll  fail again.

You are weird.

You are worthless.

Arrghh!  I hate writing those messages. And whenever I do this exercise in group, I hesitate to invite critical messages, because they are SO painful and toxic.

But every time I invite these messages in, we have a chance to look at them anew.  And challenge them.

Here’s how the exercise works:

People think of some familiar critical messages. Then, a group member is chosen to be the voice of a critical message, repeating that message over and over again.  Other members can challenge that message, however they choose.

For example:

Critical Messager  You’re too selfish.

Challenger:  I am NOT too selfish!

Critical Messager:  You’re too selfish.

Challenger: What you call selfishness is just me taking care of myself.

Critical Messager:  You’re too selfish.

Challenger:  I am SO SICK of you telling me that. That doesn’t help me.

Critical Messager: You’re too selfish.

Challenger: I am no more selfish than anybody else.

Critical Messager: You’re too selfish.

Challenger: What about all the times I haven’t been selfish??

Critical Messager: You’re too selfish.

Challenge: My friend says I’m not selfish enough.

Critical Messager: You’re too selfish.

Challenger:  SHUT UP!!!

I personally LOVE doing that exercise, because I usually  get to yell, in a socially acceptable way.

Some things I notice, whenever a group does that exercise:

  1. People do NOT want to be somebody else’s Critical Messager.  They say, “I don’t want to say that horrible thing to somebody!”  (This gives me the opportunity to invite them to apply that kindness to themselves.)
  2. In response to  challenges, the Critical Messager usually changes tone — softening, hesitating, even stopping.
  3. People often express gratitude for the exercise, when it’s over.

If you don’t have a group of people on hand, you can still do a form of that exercise, by:

  1. Writing down a critical message.
  2. Challenging that message, in as many ways as you can.

I just looked for an image to support that, through Google, and this is what I found:


Thanks to, for that.

Ending messages, for this post:

Negative messages are like any other bad habit.  Practice, practice, practice changes.

And support helps, too.

Thanks to role-players everywhere, critical thinkers, habit-breakers, and to you, especially,  for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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