Posts Tagged With: safety

Day 2147: Bravo!

At our Airbnb home-away-from-home in NYC, I noticed this on a signed photograph:

It says, “Bravo! Great voice!”

In the groups I observed and participated in yesterday (at the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society annual conference), I heard variations of “Bravo!” when people were brave, authentic, went beneath the surface, and gave great voice to their thoughts and feelings.

What helped people do all this in those groups? Perhaps it was this clear message (which I saw at the church where the conference took place):

“You are safe here.”

Bravo!

Do any of my other photos from yesterday deserve a “Bravo!” ?

Here‘s the Goedicke Concert Etude, played by Julia Bravo:

Thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — Bravo! — to YOU.

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 1955: For Safety

As a psychotherapist, I’m concerned about people’s safety.

I work at a Boston hospital, where others also look out for your safety.

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For our safety, I wish world leaders would use the negotiating table.

For my safety, I observe what’s going on around me, like this:

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For our safety and sanity, we’re using our seaside table.

Here’s an old advertisement for safety  I safely remember.

What do you do for safety?

Appreciation and gratitude increase my sense of safety,  so thanks to all who helped me create today’s post for safety  and — of course! — thanks to you.

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

Day 1634: Warnings

WARNING:  This post has warnings in it.

Yesterday, my EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapist, George, talked to me about my over-developed mental warning system.

WARNING: I keep forgetting what “EMDR” stands for and I have to look it up every time I write about it (like here and here).

George gave me an important warning, yesterday, in our therapy session. He warned that I give myself this warning way too much:

I have to hyper-vigilantly protect myself against the world’s incompetence, ignorance, hostility, lack of understanding, ambivalence, negligence, etc.,  in order to get my needs met and to survive.

WARNING: I write important warnings down so I can remember them.

George warned me that these constant warnings are probably bad for my health. He suggested I tell myself this instead:

I am safe. I have everything I need.

Do you see any warnings in my photos from yesterday?

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WARNING: If children scare you, be warned that The Warning is a hard-rock band of three young sisters from Monterey, Mexico. Here‘s The Warning’s TED talk (and play):

 

WARNING: This writer loves comments on her posts, which you can leave below.

WARNING: I have everything I need, here and now, thanks to all who helped me create this post with warnings and — of course! — to YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 1474: Safety

Lately,  people around me seem very concerned about safety.

Last night, safety was the main topic in my therapy group.

Here’s how I expressed myself about safety:

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Somebody else in the group made a “safety crown.”

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How would you express yourself about the topic “safety”?

I think the other photos I took yesterday relate to safety, too.

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I guess I feel enough safety on this blog to show myself, open-heart surgery scar and all.

I’m late for cardiac rehab,  so safety dictates that I end my post here, with one more photo.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 1228: Danger

Yesterday morning, when I was facilitating a therapy group, I drew this picture

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which shows a fish in danger.

Yesterday afternoon, when I was in historic Lexington, Massachusetts, USA, I took these two photos, one after another:

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For many reasons, I tend to notice potential danger, in the present and in the near future.  Do you?

In my personal and professional lives, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how much danger people are in, as well as how to negotiate and respond to fear. It makes sense for us to be Fearful of Danger, but how can we accurately assess how much danger we’re in, during any particular moment?  Fear  of danger can save us to live another day;  it can also paralyze and imprison us.

What dangers are you in danger of seeing in my other photos from yesterday?

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With all the danger, destruction, death, and dragons we deal with, I sometimes suggest this helpful phrase:

It’s safer than it feels.

Is there any danger of my forgetting to  express gratitude at the end of this blog post?

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 109: 7:09 AM These guys are turning my world into a violent movie

I live in one of those communities, shut down, right now, by the escaped Boston Marathon bomber being on the loose.

I’m writing this as I’m watching this on TV.  I assume many of you share this with me — seeing these scenes.

It’s hard to feel safe right now.  Again, as on Monday, I am getting messages from people who are NOT here, asking me if I’m okay.  I appreciate people reaching out.  That does help.

I just got a phone call from the local police, telling us not to leave our homes.  I am picturing this guy, roaming the streets, becoming more desperate, perhaps about to break in to my home.

My bf came downstairs, while I was in the kitchen, and I jumped. I jumped out of involuntary fear.

Every place that is shut down, right now, is a place where I’ve lived, worked, or gone to school.

As I am writing this, the media are showing “an unfolding scene” in Kenmore Square, another place I’ve spent many, many normal, pre-2013 Marathon Day hours.

The whole world is watching, as the media — right now — is filming this “movie”, this story, filled with speculation and fear, with “tension so high” (I am quoting the TV commentator, as I am watching too, right now).   I’m in a movie I didn’t choose — that I didn’t want — right now.

I recognize all the scenes they are showing, on TV —  as these two guys have been wreaking more havoc– these guys, whose movie I am apparently in, right now.

I’ll say it.

This feels traumatic, on some level.  This is — in the moment — changing my world in ways I cannot control. It is making my world look different  It is making my world — all these familiar touchstones of my entire daily life — look dangerous.

I am in the first stage of trauma, I guess. Shock.  Not understanding.  Trying to make meaning, in the midst of violent chaos which also FEELS VERY FAMILIAR, but in a new way. What’s being reported by the media — more bombings, shooting, escapes, chases — are familiar to me from movies.  The location, the geography, the visuals, are super familiar to me, from every day life.

I don’t know about you, but I get really affected, when I see a local scene I recognize in a friggin’ movie.

This is new, though. Not sure how it’s going to affect me.  I am aware of lots of people, all around me, being affected — being changed by a new experience.

This will have an effect, for a while.  I’ll see it in myself, in others who live where I live. I’ll see it, in my work, as a psychotherapist, who works at one of the affected hospitals.

I don’t know how this story is going to end, but I do know that I’ll be seeing the effects.

I know that I — and lots and lots of other people — will be trying to make meaning of this, in order to regain a sense of “enough safety.”

Like I am trying to make sense, right now.

I wrote on my Facebook page, earlier this week, the following:  “I’m grateful I live in a world where I can blog. Really.”  I wonder if people knew what I meant?  I wonder if that makes sense to you, right now.

When I was working with people in groups, yesterday, we were making lists of “What Helps Right Now.”  People named these things:  “Distracting,”  “Helping Others,” “Taking Care of Myself,”  “Not watching TV”, “Connecting with others.”

My addition to the list?  “Writing about it.”

Here.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 107: Has the external world changed? I haven’t.

Who knows if that title makes any sense, at all.

I am trying to figure out whether the external world has changed, that much, because of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, two days ago. It feels like it has, but that doesn’t mean that it has.

As I and others try to make meaning of this — so we can go on with our lives — I’m experiencing a debate about how safe it is out there.

On the one hand:

The world feels scarier.  Things are getting worse. It’s less safe than before. I am not going to go out into crowded places again.  I will avoid these kinds of public celebrations, since the people who are supposed to protect us didn’t do enough to prevent this from happening.

On the other hand:

Boston feels scarier, but this sort of thing happens, somewhere, a certain amount of the time. It just hasn’t happened this close to home before. If we change how we act because of fear, the people who do these kinds of things have won. 

This is how I’m seeing that “debate,” right now:

It’s the negotiating we do, as we move through life, trying to figure out how safe we are: How much we should venture out, away from what feels safer.

It’s natural to want to protect ourselves.  But how much do we need to do that?

Sometimes I say this to people, who have told me horrifying, trust-mangling stories of things that have happened to them,  “It’s amazing you ever leave home.  How do you do that?”

We figure out how to do that — to venture out there —  to a greater and lesser extent, every day.

Sometimes when we go out there, it feels like the “wrong” thing to do.  Too risky,  Maybe even  foolish, counter-intuitive, the opposite of self-preservation.

Sometimes when we stay in our homes, it feels like the “wrong” thing to do. Phobic. Cowardly. Crazy.

How can we be “smart” about this, and  do the right thing?

What the hell is the “right thing”, anyway?  And if we can’t figure out what the right thing is — when it comes to survival, for cripe’s sake — what the hell should we do?

There’s so much evidence for why any decision we make about safety is “wrong.”  There are so many arguments for both sides of the debate.

I notice that some people I know are more careful than I am about self-protection. They scan the environment for danger, more than I do.

They’ll point out when my shoelaces are untied. They’ll tell me to watch out for cars when I’m crossing the street.

When they do that, I sometimes have a negative reaction. I wonder: Am I taking good enough care of myself?  Do they think I’m not capable of doing that for myself?

Today, I’m thinking that some people are more careful than others, in that regard.  They negotiate that question of how safe it is differently than I do.

That doesn’t mean I’m foolish, though. It just means I’ve made different decisions. It means that I have a different “style” regarding How to Keep It Safe Enough.

Some people, who know me, tell me I’m “fearless.”  I find that so ironic, because I’m scared so much of the time.

I’ve learned to calibrate and adjust for my own fear. That’s what I’ve done, dear reader.  I have learned, as I’ve grown and aged, that the world is not as scary as I fear it is.  Even if sometimes — like today — it feels a lot more scary than it usually does.

I’ve decided to look for what is Not Scary — out there and within other people.  That makes me happier.

It’s riskier, perhaps.  It’s not wrong. It works for me.

It might take me a while to get back to my “base line” — the way I usually negotiate risk and fear — after the images I’ve seen of people being hurt and  the changes that I see, as I look around at my beloved Boston.

But I’ll get there.

And so will you, every time the world seems scarier.  And you’ll do it, the way you always do, in the way that works for you.  But with more experience and wisdom, every time.

Thanks for reading.  Take care of yourself, the way you know how.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 106: Beautiful, wounded Boston

All my love to all the people who have been traumatized, in any way, by the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday.

Boston.  I’ve lived here all my life. It’s so beautiful, especially during this time of the year.

Here’s a picture I took on Saturday, when my son and I were walking around the Public Gardens.

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We had just walked down Boylston Street, from the Finish Line, which was already set up for the race.  We were there, with so many people, at those very spots you’ve been seeing on your screens, over and over again.

It was safe then.

It’s changed now.  We’ve changed.

One thing I’m experiencing in myself and those around me (in Boston, in the U.S., and elsewhere) are people struggling to make meaning of this, to integrate what happened yesterday into their understanding of the world. Trying to incorporate this unexpected horror into a new understanding of now.

Because what happened here yesterday was new, wasn’t it?  At least for Boston.  And for the U.S., too.

Not for other places in the world, though.

Here’s a quote that’s sticking with me, right now:

At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alisdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: “This is something I’ve never seen in my 25 years here … this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war.”

And I saw some pictures, last night, that I will never forget.

Those pictures are available to the world.  Some of you, reading this, would have seen them, too.

I’m thinking about the people who were there, yesterday, on Boylston Street, and experienced those things directly.

I’m thinking about all the people, in the world,  who have experienced such things directly.

And I’m thinking of something else I noticed, this morning, on my computer screen. This headline:

It could happen anywhere.

That’s something we may always “know”, but some of us  know, now,  in a new way.

How do people heal from something like this?  How do they feel safe enough again?

I keep thinking  how my son and I walked down that stretch of Boylston Street on Saturday and all the pre-race celebrations we saw.  All the “normalcy,” the humanity, and the joy we witnessed that day.

That place will never look the same again.  It can’t.

Something I noticed yesterday: how quickly people reached out to others they thought may have been affected by the bomb blasts. I watched as I — and others who live here — received messages from all over: “Where are you?”  “Are you okay?”

I responded. I’m here. I’m okay.  Everybody I love is okay.

Untouched, physically.  Still alive. But changed, in some way.

I’m giving another presentation today — about the Power of Groups —  to the residents of the Boston hospital where I work.  This is a presentation that has caused me some fear and anxiety over the last week or so.

That feels so ironic — so strange — to me this morning.

Now, I’m just looking forward to connecting with others who live — and who have chosen to tend to others —  in Boston.  I’m hoping I can make enough room so people can get something they need this morning.  Something that helps.  A step towards a return to feeling safe enough.  A step towards knowing they can give enough to those they tend to.

And later in the day — and tomorrow,  Thursday, and into the weeks and months ahead — I will be facilitating groups for people who live, and receive their care, in Boston.

I remember being at  film school , at Boston University, the day  the Challenger space shuttle exploded. We all got the news right before we had to go into a class. I remember similar feelings of sadness, fear, and shock — and wondering how to integrate this new terrible knowledge into the now.

I remember sitting, that day,  in a classroom,  feeling alone — in my thoughts and feelings — in the presence of others, waiting for the teacher to come in.

And then the instructor, Thomas Ott, came in and sat down. He spoke to us. I think he asked us how we were. And then he waited.

I remember the somber look on his face. I remember the quiet tone of his voice.

I don’t remember what he said. But I remember, so clearly, how he made room for us, that day, to say what we needed to say.

I was so grateful.

Thank you, Thomas, for what you gave us, on that day in January 1986, in Boston.

It helped.

The Power of Groups.

Thanks, to you,  for being here.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 23: 8 Degrees of Safety.

I went back to work today, Wednesday, after being sick for four days,  and it was really, really cold outside.  It was 8 degrees, Fahrenheit, when I left the house.

I bundled up, really well, for protection. And everything went okay.  Nothing went awry. My trusty car started up, right away, even though it had sat idle since Saturday. And although I had to wait outside for a shuttle bus for a little while (my parking lot is a 20-minute walk from the hospital where I work), my bundling had done the trick. I wasn’t in too much pain during the wait. I could still really feel the cold through all the layers I’d piled on, which felt very freaky, but I was fine.

So I made it to work, no harm done.  However, I’ve noticed that whenever it’s extreme weather outside, that affects my sense of safety, even when I’m indoors.  I’m more aware of our human physical fragility, I guess. Knowing that the outside environment is considerably more hostile than usual has an effect on me.  I feel more anxious, careful, subdued, vigilant, serious.  Getting in touch with other aspects of my nature — my humor, openness, and sociability — takes more effort.  And I pretty much kept to myself, avoiding any contact with strangers, the whole day I was away from home.

I think that’s a reflection of a general “truth” for me.   The safer I feel in my environment  — the more I’m able to trust that pain is not imminent — the more I can interact freely with others, and the more in touch I can be with the “higher” parts of my nature.

This is tricky to write about, since the word “higher” implies judgment, doesn’t it?  At this moment, I’m not sure what to call those other parts of my nature — the humor, the openness, the sociability.  For some reason, I want to call those parts “vulnerable” right now.

Are they more vulnerable, though?  I feel like those parts show strength.  However, to show humor, openness, and sociability implies a trust of The Other Person, I suppose — that whomever we interact with will be accepting enough of the interpersonal effort.

So maybe showing those sociable parts implies a certain level of bravery. Whenever we interact with somebody, we risk rejection, I guess.

Hmmm. This is like an equation that I’m having trouble figuring out right now. It’s frustrating, and I’m comparing how I am right now — not feeling 100% myself, still recovering from being sick — to how I might be able to think and write when I’m feeling better. (Comparisons are another Cognitive Distortion, by the way, and I look forward to ranting and raving about THAT in a future blog post.)

Anyway, I’m going to end it here, dear reader, trusting that this post is good enough to publish today. I also hope that if you have thoughts and questions about this post, that you will feel safe enough — no matter what the weather is outside as you’re reading this — to express them, if you choose.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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