Posts Tagged With: Personalization

Day 1757: Don’t take it personally

Don’t take it personally, but I’m reusing a photo from two days ago to start off this blog post.

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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

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(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.

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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.

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Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 1606: Self conscious

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?”

self-con·scious
adjective
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?

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I don’t think cats are particularly self-conscious.

Here’s Ellen being self conscious:

I am conscious that I, myself,  love comments from my readers.

Conscious gratitude to all who helped me create this self-conscious post and to you — of course! — for being yourself, here and now.


Minutes after I published this post, I became conscious of today’s New York Times piece on being self conscious.

Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 1124: When somebody leaves the room

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
  • projected fears
  • cognitive distortions including mind-reading, personalization, and catastrophizing
  • generosity  and
  • countless other beautifully human reactions.

As I said, a week ago today, at a presentation about group work to the Massachusetts Psychological Association:

When I watch the news, I despair for the future of this planet.  When I sit in my therapy groups and observe human behavior, I have infinite hope and optimism.

Before you leave the room today, here are some photos I took yesterday, inside and outside of therapy rooms:

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What feelings and thoughts might you express, before you leave this WordPress room?

Thanks to all the human heroes who helped me write this post and to you — of course! — for visiting here, today.

 

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 652: Magical Thinking

Magical thinking

… is the attribution of causal relationships between actions and events which cannot be justified by reason and observation.

Wikipedia

… is a fundamental dimension of a child’s thinking.

… involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary

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

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  • 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.
  • Because I’ve been feeling “too good” and “too confident” lately about (1) work, (2) giving presentations, and (3) writing these posts, I’ve been wondering: WHAT AWFUL THING IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!
  • Because it’s getting darker and colder in these parts, I’ve been thinking: WHAT AWFUL THING IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!

Magical Thinking was a lively topic of discussion, over breakfast yesterday, for me and my friend Deb (who has made previous magical appearances in this blog, including here and here).

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In that second photo, Deb is telling me how she magically created a wine bottle in one of her glass-blowing classes!

When there were several problems with the service and the food at that restaurant yesterday, I had this passing thought, which I shared with Deb:

The server hates us!

Now, that is  definitely a great example of the cognitive distortions of Mind Reading and Personalization, but I’m not sure if it qualifies as magical thinking.

What are your magical thoughts on all this?

As you’re making your own magical connections, here are more photos I took, yesterday, with “magical thinking” dancing in my head:

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Do you have any magical thinking about what magical, musical number might appear — Poof! — in this post, right now ?

 

 

After several moments of magical thinking, I made up my mind to show you that YouTube video of The Lovin’ Spoonful performing “Do You Believe in Magic?” on Shindig! in 1965.

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:

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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.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 603: What I missed

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.

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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 …

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… who has made multiple recent appearances in this here blog ( here, here, here, here, and here).

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.

I shall now consult my handy-dandy list of cognitive distortions, to see who the culprits might have been.

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.

Aha! Here it is, on YouTube:

Wow!  In case you can’t watch that, Louis gave Ron credit for giving him his first shot as a comedian.

My association with that, in the moment, is a kind of cognitive distortion, too, namely …

Personalization

… because I can now imagine my son making a similar speech in the future (if he pursues comedy as a career).

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(this photo first appeared here, last week) 

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 …

  1. A “normal” childhood.
  2. 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

  1. Louis C.K.’s acceptance speech at the 2014 Emmys, which included a shout-out to Ron Lynch and
  2. 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

  1. 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:

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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.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 558: Nothing Personal

Here’s a  cognitive distortion that came up several times last week, in therapy groups and elsewhere:

Personalization.

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.

In Thursday evening’s group, we were discussing this distortion antidote:

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

nothing personal.

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:

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I made note of the title — “Nothing Personal” — and considered it blog-worthy.

Here‘s the Wikipedia entry for the old, familiar, and beloved album …

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… where that song lives.

As I listened to “Nothing Personal,” I thought about all the personal time I’ve spent, enjoying the music of the amazing jazz players on that album:

Michael Brecker

Jack DeJohnette

Charlie Haden

Kenny Kirkland

Pat Metheny

Whenever I listen to Michael Brecker play, I feel a tinge of sadness, because of the too-soon loss of that

quiet, gentle musician widely regarded as the most influential tenor saxophonist since John Coltrane

— Charles J Gan (Associate Press), quoted on Wikipedia

As I was driving home last night, I heard the news that Charlie Haden, also on that album, and

one of the most influential bassists in the history of jazz

— Nat Chinen (New York Times)

had died that day.

 

While this post may have started with “Nothing Personal,” it’s turned into something quite personal.

My small tribute to some who are missing, and still live on.

(“NIghtfall” with Charlie Haden,  Michael Brecker, and Brad Mehldau, found here on YouTube)

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.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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