Posts Tagged With: Thought stopping

Day 432: You must have some idea

This post was inspired by this (inaccurate) thought of mine, this morning:

I have no idea what I’m going to blog about today

… which reminded me of a psychologist I met, about 18 years ago, at a hospital psychiatric unit, where I did my first year of training as a therapist. Let’s call him … “Dr. Him.”

I would characterize Dr. Him as “hard to read.” I had trouble finding emotional clues in his face or in his body language, to get a sense of what he was thinking.  In ways, he was the very model of a modern psychotherapist.*

When I find somebody difficult to read, I project — or “mind read” —  even more with that person.  And I know I’m not alone in that. All year, at my training, I observed many people trying to figure out what Dr. Him was thinking.

Dr. Him didn’t say very much in the therapy groups at the hospital. But when he spoke, people listened.

There was a certain “catch-phrase” Dr. Him would use, in therapy groups. If somebody started a sentence with “I have no idea”  (examples: I have no idea why I’m here/what I want/why I did that/where I’m going), Dr. Him would reply:

You must have some idea.

And each time, the person had more to say.

Personally, I usually avoid catch-phrases, because I don’t want my responses to seem rote, or rehearsed.  But catch-phrases stick, don’t they?

I wanted to tell you a couple more stories about Dr. Him, today. In both of these stories, he has less of a starring — that is, more of a supporting — role.

During that first-year internship, I felt pretty insecure in my new role as therapist.  And when I feel insecure, I tend to project judgment onto certain people.

When I was having self-judgmental thoughts, such as

You don’t know what you’re doing! What makes you think you can be a good therapist?

… I could imagine other people having those same thoughts about me, too.  For me, during that year, Dr. Him was usually “it.”

I recognized that I didn’t know what Dr. Him was really thinking, and I would tell myself to stop having those thoughts and projections. How did I tell myself to stop?

Maybe I imagined a stop sign, like this one, from my trip last month, to Panama:

Image

(Although I don’t speak Spanish, so my memory is probably less than accurate, there.)

No matter how I tried to stop them,  those pervasive negative messages kept coming back, during that internship.

One morning, when I was getting ready to leave my home and go to the hospital, the judgments were particularly loud and strong. That morning, I really believed the self-doubts. And, I imagined Dr. Him judging me, too.

As a result, I felt exhausted. Almost paralyzed.  And I remember staring at myself in the mirror and talking to myself, like so:

You’re afraid of screwing up, Ann. That’s what it is.  Okay, try this! Today, your GOAL is to screw up, to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’ve met your goal!

That freed me up, in ways I found astonishing.  The judgmental thoughts — and projections — fell away. And I left the house, eager to meet the day.

Here’s my second story, about Dr Him:

At the last staff meeting of anybody’s internship, people would give feedback, as a way of saying goodbye. I have several memories of my last staff meeting, at that psychiatric unit, but these stand out:

  1. I was afraid, as time was running short, that I would NOT get my feedback.
  2. I got my feedback, at the very end of the meeting.
  3. Several people said positive things, as they said goodbye to me.
  4. Dr. Him said, “You’re an intern?  I consider you a colleague.”

I was going to write, “I have no idea what image to use for this post …”

…. but I did have some idea.

Thanks to Dr. Him, to people who try to stop unhelpful thoughts (as best they can), and to you — of course! — for stopping by, today.


* I was thinking of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Very Model of a Modern Major-General” there. If you’re interested, here’s a version of that song, from 1980, with (perhaps) familiar faces.**

** Including Kevin Kline and Linda Rondstadt. Also, thanks to ThePenzancePirate, for uploading that video on YouTube.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 353: Where there’s a will, there’s a way

The title is something my mother used to say to me. It’s a good title for today’s post, I think, because I finally completed this:

Image

I’ve had lots of thoughts and feelings about the process of creating that, during this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally (which I blogged about here, here, and elsewhere).

Here are some thoughts and feelings I’m having, today:

I don’t want to mind-read (because that would be a cognitive distortion), but I do wonder if others are having certain thoughts now, like these:

Image

“Did you leave ME anything?”

Image

“I know I’m new, more skittish (therefore more blurry), and probably not quite as loved yet, but … did you leave ME anything?”

I probably AM projecting onto others, here.  But it’s difficult not to do that, you know?

Anyway, it was quite a process, completing that will. I mean, it took 60 friggin’ years. And, as Indiana Jones said:

“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”*

Speaking of mileage, here are some shots I took, yesterday, on my journey to sign that will:

IMG_2390

The building on the left is where my parents lived their last years together.  That’s where I saw my father, for the last time, in 1997. I am so grateful for that encounter, still. Before I left that day, he said to me, “Give me five,” holding his hand up high. I replied, “I’ll give you ten,” and I gave him a hug.

Here’s another, clearer shot of that building:

IMG_2392

My parents lived on the second floor, on the right.

.

Here’s where I spent a lot of hours, as a kid, reading and choosing books to take home:

IMG_2393

When I took those books home, this is similar to what I would see:

IMG_2395

And this is where I read those books:

IMG_2396

This is what I sometimes saw, when I would leave my home, back then:

IMG_2400

When I visited yesterday, I did see some new things, including this:

IMG_2401

It’s nice that some people can attain Nirvana every day, isn’t it?

Here’s a photo (taken when I was heading back home last night) that’s related to that, I believe:

IMG_2413

I hope I remember that flashy Stop sign** the next time I have a thought that doesn’t help me.  Because, the more I can let go of unhelpful thoughts, the more I can do these things (suggested by a bumper sticker last night):

IMG_2406

And I’ve got some time to do those, apparently,  because a lawyer promised me, yesterday, that signing my will wouldn’t kill me.

Being a lawyer, he immediately added, “And if it does, at least now you have a will.”

Thanks to all who contributed to creating this post and — of course!! — to you, for visiting.


* I wanted to find a sound or video clip for that, but c’est la vie.

** Check out the antidote of “Thought Stopping,” here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 331: Preparation

Yesterday, I bravely (if I do say so myself) volunteered to give another presentation about my therapy groups.

Unexpectedly, the presentation will be a week from today.

I’m glad it’s only a week away.  Less time to prepare, less pressure for me.

Now, I have to prepare for the presentation.  

Except I really don’t have to prepare.  It’s a topic I know enough about, for sure.

I know more than my audience knows.*

As a matter of fact, I know a lot more than that.   How could I not?  I do the groups four times, every week.  Also, they are my passion.

I’m sure I will have enough to say about them.

So really, what do I need to prepare?

Nothing. I just need to show up, with a prop or two.

In the past, there’s another way I have prepared for presentations. I’ve worried about them. I’ve imagined a negative outcome. In other words,  I’ve had cognitive distortions about:

  • What could go wrong.
  • People thinking I suck.

Hmmm. That about covers it.

I think I can forego that aspect of the preparation, this time.

What data do I have to support letting go of worry — doing it differently — this time?

I have good data for that. That is, every other time I’ve done a presentation this year about the same topic, it has gone very well.

Actually, I’ve rocked.**

So there’s no reason to expect that I will do anything except rock, this time.

I mean, I’m sure that my critical voice could come up with lots of arguments for why THIS TIME will be different. For example ….

This is a different audience. You haven’t done a presentation for several months.  The past is not necessarily a predictor of the future. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

This is what I would like to say to my critical voice this morning:

Image

Just to make sure my critical voice hears that, here’s a hundred more (viewer discretion advised):

I think that should hold my critical voice, for the week until my presentation.

So here’s a prescription —  an antidote — for myself, this morning:

Rx:  For one week, administer “Shut Ups”, PRN***.

Before I end this post, I want to write about preparing for one more thing:

Thanksgivukkah.

I just looked for a definition of “Thanksgivukkah” on-line, and this is what I found, from livescience.com.

It’s a once in more than 70,000-year event: The first day of Hanukkah this year coincides with Thanksgiving.

As I wrote in an e-mail to my cousin Lani, a while ago:

I’m not sure what we are doing for Thanksgivukkuh.  Trying not to feel the pressure of 70,000 years.

That concludes today’s blog post, my dear readers.

Thanks to my family,  The Moderate Voice and mewlists.com (for the “Shut Ups!”), to preparers and thanks-givers everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

___________________________________

* Years ago, my sister told me that helpful definition of a good-enough teacher.

** I’ve already linked to this same post about bragging, but what the hell.

** Pro Re Nata (Latin), meaning “take whenever needed.”

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.