Posts Tagged With: self-worth

Day 2388: The black hole

Several times over the course of the Northeastern Society of Group Psychotherapy’s annual conference this past weekend, I heard people, in groups, refer to “the black hole” inside of them, which they were hesitant to reveal or explore.

That invoked, in me, memories of experiencing my own internal black hole, which I am trying to name, here and now.

My best guess is that the black hole is shame — the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

The black hole can feel huge.

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It can cause us to lose our balance, our tolerance, and our sense of cohesion.

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It can turn us into stress balls.

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It can isolate us even when we’re in a supportive group.

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It can interfere with our leadership.

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It can prevent us from diving in to new experiences and staying afloat.

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It can make us feel unwelcome even when all the signs are that we ARE welcomed.

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It can make us avoid parties and other social events.

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It can make us feel lost.

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It can make us want to duck and hide.

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The black hole of shame can blind us to our own self worth …

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… and blind us to the beauty all around us.

 

Here‘s “That Old Black Hole” by Dr. Dog.

 

The best we can do with our black holes is share them with each other and know that we are not alone.

Thanks to all who have helped me confront my own black holes over the years (especially the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy) and thanks to you, here and now.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 1528: Other people’s worries

Hello, people!  Do you have worries, right now?

If you do have worries, how might that affect me or other people?

Does anybody worry about how your worry might make other people worry?

Don’t worry, people!  I’m now getting to the point of this post.

Lately, as I recover from open heart surgery, I have noticed other people’s worries about me.  Other people’s worries result in worried questions, like “Are you sure you’re up to this?”  “Are you doing too much?”  “Are you taking on too many things, too quickly?”

I’m not worried about these other people’s worries. Instead,  I appreciate their concern.

However, I do not take on their worries.  I’ve got enough worries, of my own.

Today, I’ll be seeing my cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem. If he’s worried, THEN I’ll be worried.

Are other people worried about whether I have any photos to share today?

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Don’t worry, people, I’m going to explain that last photo.  Yesterday, a water main broke in the Longwood Medical Area  of Boston.  Other people besides me were very late to work.  Did that worry me?  No.   Did it affect my sense of self worth?  Don’t worry about that, either. I and many other people have been working on keeping our sense of self worth protected from everything that comes at us, including other people’s worries.

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I hope people aren’t worrying about what YouTube video I’m going to share. When I search “Other people’s worries,” THIS comes up:

I’m not worried about those dogs. Are other people worried?

Other people who regularly read this blog are not worried, I’m sure, about whether I’m going to express gratitude to all who helped me create this post or to you — of course! — for being here, now.

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1080: Antidotes

Not since my first few months of daily blogging — almost three years ago  — have I used the word “Antidotes” in a post title.

If you have a burning curiosity to read those two early “Antidotes” posts, the antidotes for that are here and here.

I find it odd that I’ve not referenced “Antidotes” more in my blog titles, since antidotes are

1.a medicine or other remedy for counteracting the effects of poison, disease, etc.
2.something that prevents or counteracts injurious or unwanted effects.

Yesterday, in individual and group therapy sessions, people came up with several valuable antidotes, including:

  •  realizing that a worst fear is often unlikely to come true, since we are consciously and unconsciously working to prevent that,
  • increasing self-esteem by seeing oneself through the eyes of a beloved pet,
  • letting go of internalized harsh judgments about personal appearance,
  • imagining anxiety-provoking thoughts and images attached to balloons that float away,
  • affirmations of self-worth, and
  • realizing that traumas of the past are in the past and NOT in the here and now.

I wonder if the thirteen photos I snapped yesterday are antidotes for anything.

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Here’s a possible antidote for my nervousness about trying out for The Voice in February: “singing” is the only antidote that appears twice in the lists of “What Helps” on the walls of my office.

What antidotes do you find helpful?

Here’s an all-purpose antidote for what ails us:  gratitude. Thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for reading it.

Categories: blogging, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 1063: Hair and now

A couple of days before now, I put this hairy post up on my Facebook page:

So, I am tired of believing, on any level, that my lovability is connected to how young I look and/or the way I wear my hair. Therefore, I am seriously considering cutting my hair super short and letting my hair color be completely natural. So my profile picture might be looking VERY different, very soon.

Now, the amount of support I got from this post was hair-raising.

Yesterday, I went to see my beloved hair expert, Mia at MiAlisa salon (appearing now in previous blog posts here, here, here, and here). I brought along these pictures of hair:

I noticed this sign at Mia’s hair salon …

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… when my hair was this length:

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I could still see all the wonderful words on that sign when my hair was this length:

And despite my son Aaron’s prediction that I might judge myself negatively after radically changing my hair, I was non-judgmental when I took these photos last night …

… and I’m still non-judgmental, hair and now.

Do you have any thoughts or feelings about hair, now?

Here and now, I’m grateful to Aaron, Mia, MiAlisa Salon,  Amuleto Mexican Table in Waltham and you (no matter what state your hair’s in now).

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 73 Comments

Day 318: Other people’s mistakes

I’ve written several times, this year, about perfectionism. (For example, herehere, and here.)

Nobody is perfect — including the writer and the readers of this post.  As humans, we all make mistakes, every day. (Probably, we all make mistakes every hour.)

I react differently to the Making of Mistakes, though, depending upon who is doing the mistake-making.

When I realize that I have made a mistake, this is my usual response:

I feel awful.

Here are some typical, automatic thoughts I have:

Oh, no!  I made a mistake!  I should have paid better attention. This is really going to be a problem for other people, too.  What’s the matter with me?

It’s a different story, though, when somebody else makes a mistake. Often, I forgive other people their mistakes.

It’s much easier to remember that everybody makes mistakes, when it’s everybody else.

However, when somebody makes a mistake that has a direct, negative impact on me,  that’s a different story, too.

Then, this is my usual response:

I feel awful.

Here are some typical, automatic thoughts I have:

Oh, no! This other person made a mistake!  And that really caused me some discomfort. What do I do now?  How do I tell them about it? They’ll probably think it’s MY fault, too!  How can I prove it’s NOT? Maybe it IS my fault, somehow! And what if it’s NOT my fault and they don’t own up to that? THEN what do I do?   Also, if I mattered and was important enough to them, they would have been more careful!  Now I’m angry!  NOW what do I do? If I express my anger, I’ll probably alienate them!  I don’t want to lose them!  But I don’t want to pretend that it’s all okay with me, either, because it’s NOT!

This is what I notice about THAT, now.

When somebody else makes a mistake, I tend to have MORE thoughts.

Why?

Well, I’m really used to my own mistakes. I KNOW (by living with myself) how imperfect I am: I’ve got lots of proof about that. At times in the past, I’ve thought of myself as a screw-up — somebody who constantly make mistakes.

So THAT’s familiar.

But, somehow, I’ve never gotten used to other people’s mistakes.

Why is that?

This is my best guess, right now: When I was a little kid, I needed important people — upon whom I depended —  to NOT make major mistakes.  (And they made mistakes, of course. They were human.)

I know I’m not alone, in that.

Here’s a personal example of that: I  needed the doctors keeping me alive —  through surgeries and new technologies — to NOT make major mistakes. Big time.

So, my wish —  even as an adult — is that people NOT make mistakes. But they do, of course, every day.

Also, if somebody makes a mistake that has a negative effect on me and doesn’t own it, I can feel some anger about that (naturally). And as I wrote, two days ago, I can be a little clueless about anger, once I have it.

So there you have it: My reactions to other people’s mistakes.

It’s easy for me to write this post today, dear readers, because somebody — whom I’ve yet to meet —  made a mistake last night which did have a negative impact on me.  At this writing, the person is not owning the mistake, which may or may not change.

This is what I’ve done, so far, this morning, to deal with this:

  1. I wrote an e-mail to the person, pointing out the facts.
  2. By focusing on the facts, I let go of any wish to affect the other person’s feelings about this in any way.
  3. I worked on this blog post.

All those things helped.

What’s missing, for me, right now?

A cool image, for this post!

My next step: consult my iPhone for recent photos.

Oh!  Here’s one:

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Recently, I saw this hand-written message on a sign, regarding a overdue repair to a machine.

So there you have it, my dear readers:  Another way to respond to other people’s mistakes.

Thanks to everybody who makes and responds to mistakes and to you — of course! — for visiting here today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 299: Why haven’t I published anything (outside of here)?

This morning, I am posing questions about where I am in my life, right now.

I have enough expertise and skill to be a published author. Why haven’t I made that happen, so far in my life?

What’s gotten in the way of that?

Here are some things I can think of:

  1. Doubts about my (previously mentioned) expertise and skill.
  2. My ability to think of a kashmillion things I would rather be doing other than writing something for publication.
  3. Concern (and perhaps some other feelings) that other people would  have the control to accept or reject something that was important to me (and what makes THEM such friggin’ experts, anyway?!??)
  4. My short attention span. (Look!  It’s a baby wolf!)

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Where was I?

Oh, yes. I was asking the question:

Why haven’t I published anything, so far in my life?

Oh, I wanted to state the obvious, at this point.  I’m not counting what I’ve published here, at WordPress. Because if I did, I’ve published almost 300 times.

I’m discounting that.

Hmmmm. I’m wondering if I’m discounting anything else?

Because, recent data suggests that I can forget things that I’ve done.  By “recent data,” I am referring to my blog post, two days ago, where I forgot that I had actually taken a photo of Carl Yastrzemski, when I was at the 1st game of the World Series, at Boston’s Friendly Fenway Park.

So, let’s see. have I published anything, outside of  these blog posts?

Hmmm. I guess you could say I have.

About 20 years ago, when I was in Social Work school, I wrote a paper about how people with disabilities were portrayed in the media. I interviewed people from a local chapter of (I believe) the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and they asked if they could publish a version of my paper in their national publication. Which they did.

And in years past, if you Googled my name, that article appeared. But I can’t find it now, to check my facts (and support my bragging).

So maybe I’ll see if I can find that article, later.

But in the meantime, it’s a beautiful day!

Which means, I would like to wrap this post up.

Before I do, here’s what feels left undone.

I want to ask  myself another question:

Do I WANT to publish (or do I just think I SHOULD publish)?  (Psssst!  The word “should” can indicate a cognitive distortion.)

Hold on, I’m thinking ….

Here’s the answer.

I do want to publish, if it’s something:

  1. I feel passionately about, and
  2. I think would be helpful to share with others.

So what might that topic be?

I’m interested in communication of all kinds, verbal and nonverbal. Maybe I should write a paper on something like this:

The people in the following image (from a national TV broadcast) are having an experience that most would consider joyful:

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That is, they are attending a World Series Game, where their home team is leading by a score of 8-1, one strike away from victory.  What emotions are they communicating, non-verbally? What are the factors influencing those non-verbal communications, from the stand-point of those sending AND receiving the communications?

That’s definitely an interesting topic.

However, I can think of another topic, that’s probably a better fit for the two criteria I listed above: The therapy groups that I have created and facilitate, where I work.

So I would like to take steps to publish, about those.

One last thing, before I end this post: I believe it helps, once you have identified a goal, to make a commitment for action, ideally witnessed by others.

Therefore, I hereby commit, to my group of WordPress readers, that I will take a measurable step, by the end of this year, to publish about those therapy groups.

Okay!

Thanks to  Dan Shaughnessy (the author of “One Strike Away: The Story of the 1986 Red Sox”), thatcutesite.com,  baby wolves (and other distractions), the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, verbal and non-verbal communicators everywhere, and to you — of course! — for witnessing today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 287: Opening a can of worms

“Opening a can of worms” is an idiom.

“Idiom” is a word I avoid, sometimes, because it sounds like the word “idiot.”

When people use this idiom, it’s a warning about a possible negative result of change.

If you […insert change here….], you’ll be opening a can of worms!

I hear this a lot, from within and without.

If you try something new, and it doesn’t work, you’ll feel like an idiot!

If you ….

  1. change a process, at work or elsewhere,
  2. talk to somebody about something upsetting,
  3. introduce somebody new into your life,
  4. move, one way or another,
  5. take a risk, of any kind

… you might be opening up a can of worms.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!   Worms!!!

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Last week, at work, we were discussing a possible change, and a manager used that expression.

Yesterday, at home, I was discussing a possible change with my boyfriend, and he used that expression.

I’m not kidding, people, I hear that expression a lot.

This is what I said to my boyfriend, though:

Wait a minute!  We might be opening up a can of worms, it’s true.  But, Michael!  It’s just a can!

Because I was picturing a can of this size:

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and so was he.

So I asked,

Why are people so scared of opening a can of worms, then?

Here’s a quote, from Mental Floss, about the idiom:

Metaphorically speaking, to open a can of worms is to examine or attempt to solve some problem, only to inadvertently complicate it and create even more trouble. Literally speaking, opening a can of worms, as most fishermen can attest, can also mean more trouble than you bargained for.

Here’s another one, from Yahoo Answers:

Opening a can of worms means to start to reveal something that will be messy and hard to conceal. A literal can of worms would be filled with hundreds of squirmy worms that would fall all over the place. Attempting to catch all of them and get them back in the can would be very difficult. The same goes for so many things in our lives. Sometimes there are things that we say that can’t be reversed or put back in the can, as it were. And like the worms that spread out everywhere the thing in question will spread out and impact other people.

Hmmm.  So I guess the fear makes sense, doesn’t it?

But, as I said to Michael,

What if the worms DO all escape?  How can they hurt us, really?

I mean, it’s not like we’re opening up a Tanker of Tarantulas.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m not so scared about opening up a can of worms, right now.

Thanks to Michael, grasshopper_ramblin, spaghetti in cans, worms everywhere, people considering a change, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 284: We never know how we affect people (The Ta-Da Pose)

I think, within the last 283 days,  I wrote another blog post about this:

We never know how we affect people

However,  I can’t locate that post right now.

But that’s not really important. Here’s what I wanted to write about, today.

Many years ago, I was driving alone at night, feeling low and discouraged about something.

I can’t remember what the hell I was feeling bad about, now.  (Isn’t that usually the way it works?  Problems that seem so important at the time often fade away, as time passes,  to nothing.)

I remember I was about to exit a supermarket parking lot, and I was waiting for a pedestrian to walk by.

I remember that pedestrian, quite well.  I wish I had a picture of him that I could share with you.

But I don’t.

Let’s see if I can capture and convey the experience to you.

I think the guy was wearing something unusual. I don’t have a great visual memory, so I can’t tell you what kind of clothing he had. But I think it was casual.  Maybe it was colorful.

He wasn’t  a serious, conventional business person. I know that. He looked like a “free spirit.” Again, my visual memory, for details, is fuzzy.

Here’s what I do remember clearly. As he crossed in front of my car, he caught my eye.

And without missing a beat, he made a “Ta-Da!” gesture.  That is, he stopped, smiled, put his arms out, and maybe even jumped a little, as if he was hearing, or making, a silent, triumphant trumpet noise.

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(Just for fun,  I’m going to Google-Image “Ta Da Pose” and see what I get.  Amazing!  Here’s the first thing that comes up:

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Here’s another one, with eye contact:

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That night, after the guy struck that Ta Da Pose ever-so-briefly,  he moved on.

I remember smiling back, then. Maybe I even laughed a little. (I’m not sure, because I was, after all, feeling very down.)

But I do remember this: I drove away, after this brief encounter, feeling changed.  Feeling better.

And to this day, when I am walking down the street, feeling and showing joy, I often think about that guy I met, many years ago.

He made a difference to me.

And who knows?  Maybe I sometimes make a difference like that, too.

Thanks to that guy, Endorphin Dude,  pose-strikers everywhere, and to you, of course, for reading today.

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

Day 281: Thick and Thin

Today’s post is random thoughts about ….

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…. blood!

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Here we go ….

  • My son, when he was younger, didn’t want to even hear the word “blood,” much less see any of it.
  • When I describe to people how my very unusual heart works, I often say, as a punchline, “Amazingly, all the blood ends up in the right place.”
  • While anti-coagulant (anti-clotting) medication is also called “blood thinner,” a helpful pharmacist informed me last Tuesday that “the blood actually doesn’t become thinner.”
  • The first film created by the much-admired Coen Brothers was

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  • While I might use the word “friggin'” to express strong emotion or emphasis, other English-speaking people use the word “bloody.”
  • Somebody who says “Blood is thicker than water”  is expressing the opinion that “relationships and loyalties within a family are the strongest and most important ones.”*
  • I just asked my son, who is about ready to leave for school, his first association with the word “blood.”  His answer?  “Blood.”

It’s time to end this bloody post, people!

Thanks to my son, pharmacists everywhere, Ethan and Joel Coen, creative families of all kinds,  and to you, for reading today.

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* According to Google.

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

Day 273: The Show About Everything

I told some people I love, yesterday, when we were in the middle of the home stretch of a “Breaking Bad” marathon, that my punchline about the show was this:

While

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was The Show About Nothing,

“Breaking Bad” was the The Show About Everything.

Here’s one random thought, this Monday morning,  about The Show About Everything:

People are hungry for great stories, about interesting people who change.

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Here are just  a few of the themes I noticed, over the weekend, in The Show About Everything:

Secrets/Revelations

Lying/Telling the truth

Trauma/Healing

Everything we do affects others, in ways we often cannot predict.

There is bad and good in all of us.

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The moment that is lingering for me, right now, after watching every episode, except for one*?

Walt, finally, saying something like this:

What I did, I did for myself.  I liked it. I was good at it.

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After the show was over, I said, to anybody who might have been listening at that point, “See?  Do what you love. Do what you’re good at.”

I assumed that I didn’t need to add something like this, “Of course, you need to make better choices than Walt did.”

I’m sure they know that, by now.

Okay!  I’ve got to go to work. (Not to cook, but to listen to stories.)

Thanks to those who do what they love, to people who have both good and bad in them, and to everybody making choices today. And many thanks to you, for being here.

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* I skipped watching “Rabid Dog,” on the advice of practically everybody.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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