Posts Tagged With: mind reading

Day 227: Pros and Cons of Returning Home (from Edinburgh)

Last night, my son and I arrived at Logan Airport in Boston, one hour later than expected, after flights from Edinburgh and London. Speaking for myself (which is always a good idea, I think), I was exhausted, done with flying (at least for the day), and relieved to be home safely.

In the grand tradition that I’ve established whilst blogging on vacation, I will try to write a short post before venturing out to enjoy what looks like a beautiful day in these local parts.

The structure for today’s post?  It’s a list of Pros and Cons (which many people find to be a helpful technique for decision-making and moving forward).

Returning Home to Boston from London and Edinburgh

(An Exceedingly Brief List of Pros and Cons)

Con (for returning home):  People in the Boston area, in comparison to people we’ve seen during the last week, seem a tad more conventional and a little less colorful.

I will illustrate this with some photos I took yesterday in Edinburgh, shortly before we left for the airport:

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However, as with any kind of judgmental comparison, my assumption here might be unhelpful and erroneous.

For example, some of the people in the photos above might actually BE from the Boston area.

Also, that last photo? That’s a troupe of people performing Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Assassins.”  As I told one of the troupe members yesterday, while I regretted that we had to miss their performance, we had just seen — within the last month — a wonderful production of that same musical.

Where?  In Watertown, MA.

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Pro (for returning home):  There are creatures here at home, who seem really glad that I’ve returned.

Here’s an example of just one of those creatures, right now:

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While this “Pro” might involve some mind reading on my part, I will end this post by speaking for myself, once more.

I’m really glad to see them, too.

Thanks to all the lovely and interesting creatures in Edinburgh and in the greater Boston area, to Stephen Sondheim, to my favorite kind of egg (whether it’s called “sunny-side up” or “fried”), and to you, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 224: Reasons why I shouldn’t spend too much time in our hotel room blogging this morning

Reason #1:  What’s outside the room.

Edinburgh and the Festival Fringe!

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Reason #2:  What’s inside the room.

This might be yet another example of the Cognitive Distortion of mind reading, but I think this creature, which I discovered in our hotel bathroom, is trying to tell me something:

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You may read something else into that expression, but I see this:

Ann!  Go out and enjoy Edinburgh, as soon as you can!

And who am I to argue with a purple duck?

Thanks for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 213: Transitions, Part 2

I am about to go out on a two-week vacation from work.

This is the first time, in perhaps decades, where I have taken that much time away from a current job. (I’ve taken two weeks between jobs, but that’s different.)

I have two more days to get things at work in “good enough” shape before I leave for two whole weeks.

My urge, when I woke up this morning, was to write about transitions.

Based on what I’ve been learning about myself this year (and, also, because of my good -enough memory), I was pretty sure that I had written about the topic of transitions before I went out on my most recent, one-week vacation three months ago (in May).

I checked The Blog Archives here and, sure enough, I wrote a post called, “Transitions,” the day before I left for vacation.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Maybe, this time around, I’m writing about the same topic a day earlier because (1) my vacation, this time, will be twice as long, (2) I’m wiser about how important transitions are, and/or (3) I’m wiser about how naming any source of anxiety can help relieve it, so why wait another day?

And, by the way, it helped me, today, to read that previous post about transitions, especially these resolutions, at the end:

  1. I will do the best I can today,

  2. I will not be perfect in doing all the things I am supposed to do to prepare for this transition, and

  3. I will be doing well for myself  (and for other people), if I can remember # 1 and #2.

So what else do I want to say, right now, that would be helpful for (1) me, definitely and (2) readers, perhaps?

These things:

  1. Transitions — and change, in general — can cause anxiety.
  2. Anxiety isn’t always a problem.  There is such a thing as “healthy anxiety,” which reflects excitement and hope.
  3. We can learn to let go of unhelpful thoughts (including cognitive distortions) which can increase anxiety, in painful way.
  4. The main unhelpful thought I would like to let go of today is: “I HAVE to take care of (fill in task) before I leave on vacation, or else people will feel (disappointed, disconnected, or otherwise dissed). (This seems to be an automatic combo-plate-of-mind-reading-and-fortune-telling thought of mine.)
  5. There is no fifth thing. Four things are enough, for now.

As is my wont whilst creating these blog posts, I would like to include an audio/visual aid (for the benefit of me, definitely, and my audience, perhaps).

Today’s presentation is ….two communities of creatures (observed last night, at a local pet store):

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And while those chinchillas and finches are stuck, for now, in less than ideal — and perhaps painful — ways of being, I’ve got to hope that (1) better days are ahead for them and (2) they appreciate having each other.

Thanks to creatures who are doing their best, everywhere (and you, for reading).

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Day 212: Confidence

Yesterday, I had my second annual review at work.

Last year, my first review helped me, big time. My anxiety about being at work went waaaay down. I let go of self-doubt, self-criticism, and all sorts of cognitive distortions, like Comparisons, Mind Reading, and Negative Filter :

Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).

This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation. For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”

It’s interesting that the example of negative filtering, above, is a work review. And here’s the deal: my first review had no negative comments. Not one.

So I really let in all that positive feedback and compliments last year. And it made a huge difference.

Essentially, that first review was a healthy, mega-dose of Reality Testing:

Reality testing. Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.

It was an antidote for my negative self-talk, fears, projections, and other unhelpful thoughts I was having about work.

This year’s review focused more on Ways I Could Improve. And there was a thing, or two, about that review which I could — if I chose — use as a negative filter. I could maximize the “negative” and minimize the huge number of positives that were there.

But I’m not. Instead, I am letting in all the amazing, positive comments I got, from people I respect, a lot.

And, again, it’s making a big difference.

I feel more alive, secure, and eager to go into work this morning. I feel confident that — no matter what challenges arise, no matter what mistakes I inevitably make — I will do a good enough job.

My passion and love for my work is unhindered, this morning, by any dread, guilt, or anxiety.

And nothing has changed, people, about my work situation.

The only thing that has changed is this: Today I know some beautiful details about how my work is appreciated.

Before I came to this job, I worked at a place where I also loved what I did. However, I received only a couple of formal reviews during the twelve years I was there. I still got positive feedback and encouragement from wonderful people, but I didn’t get that bracing mega-dose of appreciation…. until I left.

And those Goodbye Appreciations were, again, an incredible remedy for what ailed me.

Here is the point I want to make this morning:

Confidence helps.

While we may have fears of feeling too good (discussed here, here, and here), and while we might love and admire the quality of humility in others and in ourselves …

Confidence helps.

I know it helps me, in so many ways.

It helps me do a better job.

It helps reduce my anxiety.

It helps me express myself, more strongly.

It helps me feel more comfortable, exactly where I am.

And instead of feeling like I have to be a Kingpin to succeed, I feel more connected to my team:

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(Seen yesterday, as I walked away from a Good Day’s Work.)

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Thanks to my teams at work, to people whose work includes dressing up like giant objects like teeth or bowling pins, to yearly reviews, and to you.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 208: Another side of mind reading (empathy)

This post is dedicated to my ex-business-partner and not-ex-friend, Jonathan, whose birthday it is today!

I’ve written, in this blog, about the cognitive distortion of mind-reading:

Mind reading.  Without individuals saying so, we know what they are thinking and why they act the way they do. For example, you assume that somebody is having a critical thought about you, you don’t check this out, and this affects your actions and feelings towards them.

The more I work with people, the more I see cognitive distortions, like mind reading, that cause people pain and get in the way of them connecting with other people.

At the same time, the more I work with people, the more I think that distortions are a tough habit to break, because they are reflections of human thought processes necessary to our survival.

Why do we mind read so much?  Why do we think we know what other people are thinking, often for the negative?  (E.g., “this person doesn’t like me,” “this person means me harm, ” “I don’t trust this person,” “this person sees in me the things I dislike in myself.”

Why do we have thoughts, like that, so automatically?

Well, there ARE people out there who might be dangerous, and — for survival — it’s good to be vigilant, scanning the environment for those people, so we can protect ourselves and ours.

Likewise, we do other cognitive distortions — like fortune telling and catastrophizing — to be prepared for the future by expecting the worst. As a mode of survival.

Cognitive distortions. Distorted forms of thought processes that have been necessary for our survival.

In my work as a therapist, I encourage people to be mindful of cognitive distortions — those thoughts that don’t help them. At the same time, I also ask them to respect these distortions.

For example, in a therapy group this past week, I said to the members, when we were discussing a particular distortion, “These thoughts think they help us.”

When I said that, I mind-read immediately, thinking, “Nobody is going to understand what THAT means.” But instead, one of the members said, “Oh!  I get it!” And she wrote it down.  And when we ended the group, and named something we wanted to take with us, she named that (what I thought was a clunky, awkward, and unclear) phrase again, as the most helpful thing she got out of the group.

These thoughts think they help us.

And there is another side, of each of the cognitive distortions, that does help us.

For example, the other side of the distortion of mind reading is ….

Empathy.

Empathy is when we try to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. To imagine what it’s like to be them.

What’s the difference between the cognitive distortion of mind reading and empathy?

Empathy is expansive. Mind reading is restrictive.  Empathy takes into account difference and experiences that you might not have had; mind reading narrowly focuses on your own fears and assumptions. Empathy takes time and care; mind reading is instantaneous and automatic.

Yesterday, when I was walking to work, I was thinking of this blog and possible future posts.

And I thought of empathy, and two videos I could include in a post about that.

Video # 1

I’ve thought of including this piece of video in a blog post several times before (including earlier this week.)

It’s a scene from the end of the first show of “Six Feet Under, ” the HBO series created by Alan Ball,  about a Funeral Home family business.

I loved that show, because it centered on the human experience of death, in a way I hadn’t seen before on TV.

And the ending of that first episode was a revelation to me.

I’ve only seen that episode once, and it’s been over twelve years.  But that ending stays with me, and I think of it often.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to find that ending scene today, to include it here.

But I found something on YouTube, that I think will do nicely.  It’s a five-minute excerpt from that first episode, which includes (1)  the opening credits (which I also loved),  (2) a very short scene with Nate, the oldest son, and his mother, and (3) that ending scene, which has stayed with me, so strongly.

This YouTube video is dubbed in Spanish, which I don’t speak, but I love that, too. Why? Because there is very little dialogue (between Nate and his mother), and all the important things that happen are non verbal.

Especially that last scene, which has no dialogue at all.

Here’s some background that might be important to know for that last scene. What has proceeded it?  Nate, the main character, has come home to be with his family, after his father has died (after being hit by a bus) and realizes that he needs to stay and help take care of the family business, which is a funeral home.  He is pretty reluctant and pissed off about this.

One more thing about that last scene: the person he sees sitting on the bench and then boarding the bus is … his father.

The first time I saw that scene,  (especially the part after the father boards the bus), I felt amazed.

I wonder what you will see in it?  I’ve never shown it to anybody before, asking that question.

Here it is. I’m going to watch it again, pretending I’ve never seen it before, and see how I experience it:

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Here’s what I saw, again, in that last part (which was shorter than I remembered), which involves some mind-reading on my part. Here’s what I thought Nate was thinking, as he looked at those people who walk by him, after he sees his late father:

“All of these people are going to die. Every one.”

And when I first saw that scene,  I was amazed, because it captured an experience I’ve been having, since I was quite young. An experience I guess I felt alone with. The experience of  looking at people (and myself) and realizing the above.

What feelings do I have, in response to that realization?

Fear. (Although less of that, as I grow older.)

But also, incredible tenderness.

Which leads me to the other video I wanted to show you, today.

Video # 2

I saw this video, called “Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care,” very recently, at the hospital where I work.  It was created by The Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit U.S.  hospital, which sponsors conferences on “The Patient Experience”, including the “Empathy and Innovation Summit” coming up in 2014.

When I first saw this, I looked at it with a more “critical eye,”  because of my professional background. That is, before I became a therapist, I spent many years with my ex-business partner Jonathan creating marketing, PR, and other corporate videos.

Even with a critical eye, my eyes tear up when I watch this:

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Before I end this post, I have to reference Star Trek (The Original Series).  Here’s an image, from the 1968 episode called “The Empath.”

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That’s Gem, the Empath, who is being taught — for the survival of her species — to feel, share, and experience other people’s pain, despite her fear.

Thanks to Alan Ball, “Six Feet Under,” The Cleveland Clinic, Gene Roddenberry,  Star Trek, and all of you (evolving) empaths out there.

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

Day 195: Self care, wisdom, kindness

Yesterday, I had a Day of Narcissism.

That is, I got my hair cut and my nails done.

Before I left the house for all that, I wrote my daily blog post, on Personal Power, which included a worksheet I’ve used in group therapy.

I also use a Self Care Worksheet in the groups I do. Here are the questions on that worksheet, which I will answer right now:

Self Care Worksheet

Question:  What does self care mean to you?

Answer:  It means paying attention to my needs; treating myself kindly; getting good sleep, food, drink, and other sustenance; asking for help when I need it; and, sometimes, pampering myself!

Question: What are some examples of things you’ve done for self care?

Answer: Getting a massage, getting to bed early, drinking lots of water, calling a friend, getting my hair cut, getting my nails done.

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Question: What gets in the way of you doing self care?

Answer:  Not having enough time, putting other people’s needs over my needs, feeling like I don’t deserve it, labeling it as “narcissistic,” “self-centered” or “selfish” (especially when awful things are going on in the world).

Question:  How would you like to be, regarding self care?

Answer: Doing it whenever I can, without self-judgment.

Another aspect of  self care, for me, is spending time with people who are kind, as I’ve written about many times this year (for example, here, here, and here).  It’s also self care for me to spend time with people who are wise.

Yesterday, when I went to get my hair cut,  I got to spend time with Mia, who has appeared in, one way or another, in several of my posts. Mia inspired one of my personal favorite posts,  “Reasons why somebody hasn’t e-mailed you back yet.”  She has been a wonderful supporter of my writing.  She is also very kind and very wise. She struggles with some self-judgment, at times (as do I).

And she gives me fabulous haircuts.

I’m not seeing Mia, these days, as much as I used to. That’s because I recently stopped having her color my hair — I’m taking care of that department now.

And here’s one of the many things I love about Mia. When I showed up yesterday, at her hair salon (MiAlisa, in Watertown, MA), and she saw what I’d been doing coloring my own hair, she said, “I think it looks GREAT.”

I had done some “mind reading” (a cognitive distortion, listed here) about what Mia might think and say about this, I must confess.

I had thought that (1) My hair color might actually have looked pretty awful  (because I can never really tell what I look like to other people,  for oh so many reasons) and (2) Mia, for oh so many reasons, might suggest, in some way, that I re-consider having my hair professionally colored.

Nope!

I learned (or re-learned) a lot in my trip to Mia’s salon yesterday, including:

  1. I get anxious when I go to a hair salon. The anxiety has to do with (a) the fear that changing my hair might bump my looks into the realm of Not Good Enough  (I sometimes use harsher labels for this, which I’m not even going to write here) and (b) I feel weird, narcissistic, or otherwise self-judging when I do something like spending hours focusing on My Hair.
  2. Women who are very beautiful and cool (like Jessica, who works at Mia’s salon) have thoughts similar to the ones I expressed in #1, above. I know that, because I’ve heard this from lots of beautiful and cool women, plus I had a great talk with Jessica while she was washing my hair.
  3. I miss Mia, so much, when I don’t see her!!  Yesterday, I made sure I wrote down this affirmation she uses:

“I have enough, I do enough, and I am enough.”

Thanks, Mia, for all that, and so much more.

After I had my hair cut yesterday, I went to get a manicure and pedicure. I don’t get my nails done often — maybe three or four times a year.

I don’t know why I go so seldom, since I always feel better afterwards. Also, I have found a nail salon that I LOVE. It’s M T Nails in West Newton, MA.

This is the main reason I love going there:

The people who work there.

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That’s Lynh.

The very first time I went to M T Nails, Lynh (and the other people there) greeted me so warmly and kindly, I felt welcomed and at ease. (I get anxious when I go to nail salons, too) (especially new ones.) Every time I’ve been since, Lynh has  been just as welcoming, warm, and kind. Also, she ALWAYS remembers my name and details of previous conversations we’ve had, even when I walk in unexpectedly or when I haven’t been there for a LONG time.

Lynh is always gentle, with people’s feet and with their feelings.

Also, Lynh suggested the nail color shown on my toes, above.

I always feel better walking out of M T Salon than I felt when walking in.

And I always feel much better, walking out after I’ve seen Mia, than I felt walking in.

(I’ve heard people, at work, use that exact language describing other kinds of self care they’ve appreciated: feeling better walking out than  they felt walking in.)

Thanks to Lynh, Tina, and everybody else at M T Nails; to Mia, Jessica, and everybody else at MiAlisa Salon; and to you, of course, for reading today.

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

Day 188: Remembering, forgetting, and being hurt

I am helping to plan a High School Reunion, which is happening, in two weeks,  on an “off year.” (Meaning, an anniversary which is not a multiple of 5.)

Yesterday, I was talking to a classmate on the phone, whom I hadn’t spoken to for many years.

She asked me, “Is your mother still alive?”

I said that, no, both my parents had passed away.

She said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  When did your mother pass?”

And I said, “Wait.  I can never remember that. Hold on ….”

And my mind did that squirming-like-a-toad thing it does, when I can’t remember something I should know.

I said, “Geesh.  I don’t know why that happens to me.  I always have to think about it. Now, I know my father passed away in 1997, my son was born in 1998, and ….”

The year of my mother’s death still wasn’t coming to me, and I panicked a little, because I was thinking, “You should be able to think of that!  What is the matter with you?”

I explained, (assuming that my classmate most likely thought this memory lapse of mine was very weird), “There were so many things going on at that time: I got a big promotion, we moved to a different town …”

Then, I gave an estimate, “It was about 5 or 6 years ago, I think,” still feeling some shame about the not-remembering.

Now, as I’m writing this, in peace and contemplation, I should be able to figure out that date, pretty easily.

Here goes:  When my mother died, my son was going into 5th grade. He is now going into 10th grade. So it was 5 years ago that my mother passed away.  It was 2008.

Now, 2008 should also be an easy year to remember, because she was 90 years old at her death, and I completely remember the year of her birth: 1918.

I can’t forget the year of both my parents’ birth. That year is right there, in the top of my mind.

I think 1918 would be quite easy for me to remember, no matter what. Also, that Very Important Year of 1918 also got mentioned — a lot — in my home as I was growing up because of this:

IT WAS THE LAST TIME THE BOSTON RED SOX HAD WON THE WORLD SERIES.

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Boy, those Red Sox just couldn’t win (The World Series), for most of my life (and for most of the lives of most of the Red Sox fans in the world).

I confess this, too:  I have to pause and think about the year that Very Infamous Streak got broken. I THINK it was 2005.  I’ll go check (on Google) ….

Nope. I was wrong. It was 2004.

Now, Red Sox fans will probably think that’s incredible, that I couldn’t remember the year.  (And I was a big Red Sox fan, for many years.)

I have trouble with numbers. I guess. Maybe because they are details, shmetails. Maybe because I EXPECT to have trouble with numbers.

I’m not sure.  All I know is that certain dates escape me.

For example, I remember, once, I got my mother’s birthday wrong.  Her birthday was April 22. And I forgot it. For some reason, that year, I thought it was the 23rd.

And I remember the hurt look on her face.

Here’s her face without a hurt look on it (which is how she usually looked):

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(That’s a photo of my parents, copied on regular paper, that’s on the side of my refrigerator.)

I didn’t like hurting my mother,  but sometimes I did.

I still have a really strong reaction to hurting people. I can get very upset and worried if I think I’ve hurt — or might hurt —  somebody else’s feelings.

Being afraid of hurting somebody else’s feelings can paralyze me, sometimes. Make me afraid to act. Make me regret my actions, to an excessive degree. I can magnify the hurt I might cause and minimize other things.  (See here, if you want to read about the cognitive distortion of Magnifying/Minimizing) (and two other distortions relating to this post — Shoulds and Mind Reading.)

This is what I sometimes tell people in the therapy groups that I do, when I see that very human (and often quite beautiful, but painful) fear of hurting somebody else:

 Other people are not as fragile as you fear.  

Other people have said useful things to me about that Fear of Hurting Others, such as this:

 If we are connected and we care, we will inevitably hurt and be hurt.

That’s not an “official” quote, so I just went a-googlin’ (using “hurt quotes”) to find something similar.

And I found some interesting things:

“Of course I get hurt.” — Jackie Chan

Also, keeping with the Baseball Theme, here are two quotes that came up by Satchel Paige:

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”

“Airplanes may kill you. But they ain’t likely to hurt you.”

That last quote is helpful for me, right now, for another reason:  I’ll be flying in August, with my son, to London.  Flying is something else — besides hurting other people’s feelings — that I can get anxious about.

And here’s another number I have trouble remembering — not just the year, but the date of my mother’s passing. I had to look that up, just now, too.

August 12, 2008.

I’ll be in England — or Scotland — on the 5th anniversary of that date, with my son.

(Note that I have trouble remembering the exact dates of that trip,  too!  Geesh.)

Here’s how I’m going to wrap-up this post today.  Here’s what feels left unsaid, right now:

On August 11, 2008, my mother told people, while I was asleep, that she wanted to tell me something.  “I have something I need to tell Ann, ” she said.   I was with my mother for some times while she was dying, but I was not there for that. Or for the moment of her passing.

And I don’t know what she wanted to tell me.  Sometimes I wonder about it.  What was it? Was it something she wanted to warn me about?  (She worried about things, sometimes.) A feeling she wanted to express?  Did it have something to do with forgiveness? Something about hurt? Or maybe about love?

I just don’t know.  And it’s difficult not to mind-read, about what she wanted to say.

Here’s what helps me to remember, right now:

What we miss seems more important, sometimes, than what we get.

And it’s not.  It’s all important.

Thanks for reading today.

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

Day 163: Alone in the presence of others

When I orient a new person to my therapy groups, I do a 30-second speech about The Group Experience, which goes something like this:

One of the most healing things about working with a group is realizing that you are not alone in having certain thoughts and feelings. There will also be times when you’ll realize you’re the only one who has had your unique experience. When that happens, know that you are not alone with that, either.

Because I’ve been experiencing disappointment — in myself and in others — I’ve been feeling alone and isolated lately, even while surrounded by other people.

My thoughts have turned negative. Challenges and obstacles seem overwhelming.

I’m thinking:

Why bother? This is too hard. I’d like to think that what I’m doing and what I have to offer matters, but — ultimately — it doesn’t. People let me down. I let other people down. I’m tired of trying, with so few results. Other people seem to have it easier. Other people don’t really care. Even if they did care, they can’t help me in any real way.

I’m alone in this. And it feels like it’s too much for me.

When other people express thoughts like those to me, there are lots of ways I respond back.

Sometimes, I just listen.

Sometimes, I point out “cognitive distortions” in that kind of thinking (such as fortune telling, mind reading, comparisons, all-or-nothing thinking, etc.).

Sometimes, I reflect back how it makes sense that the person is feeling depleted, less hopeful, discouraged, and disappointed — because of stressful external realities as well as the person’s internal memories, assumptions, and experiences. (And I do have several stressful things I’m dealing with right now, including creating and presenting a new workshop this weekend at a conference for “experts”, which intimidates me.)

Sometimes, I just try to make it safe enough for the person to have all their feelings when they are in a difficult, darker place.

I guess that’s the best we can do, sometimes, for ourselves and others. And to know that even when we feel most alone, we are in the presence of others.

Thanks for being present today.

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Day 132: What I learned on my spring vacation.

This post is dedicated to my late mother and to my son.

What I learned on my spring vacation:

  1.  Take the time you need.

  2.  Trust in your natural impulses to heal, learn, and grow.

  3.  Pay attention to everything.

  4.  Choose next steps that will benefit you (and those you love).

  5.  Everybody makes mistakes, including your iPhone.

  6.  You get lots of chances to do it better the next time.

  7.  Everything is changing and growing (even if you can’t see it).

This reminds me of another Emo Philips joke:

I was walking down the street and I thought, ‘My gosh, that’s Jimmy Peterson. I haven’t seen him since 3rd grade!’

So I go up to him, slap  him on the back and say, “How are you doing, you old moron? You drunken reprobate!” And I knock him down, and he starts crying, “Mommy!  Mommy!”

And I realized:  Wait a second. If that’s Jimmy Peterson … he would have grown up too.

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  1.  You promote whatever you perceive — and acknowledge — in others.

  2.  Trust the wisdom of those who love you.

  3.  Embrace all your feelings — they will give you “juice.”

And last, but not least:

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  1.  If you’re going to assume  ….

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…  assume the best.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

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

Day 122: Progress Report

Here’s a list of some areas where I’ve been making some real progress:

1. Setting priorities.

I’ve been including taking care of myself as an important consideration, when I’m deciding on my next choice, next step,  or next decision (especially when I’m overwhelmed).

Also, I am letting go of some anxiety and fear of consequences when I’m making choices (for example, “If I make this decision, what if it’s the WRONG one?).  That  helps me think more clearly and make more balanced decisions.

2. Being present in the moment.

Letting go of anxiety regarding fear of consequences (see directly above) is helping with that, too. What’s also helping?  The fact that it is so friggin’ beautiful outside right now …

flowers2

… as Spring has sprung in  Boston.

3. Realizing I have “all the time I need.”  

This really helps me, when I’m overwhelmed. I’ve been having some trouble sleeping lately, so it  is especially helping  me to take my time, be careful, and think. I notice that when I take my time, I get as much done as when I’m rushing (and I make fewer mistakes).

4. Sleeping.

Yes, I see progress there, too. For example, I’ve been falling asleep more easily.  My sleep challenge, lately, has been waking up in the middle of the night, and having trouble getting back to sleep. Last night, though, I did some things differently.  When I woke up (probably around 4 AM), I:

  1. did NOT look at the clock,
  2. noticed my thoughts about what I might blog about today,  but let them go, and
  3. noticed my fears about possible disconnects with people, but let them go, and
  4.  noticed my guilt about things I haven’t gotten done, but let them go.

5. Writing.

Doing this daily blog has helped improve my writing.  Also, it’s helped me tell my story in a “better” (more healing, more clearly, more nuanced, more balanced) way.

6. Self-consciousness.

I’m not as concerned, lately, about what other people think, especially when I’m doing “weird” things, like walking down the street, listening to music and singing. What does “weird” mean to me?  Well, I don’t see too many other people walking and singing out loud.  However — here’s a thought — when I do see other people doing that — I like it!

What’s help me reduce self-consciousness?  Thoughts like that one I just had, above, plus:

  1. Letting go of mind-reading (I don’t know what other people are really thinking)
  2. Realizing that I am neither as important nor as unimportant as I fear (most people aren’t noticing)
  3. Realizing if my worst fear is true (that other people think I’m weird) … SO WHAT?

6. Mistakes.

When I realize that I’ve made a mistake, especially one  that might

  1.  cause a disconnect with somebody else or
  2.  “get me into trouble” (especially at work) ….

… I STILL get a sinking feeling and panic a little. But that panic has been passing more quickly.

Also, I’ve been able to say helpful things to myself quickly, such as

  1. “it’s probably not as bad as you fear,”
  2. “you can probably repair this”, or
  3.  (once a week or so) “SO WHAT?”

Okay, that’s the end of my progress report, for today.

In the therapy groups I do — if it’s appropriate, comfortable, and the group wants to do it — we applaud when somebody reports progress (or doing something new).

applause, please

Are there areas for improvement?  Oh my goodness, yes.  And, originally, when I first start writing this post, I wanted to highlight those.  However, since that list would include

  1. giving myself more credit for what I am doing (rather than focusing on what I’m NOT doing) and
  2. feeling good about my accomplishments (without thinking I’m being too self-absorbed or conceited),

I’m going to bring this post to an end.

If  you want to read more about cognitive distortions, like mind-reading, check this out.

If you want more information about ways to challenge these distortions (including the “So what?” method), see here.

And, as always, thanks for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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