Posts Tagged With: the inner critic

Day 2232: What makes me smile

Yesterday, I got this in the mail from my friend, Janet, who makes me smile:


It makes me smile to read what Fluffy and Spot are discussing and Janet’s thoughtful note at the end:

Hi Ann!  Thought you could use a pick me up after all the not-great news you’ve been getting. Hope this makes you smile.  ❤  Janet

Janet has made me smile MANY times over thirty-plus years, including the smiles in previous blog posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,  here, here,and here.

It makes me smile to think of all the great smiles Janet has given me.

Sharing these other recent photos makes me smile:





Those last two photos were taken by our cat Oscar, which makes me smile:


It also makes me smile that one of the linked blog posts, above, including Janet (who, as has already been discussed,  makes me smile) involved Oscar posting on Facebook.

Oscar’s mastery of technology and social media makes me smile.

It makes me smile to realize I’m seeing my friend Megan for a birthday brunch today and then my friend Arnie for dinner.

It also makes me smile to realize that all the work I’ve been doing to silence my harsh inner critic, who does NOT make me smile, has been paying off!

It makes me smile to see Chicago‘s  Terry Kath, gone way too soon, rocking out on vocals and lead guitar  on “Make Me Smile”:


What makes you smile?

Gratitude makes me smile, every day.



Categories: friendship, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Day 2167: Consider the source

Consider the source of today’s post — it’s my blog!  Is that a source you trust, know, can vouch for?  Is it a source that’s helpful, doubtful, consistent, confusing, reliable, familiar, new, or whatever for YOU?

Consider that the source of this post is a discussion earlier this week in a therapy group, where the participants were evaluating negative messages they had heard from others.   When I asked people in the group to consider one of the antidotes to cognitive distortions — Consider the Source — they considered that a helpful cognitive reframe.

Consider the source of this definition of “Consider the Source,”  which is this list of antidotes for unhelpful thoughts.

Consider the Source. If you’re receiving negative, upsetting messages, take a step back and look at where those messages are coming from. Is that source reliable? Is it usually negative? How do other people see that source?  If the source is your own internalized critic, consider that you may be too harsh on yourself.

Consider the source of today’s photos — it’s my iPhone!






When you consider the source, you might think

  • yippee!
  • hooray!
  • way to go!
  • high five!
  • terrific!
  • you got it!
  • RIGHT!
  • too bad!
  • sorry!
  • try again!
  • not quite!
  • next time!
  • oh well!
  • WRONG!

Here‘s Consider the Source with “Many Words of Disapproval.”


Consider leaving a comment, below.

Consider the source of extreme gratitude for all who help create these blogs and for all who read them — it’s me!



Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 1126: You can’t be good at everything

The title of this post

You can’t be good at everything

is something my ex-business partner, Jonathan, said to me when I was being self-critical about a task I wasn’t good at, decades ago.  My memory — which can’t be good at everything — tells me Jonathan said

You can’t be good at everything

when I was feeling shame about my living space being cluttered and not “guest-ready. ”

At various points in my life, it’s been helpful for me to say to myself

You can’t be good at everything

about other things, including

  • doing my taxes
  • drawing
  • penmanship
  • cleaning
  • maneuvering gracefully around other people while walking
  • keeping my cat away from my laptop
  • calculus
  • being a perfect mother
  • singing loudly
  • discussing politics
  • keeping my hair neat all the time


  • and many more.

Sometimes, I seem to think that I SHOULD be good at everything, but I hope my readers know that being good at everything  is completely impossible, even if somebody wrote this in your 9th grade yearbook:


You can’t be good at everything, even if you encounter a kind person like Roger sometime in your life.

I can’t be good at everything, including capturing all the wonderful images around me, every single day.  For example, yesterday I took only these three shots:




You can’t be good at everything, but I hope you’re good at leaving good-enough comments for this blog.

Good thanks to Jonathan, Roger, my neighbor Karen (for the custom-made bumper sticker on her car), and all the other good people who helped me create this post. Also, great thanks to you — of course! — for reading this, here and now.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Day 1072: One label fits all

I’ve written before (here, here, here, here, and here) about the cognitive distortion of labeling:

Labeling or Name-calling.
We generate negative global judgments based on little evidence. Instead of accepting errors as inevitable, we attach an unhealthy label to ourselves or others. For example, you make a mistake and call yourself a “loser,” a “failure”, or an “idiot.” Labels are not only self-defeating, they are irrational, simplistic, and untrue. Human beings are complex and fallible, and in truth cannot be reduced to a label. 

I often witness people labeling themselves harshly.  Whenever I hear an unhelpful label, I invite people to consider changing that label to something less toxic and more conducive to growth and healing. 

Yesterday, in therapy, when I heard the labels “lazy” and “stupid,” I suggested an all-purpose, one-size-fits-all  replacement to any unhelpful, habitual label.



Let’s see if this works.  Imagine, for the moment, any harsh label you apply to yourself, especially during times of anxiety, depression, and stress.  Now, replace that label with this:


Did that work?

How might you humans label any of these other photos I snapped yesterday?

How might you label this whole post?

Thanks to all humans who helped me create this one-label-fits-all post and special thanks to all those who are  finding this blog fit to visit, here and now.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 639: Easy/difficult as pie

There is a saying

easy as pie

which I’ve never understood, because I’ve never learned to bake a pie. It’s certainly easy to EAT a pie, especially as the weather turns colder.

My favorite pie, when I was growing up, was blueberry pie.

Here’s something I wrote in 2nd Grade, when I was about 7 years old:



That’s difficult to see, isn’t it?  To make those words as easy as pie to read, here’s that faded, long-stored-away, historical document transcribed:

The Roller Skate Who liked to eat blueberry pie

Once there was a roller skate

Who liked to eat blue berry pie

He loved it so much that

he would gobble it

up and he was all through,

so he grew up with

awful table manners.

One day a manner professor

came to the little rollerskate’s

house and just at that

time he was gobbeling the

pie down. The manner professor

arrested the little roller skate and

he spended the rest of his

life in jail.

The last time I looked closely at that piece of pie writing — over thirty years ago —  I was charmed at my easy imagination.  When I read it recently, after rescuing it from a long storage in a Boston basement, I thought

Geesh!  That’s kind of harsh punishment for bad table manners, isn’t it? I love blueberry pie, too!  If I were observed gobbling it up, might I be arrested and spend the REST OF MY LIFE IN JAIL?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately — as I daily write this letting-go-of-judgment blog and talk to people who want to heal and feel better — about

  • the harshness of our self judgments,
  • how we so easily condemn ourselves to the jails of Guilt and Shame, often for very minor crimes, and
  • how difficult it is to change those old habits of self-jailing.

Yesterday, at the end of a long but inspiring work day — as  manner professors, jails, blueberry pies, and roller skates were rolling around in my tired head (among many other things) — I thought:

Eureka!  I’m going to improve the moment  and find the Best Pies in Boston (as opposed to the Worst Pies in London).

So I googled “Best blueberry pie Boston” and found this:

When it comes to pie, we like our hand-pressed crusts substantial and loaded to the brink with butter. So too does Petsi, and the Somerville and Cambridge shops augment their expertly sound pie foundations with just-as-serious fillings—blueberries with a big boost of cinnamon, say, or a bourbon-chocolate-pecan combination that makes for an irresistibly decadent wedge.

So, I gave myself a Mission Possible, which I chose to accept.

(I found that YouTube video here)

To find, secure, and deliver home the Best Blueberry Pie in Boston, braving numerous  dreaded dangers, including:

IMG_0119 IMG_0121 IMG_0122

Mission Accomplished!!!

On the scale of easy-to-difficult, I would rate that experience …

Hmmmm. I’m having difficulty judging that right now, I have to say.

On the one hand,  the traffic was ridiculous (or, at least, worse than I’m used to), there was no legal parking in sight, and it took a lot longer than usual to get home.

On the other hand, because I was focused on a mission, I enjoyed every minute of it. AND I defied my internal manner professor and PARKED IN AN ILLEGAL SPOT. And — I’m happy to report — I am NOT spending the rest of my life in jail.

So, getting and eating the pie — all in all — was easy. And delightful.

Further into the evening, things got more difficult.

I belong, on FaceBook, to a group of people who have my very unusual heart (called congenitally corrected transposition of the great vessels or LGTA or lots of other things) or who have children with my very unusual heart. Last night, in a continuing attempt to keep learning useful and new things, I watched a recommended Webinar titled

Aging with Congenitally Corrected Transposition 

I was hoping for some easy-as-pie or — at least — some achievable tips on self-care and other useful things.

Instead, I found myself listening to an expert doctor making the case that it was difficult, if not impossible, for people with hearts like mine to reach my ripe old age of 61.

At least, that’s how I heard it.

I have to admit that my son and my boyfriend, overhearing bits of the webinar from another room, recognized how difficult-as-pie this was to listen to and they both told me to do something as easy as pie: turn the friggin’ thing off immediately.

Which I did.

Then, the three of us spent some easy-as-pie moments together, saying all sorts of hopeful things, including:

  • You’ve already beaten those odds. — My son, Aaron.
  • Stephen Hawking was told when he was 20 that it was impossible for him to live even another few years … and HE’S IN HIS SEVENTIES. — My boyfriend, Michael
  • This reminds me not to worry about all those petty things that can clutter my mind, because that’s JUST RIDICULOUS.  — Me.

Then, I had another piece of pie, this time with chocolate ice cream on top:


… ignoring all the manner professors in the world (including Michael, who would never, ever eat blueberry pie with any ice cream except vanilla).

After that easy pie, I posted some thoughts on the FaceBook group page, including:

I was reading through some posts on this page and found suggestions about watching a webinar about “Aging with Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries.” ( I watched a portion of it tonight and — honestly — I got pretty freaked out by the language and the conclusions I was hearing. Yes, I have heard all of this before — including concerns about my ventricle failing because it’s doing heavy work it wasn’t designed for — but the webinar, to me, seemed especially negative. I turned it off after I saw the graph showing people in a study all dying before the age I’ve currently reached (61). So I’m curious, and want to ask people who watched the whole webinar: does it get more positive? … This is an inherent challenge of having a congenitally corrected heart, I think … feeling safe enough to thrive and engage with life without fear, as we age.

I just went to FaceBook to check responses I got from the good people there, and those comments are helping me feel easier (if not as easy as that delicious blueberry pie from Petsi Pies) this morning.

Now, I need to go to work — where I get to sit with people who are dealing with things much more difficult than pie.

I just want to say this, in conclusion: I’m very grateful for the whole pie — blueberries, ice cream, and everything else. So, thanks to roller skates, manner professors, pies, and people everywhere who deal with the easy to the difficult every day — including you, of course!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

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