Posts Tagged With: letting go of cognitive distortions

Day 2014: How do you stop catastrophizing?

When there are so many catastrophes around, how do you stop catastrophizing?

Do you share what you observe?

When the cupboard is bare, do you stock it?

Do you imagine a world without cancer?

Do you keep calm and carry on?

Do you get in touch with your strengths?

Do you change your life?

Do you try to see your way through all the clutter?

Do you let go of judgment and cognitive distortions, focusing on what helps?

Do you try meditation?

Do you turn to music?

Do you share your catastrophizing with other people?

Do you forgive yourself and others for mistakes? Do you gird yourself for the next catastrophe? Or, do you focus on gratitude?

Categories: original song, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 1088: Oh what fun

Oh what fun it is to create this blog post for you and for me, on Christmas eve day.

Oh what fun it was for me to see this last night, accompanied by my son Aaron and my boyfriend Michael:

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Oh what fun it is for me to share this familiar song with the lyrics “Oh what fun.”

Oh what fun it would be to do this …

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… and this:

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Oh what fun I had taking all these other photos yesterday:

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Oh what fun it is, for me, to:

  • live near such interesting places,
  • have another day on this earth,
  • spend time with those I love, and
  • do work that is fulfilling, a great fit for my talents and interests, and more fun than others might imagine.

Oh what fun it would be if you commented, below.

Oh what fun I hope you had, here and now.

 

 

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 1017: Just one

Yesterday, because there’s just one of me and I had so many things to do, I took just one photo.

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I shall take just one moment to explain just one photo:  Asking just one question beginning with “What was your intent when …?” can be a helpful and effective way to respond, when just one person says just one thing you find puzzling, upsetting, or concerning.

I will give just one example of that:

Somebody: You look terrible.

Response:  What was your intent when you said that?

Before  I thought of that just one example,  I visited just one website titled “Random Rude Things People Say.”

I shall now allow my just one brain to free-associate about “Just one.” I have more than just one association:

  • I have just one child, a 17-year old son, who is just one year away from leaving for just one college.
  • I have just one of myself, so I like to take as good care of myself as possible.
  • I have just one boyfriend, because I’m monogamous.
  • I have just one heart, which I take care of with the help of more than just one doctor, so I can see my just one son blossom and grow.
  • I publish just one post every day.
  • I have just one life to live, so I don’t like wasting just one minute on toxic people or experiences.
  • If I make just one mistake, I tend to judge myself harshly, which is just one of the many unhelpful ways of thinking I’m trying to change.
  • Just one person in just one of my therapy groups yesterday said, “Attending this group has helped me a lot.”
  • I have just one song to share with you today.

I made just one mistake there — I remembered the title of “Just a Song Before I Go” as “Just One Song Before I Go.”

It took me just one second to forgive myself for that.

Just one comment from YouTube about that song:

“The Crosby, Stills, and Nash song “Just a Song Before I Go” was written on a dare by their limo driver that they couldn’t write a song before getting to the airport. It went on to become one of their biggest hits.”

Just one quote from that song:

Travelling twice the speed of sound
It’s easy to get burned

Because Crosby Still and Nash sing just one verse more than just one time, I think that’s just one piece of advice I’m going to take today.

What’s that just one piece of advice I’m going to take? Just two words:

Slow down

What’s just one thing you’d like to say about this post?  If you leave just one comment, I’ll leave just one response later in the day.

Just one person I’d like to thank today — YOU!

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 974: It bugs me

It bugs me that the two plants in my office —  where I do individual and group psychotherapy — have bugs.


It probably doesn’t bug you that you can’t see those bugs, a/k/a soil gnats. It bugs me that I’ve been trying for weeks to get rid of those bugs, which look like tiny fruit flies, to no avail.

It bugs me that I bought this “natural” bug spray at Whole Foods Market:


…and when I tried to use it, according to directions …

… that resulted in …

… buggy directions I couldn’t read, at all.

It bugs me when I can’t follow directions, no matter how hard I try.

It bugs me that what I could read in the directions — including many warnings about usage for bugs — indicated that Anti-Pest-O might bug eyes, lungs and other parts of non-bugs. So, I decided to bug neither my patients nor myself and I did not spray that bug spray in my buggy office.

It bugs me when I can’t use a product that others have bugged me to buy. It bugs me to have to return ANYTHING to any store, buggy or otherwise.

It bugs me that spraying the bugs with soapy water (not pictured) hasn’t worked, despite my being bugged by promises that it would.   It bugs me a lot less to battle bugs with something as benign and straightforward as soapy water, but those bugs have seemed totally unbugged (and perhaps a tad brightened) when I’ve bugged them with soapy water.

It bugs me that once I allow myself to be bugged, lots of other things can bug me, too.

For example, litter left behind by buggy Bostonians bugged me yesterday.


  
  
  
  

Buggy marketing schemes and slogans bugged me, too.

Other directions I couldn’t understand bugged me.


Things that slowed me down bugged me (and others).


 


 
Yes, I can be cross here, there, and everywhere, when I’m feeling bugged.

Would it bug you if I listed even more things that can bug me, if I’m in a bugged mood?

  • Not being able to photographically capture a big, yellow, beautiful moon.


  • Not understanding how to perfectly operate new technology (including phones and cars).

  • My inability to portray our cat Harley sitting unbugged on a table,  because he always gets bugged and  jumps off (the little bugger).

  • Somebody wearing a graphic t-shirt, one buggy day after declaring he’s bugged by them.

  • Buggy parking rules, around here.

  • Things that make loud noises, like buggy construction projects.


  • Difficult thoughts and feelings that bug people I treat.


  • People I love to bug leaving (not pictured),  like my wonderful and esteemed co-worker Mary, this week.
  • My not being a good baker and therefore needing to end this blog post early, to pick up sweets for a going-away party for Mary today.
  • Having to leave work early today to bug my dentist about some fillings  that have been bugging me.
  • My sleep apnea machine, with yet another mask that’s been bugging me.

  • Having so many cardiac-related tests and appointments scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at a hospital (where they treat lots of different types of bugs), that several doctors, medical technicians and I will be bugging each other for about four hours.
  • Getting bugged by buggily insignificant decisions, like which sign-in book to use at a 45th high school reunion (which might include bugs, because it’s near the ocean).

  • The automatic and painful assumption that I bug other people, when I really don’t.

After all this bugging, maybe it’s time to de-bug this bug-filled blog post.

One of my patients did NOT bug me, yesterday, when she brought in this:


If you can’t read all those 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama, please don’t bug me too much about that. I photographed them the best I could, at the end of a long and buggy day.

What music might I bug you with now?

The Beatles are suggesting that we not bug them, in “Don’t Bother Me.”

If anything in this post has bugged you in any way, please bug me about that in a comment, below.

Buggy and bugged thanks to all bugs and humans that helped me write this post and special thanks to you, no matter what bugs — or is bugged by — you, at any time.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 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 937: Everything’s falling into place

My boyfriend Michael, who fell into place in my life five years ago, likes to say

Everything’s falling into place

after I’ve fallen into relief after being in a place of

Michael has been saying

Everything’s falling into place

a lot lately, as I’ve been doing my best to let go of scary, health-threatening experiences that were falling into place in my life, starting in November of last year.

Since May, when an Implantable Cardiac Device fell into place in my heart, I’ve been gradually falling into a place of hope about the future.

Now that Michael’s oft-repeated phrase

Everything’s falling into place

has fallen into place in my blog, I’m wondering what Michael means, exactly, when he says those words, a smile falling into place on his face.

For example,

  1. What are these things that are falling?
  2. Where is this place they are falling into?
  3. Will they break when they land?

I can’t ask Michael those questions  (because he’s fallen into a place of slumber) but this is falling into place for me: Question #3 , which fell into place above, reflects how catastrophizing — and other automatic cognitive distortions  — can so easily fall into place in the human mind.

Do unhelpful, fearful, and unnecessary thoughts fall into place, sometimes, in your mind?

If so, let them fall into place where they belong:

The trash.

Let’s see if any other photos fall into place, in this post.

Lots of chocolate candies have fallen into place in that display case.

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Two pieces of candy and coin have fallen into place on that countertop.

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Harley has fallen into place on that rug, which — if my memory is falling into place correctly  — also has fallen into place somewhere in the home of WordPresser Diana Schwenk.

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Oscar seems glad that some water has fallen into place in his dish.

Because I was so busy, yesterday, making sure that informational messages about my 45th high school reunion were falling into place for my classmates, no other photos fell into place on my phone.

However, here‘s some music that falls into place, right now:

The Beatles song “I’ve Just Seen a Face” fell into place quite nicely there, don’t you agree?

Which parts of this post fell into place for you?

My thanks are now falling into place for Michael, my Implantable Cardiac Device, our cats, chocolate,  the Beatles, the Loading Dock, and faces I like to see, including yours!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Day 935: Circles

The cognitive distortion of Negative Filter — filtering out all positives, including hope — keeps the mind stuck in painful circles.

In my work as a group therapist, I witness those painfully negative circles of thought in others — over and over again, around and around.

Because of  criticism, self-doubt, and disappointment, I   — like any other human being — can get temporarily stuck in the painful circles of Negative Filter, too.

Yesterday morning, after reading about some particularly upsetting circles of injustice in the news, my mind got stuck in negative circles, again.

Then, on my walk to work, a tune I dearly love — First Circle by The Pat Metheny Group — circled through my ears and into my circulating mind.

(That live version of “First Circle” is circling beautifully here on YouTube. And don’t click the rectangular button in the middle of the screen, or you’ll have to circle back to listen to the rest of the music.)

That familiar, wonderful music was enough to nudge  my mind out of the painful, repetitive circles of Negative Filter.

I immediately noticed — and captured — the first circle I saw:


From then on, noticing non-negative circles helped me help others who were stuck in their own negative circles of thoughts and feelings.


  

That  circle — of group therapy hand-outs on the floor of my office — demonstrates what happens when a group therapist forgets to press the circular “collate” button on a new, rapidly circling copy machine.

The water in that circle-filled bottle helped sustain me through that circular ordeal.

After completing the circle of a 10-hour work day —  witnessing many people support each other in getting out of negative thinking circles — I noticed all these circles, too:





  
  
  
  


  



  
  
  
  

What circles are you noticing , now?

Circles of thanks to Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, and the rest of the Pat Metheny Group, to all the people who sat around in circles of supportive group therapy yesterday, and to every circle I saw around the Fenway Park area of Boston and around my non-circular home. Also, special circular thanks to you — of course! — for circling your way here, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

Day 835: Am I in Trouble?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that I’m in trouble, even when I’m not.

For example, am I in trouble for including this picture of my son Aaron?

When I saw Aaron put that “Day of Silence #SpeakWithSilence” sticker on his forehead before he left for school yesterday, I asked if I could take his photo, and he agreed. However,  I did NOT ask Aaron if I could put the photo in my blog. So, am I in trouble?

Also, am I in trouble or am I troubled that Aaron is leaving home  for 10 days in Italy, starting today?

Was I in trouble yesterday morning, because of lots of unexpected traffic on my way into work?

  

Whenever there’s traffic, I can easily think I’m in trouble. Also, I am troubled by troubling “shoulds”  like

I should have know better and left home earlier.

Am I in trouble for thinking those thoughts or for taking those photos?

Whenever I write one of these daily posts, there’s a point (like now) where I ask myself

Am I in trouble?

… regarding making this a good enough post, for myself and my readers. Then, I let go of troubling thoughts about my blogging capabilities, as I practice letting go of judgmental and other unhelpful thoughts, everywhere .

Am I in trouble because, after several years of using the iPhone, I’m still not used to the touchscreen  keyboard and I still make a troubling amount of mistakes when writing these posts?

Sometimes, I am troubled just by the possibility of a mistake, even though I tend to catch most of them.

Am I In trouble because I took these pictures on my way to work yesterday?

Does my co-worker Jan look like she’s in trouble, as she’s telling me about some trouble she’s having trying to ship presents for a surprise party in Mexico?

Am I in trouble for taking that photo of Jan or for taking this one of her, later?

I told Jan that photo reminded me of most of the photos I take of my boyfriend Michael.

Am I in trouble for saying that? I think not, since Michael rarely reads this blog.

Am I in trouble for including these other photos I took yesterday, at the hospital where I work?

Am I in trouble for sharing those last two photos of Laura — a very talented therapist I supervise? I know I’m not, because Laura knew I was taking them for this blog. Laura is such a nice, non-troubling person that she told me that I would not be in any trouble with her, no matter what I did with those photos.

Am I in trouble because I took these photos before the baseball game at Fenway Park  yesterday, and I didn’t get permission from anybody in them?

              

        

Were any of those people in trouble, because they were so friggin’ close to the shuttle bus I was in?

Am I in trouble because I’m getting a St. Jude Medical CRT ICD device implanted in less than three weeks, especially since the web page calls it a “Heart Failure ICD”?

Actually, I think there’s a chance that device might get me out of trouble.

Am I in trouble with you, for creating such a long post?

I might be in trouble if I don’t include some music. Here’s a song that helped inspire this post, with the line “I know I’m in trouble again”:

I hope Joni Mitchell isn’t in too much trouble, right now.

What do you think of all the trouble in this post?

You might be in trouble if you don’t leave behind a comment, but I doubt it.

One final question: Am I in trouble because it’s tax day in the USA?

Answer: I’ll live.

Non-troubled and (I hope) untroubling thanks to Aaron, Jan, Michael, Laura, Joni, St. Jude, people who work and play in the Fenway Park area of Boston, all those who stand up bravely for important issues no matter how much trouble that means, and to you — of course! — for taking the trouble to visit here today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 791: Less

Yesterday, when I created a blog post with my iPhone, it took less time. I also put  less effort into adding links to other posts and references like Wikipedia (because I have less  knowledge of how to do that from my phone). 

While I want each post to be no less than helpful for me and my readers, I would be less than honest if I did not confess that I enjoyed doing less here yesterday. 

I’ve been thinking more about doing less, in general, since returning less than three days ago from my one-day-less-than-two-week vacation in a part of the USA that had way less snow and cold than my hometown of Boston. 

Using less words about that: Less is more for me, right now.   

Yes, I believe I will get more out of life with less

  • worry,
  • perfectionism,
  • stress,
  • stuff and clutter,
  • self-doubt,
  • over-achieving,
  • focus on everybody else’s needs,
  • anxiety about taxes,
  • anxiety about everything else,
  • assumptions,
  • rushing,
  • regrets,
  • comparisons,
  • feeling “less than,”
  • catastrophizing,
  • all-or-nothing thinking,
  • mind reading,
  • fortune telling
  • Jumping to conclusions,
  • fear,
  • projections onto others,
  • shoulds,
  • denial,
  • self-criticism,
  • avoidance, 
  • rigidity,
  • close-mindedness, 
  • judgmental thinking, and
  • automatic, unhelpful habits. 

As I mentioned in my introduction to this less-than-perfect post, I am having less success using links when creating blog posts with my phone. Otherwise, I would have taken up less space in that list,  by linking to my handout on cognitive distortions. 

However, i am less than upset about how this post is turning out, despite my having less experience and proficiency in phone blogging. Sometimes, less experience has its own benefits and advantages.

Before I write more, what would you like less of, in your life?

It’s time for less words and more pictures! Here are less than a dozen photos I took yesterday, as I was focusing more on less:



Harley is interested in less than five new cat toys. 



Oscar is less interested than Harley. 



There is less access to that newspaper kiosk than there was two months ago. 



I find all this snow less than Irresistible. That’s why I also took this next photo, less than a minute after the one above:





While I’d like to see a lot less snow around here, my boyfriend Michael says there is considerably less now than there was two weeks ago (after my son Aaron and I escaped out of Boston, avoiding yet another big blizzard by less than two hours).



One of those signs says less than the other. 



Valentine’s Day stuff couldn’t cost much less, could it?



Truth is beauty and beauty is truth (said the poet Keats, with less words). Truthfully though,  WHEN will there be the friggin’ beauty of less snow and cold? 



This hydrant could do with less cone protection. Do you agree, more or less?

Here’s a “less” song for you all:

Would I be less than polite if I suggest you leave less than three  and more than zero comments, below?

Thanks to Elvis (for “A Little Less Conversation,” which I found on YouTube in less time than expected), to Harley, to  Oscar, to Aaron, to Michael, and to all those doing more or less what works for them. And, more thanks to you, for being neither more nor less than yourself, here and now. 

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

Day 788: Turning bad into good

Yesterday, it was a relief for me to:

  1. attend my third and last day of a group psychotherapy conference in San Francisco,
  2. listen to one of my heroes — group therapy expert Irvin Yalom — give a down-to-earth, soulful, and moving talk,
  3. participate in a “medicinal drumming” workshop, given by Sal Núñez from City College of San Francisco,
  4. go to a very interesting  panel discussion about “Group Psychotherapy Practice of the Future,”
  5. hear from one the  esteemed panelists afterwards — much to my surprise and delight — that she considers the therapy groups I’ve developed and facilitate  at a Boston hospital a “Practice of the Future” (and that she would have described my groups in her talk yesterday  if she’d had more time),
  6. get a free, stress-relieving 10-minute massage at the conference,
  7. see and talk to other group therapists I feel I’ve connected to in  authentic and important ways,
  8. use this incredibly cool app to easily drop off the car I drove to the conference  and then miraculously get it back when I was ready to leave San Francisco at 9:30 PM, and
  9.  discover and read this amazing blog post by esteemed and admired WordPress blogger Randall Collis.

Here’s the comment I left there, in response to Randall’s gorgeous words and images:

Randall, this story and your images are so beautiful and important to me, right now. Your post is the only thing that has cut through my negative thoughts and feelings about returning home tomorrow to Boston after my two weeks in sunny, warm California. Now I actually feel strong and hopeful about what lies ahead for me. Thank you for your spirit, creativity, and talent; you make our world better with your gifts.

Here’s the last sentence of Randall’s response to me:

Thank you very much Ann, nothing like a little creativity to turn bad into good.

I have to admit that I was feeling bad two night’s ago, about

  • returning to the cold, dark, and snow of my home town of Boston, Massachusetts and
  • health uncertainties and possibly scary recommendations from doctors about my heart, which I will surely face soon after my flight home today.

However, as Randall wrote, a little creativity can turn bad into good.

Here’s just a little photographic evidence of  bad-into-good creativity, from yesterday:

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Because of all the things I learned (or re-learned) yesterday, I hereby resolve to turn bad (New England weather, fears about my health, etc.) into good  (self-care,  in-the-moment acceptance and joy) by:

  • seeking out the sounds, sights, and places that sustain me (like the ocean, which — despite how cold and gray and snowy New England may be — is NEVER silenced),
  • asking for help, when I need it, from the people around me,
  • looking into a drumming class,
  • continuing to help myself and others let go of  old unhelpful messages and images from the past, and
  • facing my immediate future with hope, resiliency, and clear vision.

I hope I turned this morning’s post into something good (enough). Gotta go catch a plane back to Boston!

Before I go, here’s some good musical creativity for you (found here on YouTube):

Thanks to Irvin Yalom, Sal Núñez, all my esteemed colleagues at the group psychotherapy conference, Randall Collis, the massage guy, the local dudes who took care of my car yesterday, the Beach Boys,  everybody everywhere who has ever turned bad into good with a little creativity, and — of course! — special thanks to you, for turning things better for me today, with your visit here.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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