Posts Tagged With: shoulds

Day 142: The Heart is a Lonely Blogger (at 2 AM)

My writing a blog post in the middle of the night is not exactly novel (see here for my most recent early-morning musings).

Tonight, however, there are some new circumstances contributing to my being awake at 2 AM, including the very loud construction going on nightly in my town. Indeed, I just now recorded, on my iPhone, shocking evidence of the volume of these nocturnal improvements, but I can’t figure out how to drop that file into this post.

To help you join with me in this experience, here’s a canned version of construction noises, which I’ve used in a previous post:

That’s uncannily close to what I’m hearing, outside my window, right now.

As is my wont with these mid-night posts, I like to keep them short, because I have faith, or hope, that I might fall back asleep this night.

And actually, that reminds me of a subtitle I was considering for this post:  “Faith and Doubt”.

Because — in these wee hours of the morning, as I was having trouble sleeping — that’s where my thoughts have been going.  To faith and doubts about these blog posts: specifically, about how many people are reading.

I know I have written about these kinds of thoughts — How Many People Are Reading? — before (see here).

And while part of me believes that Readership Really Shouldn’t Matter …. nevertheless, these are the thoughts, that are occurring to me, on this topic, at 2:30 AM on Day 142.

On the one hand, I believe that plenty of people are reading.  I know that many people  — those I’ve met and those I haven’t — have subscribed to this blog.  And several people have told me they read this blog and enjoy it — which always warms my heart.  All this  — plus my experience, in groups, that, for every person who voices something, there are other, silent people who feel the same way —  gives me the faith that this blog is being seen and heard enough.

Also, I especially feel good when I put things out in the world just for the sake of expression, letting go completely of the result.

These kind of thoughts tell me that this blog is exactly where it is supposed to be — in terms of readership and everything else.

This reminds me of a sign we had in the large group room at the psychiatric day treatment program where I used to work:

You Are Exactly Where You are Supposed To Be.

A lot of people who saw that sign said they found  it very helpful, if difficult to believe at times.

I have found that sign — and concept — very helpful, too.

So helpful that I almost feel ready to end this post, just letting that concept in, again, tonight:

This blog is exactly where it is supposed to be.

Ahhhh.  That helps. And I do believe it.

My original plans for this Sleepless in Massachusetts post had included the other side of Faith: Doubt.  These doubts would have included the surprisingly low  numbers I see here on WordPress about daily readership.  I am puzzled by these numbers at times, because they don’t match other data, here at WordPress and elsewhere (data including readership maps, numbers of followers, etc.).

That Doubt-tinged Data — of Lower Than Expected Readership — usually doesn’t worry me. But — like everything else I see and perceive — those numbers stay in my mind, ready to surface (especially when I can’t sleep).

But for now, I am content to let go of those doubts and concerns.  I believe, right now, that

I (and everything I create, including this blog) is exactly where it’s supposed to be.

As a result — Poof!  All expectations, “shoulds,” and investments in outcomes — regarding this blog —  fade away.

Even while those construction noises don’t.

I am supremely grateful, in this moment, for your readership.  Goodnight and zzzzzzzzzzzz (snoring noises, for those of you who wonder).

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

Day 140: We cannot control other people

Duh.  Isn’t that obvious?  We can’t control what other people do — to themselves, to us, to the rest of the world.

However, we can be clear about how their actions affect us.

We can also let them know how we feel about it. And we can control what we do , in response to their actions.

This applies on a personal level.

Let’s say that an adult, whom I love, has a toothache. This person has had toothaches before and — for lots of reasons — has not gone to the dentist.

While I think it’s a great idea for that person to go to the dentist, it’s not my tooth. It’s not my pain.

The best I can do is this:  tell the person that it bothers me to see them in pain. Let them know I’m eager to talk about what might be getting in the way of them seeing the dentist.  Find out and offer information that might be helpful.

And then step back.

As they say, you can lead a horse to the dentist, but you can’t make it sit in the chair.

(Depending upon where you live, that previous sentence might make NO sense. If that applies to you, the original saying is “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” See here for more about that English language proverb.) (I am not, at this writing, aware of any real proverbs involving dentists.)

That concludes today’s post, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you, so much, for bringing yourself here.

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

Day 104: Things I know about groups

It’s time for a post that has a random collection of stuff I know!

This is my first attempt at a list — which I’ve often thought I should put together — of things that help people communicate more authentically in groups.

Because I am a group therapist (and I am giving presentations, these days, on the groups I’m doing), the focus of this list is from my perspective — a person who runs groups.  (However, I hope that you, dear reader,  might get something out of this, too.)

Things that Help People Communicate More Effectively (and More Authentically) In Groups

(and perhaps in any encounter with other people)

by Ann

  1. People know enough about what to expect from their experience in order to be present with less anxiety. This helpful knowledge includes each person’s role in the group, what is expected of them, and what might be coming next.
  2. People feel safe enough to disclose and share, which includes knowing that other people’s thoughts are not as dangerous as one might fear.
  3. Acknowledging and inviting all the different parts of each person  (including feelings and thoughts) (including the parts that are both accepted and disowned).
  4. Inviting what is shared and common among the group members (similar experiences, feelings, and thoughts).
  5. Acknowledgement of each person’s uniqueness — that they may feel alone and different at times. (This includes naming and validating this common thought, “I am the only one in this room who ……”)
  6. Link  # 5 above with #4, above, to focus on interpersonal connection. In other words, people are unique and may feel alone even while in the presence of others, but they are not alone with that, either!
  7. Inviting people’s needs.
  8. Leaving room for hope but also disappointment, because all personal needs will not be met during each encounter. (Group work is very much about balancing your needs with other people’s needs.)
  9. Leaving room for people to figure out how to continue the work beyond the group session,  including meeting those needs that weren’t met.
  10. Inviting everybody’s strengths and wisdom.

I focused on my needs  in writing this post today. I’m going to leave it with that emphasis, rather than work  much longer on this post, in order to make it more obviously useful to my readers.   I do want to finish this soon, and get out and enjoy the day.

But I do want to say this:

Blogging is another group interaction (at least it is, in my mind).  Considering that I focused more on my own needs in this post, I wonder how I did, in making this post effective for everybody who might read it? 

Oh, that reminds of something else I do in groups:

11.  Tell people there is no right or wrong way to do the group. Invite the concept of “good enough.”

I think I did a  good enough job balancing my needs  with your needs, today,  in this important personal interaction.

Oooops!   That reminds me of something else!

12.  Acknowledge the importance of the connection.

Okay, I’m done. For now.

Thanks for reading.

© 2013 Ann Koplow

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 99: Importance and unimportance, continued

Three days ago, I wrote about the phrase

“We are neither as important or as unimportant as we fear.”

And I dedicated that post to my friend, Jeanette, because I THOUGHT it was her birthday that day.

And it wasn’t her birthday.

I had tried to be a detective, figure it out, and be sure about it. But I was a lousy detective.

Every year, I have trouble remembering Jeanette’s birthday. I know it’s in April, and I know it’s a single digit, but I am vague about the actual date.

And because I’ve known her for so long, and she is so important to me, I always think that I SHOULD know her birthday.

I’m afraid that she might misunderstand my not remembering. I fear that she might translate that into misunderstanding her importance to me.

I have that fear about other people too, because I can forget things about them. I tend to forget details about people’s lives. And I worry about how they might interpret that.

By the way, I panicked momentarily after I posted the erroneous birthday greeting. It was my worst fear coming true. Not only did I get her birthday gone, but, boy, did I make that mistake public! I felt terrible, beat myself up about my carelessness, and imagined Jeanette having all sorts of negative reactions.

That’s what the mind is for, apparently: imagining people you care about having all sorts of negative reactions to you.

However, I am glad to report this: I let go of those negative thoughts and fears REALLY QUICKLY. I mean, I’m talking five minutes. Then, I got in touch with the more probable story — that Jeanette would be okay — that she wouldn’t equate my mistaken birthday wish with her importance to me.

And I quickly used the antidote of Reality Testing. I called her. And she was laughing about it. She expressed all sorts of POSITIVE feelings about the post, not negative ones.

Before I end this, I wanted to write about another side of this issue of memory and importance.

Confession time!

When people forget details about my life or forget what I’ve told them, I can have a negative reaction to that. Not always, but especially if I’m feeling vulnerable, or thinking negative thoughts about myself. Then, people forgetting my birthday or other details about me can cause this thought to crop up:

I am not important to other people. If I was, they would remember things about me.

I also feel some shame about wanting to be more important to people — so that they do remember details about me.

But here’s the way I’m telling the story today. Every connection is important. I matter to other people. People matter to me. We affect each other.

And trying to figure out importance, based on details remembered, does not help.

Proof of that last sentence: I have trouble remembering Jeanette’s birthday, and she is very important to me.

However, I think, this might be the year — This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally — that I finally get her birthday into my head.

It’s 4/9!!

Happy Birthday, Jeanette.

And thanks for reading.

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

Day 97: Setting Priorities (starring The Oxygen Mask Metaphor)

When you have too much to do, setting priorities can be REALLY helpful.

That’s been true for me, especially lately.

Work has been stressful, overwhelming, wonderful, scary, depleting, energizing, and close-to-all-encompassing lately, because (1)  I really, really care about it, (2) there are a lot of changes going on, and (3) a lot of feelings from my past have been present for me lately.

Yes, I have been feeling overwhelmed. Big time.  To the extent that sometimes I just sit and stare into space, paralyzed by what to do next.  Actually, that’s one of the main ways I’m getting down-time these days, because there’s so much for me to do.

There’s always too much to do.

Can I get an “Amen” about that?  (Apparently not. I just googled “Amen sound effects” and couldn’t find anything quick enough. And THAT is not a priority for me, right now, so moving on ….)

On Friday, at work, I was looking ahead to the weekend and feeling overwhelmed about today, because there were many things I wanted to do, including:

  1. Going to the  birthday party of a friend from high school,  who was also my first “boyfriend” (we’re talking age 6 or 7 here), whom I recently reconnected with through MY birthday party,
  2. Going to a reception for a photography show my sister is in. (My sister is not a professional photographer, but she takes amazing pictures, and she submitted photos for the first time, and made the show!)
  3. Preparing more for this presentation I’m giving on Tuesday to a Room Full of Medical Residents, about (a) the groups I’m doing, (b) group therapy, in general, (c) how the medical staff and the social work staff can work effectively together, (d) how to be more present for patients, (e) how to take care of ourselves so we can be more present for patients, and (f) anything else I can figure out how to fit in to an hour, in a coherent way, that addresses people’s needs and interests but also moves My Personal Mission (Improving the Patient Experience in a Medical Setting) forward.
  4. Go for walks, listen to music, and do other down-time activities for myself, which are more sustaining than sitting paralyzed and staring into space.

You may, perhaps, notice certain pervasive themes in what I’ve written so far, including this:

I’m trying to do too much. (#3 above seems to imply that, doesn’t it?)

So it’s very important for me, these days, to Walk the Walk — and not just Talk the Talk — of the topic of this post.

It’s important for me to set priorities.

On Friday, I did just that, by  writing this down:

My priorities for this Sunday are:

(1) Me

(2) The photography show

(3)  The party.

That helped. By putting myself first, I was able to start figuring out ways to make Sunday work.

(By the way, I didn’t put the presentation on the list, because I have prepared enough, already.  I know I will do more, but it’s good enough already — and I can make it better, if I choose).

I find it difficult to even write or say “putting myself first” (much less do it!) because that sounds “selfish.” I may promote selfishness in my clients and my friends, but I have trouble doing that for myself. (See “The Double Standard Method”, here,  for a possible remedy for that.)

However, by making that list on Friday, I came up with a plan that is enabling me, today, to do everything I want to do, and still feel like I’m taking care of myself. (That plan involved setting limits and expectations, which you can read more about here and here.)

Ironically, if I hadn’t put myself first, I might have ended up doing less for the other people involved.  I would probably have stayed feeling overwhelmed. I may have felt some resentment about my wishes to “please” others.  I might have cancelled some of the activities.

I can find it challenging to balance my needs with other people’s needs.

And I get an “Amen!” from lots of other people about that.

Here’s a metaphor I like to use, in my work:

The Oxygen Mask Metaphor

When you’re on an airplane, about to take off, and the flight attendants are doing their little gig about What You Need To Know In Case of Emergency, and they come to the part about the mask dropping down ….

What do they say (besides “breathe normally” — hah!)?

They say, “Put your own mask first, even if you are sitting with a child.”

I think they say that, every time, not just because of liability, but because it’s so friggin’ counter-intuitive.  The urge, OF COURSE, would be to put the mask on the child first.

But, to be more effective for the child, in that urgent situation, the adult has to get oxygen first, in order to help the child.

The Moral of the Oxygen Mask Metaphor

We need to take care of our own needs, first, before we can be of use to anybody else.

Can I get an Amen about that, readers?

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

Day 92: What’s so scary?

This is what I want to write about, right now, because I felt scared today, and I’m still feeling it.

I thought it might be helpful to ask myself the question: “What’s so scary?” and see what happens.


Okay, let the questioning begin.

What’s so scary?

I’m glad you asked.   Here’s what so scary: I have to make several presentations, about the therapy groups that I’m doing, to several different audiences, starting next week.  I admit that I lost track of the time and — with kind of a shock —  realized today that it was just a week away.  A week!

What’s so scary about that?

I’m not really prepared.  I mean, I THOUGHT I was prepared. But now that it’s real, and I’m imagining doing the presentation, in front of people I don’t know, who I’m imagining as bored, judgmental, or even contemptuous —  I’m realizing that what I THOUGHT would be good enough, probably isn’t.

So, obviously, I should have been working on this presentation more before. Also, this is the beginning of an inexorable chain of presentations  — SEVEN in the next six weeks. PLUS, this is leading up to another, much bigger presentation I have to do in June to an audience that REALLY scares me.

What’s so scary about that?

Haven’t you been listening?  There is the chance for FAILURE here!  Plus, I could disappoint some people who are expecting me to be good.  So I’m feeling guilty about not doing more, before today. Plus, I’m feeling like a CONCEITED JERK for thinking that I had things all together, and didn’t need to prepare much for this.  What was I thinking, when I said I would do this? I should have known this would scare the sh*t out of me!  How am I ever going to be calm for the next two months??  This is the most stressful thing EVER.  And work can be stressful enough, already.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  I should have known better.  That’s what I get, for thinking that I was in a confident and experienced enough place to be able to do this without FREAKING OUT.  I mean, look at me now!

So what’s so scary?

Huh?

Oh.

I guess my thoughts are scaring me, not the actual presentation.

There are an awful lot of cognitive distortions in those thoughts, which I can see, now that I’ve written them down. I  see shoulds, mind reading, catastrophizing, labeling, emotional reasoning, and there’s probably more.

Okay.

Here’s what I’m thinking now.

I guess I don’t know how the presentation is going to turn out.

I guess I’m afraid of my own fear, in a way.

I guess imagining the audience being bored, judgmental, and/or contemptuous isn’t helping me right now.

Okay.

I’m actually a lot less scared.  Amazing.

But what if those thoughts come back between now and next week?  Or between now and June?

I’ll just ask myself,  What’s so scary?

Until it isn’t.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll figure something else out.

Thanks for reading.

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

Day 88: Asking questions

I know I’ve written a previous post on how much I love asking questions and hearing answers.  I guess that’s a good quality for me to have, considering that I’ve ended up (after several career twists and turns) as a group and individual therapist.

Other people have noticed this quality of mine.   An old partner of mine used to quote a “Saturday Night Live” skit, in reference to me.  I can’t find it on YouTube, but here’s what I remember about it. A guy and a woman are out on a first date, and she is peppering him with questions.  At some point, he (I think it was Chevy Chase, so it’s  REALLY OLD SNL) says to her (trying to disguise some annoyance):

“You’re so ……. inquisitive.”

A Jackie Chan Digression 

In the 1990s, some friends and I  got into Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong movies. They are SO great, BTW, and very different from his American movies.

Here’s a YouTube link to an 80’s TV show, “Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show,” with Jonathan Ross, centering on Jackie, which gives you some idea of what those movies are like:

Jonathan Ross show about Jackie Chan

My friends and I  REALLY enjoyed watching those movies.  I’m talking Obsession, for some of us.    And it was not easy to see these films, because Jackie was not famous in the U.S. then, and his films were not that available. (It was much less of an Instant Gratification Media World  in the 90’s.)   But the Brattle Cinema, in Cambridge

Brattle_Theatre_exterior-full2_5500

would periodically  run festivals of these amazing Hong Kong-made Jackie Chan films, like “Project A,” “Project A Part II,” “Police Story,”  “Police Story 2,” “City Hunter,” “Dragons Forever,”  “Drunken Master,” “Super Cop”, and more.

At my birthday party earlier this year, where people shared stories and memories, several of the stories were about how much fun people had going to these Brattle Cinema festivals. We remembered how each of us had Dragon Names, which we had chosen for ourselves.

I shall now briefly explain “Dragon Name”:

Jackie Chan’s Chinese name (his “stage name” essentially) is

 成龍

where the first character means “adult” or “developing” or “mature” and the second character means “dragon.” (Bruce Lee’s Chinese Name was “Little Dragon.”)   So the members of this Jackie Chan-loving group of mine chose Dragon Names for themselves, which included  (1)  A descriptive adjective + (2)  The word “Dragon.”

The Point of The Jackie Chan Digression

My dragon name was “The Inquisitive Dragon.”

So, inquisitiveness — asking questions —  is definitely a quality of mine. This is observed by others and valued by me.

However, some questions are easier for me to ask than others.

What are the easier ones?  Questions that reflect my curiosity and interest in other people.

Which questions are harder to ask?

  • Questions where there is a “power differential.”  For example, asking management at work for something. Or, when I’m a patient, asking doctors questions, which are sometimes challenging. (I’ve worked really hard at the latter, my whole life, and I’m pretty good at it.) (I hear that from my doctors, actually.)
  • Questions where I might hurt somebody’s feelings.
  • Questions where I am asking for something I need.
  • Questions where I am revealing that I don’t know something.

That last one in the list is rather ironic, isn’t it?  Because what would be a better reason than to ask a question, than to learn something you don’t know?

However, I have to say that I do see other people, around me, hesitating to ask questions, perhaps for fear that it will reveal something They Think They Should Know Already.

I can only speak for myself. And I do know that I sometimes hesitate to ask questions out of fear — the fear of being seen as ignorant, stupid,or  not listening.

Before I end this post, I feel obliged to point out that those fears involve the Cognitive Distortions of Mind Reading,  Labeling, and Shoulds.

Why did I write this post today?

I realized there were some questions I was afraid to ask at work today. I need the answers, in order to do my job better.

I am now going out there, dear reader, and I’m going to Just Do It!  (Just like Jackie Chan says, many times, in that TV show.)

How about you?

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

Day 44: The Daily Blog

It’s 7 PM on Day 44 of the Year of Blogging Daily, and I have no idea what my topic is going to be. And I’m hungry. I want to have dinner soon, but I want to write this post before dinner.  My big plans for after dinner? Watching some TV shows I DVR-ed while I was on my trip, which I’m REALLY looking forward to.

So I’d like to write a blog post, now.  But about what?

I’ve had  ideas for topics, popping up throughout the day, including:

  1. Writing thank-you notes.
  2. How to give yourself a great 60th birthday party.
  3. Tips on traveling by yourself
  4. Decisions, decisions
  5. The 30-minute Blog
  6. Irritating things

That last topic is an indication that I’m hungry.

I’m very much in touch — right now — with the reality that writing a daily blog does present this danger: that posting might turn into something that I SHOULD be doing.  (If you want to read a previous post about SHOULDs, it’s right here.)

Writing a daily post might turn into a source of stress,  another obligation.  And an INESCAPABLE one. Oh, no!  I just finished a post less than 24 hours ago,  and NOW I HAVE TO DO ANOTHER ONE!  Eeeeeeek!

If there’s something you need to do every day, I guess freaking out like that is always a possibility. But I think there ARE ways to let go of that stress.

For example, you can always — in the moment — get a sense of what might help you complete your task, balancing different priorities.

Sometimes, it really helps to name what those priorities are.

In this case, my priorities are:

  1. Eat dinner.

That’s it.

Okay, that completes today’s post. Thanks for reading!

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

Day 27: This blog is good enough AND I can make it better.

I’m glad I’ve chosen this for the Topic Du Jour, because I think I’m going to find this helpful (and maybe even fun!) to write about.

For one thing, I like thinking about the generalized version of this subject heading, which I’ve been using lately as a remedy or antidote, when I start to lapse into self-judgment:

It’s good enough already AND I can make it better.

What I like about this handy-dandy, helpful phrase is that it allows me to feel acceptance of where I am (regarding my learning curve at work, relationships,  my abilities as a mother, where I live, a group I’m doing, etc.), despite my constant awareness of all the things I don’t know and could improve upon.

So that phrase definitely helps me.

It’s helping me right now!

Starting and writing this blog is a good example of how that phrase can help me hold (and honor) two things which may seem mutually exclusive:  (1) acceptance of where I am and (2) my inherently lively self-judgmental voice, which wants me to do better (but which, in its zealousness, can make me feel worse).

At this point, I’d like to fill you in on some details about The Birth of This Blog. In December,  after spending several months writing, more prolifically than I expected, chapters for a possible book (or two), I decided that it might be a good time to also start a blog.  I had never written a blog before, but I liked the idea of another outlet for writing — and a way of writing that would be much more interactive than writing a book on my own. I also saw starting a blog as a way to support a current quest of mine:   to let go of judgment (and to help others do the same).  And the title of the blog came to me: The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally. I loved the idea of committing to that for the coming year, recognizing that Non-Judgment is a goal that I would never completely and consistently attain, but which striving toward could  be very helpful.  (I’m thinking about Calculus, which I actually hated in school, but which — if my memory serves me correctly  —  is all about approaching and getting closer to a point without actually ever reaching it.)

I wasn’t sure how often I would write in this blog, and I wasn’t sure when I would start it.  The two possibilities for starting were:  January 1, 2013, and February 2, 2013, which would be my 60th birthday.  So, in December, I started a quick and dirty research of How To Blog, using my usual learning technique of asking people what they knew and what they would advise. A couple of people suggested WordPress as the site.  And then I did a quick crash course, for myself, of how to get started blogging on WordPress.  I spent a few hours looking at possible formats (called “themes” here),  saw the “Adventure Journal” theme  and loved the idea of this coming year as an adventure. (I also looked at the suggested photographs for the Adventure Journal and LOVED the picture of that camel, looking at the pyramids — a place I’ve always wanted to go, and haven’t been to yet.)

So, late in December, I decided upon the theme and felt like I knew enough to Take The Plunge. And I began writing this blog on January 1, 2013.

Now,  I am 27 days into this journey, and have actually posted each day. I have also had a chance to look at other WordPress blogs.

So, right on schedule, I am having thoughts that fit into the Cognitive Distortion of ….

Comparisons.

Here is the definition of Comparisons,  from a hand-out I use at work on Cognitive Distortions/Unhelpful Thoughts:

Comparisons.

We compare ourselves to others, with ourselves coming out short. For example, “I’m not as smart (or good, competent, good-looking, lovable, etc.) as that other person.”   Or, we compare ourselves to how we think we should be, or how we’ve been before.  We might think that comparisons help motivate us, but they usually make us feel worse.

So, yes, I am now reading other blog posts here, where I really enjoy the cleanness and simplicity of the posting themes. And lately, I have been comparing, to my disadvantage, the way my blog looks. My blog has an appearance chosen by a newbie, overwhelmed by all the choices here, who fell in love with the words “Adventure Journal” and a picture of an inscrutable camel staring at the pyramids.

Okay, if you’re interested in more details about the negative  thoughts  have come up for me lately about this blog — thoughts also heavily laden with the previously blogged-upon cognitive distortions of Mind-Reading and Should’s– feel free to dive into this italicized Pool of Judgment:

I don’t like the sans-serif type font that my blog theme uses.  And I can’t seem to change it!   When I used to work in marketing and advertising, I was a fanatic about using serif fonts in every piece of marketing literature I helped create –since studies showed that serif fonts were easier to read.  Why did I choose this theme without more care about the type font that was available?  People are probably having trouble reading this with that lousy type font.  They’re also probably getting annoyed with the “gimmicks” of my posts! It’s bad enough I’ve chosen my own gimmicks — using the term “dear reader” and my tendency to Capitalize Important Concepts (which drives my son crazy) — but at least THOSE I CAN CHANGE IF I CHOOSE. What about those gimmicks I can’t control because it’s part of the Adventure Journal Theme ? Those ripped slips of paper that serve as my replies to comments, and so on!  I bet those gimmicks are driving people crazy, and maybe even preventing some people from reading this blog!  What was I thinking, choosing such a busy theme?  Why didn’t I take more time to look at other people’s blogs, which look so modern, so clean, so easy to read?

Phew.  I don’t know how that was to read, but — as always — it helps me to write  down those dang judgmental thoughts — getting them out of my head.

I repeat, Phew!

I’m also noticing the focus on appearance — how this blog looks — in that pool of judgment. So  I’m remembering, right now,  times I’ve made other judgmental comparisons about appearances. That is, I’m remembering some painful times where I’ve compared how I look to a more popular ideal.

Hmmmm. That’s interesting.

So what I would like to do right now is to make some choices.  I’m reaffirming my acceptance of appearances (mine and my blog)  and hoping that people can get past any flaws –that I might see or fear  — to the beauty they may be able to find for themselves.

Wow!  I actually didn’t know this post was going to go THERE, dear reader.

Before I end this surprising post, I want to say a few more things:  There are some important lessons for me learn about being a blogger, including how to refer to other posts I’ve written, in a way that meets Blog Etiquette. (I have googled that concept of Blog Etiquette, but I’m still confused and relatively clueless about rules and execution of same.)  I would also like to learn how to list, on each blog post, the other blogs I’m following here, in order to share the wealth I’m experiencing as a reader.

But I’m reminding myself, right now, that I have time to learn what I need to, and I am happy — in the moment, now that I’ve written this post — with exactly where I am on the blogging journey.  Because it’s good enough AND I can make it better.

Thanks for participating on this day of this adventure with me, dear reader.

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

Day 5: What I SHOULD (and SHOULDN’T) be doing

Here’s something else I like to rail about:

Should’s.

Another psychological epidemic that does not help, I passionately believe.

Examples of some recent Should thoughts for me: “I should write that second blog entry about Feeling Too Good, already.” “I shouldn’t have promised I’d write something the next day and then not followed through.”

Those are pretty mild Should’s, actually, causing manageable discomfort. I can shrug those off pretty easily.  But here are examples of More Painful Should’s I Have Known (personally and witnessing in others):

I should have known better.  

I should be at a different place in life.

I shouldn’t feel this way.

Painful.

Do you notice how Should’s are often about something we can’t change in the past? And do you notice how Should’s can be sticks we use to beat ourselves up, as a way to motivate ourselves to do something? If you use Should’s in that way, let me ask you this: do they work?  And if they do “work” at times, what toll do they take?  What effect do they have on you? Are there ways you might motivate yourself more gently, less overwhelmingly, less exhaustingly, more effectively?

A friend said the other day that he has just started noticing the Should’s in his thoughts, and, with some shock, he’s realizing how constantly they come up. He’s noticing an endless stream of these suckers running through his head: I should know this already, I should have gotten more done, I shouldn’t be doing that this way, should this, shouldn’t that, should should should ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME.

Like I said, a Psychological Epidemic.

Okay, so far in This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, I think I’ve identified three Psychological Epidemics.  (I’m now going to re-read my own posts  and double-check this) (and increase the views but not the visitors, I’m newbie-ly guessing).

Yep!  Here are the three I’ve identified so far: (1) Caring What Other People Think, (2) The Fear of Feeling Too Good,  and (3) Should’s.

By the way, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)  has a term for  what I’m calling Psychological Epidemics. CBT calls them Cognitive Distortions.   Should’s are one of the 13 Cognitive Distortions identified by CBT. (Another cognitive distortion is Mindreading, which, as you can see, is related to Caring What People Think.) (The topic of Mindreading, I’m SURE, will reappear in future blog entries.) (And by predicting that, I’m not just Fortune Telling, another one of the 13 distortions.)

I think that term — “Cognitive Distortion” — can sound pretty judgmental. Somebody might feel like they’re being called “distorted” for thinking in Should’s. That’s  why I sometimes use the term “unhelpful thoughts” instead.

But whatever we wanna call ’em, we all have ’em.  Or let me be more precise. I’ve yet to meet anybody who doesn’t think in Should’s.

And here’s another Should I witness all the time: “I Shouldn’t Be Thinking in Shoulds.”

Arrrghh!  Look how endless and self-perpetuating the judgment can be!

So I believe that — no matter how we try — we’re not going to stop thinking in Should’s.  However,  noticing and naming Shoulds — and other unhelpful thoughts — can help. A LOT.

Let me put it this way: if you don’t notice an Unhelpful Thought/Cognitive Distortion,  it will feel like the TRUTH. An unchallenged and indisputable truth.

And it’s not, dear reader.

(Should I have ended that way?)  (Yes!)

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

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