Posts Tagged With: psychotherapy

Day 1018: More positions

Four day ago, I wrote a post called “Positions” in which I took a negative position about being positioned next to medical machines at night. As I positioned in that post, my negative position about medical machines is positioned by (1) past experiences  when I was a child positioned next to cardiac monitors in the hospital and (2) recent experiences positioned next to CPAP and BiPAP machines for sleep apnea.

If you position your cursor to read that previous “Positions” post, you’ll discover the position that my being positioned in a side position is a good-enough treatment for my positional sleep apnea. WordPress reader Maureen was kind and helpful enough to position a comment after that post,  suggesting that I position a side-positioning  pillow next to me.

Because I respect my readers’ positions, I ordered and received one of those pillows yesterday. I’m glad I’m in a position, through this blog, to thank Maureen for her help in positioning me for a better night’s sleep.

Thanks, Maureen!

Yesterday, Chris  — who has been positioned before in posts including this one and this one (and who is usually positioned in the Bay Area of California ) — got into this position very close to where I hold a position as a group therapist:

IMG_5945

Now, you might position an assumption that I asked Chris to take that position, in order to position today’s post. Actually, Chris assumed that side-plank position (also known as the yoga Vasisthasana position) on his own.  He took that position spontaneously as I positioned him in front of some chrysanthemums to take that photo.   Chris takes the position that mums position themselves everywhere in New England during the fall, so we both wanted to position Chris with mums in the picture.

While I was in the position of teacher and Chris was in the position of student when we first met at Boston University in the 1980s, I am now in a position to learn from Chris. Yesterday, he taught me  that “asana” means “position” (or “how you sit”) in yoga.

Also, both Chris and I positioned a pun as a possible caption to that photo of him, positioned above. What caption might you position there?  I’ll position our pun, later, in a comment positioned below this post.

After I saw Chris, I positioned myself, several times, to take more photos. During the afternoon, the Pat Metheny tune “Afternoon” (which has already been positioned in this previous post) positioned itself in my earphones.

IMG_5947

IMG_5948 IMG_5949IMG_5950 IMG_5951 IMG_5952 IMG_5953 IMG_5954 IMG_5955 IMG_5956IMG_5957

After I took that last photo (which shows a position I share with William James), I positioned myself in a room with my EMDR therapist, George, to discuss repositioning my present reactions to old and difficult experiences (especially those I had when positioned in the hospital as a little girl). EMDR  (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy uses  lights to position your eyes, with a machine like this:

es2oldrx

While we didn’t use that eye-positioning machine in yesterday’s EMDR session,  here’s an important position George and I discussed:

Sometimes it’s difficult for people  (especially women)  to be in a position to connect with their personal power. I am positioning myself — through therapy, this blog, and the work that I do — to discover, own, develop, and position what power I have.

What position might you take about any position taken in this post?  I hope you know where you can position a comment.

I can’t position enough thanks here for Maureen, Chris, George, Pat Metheny, and all the other people — including you! — who position themselves along my personal journey of discovery and growth.

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

Day 1006: It Takes Two

It took two earbuds, yesterday morning, to deliver to my two ears a great Stephen Sondheim song — “It Takes Two.”

It takes two exceptional actor/singers — Chip Zien and Joanna Gleason — from the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s Into the Woods to sing “It Takes Two” in that YouTube video.

It takes two things very dear to my heart — seen on October 2 — to create the first  “It Takes Two” image of today’s post:

It takes two happy moments for me to tell you that’s my wonderful friend  (and ex-co-worker) Mary next to my new yellow car.

It takes two — I and my iPhone camera — to notice and capture pictures I think relate to my blog posts, every day.


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

As I’m typing this post with my two hands, it takes about two moments for me to come up with more than two associations for “It Takes Two.”

  • It takes two parents to help our son Aaron negotiate the college application process, so I’ve asked Aaron’s father, Leon, to meet with us today after 2 PM, to discuss all that.
  • It takes two days for me to come up with all the wonderful things I can say about my son Aaron, so I’m probably going to spend two hours today at the keyboard creating a “Parent Brag Sheet for College Recommendations.”
  • It takes two people, or more,  in a therapy office to come up with effective ideas for dealing with anxiety, depression, and many other challenges to people’s mental health.
  • It takes two cardiologists — Drs. Deeb Salem and Mark Estes — to give me the level of care I need for my very unusual heart.
  • It takes two doctors — my Primary Care Physician and a sleep specialist — to help me figure out how the heck to treat my mild sleep apnea.
  • It takes two sleep machines for me to conclude that I really dislike wearing a medical machine at night.
  • It takes approximately two minutes for me to attempt to explain why I dislike wearing medical machines at night. That experience is way too close to too many memories I have of being attached to medical machines before the age of 12, when it took two parents to take me and leave me at Children’s Hospital to receive more than two pacemakers between the ages of 10 and 12,  to keep me alive.
  •  It takes two months to reschedule an appointment with the sleep specialist at Tufts Medical Center, so I’m too grateful that I’m finally seeing seeing him, in not too much more than 2 x 2 days.
  • It took two tickets to Boston’s Symphony Hall last night to get me and my boyfriend Michael in to see Mozart’s Requiem  — which I sang 2 x 2 decades ago with the MIT Chorus.  Musical scholars think it took two people to write Mozart’s RequiemMozart and Franz Sussmayr to complete it after Mozart’s untimely death at age 35.

It takes two people (at least) to create a legitimate Wikipedia page, and it takes two sentences from the Wikipedia entry about Mozart’s Requiem to show that it takes two of several different instruments to play the Requiem:

The Requiem is scored for 2 basset horns in F, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (alto, tenor & bass), timpani (2 drums), violins, viola and basso continuo (cello, double bass, and organ). The vocal forces include soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass soloists and an SATB mixed choir.

When I sang the Requiem with the MIT Chorus  two years after I had graduated from a college not too far from MIT,  I was an “S” in the SATB (Soprano Alto Tenor Bass) mixed chorus.

Yesterday, it took two people to have this conversation about the Requiem:

Me: Perhaps the best music ever written — Mozart’s Requiem — is playing at Symphony Hall tonight.  Do you want to go?

Michael (after a pause):  Sure, baby.

It takes two words from my boyfriend to make me really, really happy, sometimes.

It takes two seconds for me to decide to share this part of the Requiem (which everybody agrees was written only by Mozart).

It apparently takes two musical numbers for me to successfully complete this post.

It takes way more than two people to help me create every post I write here. Thanks to all of them and to you — of course! — for taking the time to read this.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 831: How do you tell the story?

I am starting my story today with the last picture I took yesterday, in my office.

I wrote that in a therapy session, where somebody  was  telling a personal story with paralyzingly harsh self-judgment  and hopelessness about the future.

I have witnessed, many times, how people can get stuck in negative stories about themselves, ignoring  positive exceptions and different perspectives.

Yesterday, I encouraged that person in therapy to

  • let go of an overwhelming and crippling sense of personal failure,
  • to  see themselves as the hero of their own story, and
  • to allow for the possibility of hope and change.

And by the end of the session, there were some glimmers of hope about the future.

How are you telling your own story these days, to yourself and to others? Are you the hero of your own story? I hope so, because who else could possibly play that role, in The Story of You?

How might I tell the story of the photos I took yesterday, presented here in chronological order?

  

        

    

  

    

Each of us could tell the story of those pictures in many different ways — depending upon what we notice and the history and assumptions we bring to those images.

I’ll tell you my story of this photo:

Everybody is self centered. The difference is the size of the radius.

And here’s my story about these two:

I have no idea how those photos got on my iPhone.

As I often see in clients (and in myself, too), negative stories tend to stick, leaving less room for the positive ones.

For example, 10 days ago, a cardiologist told a doom-filled, scarily negative story to me, about me, my health, and my future, even though he had just met me and had no medical tests on hand about my very unusual heart.  Ever since that very upsetting encounter,  I’ve  been trying to get that negative story out of my head, by telling parts of it here and elsewhere.

Retelling a story sometimes includes rewriting new dialogue. For instance, since I was too shocked to respond to that cardiologist telling me that —  if I didn’t have  valve surgery  as soon as possible — I would “die a miserable death, ” I am now wishing I had changed that story by replying:

Well, at least I am not living your miserable life.

I don’t know if that’s the best way to tell that story, but I am hoping that telling and re-telling the story of that miserable doctor’s visit — with or without new dialogue — will help me let that story go.

Based on the advice of several people I respect,  I am seriously considering telling the full story of my awful meeting with that doctor to the appropriate hospital authorities.  My main reasons for doing that would be

  1. to prevent other people from telling an upsetting story about encountering this doctor in the future and
  2. to help put that anxiety-provoking story behind me, as I prepare for a less invasive surgery on May 4th and allow room for the more hopeful and complete stories my long-time doctors are telling about my unusual, story-telling  heart.

What will I do in the future, with that upsetting doctor story? I am in the process of figuring out what will benefit me and my personal story, going forward. In other words, the ending of that  story hasn’t been written, yet.

Speaking of ending a story, what musical story should I include, now?

Bette Midler tells an amazing story, doesn’t she?

Many thanks to Bette Midler and to all who help me tell my story in a hopeful and healthy way, and special thanks to you — of course!– for reading my story, today.

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

Day 235: Disappointed

This post is dedicated to one of my childhood heroes — Carl Yastrzemski — whose birthday is today.

Yes, I confess.

I woke up this morning and was aware of the feeling of ….

Disappointment.

Disappointment is a human emotion that I love to invite from people in individual and group therapy, but which I often judge in myself.

That’s another rampant epidemic I see in my work: that double-standard of accepting in others what we might judge or disown in ourselves.

Here are some random thoughts, this morning, about disappointment:

  1. Disappointment, like anger, might be a signal of not getting needs met.
  2. Disappointment might indicate an investment in some outcome.
  3. Here’s a movie-moment from one of my favorite actors:

.

What helped me, in dealing with disappointment this morning?

I read and liked some posts from other bloggers — some familiar and some new to me –including talktodiana, Mostly Bright Ideas, Awakening to Your Story, findingmyinnercourage, A Year of Rejoicing, Shekhina, morristownmemos, and Whimsical Eclecticist.

By the way, I recently tried to add some new “widgets” to my blog, including one that displays posts I’ve recently liked, and these New Things, so far, have not worked exactly the way I expected or wanted.

So what else is new?

Or, to repeat:

.

Anyway, something else that helped, this morning: I followed through with a “commitment” I had made, earlier this year in this blog, to pay bills when they first come in (rather than procrastinating).

And while I didn’t pay a certain bill immediately when it came in, I did pay it, this morning, much earlier than usual.

That’s worth celebrating, don’t you think?

Yay!!!

Okay! So far, this blog post has included some tried-and-true Ways To Move Forward:

  1. Identifying a feeling (or thought).
  2. Accepting (and perhaps venting) that.
  3. Realizing that I am not alone in experiencing this.
  4. Seeing this as a possible gift or opportunity.
  5. Throwing in some quote (movie clip, comedian, poem, etc.) I really like.
  6. Giving credit to others.
  7. Giving credit to myself.

Before I end this post, I’ll just include one other Blogging Element I’ve enjoyed using this year: doing a random “spin” in Google Images to see what comes up.

Here are some images I found, doing a Google-Images Spin on “disappointed”:

Image

(above posted by yet another blogger!! — thehonestone)

.

Image

Image

.

Anyway, time to end this post, for the day.

Thanks to Kevin Kline, “A Fish Called Wanda,” Yaz, bloggers familiar and new, disappointments familiar and new, and (but of course) to you, for reading today.

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

Day 118: We really don’t know how we affect other people

About a year ago, I finally got up the courage, for the first time, to start writing a book,. (See this blog post for some thoughts about “The P-Word” —  procrastination.)

I started this blog, on 1/1/13,  as way to move forward with that book. During my first days of blogging — and overcoming my natural insecurity of doing something new — I sometimes “went to the well” of what I had already written: the draft of my book.

And when I posted chapters of the book (here, here, here, and here), I got good feedback and comments.

But I’ve resisted quoting chapters from this book,  for the most part, as I’ve continued blogging.

Why?

Because I wrote that stuff last year, people!  And I feel like I’ve been learning so much, every day since then — writing these posts, doing my work,  meeting new people, having new conversations with friends, thinking new thoughts  — that I assume that what I wrote months ago is now “out-moded.”

Also, I usually wake up in the morning wanting to write about what feels relevant “in the moment,” as a way to help me deal with whatever is facing me that day.

Also (I confess),  I can be very self-critical.  I often have fears of reading what I’ve written before, because I know that my inner critic — my internalized judgment — might be present, and I don’t want to hear what that critic has to say.

My worst fear is this: if that harsh, inner critic is present when I re-read what I’ve written before, I might stop writing.

And I want to keep writing.

So I’ve resisted reading what I’ve written before — in my book and in these blog posts.

At the same time, writing these blog posts has been helping to quiet down my inner critic.  Which has been wonderful.  So I’ve gotten up the courage, every once in a while, to re-read previous blog posts and look at chapters I’ve written for the book.  I’ve looked at something  I’ve created and said, “It was good (enough).”

So what does this post —  that I’m writing now — have to do with the friggin’ title?  You know, that title you read, a while ago:  “We really don’t know how we affect other people.”

Here’s the deal:  I wrote a chapter, for the book, with that title. And I woke up this morning thinking about that topic.

And I’ve decided that I’d like to share the draft of that chapter, here, today.

So, here it is, ladies and gentlemen ….

 

We Really Don’t Know How We Affect Other People

(Draft of Chapter #? from AFOG: Another F***ing Opportunity for Growth)

 by Ann Koplow

When I am supervising and teaching social work students, here’s one of the (perhaps more annoying) things I might say to them:

“While you are working with people,  you may offer an insight, analysis, or other intervention that you just know is brilliant — that encompasses everything you know about this work.  But that comment — while it shows creativity, empathy, and skill — may not be the game changer you hope it is.  On the other hand, you will say or do things you barely notice which  have a major impact on somebody’s healing. We just don’t know.”

I don’t know how that speech affects my students.  But here’s an example from my experience.

One day, many years ago,  I was talking to my own therapist about some difficult memories of feeling scared, lonely, and sad in the hospital. When I shivered almost imperceptibly, she offered me a blanket, rushed to get it when I nodded, and handed it to me.

When I think about my years of therapy with her, that’s the first memory that often comes to mind.  The blanket. How she noticed I was cold and frightened.  How she asked me if I wanted a blanket. How I said yes. How she gave it to me. How comforting it felt, as I went on, now warmer, to tell her more.

During our work together, she showed me, in so many  beautiful and effective ways,  that she heard and accepted me.  But it’s the blanket she offered me one rainy, raw day that touched me in a way nothing else had.

Who knew? She probably didn’t, either.

I think about that blanket, sometimes,  when I feel proud — or when I feel nervous — about something I’ve said or done as a therapist to others.

© 2013 Ann Koplow

 ____________________

Here’s the reason I wanted to include that chapter here, today.

Last night, my son and I had dinner with an old friend, Jon, whom I’ve known since Junior High School, and his wife, Debbie.  Jon had reached out to me yesterday, at around 5 PM, out of the blue, and invited us to join them for dinner. And we were able and happy to do so.

Jon and I were both really tired and also (I think) more stressed than usual, partly because of what happened here in Boston on April 15 (the Marathon bombings).  So, over dinner, he and I were having some heated discussions about how the authorities had responded to the situation in Boston.

I got mad at him, during dinner, and expressed it.  I felt a little bad about that, at the time,  because I don’t feel particularly comfortable with my own anger (I’m working on it!).

Last night at dinner, I was afraid that my anger might have hurt the other people at the table (especially my son, who is 15). But after the dinner, when my son and I were driving home, I found out what my son and my friend’s wife had been doing when I had been getting pissed off at Jon.  They, apparently, were looking at each other, smiling, and getting a kick out of it.

In other words, it was fine. My worst fear — that my anger had been hurtful and inappropriate, to a damaging degree — was not true.

I really didn’t know how I was affecting people at the table.

And, one more thing, before I end this post.

My friend’s lovely and kind wife, Debbie, told me last night that she is reading this blog. And she appreciates it. And she’s getting something out of it.

That means the world to me.

I didn’t know how I was affecting her.

We really don’t know.

Thanks to you for reading today. And thanks to Jon, Debbie, and — last, but certainly not least — my son.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 71: The Secret to Life is Three Things

Cristian Mihai is one of my favorite bloggers here.  This post of his showed up in my reader today.

That post, titled “Three easy steps to achieving what you want,” inspired me to write about something that I consider one of the most valuable gifts I’ve ever received.

About 20 years ago, I attended a weekend retreat — the  Opening the Heart Workshop — run by an organization which was then called “Spring Hill”.  (Spring Hill was a gorgeous location in Ashby, MA, and there are some pictures of that beautiful spot in the link above.)

During that weekend, one of the presenters told us this.

The secret to life is three things:

(1)  Show up.

(2)  Be gentle.

(3)  Tell the truth.

That’s it.

Since that weekend, I have shared that gift with many, many people.  I sometimes invite people to notice that “be gentle” also means to be gentle with yourself.

A lot of people have told me they find this gift really useful.

20 months ago, when I left the day treatment program where I’d worked for 12 years, one of my esteemed colleagues there gave me this clock as a going-away present:

IMG_0570

I keep this clock in my office.  I sometimes show this clock to people who come to therapy for the first time.  I think it’s a pretty good beginner’s How-To description of therapy.

So now that we’ve discussed the secret to life, I guess it’s time to end this blog post.

 

One more thing, though. When I got the photo of the clock off my phone, I noticed another photo I took recently, which is making me wonder if I should amend the title of this post.  

Maybe the secret of life also includes a fourth thing:

 

IMG_0565

(4) A bunny cake.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.