Posts Tagged With: Labeling

Day 2299: Cognitive Distortions

Regular readers of this blog know I often write about the cognitive distortions described by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, including overgeneralization, mind reading, catastrophizing, personalization, comparisons, shoulds, and labeling/name-calling. Regular readers of this blog do NOT know that I soon will be performing my latest original song (titled “Nobody’s Perfect” and co-written with a Social Work intern at work named Nat) with other musicians, and we’re thinking of calling ourselves “The Cognitive Distortions.”

Last night, my boyfriend Michael and I were experiencing cognitive distortions when we were both making overgeneralizations about human beings.  Our cognitive distortions have increased since the last U.S. Presidential election as we both try to make sense of the human behavior described in the media, by cognitively debating and trying to understand what people are really like and why they say what they say and do what they do.

Do you see any cognitive distortions in this part of our discussion last night?

Michael:  I think people who say “I believe in him” or “I believe in that” know, on some level, that those things are not true.

Ann: Michael, this is the same disagreement we constantly have. I think that a lot of  people really believe what they say. How do you know what they really believe?  That’s overgeneralization and mind reading.

Michael:  How do YOU know what they really believe?

Me: I don’t really know, but I’ve encountered so many people in individual and group therapy who seem to really believe what they say they believe.

Michael: And I’ve encountered thousands of people through my work in the food industry.

Me: THOUSANDS?

Michael: Let me tell you a story that sums up my experience of people. There was this woman I used to work with. One day, somebody asked her if she believed in ghosts.  She said, “No.” And then she added, “But I’ve seen one.”

Me (laughing): I’m putting that in tomorrow’s blog.

Do you see any cognitive distortions in today’s photos?

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I just searched YouTube for “cognitive distortions” to see if any musical group already has that name.  This is what I found:

Feel free to express your cognitions and feelings about Cognitive Distortions, below.

Thanks and appreciation to all who helped me express the cognitive distortions in today’s post and — of course! — thanks and appreciation to YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 2245: Expendable

Yesterday, in a therapy session, somebody talked about feeling expendable.  When someone labels themselves in a painful way, I write the word up on the board, to get it out of the person’s head and so that we can look at the label with different perspectives, perhaps making the unhelpful label expendable.

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A definition of “expendable” may be expendable, but I’m sharing it anyway.

ex·pend·a·ble
/ikˈspendəb(ə)l
adjective
of little significance when compared to an overall purpose, and therefore able to be abandoned.
“the region is expendable in the wider context of national politics”
synonyms: dispensable, able to be sacrificed, replaceable
(of an object) designed to be used only once and then abandoned or destroyed.
“the need for unmanned and expendable launch vehicles”

As I read that definition, it occurs to me that many people might be feeling expendable, as the current U.S. government shutdown drags on and on.

In that therapy session yesterday, I invited the expendable-feeling person to name what is opposite to expendable.  Here’s one non-expendable word:

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Another opposite-to-expendable word was “valuable.”  Apparently a picture of that word was expendable.

Wait! I found “valuable” on this scale, which I drew on the board:

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It might be valuable and appreciated, here and now,  if I ask my readers these questions: Do you ever feel expendable?  Appreciated?  Valuable?  Where are you on that scale, as you read this?  What helps you feel less expendable and more valuable and appreciated?

I wonder if any of the photos in this post are expendable, appreciated, and/or valuable.

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It’s always appreciated when my non-expendable boyfriend Michael asks me to dance, and last night, after his very appreciated and valuable dinner (pictured above), we danced to this music, which is the opposite of expendable to me.

I really appreciate that Michael danced with me for the full eight-and-a-half minutes of that highly valued McCoy Tyner tune.

I hope you know that your comments are very valuable and appreciated.

Finally, here is some non-expendable gratitude for all who helped me create this post and — of course! — for YOU.

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Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, definition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 2213: Incapable

Yesterday, I was capable of posing the bloggy question, “What’s the worst thing that anybody ever called you?”   Readers replied with painful memories of being labelled  unkindly  by people who were incapable of seeing that the hurtful labels were unfair and untrue.

Today, my answer to my own question — “what’s the worst thing that anybody ever called you” — is “Incapable.”

I am capable of admitting that I AM incapable in many areas, including

  • getting enough sleep,
  • knowing things before I have a chance to learn them,
  • having a poker face,
  • cooking as well as my boyfriend Michael,
  • keeping my desk neat and organized,
  • wrapping presents beautifully,
  • understanding how dogs think,
  • ignoring cats,
  • giving up hope for humanity, and
  • stopping my busy mind,

but I still think that “incapable” is the worst thing anybody has ever called me.

Three and a half years ago, when I wrote Day 867: Difficult — which had a list of every unkind label people had called me that I was capable of remembering up to that point  — I was incapable of including “incapable” on that list.  However, now that somebody HAS called me “incapable,” I am more capable of realizing that I have harshly and unfairly labeled myself “incapable” whenever  I’ve made mistakes.

Also, even though nobody called me “incapable” until recently,  I got the message I was incapable when I entered 7th grade of  a public Junior High School. The administrators there decided that, because of my heart condition, I was incapable of keeping up with the smartest kids in the class.  I eventually proved that I was not as incapable as they thought, when I became class Valedictorian senior year.

As I’m writing about “incapable,”  here and now, I am capable of letting go of that unhelpful label.  Instead, I am focusing on the ways I am capable, which include the capability to take pictures and share them here.

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I am not incapable of telling stories in rhyme, including this one:

Don’t call me too weepy,

too creepy, too sleepy,

too selfish, too giving,

too sensitive from living.

Don’t call me too bitchy,

too itchy or twitchy,

too soft or too loud,

too modest, too proud.

If you’re gonna type me or hype me,

pigeonhole, assign a role,

Decide I’m a saint or some asshole,

Don’t call me.

Don’t call me too funny or too serious

I find it deleterious,

So don’t call me.

© Ann Koplow, 2018

Here‘s Keyshia Cole very capably singing “Incapable.”

I know you’re not incapable of leaving a comment.

I am not incapable of expressing my gratitude to all who helped me create this “Incapable” post and — of course! — YOU, for being capable of reading it.

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

Day 2212: What’s the worst thing that anybody ever called you?

Yesterday, on Facebook, I posted and posed the question: “What’s the worst thing that anybody ever called you?”

Was that called for, to invite people to remember the worst thing they had ever been called?  I believe that if we expose and share the worst thing we have ever been called, we can

Now, somebody may call me out and ask, “Ann, what if the worst thing that anybody ever called me IS true?”  If  there is truth in it, you can decide what you want to do about it. However, in all my years of asking this question, and people answering

  • stupid,
  • lazy,
  • worthless,
  • crazy,
  • selfish,
  • fat,
  • ugly,
  • incapable, and
  • other harsh, hurtful,  and over-generalized judgments,

I have seen no helpful truth there.

We could do worse than examine today’s photos for worst things we’ve been called.

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Has anyone ever called you despicable, including yourself?

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Has anybody ever called you gross? Artificial?

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Has anybody ever called you out for  hanging on for too long?

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Has anybody ever called you weird-looking?  Scary?  Too starey?  Too expressive?   Too transparent?

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Has anybody ever called you an ass? Too distant?

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Has anybody ever called you too spacy?

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Has anybody ever called you foolish?  Greedy?  Not knowing what’s good for you?

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Has anybody ever called you vain?  Up-tight?

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Has anybody ever called you pushy?  Has anybody ever told you you’re not doing enough with your life?

 

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Has anybody called you thoughtless?  A doormat? Catty?  A baby?

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Has anybody ever called you a psychopath?

I’m working on a song called “Don’t Call Me” (and I’ve called out the lyrics here). Before I can call that song finished, here’s “Call Me” by Blondie.

Also, I found “The Worst Thing You’ve Been Called” on YouTube, which shows the same exercise I’ve done in my therapy groups.

I call that effective.

Now’s the time I call for comments.

I’ve never been called ungrateful (at least to my face). Thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 1346: Winners and Losers

Today’s title reminds me of two common cognitive distortions:  black-and-white thinking and labeling.  Yes, we humans — winners and losers all — tend to see things in all-or-nothing terms and we also assign judgmental labels to people, especially ourselves.

We are all winners and losers at some points, aren’t we?  Actually, a more winning perspective might be that “winners” and “losers” are subjective terms that don’t really help.  If I call myself a winner or a loser today, does that change who I am?  Don’t those all-or-nothing labels just cause me to temporarily win or lose confidence,  putting myself on a self-esteem roller coaster?  What would we lose if we stopped calling ourselves losers or winners and just radically accepted ourselves exactly where we are? Personally, I think we would win a lot.

Considering my thoughts on winners and losers, am I a winner or a loser to now ask  which of my photos from yesterday are winners or losers?

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I shall not lose the opportunity to win you over by sharing the impulses behind those photos:

  1. I am trying to win some acceptance about starting a new medication: Warfarin (a/k/a Coumadin).
  2. Warfarin/Coumadin affects how your body uses Vitamin K.
  3. The foods listed on the white board win the prize for having high amounts of Vitamin K.
  4. I’ll need to win a greater understanding of how to control Vitamin-K-rich foods in my diet, or I might lose my health.
  5. Hygga is a Danish word meaning “cozy,” a new-to-me concept which I find very winning.
  6. My cat Oscar can be very hygga.
  7. I am trying to win calmness and lose stress about my upcoming heart surgery and my only child going overseas for college by playing online solitaire.
  8. My boyfriend Michael cooked a winning meal last night.

Is this piece of music a winner or a loser, according to you?

 

If you leave a comment, I’m a winner!

I’d be some kind of loser if I didn’t express thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for winning my heart by visiting here, today.

 

 

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 1066: Other people

Other people are on my mind right now, because:

  • in therapy, people talk a lot about what other people think and do,
  • other people are going to be judging my voice in February, when I try out for the TV show “The Voice,”
  • other people are reading this blog today (including you),
  • I am facilitating a therapy group this morning with eleven other people,
  • I am visiting Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts this afternoon,  to see paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other people, and
  • other people have recently been labeling me “edgy,” “quirky,” “attention-starved,” “caring,”  “looking exactly like your son Aaron,” and “looking nothing like your son Aaron.”

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Why do we spend so much time wondering what other people might think and might do?

After all, other people are just people (like me and like you).

If other people want to read other posts about other people, this other person suggests other people look here, here, here, here, here, here,  and here.

Other people (other than you) are responsible for these other photos:

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Now I’m wondering what other people think of those other photos.

Other thoughts, other people?

One other sentence:  Thanks to other people, everywhere, for visiting this other person today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 51 Comments

Day 968: Interesting

Yesterday, I met with a very interesting person who, interestingly enough, feels uninteresting. Feeling uninteresting causes this person to avoid interacting with other people, for fear of being seen and judged as not interesting.

It’s interesting to me how many interesting people suffer from these kinds of fears. I, as an interested psychotherapist, am very interested in helping people reduce the interestingly common cognitive distortion of labeling themselves

  • uninteresting,
  • unworthy,
  • unlovable, and
  • other harsh, judgmental, painful and interestingly destructive adjectives.

Therefore,  I gave this interesting person two interesting prescriptions yesterday, of different strengths:


As with all my interesting prescriptions, there is an interestingly low risk of

  • overdosing,
  • side effects, or
  • dependency.

Here are some other interesting photos I took during my interesting yesterday.


              

Which photo did you find most interesting? I was most interested in the last one. I was so interested in it, I had the interesting plan of giving  this interesting post today the interesting title of “No Title.”

Well, as interesting Scottish poet Robert Burns


interestingly wrote:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

Gang aft agley

I find it interesting how my iPhone — on which I write these interesting  posts — recognized  the interesting word “agley.”  My phone is more interesting than I realized.

Interested in what interesting music I might choose for this interesting post?

Here‘s the interesting tune that was playing in my interestingly yellow Honda Fit when I took that last interesting photo:

I also think it’s interesting how Weird Al Yankovic parodied “Zoot Suit Riot” by the interestingly named Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, as follows:

That interestingly reminds me that I should probably go on a grapefruit diet before my high school reunion, which is sure to be interesting, next month.

As always, I am interested in what you find damn interesting about this post.

Interesting and interested  thanks to all the interesting people who helped me create this interesting post and to you — interestingly enough — for being interested enough to read it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , | 42 Comments

Day 443: Fun with labels

Personally, I think the label for this post is strange.

“Fun with labels”?!?   Labeling is an unhelpful and pain-producing cognitive distortion:

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.” *

… and I’m suggesting that we have fun with it?  That seems

  • Foolish
  • Insensitive
  • Wrong-headed
  • Doomed to failure.

Of course, I’m labeling this post, aren’t I?  Plus, I’m indulging in another cognitive distortion — fortune-telling — predicting how this post is going to turn out. PLUS I’m mind-reading how YOU, the reader, might react to it.

Geesh.  The cognitive distortions are coming in, fast and furious today, aren’t they?

I can put words on why that might be happening.  Yesterday, at work, I caught myself in THREE obvious mistakes.

I sometimes liken my mistakes to mice. Or cockroaches.  That is, if I see three of them, I assume there are many, many more mistakes I’ve made, that I haven’t seen, observed, or caught.

So, I could label my mistakes

  • Bad
  • Dangerous
  • Unforgivable
  • Out of control

….or, I could label my mistakes, in a different way:

Human.

Are we having fun, yet? Probably not, because, as usual, dear readers, I have digressed from my intent, in writing this post.

Here was my intent: to show and tell you about a group exercise I did yesterday.

In a group, I gave everyone a bunch of sticky name tag labels, like these:

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(I found that image here)

Then, I told people to write down, on those labels, positive adjectives for themselves, which they could stick to themselves, if they chose. Based on my experience as a therapist, I knew that was a very difficult assignment, so I added another one: to write down familiar negative labels, also. And, not surprisingly, the latter assignment was much easier for people. But with some mutual support and help (e.g., “What are some positive things other people have said about you, even if you have trouble believing it?) … people were also able to come up with several positive labels for themselves.

Here’s a photo, from yesterday:

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Note that you don’t see any negative labels like “Stupid,” “Messy,” or “Selfish” in that photo.

Why?  Because we ripped up all the negative ones, into little pieces.

And that sure was fun, people.

Okay!  What else did I want to identify here, before I end this post?

How about this? Sometimes, we label our cats. For example, Michael, lately, has been calling Oscar “skinny”

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and our other cat, Harley, the opposite of that.  I really hope that’s not bothering Harley, because here’s where I caught him, last night:

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Although, I’ll name this: more exercise would be good, for all of us.

Thanks to people who label, those who aren’t perfectly anything, and to you — of course! — for reading this whatever-you-want-to-call-it post, today.


* See here for the complete definition of labeling and the other dozen not-fun cognitive distortions.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 341: Friendly Reminder(s)

The title of this post was inspired by an e-mail I got from somebody, last week.

This person had e-mailed me a question, asking about possible therapy supports for someone. When I didn’t answer back within a day, she sent me another e-mail, starting with the title phrase — “Friendly reminder” — asking for the information again.

I took note of that, because quick responses are something that matter to me, a lot.

I sometimes feel a lot of stress, when I don’t get back to people quickly enough. That’s true at work and elsewhere (including here in the blogosphere, I must confess).

Of course, that leads to the question, “What is quickly enough?”  My supervisor, at work, has suggested that I ease off on myself, and allow myself more time and room to get back to people.  That’s always an important, friendly reminder from her,  because, in my work, a lot of people ask me questions, looking for help, every day. And I CAN’T get back to everybody as quickly as I would like. It’s impossible.

That’s an ongoing struggle for me — to allow more space and time for myself to respond.  I need to remind myself that — while I’m not responding back as quickly as I would like to — it’s the best I can do. I’m only human.

But I struggle with that, a lot.  And when I’m feeling down about myself, I label myself as “not responsive enough.” (And other harsher things, which I won’t name here.) (However, I will direct you to this list, for a friendly reminder about cognitive distortions including “labeling.”)

(Strangely enough, in my two yearly reviews, “responsive” was a word that people used, many times, describing me. That surprised me, each time, because it didn’t match my own wishes and expectations for myself.)

One thing I’ve considered: maybe I want to respond quickly to people because that’s what I WANT FROM OTHERS.

I’m sure that’s true.   And my own yearning for quick responses? It’s based on old feelings and experiences.  When I was a kid, I needed people to respond quickly, when I was in pain, and they didn’t.

I’m sure I’m not alone, in that experience (even though the circumstances may vary).

Another thing I’ve noticed: I’m more forgiving of other people’s non-perfect responsiveness, than I am of my own.

I’m sure I’m not alone in THAT, either.

So, to get back to the beginning of my post:  Somebody, last week, sent me an e-mail saying “Friendly reminder,” when I didn’t respond to her initial request within a day.

And this was my reaction to that:

Wow!

And what did  “Wow!” mean?  Lots of things, including:

  • Gee!  She has some nerve, asking for me to respond that quickly.  Doesn’t she know I have LOTS of requests, every day?
  • I wish I could ask for something I need, with that kind of nerve.
  • That’s really an effective way to express that need. (My proof of that:  my first, annoyed response faded within seconds).
  • Obviously, her need was more critical than I realized at first.
  • I want to learn from her, and use that phrase when I’m feeling the need for a quick response.

And then I responded back to her, very quickly, and I was happy to do so.

Okay!  It’s time to look for photos on my iPhone, to adorn this post before I end it.

Actually, when I take a photo, it’s a friendly reminder to self: “Share this image with somebody, some day.” I do give myself space and time, with those reminders.  I don’t pressure myself. I know I have all the time I need, to decide when to share those images.

Here are the photos whose times have come, today:

Friendly Reminders: A Photo Essay

by Ann

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That photo is a friendly reminder that our last Argentine Tango lesson is coming up, this Wednesday.  That’s Chloe, the instructor’s dog, who has been attending dance classes for many years. Because she’s watched so many dancers, I’m assuming Chloe may be better* at the Tango than I am, at this point.

Friendly reminder to self: Decide whether to sign up for more tango lessons.

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When I was walking around the hospital where I work, yesterday, I saw this at somebody’s work station and quickly snapped this photo.  That flower looks blurry, not just because of my hurriedness in taking the photo, but also because that friggin’ flower was DANCING.  There was no sound or music of any kind, but that flower just wouldn’t stop.

Friendly reminder: When people are doing challenging work, with no windows in sight, it helps to remember flowers. And dancing, too.

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Here are the plants outside my office, photo also taken yesterday.  If you look at the far right of that photo, you may be able to see the bird that appeared in a previous blog post, here.

Friendly reminder: the holidays are approaching.

Last photo, taken before I started this post this morning:

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Friendly reminder: More snow is coming soon, to many neighborhoods near me.

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Thanks for reminders — friendly and otherwise — and for all of you reading today.

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* For those of you who are keeping score on Cognitive Distortions, there’s another one: Comparisons.

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

Day 237: What other people say

I have a really good memory, it seems, for what other people say.

Not for everything everybody says, of course.  It’s amazing the things I’ve forgotten over the years.   But I think I still have a pretty good memory for what people say.

Certain things people say really grab my attention, including these:

  1. Anything that indicates danger to somebody.
  2. Things said by people I respect.
  3. Comments about me, about what I’ve created, and about how I’m living in this world.

This is a partial list,  but those are on my mind, this morning.

Why?

Because I’m realizing, again, that some things people have said, over the years, have gotten “stuck” in my memory. They loom too large. And they’re not helpful.

I’m not blaming the people who said those things, right now.

In some cases, these people may not have even said what I heard.

It doesn’t matter, though, does it? Those things have stuck.

And I’d like to let go of those things, or at least reduce their power.

I have an idea!  How about if I write a few of these things down, and put them in a “magic” wastepaper basket?

Here’s one:

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That’s not helping me these days.  So let’s crumple that one up:

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Here’s another one, that hasn’t been helping:

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Let’s crumple that one, too,  to reduce its power.

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That felt good, I must say.

Next, let’s throw these two things away.  That means I need to choose a wastepaper basket.  Decisions, decisions.

I know!  This one:

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Perfect!  Now, let’s throw those things away:

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They’re in the magic wasterpaper basket!  Hooray!

Before I end this post for today, I would like to share something else I heard somebody say.  Opposed to the two things I just threw away, this is something

  1. I heard recently and
  2. I would like to stick in my memory more (not less).

I heard this yesterday, when I listened to this TED talk by lexicographer Erin McKean:

TED talk by Erin McKean

Here’s what she said that I especially want to remember now*:

“When parts of your job are not easy or fun, you kind of look for an excuse not to do them.”  (At 1:54 in the talk.)

That’s much better, rather than labeling myself …

A Procrastinator.

Lazy.

Or, this:

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Hey!  It’s another job for the magic wastepaper basket!

Thanks to Erin McKean,  all the people in my life who’ve taken the time to tell me something they thought would be helpful, cool wastepaper baskets everywhere, and to you, too, for reading today.

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*Erin McKean refers to something else, in this talk, which I found incredibly valuable when somebody told me about it many years ago.  At 5:00, she describes what she calls “The Ham Butt Problem”, which also relates to letting go of old, unhelpful ways of thinking!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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