During my session today we talked about the email covering what I learned in therapy during 2009. There was a lot of stuff to cover, J says it could take a couple of weeks to go through it all. At least I won’t have to come up with therapy topics for a while. He did say the email was great and perfect.
Today we focused on holding on to negative thoughts and feelings, and validating feelings. So looking back at my journal I saw that I don’t treat myself well, I don’t do anything very bad, I even do some good stuff, but I have negative thoughts and feelings and because of that I think I’m negative. And I hold on to those thoughts and feelings, without holding on to comparable good thoughts and feelings. J says it would be good to resolve this on a more immediate time schedule, rather than annually I guess. So for example if I have a negative experience I should process it, look at it objectively, without judgement, within a shorter time period.
Apparently on the Biggest Loser, which starts tonight by the way, the contestants will be wearing some sort of arm band which will keep an up to the minute display of calories expended and taken in. I’m not really thrilled with that system for some reason, I’ll have to come back to that. But the point is if I had a “real time” notification system of when I am doing something negative, and if I can deal with it right then, it would be beneficial. Maybe a flashing red light with a buzzer?
I’m not really sure this is possible however (not the flashing red light, the process). When I’m “in the moment” emotionally, I don’t really think very logically. I guess I wouldn’t have to wait a year to figure things out, but I don’t think I can do it in real time either. It’s like being stuck in a forest. All you can see are the trees around you, or if it’s winter perhaps some trees a little farther on. But you are just focused on those trees and finding your way through them. If, however, you are in a plane or on a mountain, looking down at the forest, you might be able to see a path leading you out. So when I’m in the moment I’m in the forest. A year later I’m standing on the mountain looking at the forest. Does that make sense?
J thinks if I am writing these entries on a regular basis it would be helpful to therapy for him to read them. He said that he had another client who had a blog and he would send him a link so that he could read it. He said this client made his blog private, but had some public entries and those were the only ones J could read. I’m not sure about this.
First of all, I don’t want to make my blog private. I want my readers to find me, they are helpful to me, and I feel a rapport with them. Making it too difficult will be a deterrent.
Secondly, I am very honest in this blog. Hey, I even got an Honest Blogger award once. The reason I can be so honest is because no one IRL is reading this. Somehow it is ok to have people reading if I don’t really know them for real. I guess I would feel okay with him reading this if I never saw him again. Computer therapy?
Third, and this is related to number two I suppose, I don’t want to subconsciously censor anything I write. I’ve never said anything terrible about J, but I have written some embarrassing things about him, as well as some things that could be construed as negative (i.e.; the fact that he talks so much) which for me aren’t necessarily negative, but I don’t know how someone else will read it.
He also said that I can email him selected posts. That would be hard for me. I wouldn’t know what to choose because I don’t know what he wants to see. Maybe some things that I don’t think are significant, actually are. Or vice versa. And then I would think I’m bothering him if I send him a post that isn’t relevant to anything. Plus email has been unreliable for us at times and I don’t want to be anxious about sending him an email and wondering whether or not he got it. So I don’t know about that idea either.
I know that Aqua lets Dr. X read her blog (Aqua – are you there? I hope you’re ok!) Does anyone else let their therapist read their blog, or send them posts via email? Any opinions or advice would be appreciated. Pete or Tony if you are reading, do your clients let you read their blogs? Would you want to?
The other thing J picked out of the three page email was the paragraph where I state that he doesn’t validate feelings. He mentioned this one a few times. I asked if this hurt his feelings and he said no, but I’m wondering why this jumped out at him. He asked me what validating feelings looks like, he gave me a couple of examples which weren’t validating at all. I told him that not only were they not validating, they were actually invalidating. I know he knows what feelings validation looks like, and I guess he wanted to know what it means to me, but I think it means the same to everyone, doesn’t it? I didn’t press the issue and just told him what I thought a good statement would be to validate someone’s feelings: “That must be hard for you.” Not: “You’re not a bad person, you do x, y and z, and you should do a, b and c to make yourself feel better.” I hate that. Then not only does a person feel bad about something, but they feel wrong about feeling bad. What’s wrong with saying, “That must be hard for you.” I told him that a statement like that makes me feel that someone has empathy for me, that they understand I am feeling badly, that they are not judging me, and that they are there for me. All that from six words.
J said he doesn’t validate feelings. Yes, I know that, I figured it out pretty quickly. I didn’t like it, but I got used to it. He says it doesn’t serve any purpose to validate feelings; I guess in the long run it doesn’t fix anything, but it can make a person feel understood. That’s something, I think. I validate feelings a lot on the hotline, but I’m not doing therapy. He does a lot of normalizing feelings, which I don’t care for, but I know it’s helpful for other people. We didn’t get into that.
And we talked about whether it is necessary for a person to have their feelings validated, I said I didn’t think so, it’s just a nice thing. He said I could validate my own feelings. Sure, maybe one day. In a different galaxy. But it’s something to work towards.
I gave J my collage. One thing he does that is so different from me is that he focuses on every little detail. Like he saw that there were 12 photos, and he said the photo in the middle was significant and the placement of the photos was significant. When actually the placement of the photos was dependent on the shapes of the borders in the collage, including the photo in the middle. He doesn’t really see the big picture, not at first anyway. He was trying to discern what each photo meant, when really it was overall theme I was going for. I thought the collage would help him understand my mind, but I don’t think it worked.
So that was it for today, nothing terrible to feel badly about which is nice. I would love to get advice on what to do about making my blog available to J.