Posts Tagged With: Star Trek (The Original Series)

Day 1368: Good, better, best

Today’s post title is inspired by this equipment from the Mayo Clinic, designed to prevent pneumonia after major surgery:

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It would be good, according to my health team, if I breathe into that plastic instrument once every hour I’m awake. I’m doing a much better job than I expected following their instructions. It’s best if I don’t tell you how often I’m REALLY using it.

Here are some photos I’ve recently taken, now that I’m home recovering from open heart surgery  a week ago:

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Are there any images you thought were good, better or best?

People seem to think this blog is good enough no  matter what I post. They seem to like it better if I show photos and best if I include music. So here‘s music from one of the best movies I’ve ever seen — The Crying Game. (Please click on “here” in the previous sentence to hear that music.)

 

It’s good that I feel well enough to create another blog post so easily and so soon after my very recent valve replacement surgery.  It would be better if you left a comment with your thoughts about good, better, and best.  It’s best if I publish this post now and take a rest.

Thanks to all those who helped me create this good, better, best post and thanks to all my readers, who are the BEST!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 208: Another side of mind reading (empathy)

This post is dedicated to my ex-business-partner and not-ex-friend, Jonathan, whose birthday it is today!

I’ve written, in this blog, about the cognitive distortion of mind-reading:

Mind reading.  Without individuals saying so, we know what they are thinking and why they act the way they do. For example, you assume that somebody is having a critical thought about you, you don’t check this out, and this affects your actions and feelings towards them.

The more I work with people, the more I see cognitive distortions, like mind reading, that cause people pain and get in the way of them connecting with other people.

At the same time, the more I work with people, the more I think that distortions are a tough habit to break, because they are reflections of human thought processes necessary to our survival.

Why do we mind read so much?  Why do we think we know what other people are thinking, often for the negative?  (E.g., “this person doesn’t like me,” “this person means me harm, ” “I don’t trust this person,” “this person sees in me the things I dislike in myself.”

Why do we have thoughts, like that, so automatically?

Well, there ARE people out there who might be dangerous, and — for survival — it’s good to be vigilant, scanning the environment for those people, so we can protect ourselves and ours.

Likewise, we do other cognitive distortions — like fortune telling and catastrophizing — to be prepared for the future by expecting the worst. As a mode of survival.

Cognitive distortions. Distorted forms of thought processes that have been necessary for our survival.

In my work as a therapist, I encourage people to be mindful of cognitive distortions — those thoughts that don’t help them. At the same time, I also ask them to respect these distortions.

For example, in a therapy group this past week, I said to the members, when we were discussing a particular distortion, “These thoughts think they help us.”

When I said that, I mind-read immediately, thinking, “Nobody is going to understand what THAT means.” But instead, one of the members said, “Oh!  I get it!” And she wrote it down.  And when we ended the group, and named something we wanted to take with us, she named that (what I thought was a clunky, awkward, and unclear) phrase again, as the most helpful thing she got out of the group.

These thoughts think they help us.

And there is another side, of each of the cognitive distortions, that does help us.

For example, the other side of the distortion of mind reading is ….

Empathy.

Empathy is when we try to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. To imagine what it’s like to be them.

What’s the difference between the cognitive distortion of mind reading and empathy?

Empathy is expansive. Mind reading is restrictive.  Empathy takes into account difference and experiences that you might not have had; mind reading narrowly focuses on your own fears and assumptions. Empathy takes time and care; mind reading is instantaneous and automatic.

Yesterday, when I was walking to work, I was thinking of this blog and possible future posts.

And I thought of empathy, and two videos I could include in a post about that.

Video # 1

I’ve thought of including this piece of video in a blog post several times before (including earlier this week.)

It’s a scene from the end of the first show of “Six Feet Under, ” the HBO series created by Alan Ball,  about a Funeral Home family business.

I loved that show, because it centered on the human experience of death, in a way I hadn’t seen before on TV.

And the ending of that first episode was a revelation to me.

I’ve only seen that episode once, and it’s been over twelve years.  But that ending stays with me, and I think of it often.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to find that ending scene today, to include it here.

But I found something on YouTube, that I think will do nicely.  It’s a five-minute excerpt from that first episode, which includes (1)  the opening credits (which I also loved),  (2) a very short scene with Nate, the oldest son, and his mother, and (3) that ending scene, which has stayed with me, so strongly.

This YouTube video is dubbed in Spanish, which I don’t speak, but I love that, too. Why? Because there is very little dialogue (between Nate and his mother), and all the important things that happen are non verbal.

Especially that last scene, which has no dialogue at all.

Here’s some background that might be important to know for that last scene. What has proceeded it?  Nate, the main character, has come home to be with his family, after his father has died (after being hit by a bus) and realizes that he needs to stay and help take care of the family business, which is a funeral home.  He is pretty reluctant and pissed off about this.

One more thing about that last scene: the person he sees sitting on the bench and then boarding the bus is … his father.

The first time I saw that scene,  (especially the part after the father boards the bus), I felt amazed.

I wonder what you will see in it?  I’ve never shown it to anybody before, asking that question.

Here it is. I’m going to watch it again, pretending I’ve never seen it before, and see how I experience it:

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Here’s what I saw, again, in that last part (which was shorter than I remembered), which involves some mind-reading on my part. Here’s what I thought Nate was thinking, as he looked at those people who walk by him, after he sees his late father:

“All of these people are going to die. Every one.”

And when I first saw that scene,  I was amazed, because it captured an experience I’ve been having, since I was quite young. An experience I guess I felt alone with. The experience of  looking at people (and myself) and realizing the above.

What feelings do I have, in response to that realization?

Fear. (Although less of that, as I grow older.)

But also, incredible tenderness.

Which leads me to the other video I wanted to show you, today.

Video # 2

I saw this video, called “Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care,” very recently, at the hospital where I work.  It was created by The Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit U.S.  hospital, which sponsors conferences on “The Patient Experience”, including the “Empathy and Innovation Summit” coming up in 2014.

When I first saw this, I looked at it with a more “critical eye,”  because of my professional background. That is, before I became a therapist, I spent many years with my ex-business partner Jonathan creating marketing, PR, and other corporate videos.

Even with a critical eye, my eyes tear up when I watch this:

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Before I end this post, I have to reference Star Trek (The Original Series).  Here’s an image, from the 1968 episode called “The Empath.”

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That’s Gem, the Empath, who is being taught — for the survival of her species — to feel, share, and experience other people’s pain, despite her fear.

Thanks to Alan Ball, “Six Feet Under,” The Cleveland Clinic, Gene Roddenberry,  Star Trek, and all of you (evolving) empaths out there.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 146: To boldly go where no Ann has gone before

My son, my bf, and I saw the new movie “Star Trek Into Darkness” last night. (I originally thought there MUST be a punctuation mark in that title — perhaps a “:” or a “,” or even a “.” But no. Nada.)

My son had one major question after the movie: “Why was it called ‘Into Darkness?'”

I said, “Maybe because of the way the movie was lit?”  Now that might sound like I was being all snark-y and Film School-y (and I did go to Film School, when I was in my 30’s), but I thought the movie was fine.

Regular readers of my blog may know that I love Star Trek, The Original Series (or TOS,  an acronym which is NOT immediately obvious to me, whenever it pops up). Even if readers don’t know of my feelings about TOS (The Original Series, for those of you who couldn’t hold on to that non-intuitive acronym even for a moment, like me), they may remember that I have written several posts referencing that TV show (here, here, and here).

I’ve used Star Trek (I’m dumping the whole TOS acronym for the rest of this post, people) in this blog, mostly to illustrate an experience I’ve been having, during this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally:

Accelerated Learning,

as illustrated by this Star Trek “villain” (played by Gary Lockwood):

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who became too smart and powerful, too fast, (with too shiny eyeballs), for his own good.

I just re-read that first post about Accelerated Learning, and you know what?  There’s a lot of Good Stuff in that post, to the extent that I thought, “I wonder if I have anything else to teach them?” (or more to the point, anything else to blog about, for the rest of the year.)

(I’m actually not worried about that, in the moment, although I AM feeling a wee bit … conceited, right now, having essentially “bragged” about how helpful I think that post might be, as well as having put myself in the role of “teacher.”)  (Okay, I’m letting go of any guilt about THAT, right now.)

Better.

Another thing I’ve been experiencing, this year, is a LOT of Synchronicity.

Here’s a definition of synchronicity:

syn·chro·nic·i·ty  (sngkr-ns-t, sn-)
n. pl. syn·chro·nic·i·ties
1. the quality or fact of being synchronous.
2. the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung.

Note the reference to Carl Jung, who is one of my Therapy Heroes.  (Another Therapy Hero was the gentle and wonderful Michael White, from Narrative Therapy.)

(Note also that the first definition, above, is essentially useless, as it refers to another form of the same word.)

Something else to note: another word for the concept of synchronicity is “coincidence.”

Here’s something I’ve noticed. I get really excited about coincidences, and not everybody does. 

Sometimes I think: there are two kinds of people in this world. People who get excited about coincidences and people who don’t.

Sometime I think:  there are two kinds of people in this world. People who think there are two kinds of people in this world and people who don’t.

So where was I, before all those digressions in parentheses AND italics?

Oh, yes.  Star Trek.  And Synchronicity.

So, right around the time that I was blogging so much about the shiny-eyeballed, scarily-smart Gary Lockwood character from Star Trek, rumors were swirling around the internet about the new Star Trek Movie, to be released in May.

And one of the rumors I read was this:

The villain in the new Star Trek Movie will be some version of the Gary Lockwood character in The Original Series.

I thought, “Wow!  How cool is that?  I’ll have to tell my dear readers about THAT little piece of synchronicity!”  Then, that turned out to be an old, outdated rumor.  Oh, well.

But, here was a “true rumor”:  the villain was going to be played by THIS guy:

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Benedict Cumberbatch.  Who is known, these days, for playing somebody else: another hero, who is important to me.

Sherlock Holmes.

I remember, when I was about 13 years old, spending one whole summer reading this book:

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I spent an entire summer reading this book, not because I was a slow reader (I wasn’t), but because there was SO MUCH information in this book.  Yes, people, there’s a reason why the word “ANNOTATED” is the biggest word in that title.  OMG.

But I loved reading  every word, every minute detail, as I made my way through these wonderful stories, starring the World’s Greatest Detective.

Why is Sherlock Holmes one of my heroes?

  • He is really smart.
  • He pays attention, all the time.
  • He doesn’t care what other people think about him.
  • He takes in all the details of all his senses, to solve problems.

It’s occurring to me, for the first time, that Sherlock Holmes is somebody who is REALLY mindful, in each moment.

Now I understand, in a new way, why he’s one of my heroes.

Thanks for reading, everybody!  (And I’m wondering about YOUR thoughts — regarding heroes, villains, synchronicity, Star Trek,  punctuation, or anything else you got out of this post.)

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

Day 61: Accelerated Learning (Part 2)

Okay!  Here’s another in what might be a continuing series of things I’m learning this year — at such an accelerated pace, that I’m reminded of Gary Lockwood’s character in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” from Star Trek (The Original Series).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xeEDtF0bbE

Damn!  I still can’t find a clip that shows Gary’s character learning so rapidly that he speeds through pages he’s reading, really fast. (Although the clip which I ‘ve linked to, above, does show his rapidly acquired mastery of levitating a Cup of the Future, which is probably especially tricky.)

Since I can’t show you the clip I want right now, I’m searching for a good descriptive metaphor for how quickly that Star Trek character learns new things. Like wildfire?   Like Tom Cruise flying some jet in “Top Gun”? ( I’ve never seen “Top Gun”, but that still pops up when I’m trying to think of a metaphor for speed.)  Like some political party member talking to the media about things that are wrong with the other party?

No matter what the metaphor, here’s the deal, dear reader: (1) Gary Lockwood in Star Trek learns really quickly, (2) I’m learning lots of things (although not quite as quickly as him), and (3) you can read more about all that  (with a different clip from that Star Trek episode)  here.

Without further ado, here are more things that I’ve been learning lately, although not quite as rapidly as a Scary, Too-Smart-Becoming Guy on a 60’s TV show:

  1. Projecting fears and critical self-judgments onto other people really screws up a connection in the moment.
  2. Fears about other people’s reactions (anger, envy, fragility) can restrict you, big time.
  3. Worries about whether you’ll be able to sustain or hold on to a current situation, feeling, or thought can really get in the way of appreciating the current moment.
  4. Feeling depressed seems related to focusing on regrets about the past; being anxious seems related to focusing on fears about the future.
  5. It’s really difficult to calibrate and figure out How Important You Are to somebody else (or to a system or an organization).
  6. Taking any action related to How Important You Are can feel very risky, because of #5, above.
  7. You can often do a good enough job at a current task without access to more knowledge or the perfect tools (or the perfect clip from a TV show).
  8. If you don’t have the knowledge or tools to do a job that’s good enough, you can say so, and then find out what you need to complete the task.

That’s all, for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this so much, that it went by as quickly as (fill in your favorite metaphor for speed, here).

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

Day 58: Accelerated Learning

There has been a lot going on, in this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.

By taking a lot of new risks and by letting go of self-judgment, I feel like I have been learning A LOT.  Sometimes I feel like that learning is proceeding at a really accelerated rate — probably because new learning begats new learning, which begats more learning, and so on and so forth.

From that biblical reference of begatting,  I’m going to skip some millennia for another reference re: Accelerated Learning, jumping to “Star Trek” (The Original Series), one of my favorite shows when I was growing up.

One of the first episodes of Star Trek was “Where No Man Has Gone Before” with Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman, wherein Gary Lockwood’s character gets struck by something radioactive or something else futuristic  (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, folks), and he acquires new knowledge (and powers) at an increasingly rapid pace, until his eyeballs get all glow-y and he eventually thinks he’s God.  Of course, this episode did not turn out well for Gary (or Sally, for that matter).

I looked for the clip from that episode that shows how quickly Gary is learning, but I can’t find it on YouTube.  But here’s the trailer, which gives you an idea of what I’m talkin’ ’bout:

Anyway, imagine watching that episode, where that guy with the glow-y eyes is learning new things by viewing them on an electronic reader (essentially, the 1960’s vision of The Kindle). Imagine, dear reader, being horrified as the pages whip increasingly quickly, until they are just a blur!

I’m not saying I’m learning quite that rapidly, but I have been thinking about that Star Trek episode lately.  And while there is little danger that my eyes will go all glow-y or that I’ll end up in a fight-to-the-death with another glow-y eyed person on an abandoned planet, I’m not sure what to do with all this new knowledge.

Therefore, I have decided, for today’s post, to present a Semi-Random list of New Things I’ve Been Learning (or re-learning, in new ways).

New Things I’ve Been Learning (or Re-Learning in New Ways)

by Ann

  1. Hellos and goodbyes are both important.
  2. Telling people what you can and cannot do in a situation is a helpful way to set limits and manage expectations.
  3. You can ask somebody else if they love you, as risky as this may seem. (This is especially handy if you are dealing with somebody who does not tend to verbalize such things).
  4. You do not have to understand technology perfectly in order to use it.
  5. If you make mistakes while using new technology, this does not prove that you are incompetent, stupid, or too old to learn new things. It just means that new technology is complicated and takes practice.
  6. The less shame and self-judgment you are experiencing, the more present you can be in the moment and the more effective you can be with other people.
  7. The more you avoid doing something, the more likely you will be confronted with having to deal with that very thing.
  8. The more time you spend focusing on a mistake you’ve made, the longer it will delay your solving the current situation and moving on.
  9. If you forget something, it doesn’t necessarily prove that you are (a) too self-absorbed, (b) incapable of taking care of yourself in the world or (c) in a catastrophic, age-related memory-loss spiral. It just might mean that there are too many things to remember.
  10. The more you act out of defensiveness, the more you will put other people on the defensive.
  11. People (in the US, anyway) have too much to do, every day, and this can have a profound effect on how they interact with you and other people.
  12. Negative actions or thoughts are not more powerful than positive ones, they just get more attention.
  13. If you are self-conscious about doing something  — for fear of appearing foolish or whatever — you might as well try it. Because (to quote a good friend), YOU’LL LIVE.

Okay, that’s all I’m going to include in this post, dear reader. I don’t want your eyes to go all glow-y, or anything.

Thanks, everybody!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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