Posts Tagged With: shoulds

Day 2391: How To Make Yourself Miserable

How to make yourself miserable?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Hold on to resentments.
  • Expect people to change for you.
  • Notice the negatives.
  • Compare yourself to other people.
  • Avoid awareness of the current moment.
  • Anticipate the worst.
  • Live in the past.
  • Stubbornly resist inevitable changes.
  • Stay in upsetting situations.
  • Hang around with critical people.
  • Beat yourself up about mistakes.
  • Say “yes’ to everything.
  • Say “no” to everything.
  • Squelch your creativity.
  • Let your fears control you.
  • Cultivate your distrust of the unknown (especially other people).
  • Stay small so you won’t “bother” others.
  • Avoid things that might make you happy.
  • Decide you’re too old to learn.
  • Decide you’re too young or inexperienced to know enough.
  • Be so invested in a particular outcome that you don’t have a Plan B.
  • Focus on should’s rather than could’s.
  • Do not indulge in hope because you might get disappointed.
  • Do not read the hilarious and helpful book “How to Make Yourself Miserable” by Dan Greenburg with Marcia Jacobs.

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I hope none of my other photos make you miserable, here and now.

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Here‘s 7 Ways to Maximize Misery:

Here‘s Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths.

Heaven knows I’m not miserable now that I’ve written today’s daily blog.  Thanks to all who helped me create this post and — of course! — to YOU.

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

Day 2259: Putting yourself out there

Yesterday, when people were putting themselves out there in a group therapy session, I put this out there on a white board in the group room:

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What happens when you put yourself out there?  What out there gets in the way of your putting yourself out there more?

Tonight, I’ll be putting myself out there at an Open Mic, as I debut my latest original song, “What are other people thinking about you?” I’ll be putting a keyboard out there on the stage and putting, myself, out another blog post tomorrow with a recording of that performance.

Empathy involves putting ourselves out there into other people’s shoes.  What happens when I put these photos out there?

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I’m putting myself out there to share that in yesterday’s therapy group, we talked about shoulds and transforming unhelpful shoulds like “I should exercise more” into “I could exercise more and I choose to do other things to sustain myself until I feel ready to exercise.”

I’m putting “Putting Yourself Out There” from the movie Eighth Grade out here in this post:

I’m putting myself out there to state that Eighth Grade deserved some Oscar nominations, instead of receiving none, which makes me very put out.

Please consider putting yourself out there in a comment, below.

As usual, I’m putting gratitude out there, for all who helped me put out this post and — of course! — YOU, for putting up with me.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 1942: Obviously

Obviously, sometimes people are going to say things you obviously don’t want to hear.

Yesterday, somebody in therapy was obviously perturbed about people expressing unsolicited and often indirect opinions about what they obviously thought she should do.

Obviously, we  made a list of how she could reply.

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Obviously,  having a list of possible replies to upsetting comments can help reduce stress.

Obviously, I like to take photos and share them with my readers.

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What’s obvious about those photos, to you?

Obviously,  my handwriting is difficult to read, so it might not be obvious that we talked, wrote, and drew about dreams in a therapy group yesterday.  Obviously, it would be helpful if I typed what I wrote.

DREAMS

When I was a child, I had a dream I didn’t want to wake up from. It was so beautiful and soothing and cool.  Magical land with lots of colors — pastels.  (I was) walking or riding down a road. Not like nature, not “normal” but safe and sweet and lovely. Trees and structures

I was never able to dream that again.

However, many years later I was at Disney World on a ride about imagination and one of the parts of the ride looked like my dream.

Obviously, I enjoyed that ride at Disney World.

Obviously, “The Obvious Child” by Paul Simon is a great song to include here.

Obviously,  I’d like to know your reactions to this post

Obviously, I gather and share gratitude in this blog, even if the words aren’t always completely obvious.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 1845: I should have known better

#1 on my personal list of what doesn’t help is telling myself “I should have known better.”

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At this point in my life, I should know better than to tell myself “I should have known better.”  Nevertheless, I’ve been telling myself “I should have known better” a lot lately, even though it doesn’t help.

What would be better than telling myself “I should have known better”?

Self-forgiveness, acceptance of what is, and identifying  achievable and helpful next steps.

Therefore, I forgive myself, accept what is, and identify these achievable and helpful next steps:

#1.  Include my other photos from yesterday.

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#2. Share some music (which should be here and here on YouTube).

#3.  Express gratitude to all who helped me create this should-have-known-better post and  to you!

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 1747: Supplies you need

In order for me to generate a daily supply of blog posts, I need inspiration from what I see around me.

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Apparently, nobody needs supplies there. However, I need supplies of

  • kindness,
  • consideration,
  • respect,
  • safety,
  • honesty,
  • love,
  • awareness,
  • humor,
  • nourishment,
  • friendship,
  • engagement,
  • rest,
  • acceptance,
  • choice,
  • connection,
  • self esteem,
  • confidence,
  • support,
  • sunshine,
  • nature,
  • music, and
  • macaroni & cheese on Fridays.

What supplies do you need?

Here’s a supply of more photos, which I need to share:

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I also need a yearly supply of “So You Think You Can Dance,” which I choose to attend in Boston this evening. Lex, the winner of this year’s competition, has an amazing supply of incredible moves (seen here and here on YouTube):

I also need a daily supply of comments from my readers.

Finally, I have an endless supply of gratitude for the supplies I’ve been given and — of course! — for you.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 1012: Piece of Cake

“Piece of Cake” is an idiom that means “easy.”  I’ve never understood where that idiom comes from, since making a cake isn’t easy (although eating one is).

Want an explanation about the title of today’s post?  Piece of cake.

  1. I often think about what’s easy and what’s difficult for me and other people.
  2. In group and individual therapy, people talk about how changing old behaviors and patterns of thinking is NOT a piece of cake.
  3. I’ve changed my diet to drastically reduce all sweets, including pieces of cake.
  4. Including photos in my blog SHOULD be a piece of cake, but isn’t.

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Taking photos like those is a piece of cake for me (although sharing them with you isn’t).

Hungry for some quotes about cake?  Piece of cake!

“Love is like a good cake; you never know when it’s coming, but you’d better eat it when it does!”
― C. JoyBell C.

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“I suppose I wanted to have my cake and eat it.
But then again, what were you going to do with your cake if not eat it?
Frame it?
Use it as a sachet in your underwear drawer?”
― Marian Keyes, Watermelon

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“SITTING TIGHT? Holing up? Waiting for answers?
Those are things I’m not good at.
Planning a massive attack against mechanical geeky-like things when i was already furious and itching to kill something?
Piece o’cake”
― James Patterson, Max

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If you wait for a cake to be given to you so you will be happy- then you will be happy when someone gives you a cake. But if you buy a cake (or bake one) for yourself so you will be happy, you have found the way of happiness.”

― C. JoyBell C.

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Mma Ramotswe sighed. ‘We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.’

That is true,’ said Mma Potokwane sadly. ‘There are many temptations in this life, but cake is probably one of the biggest of them.”
― Alexander McCall Smith, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

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“It baffles me that people think that obliterating the past will save them from its consequences, as if throwing away the empty cake plate would help you lose weight.”

― Timothy B. Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story

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“Out of love I made you a cake. Also out of milk, eggs, flour, sugar, and vanilla.”
― Jarod Kintz, The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They’re Over.

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“You never know. Say the arena’s actually a giant cake-”

“Say we move on,” I broke in.
― Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

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“I tried to explain as much as I could,”  Poppet says. “I think I made an analogy about cake.”

“Well, that must have worked,” Widget says. “Who doesn’t like a good cake analogy?”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

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Deciding what music to feature in today’s post?  Piece of Cake!

It’s a piece of cake to find Cake’s “Symphony in C” on YouTube.

What piece of cake do you like best in this post?

Piece-of-cake thanks to all the amazing cakes, people, and one cat contributing to the baking of today’s post and to you — of course! — for being the icing on the cake, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 41 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 296: The other side of containment

“The other side of containment.”

That was the title on my mind, when I woke up today.

And I just want to warn you: it’s going to take me a while to work back to that title.

So let’s digress together, shall we?

I’ve blogged a lot about cognitive distortions, this year, including this one:

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.” A more effective way to motivate ourselves is to identify positive results, rather than whipping ourselves with guilt.  For example, “When I exercise, I feel better.”

I’ve seen “shoulds” do a lot of damage to people; and yet, people naturally think those thoughts.

There is a particularly nasty form of “should”-ing, related to feelings.

Two examples:

I shouldn’t feel this way.

I should be over this, already.

As I’ve written before, cognitive distortions are human, so I assume that you have thoughts like those. I know that I do.

So they’re human. Yet, I have never experienced a helpful “should” thought, about feelings.

And that sentence I just wrote? That fits the “duck test” for another cognitive distortion:

All-or-Nothing thinking (also known as “Black-and-White thinking”).

Things are either all good or all bad, people are either perfect or failures, something new will either fix everything or be worthless. There is no middle ground; we place people and situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray, or allowing for complexities.  Watch out for absolute words like “always”, “never,” “totally,” etc. as indications of this kind of distortion.

It was the word “never” in my sentence,  that tipped me off.

However, that sentence IS also the truth. I have never experienced a helpful “should” thought, about feelings.

I think it’s time for me to re-approach my topic, for today:

The other side of containment.

Why was that on my mind, this morning?

Because I have been having some difficult feelings lately. And I often hear people talk about containing difficult feelings.

What are the difficult feelings I’ve been having?

Fear, for one.

It’s time to go to my old friend, Google, for images about fear:

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Speaking of fear,  I fear,  right now, that I won’t be able to complete this post before I need to leave today.

And why am I afraid that I won’t finish in time? Because fear wasn’t the emotion I was intending to write about.

Here’s the emotion I planned to tackle, this morning:

anger

But it’s more difficult to write about anger. At least it is for me.

I have some fear about anger, people. And I know I’m not alone in that. Here’s  some immediate evidence, from the Google Image Buffet:

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Here’s a particular fear I have, about anger: I fear that I (and others) judge and disown our anger.  And I think THAT can be dangerous.

When I see that fear of anger in others, sometimes I respond by saying:

Anger is just one of the basic human emotions.

Anger is the human response to not getting our needs met.

And I hope that’s helpful.

But what does this all have to do with containment, my alleged topic for the day?

Here’s what:

When I was hospitalized as a young child, I got some messages that anger and fear were not okay.   I got the sense that people did not want to see — or deal with — any anger or fear I might have about what was happening to me.

Therefore, I believed  (whether or not the messages were really there) that I needed to contain those feelings.

In this blog, I have written about several containers, for feelings and thoughts (like here and here).  And those containers can be useful, for sure.

However, I will say this:

When  a therapist talked to me, recently, about the technique of imagining a container for difficult feelings, I replied, “Personally, I would need such a  container to be open.  I wouldn’t want to believe that I have to close off my feelings, no matter how difficult they are.”

Therefore, I imagined a container, like this:

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but opened, like this:

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And that seemed like a good idea.

Before I end, I want to mention/brag about one more thing.

I am going to Game One of the World Series, tonight!

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Earlier this morning, I had this thought about that:

What’s the matter with you?  You should be ecstatic!

There it is, again: another “should” thought about feelings.

Earlier this morning, I also had the urge to yell, to get some anger out. And I thought, “I can’t do that!!”

But what about this, as a solution?

I’m going to the World Series tonight! What better place to yell??!!?

YAY!!!!!!!!

Much better.

Thanks* to the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, to containers of all kind, to people who have fear and anger, and to you, too, for visiting today.

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Also, for the images, to theguardian.com (for the “fear face” and an interesting article), chrisperruna.com (for another “fear face” and interesting article), HowStuffWorks, rozsavage.com, Rebuilding Divorce Recovery, and what-buddha-said.net.

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

Day 191: Compliments

Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, this is the question on my mind:

What should I blog about today?

Mind you, this is a different use of the word “should” than the self-bullying, cognitive-distortion-y  SHOULD.  (See here for one post on that unhelpful kind of “should”, and see here for a complete list of those pesky cognitive distortions.)

Actually, here’s a more accurate — and more civil-sounding — translation of that Thought Upon Arising:

What might I blog about today?

After I ask myself that question, my thoughts roam about, to and fro, here and there, into the future and into the past, inside the room and outside into the universe — as our human thoughts do (unless we are practicing being more in the moment).

And eventually, my mind comes to rest on a topic, like a butterfly choosing one flower in the midst of a meadow.

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I want to mention a few things at this point:

  1. I had a lot more luck finding a pictorial representation for today’s butterfly simile than I did for yesterday’s, which involved lobster sauce,
  2. I apologize to my friend, Megan, who is a little phobic about butterflies, and
  3. The butterfly is, again, a great metaphor for the Mind of Ann, which likes to flit around (as, for example, within this list).

So, without further ado, the flower/topic du jour, for Day 191 in the Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, is ….

Compliments! (Not a big surprise, I guess, if you still remembered the title.)

Some reasons why my mind lit upon this particular topic, this morning:

  1. In a therapy group I did at work yesterday, that was the topic the group eventually chose to work on.
  2. My experience — within myself and observing others — is this: people have complicated reactions to compliments and compliments are sometimes difficult to accept.
  3. Many new, lovely readers discovered my blog yesterday and wrote complimentary comments.
  4. I am approaching my second-year anniversary at work , which means it’s time for my annual review, and last year’s review was quite complimentary, which had a big effect on me.

What else would I like to write about this topic, before I end this post for the day?

Here are some things that stand out for me, right now, about compliments (including some things people said yesterday, in the group):

Fears about compliments include the following:

People are just being nice.

If people really knew me, they would change their mind.

Compliments can feel like pressure, as if there are now expectations for my behavior, which I’m not sure I can always satisfy.

If I believe and accept these compliments, I will become conceited and act inappropriately.

Other thoughts about compliments I’ve heard (from myself and others) include:

I LOVE them!!!

I don’t know what to say, and I often discount, dismiss, or deflect them.

I wish I got more of them, from the people who really matter.

It’s weird to get them now, when I didn’t hear them at all when I was growing up.

In conclusion, I’m going to quote something somebody said at group yesterday:

Compliments make me anxious, but that’s not a bad thing.

One more thing!  If you don’t know what to say in response to a compliment, here’s a no-fail, two-word solution:

Thank you.*

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* for reading today, etc.

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

Day 188: Remembering, forgetting, and being hurt

I am helping to plan a High School Reunion, which is happening, in two weeks,  on an “off year.” (Meaning, an anniversary which is not a multiple of 5.)

Yesterday, I was talking to a classmate on the phone, whom I hadn’t spoken to for many years.

She asked me, “Is your mother still alive?”

I said that, no, both my parents had passed away.

She said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  When did your mother pass?”

And I said, “Wait.  I can never remember that. Hold on ….”

And my mind did that squirming-like-a-toad thing it does, when I can’t remember something I should know.

I said, “Geesh.  I don’t know why that happens to me.  I always have to think about it. Now, I know my father passed away in 1997, my son was born in 1998, and ….”

The year of my mother’s death still wasn’t coming to me, and I panicked a little, because I was thinking, “You should be able to think of that!  What is the matter with you?”

I explained, (assuming that my classmate most likely thought this memory lapse of mine was very weird), “There were so many things going on at that time: I got a big promotion, we moved to a different town …”

Then, I gave an estimate, “It was about 5 or 6 years ago, I think,” still feeling some shame about the not-remembering.

Now, as I’m writing this, in peace and contemplation, I should be able to figure out that date, pretty easily.

Here goes:  When my mother died, my son was going into 5th grade. He is now going into 10th grade. So it was 5 years ago that my mother passed away.  It was 2008.

Now, 2008 should also be an easy year to remember, because she was 90 years old at her death, and I completely remember the year of her birth: 1918.

I can’t forget the year of both my parents’ birth. That year is right there, in the top of my mind.

I think 1918 would be quite easy for me to remember, no matter what. Also, that Very Important Year of 1918 also got mentioned — a lot — in my home as I was growing up because of this:

IT WAS THE LAST TIME THE BOSTON RED SOX HAD WON THE WORLD SERIES.

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Boy, those Red Sox just couldn’t win (The World Series), for most of my life (and for most of the lives of most of the Red Sox fans in the world).

I confess this, too:  I have to pause and think about the year that Very Infamous Streak got broken. I THINK it was 2005.  I’ll go check (on Google) ….

Nope. I was wrong. It was 2004.

Now, Red Sox fans will probably think that’s incredible, that I couldn’t remember the year.  (And I was a big Red Sox fan, for many years.)

I have trouble with numbers. I guess. Maybe because they are details, shmetails. Maybe because I EXPECT to have trouble with numbers.

I’m not sure.  All I know is that certain dates escape me.

For example, I remember, once, I got my mother’s birthday wrong.  Her birthday was April 22. And I forgot it. For some reason, that year, I thought it was the 23rd.

And I remember the hurt look on her face.

Here’s her face without a hurt look on it (which is how she usually looked):

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(That’s a photo of my parents, copied on regular paper, that’s on the side of my refrigerator.)

I didn’t like hurting my mother,  but sometimes I did.

I still have a really strong reaction to hurting people. I can get very upset and worried if I think I’ve hurt — or might hurt —  somebody else’s feelings.

Being afraid of hurting somebody else’s feelings can paralyze me, sometimes. Make me afraid to act. Make me regret my actions, to an excessive degree. I can magnify the hurt I might cause and minimize other things.  (See here, if you want to read about the cognitive distortion of Magnifying/Minimizing) (and two other distortions relating to this post — Shoulds and Mind Reading.)

This is what I sometimes tell people in the therapy groups that I do, when I see that very human (and often quite beautiful, but painful) fear of hurting somebody else:

 Other people are not as fragile as you fear.  

Other people have said useful things to me about that Fear of Hurting Others, such as this:

 If we are connected and we care, we will inevitably hurt and be hurt.

That’s not an “official” quote, so I just went a-googlin’ (using “hurt quotes”) to find something similar.

And I found some interesting things:

“Of course I get hurt.” — Jackie Chan

Also, keeping with the Baseball Theme, here are two quotes that came up by Satchel Paige:

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”

“Airplanes may kill you. But they ain’t likely to hurt you.”

That last quote is helpful for me, right now, for another reason:  I’ll be flying in August, with my son, to London.  Flying is something else — besides hurting other people’s feelings — that I can get anxious about.

And here’s another number I have trouble remembering — not just the year, but the date of my mother’s passing. I had to look that up, just now, too.

August 12, 2008.

I’ll be in England — or Scotland — on the 5th anniversary of that date, with my son.

(Note that I have trouble remembering the exact dates of that trip,  too!  Geesh.)

Here’s how I’m going to wrap-up this post today.  Here’s what feels left unsaid, right now:

On August 11, 2008, my mother told people, while I was asleep, that she wanted to tell me something.  “I have something I need to tell Ann, ” she said.   I was with my mother for some times while she was dying, but I was not there for that. Or for the moment of her passing.

And I don’t know what she wanted to tell me.  Sometimes I wonder about it.  What was it? Was it something she wanted to warn me about?  (She worried about things, sometimes.) A feeling she wanted to express?  Did it have something to do with forgiveness? Something about hurt? Or maybe about love?

I just don’t know.  And it’s difficult not to mind-read, about what she wanted to say.

Here’s what helps me to remember, right now:

What we miss seems more important, sometimes, than what we get.

And it’s not.  It’s all important.

Thanks for reading today.

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