Yesterday, my non-betraying and non-bewildering life-long friend Barbara and I kept using the phrase “betrayed, bewildered” while we were discussing many bewildering interactions we’d had with other people in which we felt betrayed. The reality is that many interpersonal interactions are bewildering and seeing them as a betrayal doesn’t help — when we do that we are personalizing the situation. People are going to be themselves no matter what you do and it doesn’t help to expect “you” from them.
What did help Barbara and me yesterday was to realize we were not alone in feeling betrayed, bewildered and to laugh together about all those interactions that had us temporarily feeling bewildered and betrayed before reaching a level of acceptance and peace.
I hope you don’t feel betrayed, bewildered by my run-on sentences or any of my other images for today.
Don’t take it personally, but I’m reusing a photo from two days ago to start off this blog post.
Don’t take it personally, but I’ve personally blogged about personalization — the cognitive distortion of taking things too personally — several times before (including here, here, and here).
Yesterday, my niece Laura
(on the left, next to her daughter Victoria) told me that people might take it personally when I recently blogged about a get-together at my place next weekend, because I hadn’t invited them. I told Laura, “Don’t take it personally. That’s a gathering for a professional organization of group therapists.”
I hope Laura and Victoria don’t take it personally that I didn’t take a better picture of them yesterday.
Don’t take it personally that I personally took all these photos yesterday and you’re not in any of them.
Actually, don’t take it personally that I said you weren’t in any of those photos and you are, because you’re my ex-sister-in-law Deborah (who appears in several portraits above and who designed and built another beautiful home for sale), Cher, Audrey who works at Pet Life, or Harley the cat.
Don’t take it personally that I have to rush and finish this post before I go to work.
Don’t take it personally that I’m using Michael Brecker’s tune “Nothing Personal” again in this blog.
Please take it personally that I’m thanking everybody who helps me create these blog posts and — of course! — YOU.
I am very conscious that many selves have shared being self conscious this week, in individual and group therapy.
Yourself, are you conscious of the meaning of “self conscious?”
feeling undue awareness of oneself, one’s appearance, or one’s actions.
“I feel a bit self-conscious parking my scruffy old car”
synonyms: embarrassed, uncomfortable, uneasy, nervous
Why do so many selves feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, uneasy, and nervous about awareness of oneself? This week, self conscious people described pain, mind reading, personalization, paranoia, projection, isolation, and a drastic restriction of activities. This self is conscious of a wish that consciousness of self could lead to self-confidence and self-worth, not self-judgment.
Should I feel self conscious about today’s photos?
I don’t think cats are particularly self-conscious.
Recently, at a therapy group of people who had all never met each other before, somebody left the room and stayed away for quite a while.
I noticed the absence. The other members of the group didn’t seem to, as they talked about everything but the missing person. However, because of my experience with groups, I knew that everybody was as aware of the absence as I was.
Sure enough, when I invited feelings and thoughts about that — simply by asking “Is anybody having any reactions to ___ leaving the room?” — that triggered an outpouring of thoughts and feelings, including worry, concern, projection (“___ looked very upset”), personalization (“I figured it was something about me”), and wishes that I would do something (“Maybe you should go after them and see if they’re okay!”). However, I know enough about group work NOT to leave the room, no matter what people’s worries and concerns are.
While people were talking about the person who had left the room, the door opened and that person came back in, bearing bags of food for the rest of the group. Why? Because several people had mentioned earlier in the group session that they were feeling hungry.
No matter how many times I’ve facilitated groups, I continue to be amazed at what happens there, including
unexpressed thoughts and feelings
people’s willingness to share, if they feel safe enough
Here‘s what psychologytoday.com says about Magical Thinking:
Think you don’t believe in magic? Think again. Our brains are designed to pick up on patterns: Making connections helped our ancestors survive. You’re not crazy if you’re fond of jinxes, lucky charms, premonitions, wish fulfillment, or karma. You’re just human.
I’ve got some recent examples of magical thinking by
, in The Years(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally:
I wrote, two days ago, that I was not afraid of Ebola. Poof! The same day, the media reported a possible case of Ebola in Boston (where I live and work), too close for comfort.
I bought a portable drive to relieve storage problems (mostly for photos I’ve taken for this blog). Poof! Installing the drive took up too much space and screwed up several things on my laptop. The magical thinking here: Whenever I try to make things better, I actually make things worse. (By the way, that drive has gone Poof! back to the store.)
Because I wish to be Freshly Pressed here on WordPress, (Poof!) I won’t be.
Did you have any wishes that a different song about magic might have appeared here, instead?
Before I — poof! — magically transport myself back to work, I wish to share a dream I had last night.
I dreamed that, in various ways, my health kept deteriorating, until I was bedridden. Thank goodness, I do NOT consider myself psychic. When I have a dream, I don’t think, “That is now going to come true.”
I am thinking, though, why that dream might have magically appeared. I’m reading this extremely compelling, well-written, heart-rending, thoughtful, soulful, and otherwise admirable memoir by a fellow WordPress blogger, Charles Gulotta:
I think The Long Hall is magic, in this sense of that word:
special power, influence, or skill
Many thanks to Charles, to Deb, to winged fairies and black cats, to The Lovin’ Spoonful, and — of course! — to all you magical thinkers out there.
Last night, I missed a segment of the Emmy awards on TV. After I turned off the TV to spend some time with my son, Aaron, and my boyfriend, Michael, a comedian I admire, Louis C.K., won an Emmy for best comedy writing.
I found the photo, above, through Google images (which tells me it resides here) and chose it because I think it relates to my post, yesterday.
I found out, after the awards show was over, that Louis C.K., in his acceptance speech, had thanked another comedian I admire, Ron Lynch …
I was very glad to find out, through Ron’s Facebook Page, that he had gotten that recognition last night. At the same time, I had this familiar and uncomfortable thought:
I missed out.
I had missed out on the chance to experience, with my son, Louis C.K. giving credit to Ron.
Last night, as I tried to find out what exactly Louis C.K. had said about Ron, I kept thinking about What Might Have Been. I kept imagining what fun Aaron and I might have had, if we had heard that speech as it was happening.
Those thoughts didn’t feel great, I must say. And these days, whenever I’m feeling that kind of psychological discomfort, I check out some usual suspects: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s line-up of cognitive distortions.
Hmmm. It looks like I was experiencing more than one cognitive distortion last night, including:
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.
Comparisons. We compare ourselves to others, with ourselves coming out short. For example, “I’m not as smart (or good, competent, good-looking, lovable, etc.) as that other person.” Or, we compare ourselves to how we think we should be, or how we’ve been before. (Or, in this case, we compare reality to what we think would have been better.)
Shoulds. We have ironclad rules about the behaviors of ourselves and other people. For example, “I really should exercise. I shouldn’t be so lazy.” (In this case, “I shouldn’t have turned off the TV.”)
Yep. Those kinds of thoughts didn’t help, at all.
As I’m writing this, I’m still wondering what Louis C.K. said about Ron. There was no video of that missed moment available last night, but I wonder if that’s changed, this morning.
Minds are funny things, aren’t they? They wander everywhere: into the future, into the past, into What Might Have Been, etc.
Last night, when I was thinking about “What I missed,” I had some trouble sleeping, so I wrote the following, in preparation for today’s blog post:
The reality is that no matter what we’re doing, experiencing, paying attention to, focusing on … we have to be missing something. There’s just too much going on, out there, to take it all in.
Yes, it’s a given that we will miss things, even if we try our best not to.
And I don’t want to miss expressing this: the things we miss aren’t actually more important than the things we catch (even though they can feel that way).
Does it help to acknowledge important things you’ve missed out on?
I actually don’t know if this is going to help, but I would like to list some things I’ve missed out on, in my life.
Here we go …
A “normal” childhood.
A magna cum laude, which I deserved, from my undergraduate university (a story which I will tell, in some future post).
Hmmm. That’s a pretty short list I just put together, there.
That actually surprises me, because I’m sure there are lots of misses missing from that list. For example, I didn’t include “a boyfriend during junior high and/or high school” in that list of misses.
Actually, I could even remove #1 from that list because, really … WHO has a normal childhood? What the hell IS a normal childhood? Coming up with a definition for THAT would be hit-or-miss. And pretty meaningless.
So I’m going to rewrite that list, like so:
Things I’ve Missed
Louis C.K.’s acceptance speech at the 2014 Emmys, which included a shout-out to Ron Lynch and
a Magna Cum Laude, which I deserved, from my undergraduate college.
Actually, now that I think of it … what good would that Magna Cum Laude have done me? It probably would NOT have changed a thing. Who cares? It’s not like that’s something I would carry around in my wallet or put on my mantle piece. And even if I did, who would want to see it?
Okay, so now the list is …
Things I’ve Missed
Louis C.K.’s acceptance speech at the 2014 Emmy’s which included a shout-out to Ron Lynch.
And I can probably watch that speech on YouTube, within the next couple of days.
Looks like at least one of my thoughts, last night, was correct.
Anything else I’ve missed, in this post? Well, if I were paying attention to what I wrote here, the answer might be:
Of course I missed something, but that’s okay.
And I still have time, before I publish this, to include something that feels “missing” to me: a new photo I’ve taken recently. Let’s see if I have anything on my iPhone that applies to today’s topic.
Hmmm. I’m not sure. But here are some new photos I’ve taken since I’ve returned home to Boston, after five fun-filled days at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe:
Does it seem like I’m missing anything?
Thanks to Aaron, Michael, Louis C.K., Ron Lynch, and you — of course! — for everything you missed AND everything you got here, today.
You see yourself as the cause of some negative event for which you are not primarily responsible, and you conclude that what happened was your fault or reflects your inadequacy. Personalization distorts other people’s reactions into a direct, personal response to you. For example, if somebody seems upset, you immediately assume it was because of something you said or did.
Use Helpful Reminders. Use helpful phrases to challenge habitual distortions. For example, for mind-reading or fortune telling, remind yourself “I’m not psychic.” Make a list of other phrases that help you, such as “I am doing the best I can,” “One step at a time,” etc. Consider sticking these reminders where you can see them.
One of the group participants said he’s put up this helpful reminder, where he works:
It’s not personal. It’s just business.
and he’s looked at that, thousands of times.
Personally, I too find it helpful to remember, over and over again, that most things are NOT personal. It also helps me to realize that human beings are built to take things personally. So, it takes constant practice to think, when other people do (or NOT do) things, that it’s
If you’re wondering if something IS personal, there’s always this antidote, too:
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
Yesterday, as I was walking to work, thinking about what I had learned during the week, this old friend of a tune showed up in my earphones:
Thanks to giant Charlie Haden, to gentle Michael Brecker, to group therapy (of all kinds), to every talented human being (alive or gone) who contributed to this post, and to you, personally, for participating here, today.