I don’t feel bad that I’m going to recount something that happened three days ago, for which I have no accompanying photos.
When I took the train to New York on Saturday morning, I felt bad that I couldn’t lift my bag into the overhead compartment. I immediately told myself “Don’t feel bad” and I asked the gentleman sitting next to me if he could help. He was happy to help and I didn’t feel bad about that, although I felt the need to explain that I couldn’t lift my own bag because I had torn my rotator cuff. I feel bad that I still feel the need to offer excuses for myself.
At the next stop, a woman boarded and sat in the seat across the aisle from me. I noticed she didn’t put her bag up in the overhead compartment. She looked like she felt bad about holding on to that bag, but I feel bad whenever I assume or mind read what’s going on with somebody else, so I waited to see what would happen. When the conductor came by, she asked him to put her bag away for her.
I didn’t feel bad initiating this conversation with her:
Me: I can relate. I needed help with that too.
She: I feel bad that I had to ask him.
Me: No! That’s nothing to feel bad about.
She: It’s embarrassing.
Me: Please try to let go of that. I know what I’m talking about. I’m a psychotherapist.
She: I’ll try.
Me: Look, while you’re feeling bad about that, people are doing terrible things that they’re not feeling bad about.
She: That’s true.
Me: Please don’t feel bad.
And because I didn’t want her to feel bad that a stranger was talking to her, I smiled and went back to reading my book.
I don’t feel bad
about that encounter,
that I can’t find my iPhone right now,
that I can’t share any new photos with you because of #2, above, and
about sharing old photos in this post.
Don’t feel bad if you ever have the erroneous thought that nobody loves you. You’re not alone in that thought and thinking it does not make it true.
I don’t feel bad that I feel fine about being on vacation all this week.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t think of anything to say about today’s post. I don’t feel bad asking you to leave a comment anyway.
I don’t feel bad that I can’t share all the gratitude photos I took yesterday, because tomorrow is another day.
Yesterday, it was surprising to me that somebody described me as “surprising” during a group therapy exercise.
I’ve been surprising people with group therapy exercises for a surprising number of years. Because yesterday’s group therapy exercise was new to all the participants, they found it surprising how useful and moving it was.
I shall now explain, in surprising detail, yesterday’s group therapy exercise:
People wrote down, on a single sheet sheet of paper, negative and unhelpful beliefs about themselves, which they’ve been carrying around for a surprising long time. (See here for a definition of “labeling” — a surprisingly common and toxic cognitive distortion.)
It was surprising to me how many of us wrote down the words “weird” and “stupid” for this part of the exercise.
People shared their negative self-talk with others in the group, who found it surprising how harshly the other members judged themselves.
The group participants ripped up and threw away, in the trash, their negative descriptions, surprising themselves with how great that felt.
Without any instruction from me, surprising and strong applause greeted every trashing of old, negative self-talk.
It was probably surprising to the participants when I next instructed them to write down positive descriptions of themselves and/or others in the group.
It’s not surprising to me that people find it much easier to write down positive descriptions of other people than to write down positive descriptions of themselves.
It was surprising to every group member how many positive things others wrote about them.
I hope it’s not surprising that I will gladly clarify any aspect of that exercise, if you wish.
Here are some surprising images I captured after yesterday morning’s surprising group therapy session:
Which of those are most surprising to you?
Here’s my final thought about “surprising”: It’s not surprising to me that surprising and wonderful changes can occur when people are surprised by more positive images of themselves.
Surprising thanks to all the surprising people, cats, and dogs that helped me create today’s surprising post and special thanks to you — surprise! — for reading it.
Okay, I had NO idea THAT would be the title of today’s blog post. But there it was, flowing from the tips of my fingers, unexpectedly.
I had lots of other possible titles in mind, as I typed the title of today’s post, but that one just appeared, like magic.
I’ll tell you what I DID know, about today’s blog post. I knew it would relate to what I’m doing today: giving a presentation about my therapy groups to people I don’t know.
Last week, to help myself prepare for today’s presentation, I wrote this here post, about saying “SHUT UP!” to unhelpful, self-critical thoughts. Unhelpful, self-critical thoughts tend to rush in when I’m doing something new, when I’m taking a risk, when I’m doing something that scares me. Am I alone in that? (I know I’m not.)
So why the title of today’s post? Because I’ve definitely known the joy of facing and doing something that scares me, including these experiences:
Living away from home, for the first time, when I went away to college.
Traveling across the U.S. by bus, and seeing my country for the first time.
Leaving my country for the first time, to spend two weeks in Mexico.
Teaching a course, in Communications, to a bunch of college freshmen.
Giving a lecture, about my love of movies, to a giant room of people.
Performing my own stand-up comedy routine, at an Open Mic night.
Planning and giving myself a 60th birthday party.
For each of those, joy was there, but so was fear. And part of the preparation, for everything on that list, included negative self-talk — doubts about myself and my capabilities.
When I’ve done presentations before about my therapy groups — and I’ve done several over the past two years — joy, fear, and negative self-talk have all been there, too.
As I’ve said to my boyfriend Michael, I seem to always include an “I SUCK!” step, when preparing for things that scare me. I’ve said, “I wish I could skip that step! But maybe I can’t. Maybe I believe that step helps me prepare.”
You know what? I skipped that step entirely, this week, thanks to my own SHUT UP! blog post.
Part of me still believes the “I SUCK!” step is a necessary part of preparing and giving a good presentation. But I’m not listening to that, either. The movie-quoted SHUT UPs, from last week’s post, are still ringing in my ears.
Here they are again, just in case anybody needs them today:
But what about the possibility that my old belief is correct: that I HAVE to go through the “I SUCK!” step, in order to do a good job?
TIme will tell, my dear readers, and very soon.
Let’s see if I can find an image, quickly, to end this post, so I can prepare for my presentation.
Here are the two most recent photos on my iPhone:
Those are meals Michael prepared for me and my son, this week, and they included things he had never done before.
I sure hope he skipped the “I SUCK!” step. Because those meals were DELICIOUS.
Thanks to mewlists.com (again, for the video), to Michael, and to all my readers, who definitely do NOT suck, even when doing something new or scary.