As a psychotherapist I knew that one of the biggest pitfalls of all relationships* was “seeing” others through the clouded lens of our own eyes. We humans tend to think everyone feels as we do and should understand what we know. It’s hard to take someone else’s position because we live in the bubble of our unique experiences and interpretations. In psychological terms it’s called projection. I was surprised to see this phenomena in artwork.
During the breaks in life drawing I noticed that many (not all) drew the model in “their own image”: Short students tended to draw the models legs too short; stocky students drew her a bit too stocky and; muscular students created muscular images.
Although all art, whether dancing, singing, painting etc. is ultimately a “projection” of the artist I’m wondering if what sets apart renowned artists from amateurs is a true reflection of the artist rather than an “accurate” rendition of the subject?
To read about the pitfalls of relationships click here:
I am fascinated by our newfound ability to study the brain in real-time.For most of my life the only way the brain was studied was by autopsy.
For decades, I’ve explained to clients that “feelings” are not psychological constructs but a neurochemical phenomena. I had no proof – just trickles of brain research I read. Now that I’m retired the evidence is mounting. I’d love to be able to say “I told you so!”
In psychological “terms” the proportion of outward behavior is a measure of internal feelings. Examples: Do you know some one who is a “control freak”? Of course you do.
The more someone tries to exert control over everyone and everything it is usually (read “always” – I’m trying to be “politically correct, ahem . . .) a direct measure they internally/unconsciously feel out of control. People who “feel” in control don’t have to prove they are in control – they can collaborate, give others credit etc.
Know someone who is a narcissist – the earth revolves around them, not the sun? Of course you do.
The more a person needs to boast about themselves, point the finger of blame at others etc. . . . the more insecure they are. Read about some interesting brain research that substantiates this that on a neurological level.
As an experienced CDT here’s some basic guidelines for your new career.
Always have kleenex ready. It’s tax-deductible.
Do not take insurance. Make sure that your clients understand you take only “out-of-pocket” doggie-cookies, no deferred insurance payment. Insurance takes too long to reimburse and will discount the amount of cookies you are entitled to.
When your clients are angry or unduly upset get under a table until the storm blows over. In extreme cases you might have to jump on your human-being’s lap to protect her because she doesn’t have enough instinct to duck ‘n cover.
Show, don’t tell. Most therapist spend all their time talking – blah, blah, blah. After awhile clients just tune them out. You must demonstrate these time-tested psychotherapeutic techniques to help humans develop healthy behavioral coping skills:
Shake it off. Not everything needs examining or even understanding.
Roll over. “Turn the other cheek” in human-lingo.
Play dead when others are threatening, demanding or unreasonable.
Beg for forgiveness if you’ve done something hurtful.
Stare to get attention. Don’t make a fuss as it takes too much energy.
Sleep a lot in order to think clearly and make healthy choices.
Play. Don’t take life seriously as that takes MUCH too much energy.
Should you need further guidance send a check payable to Freddie Parker Westerfield and then call me.
Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDT RET
P.S. I don’t take insurance and no longer take payment in dog-cookies as I prefer to buy my own.
When I was a shrinkling listening was not automatic. Thirty years later I’m on auto-pilot listening simultaneously on multiple levels: What clients are saying, what they are not saying, how they are experiencing it, what their body is saying, how what I’m hearing is connected to feelings in the last few days, years, lifetimes; Listening for patterns, connections, disconnections . . .
Logic would have me think it was more stressful being a psychotherapist in the beginning of my career. So why, after just sitting and listening, I’m a zombie for days afterwards?
This explanation about chronic stress might explain some of it (I agree with everything, except for the conclusion):
‘”A young lady confidently walked around the room with a raised glass of water while leading a seminar and explaining stress management to her audience. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘Half empty or half full?’ She fooled them all. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.”
“She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.”
“If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”‘
“She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”‘
“‘As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Pick them up again tomorrow if you must.”
P.S. I still blame much of my zombiehood on the fibromyalgia. After all what else is fibro good for – it never listens.
You or someone you know probably fits the profile of being “Highly Sensitive”. After reading an interview of Douglas Eby I’m relieved to know I’m just “highly sensitive” and not wacked out.
Read on for some excerpts from an interview by Therese J. Borchard, associate editor of PsychCentral with Douglas Eby, M.A./Psychology, writer and researcher on the psychology of creative
expression, high ability and personal growth. HighlySensitive.org and http://talentdevelop.com.
“One of the prominent “virtues” of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides. The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature. All of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.”
” . . . response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help visual artists and designers be even more excellent.”
2. Nuances in meaning
“The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.”
3. Emotional awareness
“We also tend to be more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.”
“A greater response to pain, discomfort, and physical experience can mean sensitive people have the potential, at least, to take better care of their health.”
“Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.”
5. Greater empathy
“High sensitivity to other people’s emotions can be a powerful asset for teachers, managers, therapists and others.”
Five curses of the decreased latently inhibited
1. Easily overwhelmed, overstimulated
“The biggest challenge in high sensitivity is probably being vulnerable to sensory or emotional overwhelm. Taking in and processing so much information from both inner and outer worlds can be “too much” at times and result in more pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and other reactions.”
“An intriguing neuroscience research study I came across that may explain some of this said people with nervous systems having decreased latent inhibition are more open to incoming stimuli.Which can be a good thing, or not so good.” (I prefer to be latently inhibited rather than overly sensitive)
“Actor Amy Brenneman once commented, “I’m too sensitive to watch most of the reality shows. It’s so painful for me.” (Won’t watch anything that even hints at famine, pestilence, flood or fire.)
2. Affected by emotions of others
“Another aspect of sensitivity can be reacting to the emotions — and perhaps thoughts — of others. Being in the vicinity of angry people, for example, can be more distressing.” (I run screaming into the night if I overhear angry arguments even on T.V.)
3. Need lots of space and time to ourselves
“We may need to “retreat” and emotionally “refresh” ourselves at times . . . ”
4. Unhealthy perfectionism
There can also be qualities of thinking or analyzing that lead to unhealthy perfectionism, or stressful responses to objects, people or situations that are “too much” or “wrong” for our sensitivities.
5. Living out of sync with our culture
Living in a culture that devalues sensitivity and introversion as much as the U.S. means there are many pressures to be “normal” — meaning extroverted, sociable and outgoing.
Dr. Ted Zeff, author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, points out that other cultures, such as Thailand, have different attitudes, with a strong appreciation of sensitive or introverted people. (Now I know why I love Thai food)
” . . . “too emotional” or “too sensitive” are usually criticisms based on majority behavior and standards.”
The conclusion of the interview: “Overall, I think being highly sensitive is a trait we can embrace and use to be more creative and aware. But it demands taking care to live strategically, even outside popular values, to avoid overwhelm so we can better nurture our abilities and creative talents.”
First and foremost: Thank you to all of you for reading my posts, taking your time to comment, clicking on the “like” or offering your love, insights, personal struggles, poems, pictures and humor.
Evolution: I walk a fine line between what to disclose and what to keep private, both as a therapist and as a blogger. As a therapist my training was to never self-disclose. Therapists are supposed to be a “blank slate” upon which clients project their own feelings, fears and hope.
As I’ve “evolved”, modified or down right let go of more and more of my “training” – what remains always surprises me. This blog continues to evolve with me and probably surprises you too!
Objective Observation: Clients come in looking for a quick fix – understandable and healthy not to want to remain in a state of pain, confusion or fear. They look to me for my point of view (there goes the blank slate!). Truth be told, they don’t always like my point of view but I give it anyway.
I am not an expert on life – just an observer, a professional lookie-loo. The only difference between my clients and me is that I “usually” can objectively observe my own unhealthy (read, “bad”) behavior – can’t always stop it but I sure do know what my part is.
Behavior: Time for me to begin to act on my observations.
Observation: My entire life has been about teaching and sharing what I’ve learned. I didn’t deliberately set out to do this, it seemed to just happened.
Observation: I’ve accumulated a TON of “stuff”. I have closets of craft supplies, audio recordings, power-point presentations, creative expression tools & techniques on a variety of topics such as health & wellness, spirituality, psychology, creativity etc, etc.
Behavior #1: I’ve begun to make more changes to this blog. I’m adding FREE STUFF, rearranging and editing. Can’t afford to pay anyone so I struggle with the technology side – struggle is putting it mildly – it is slow going and doesn’t work the way I’d like.
It isn’t very “user-friendly”
I don’t know how to link things for easy retrieval. (I’ll try to put the new “stuff” at the top.)
You’ll have to periodically click on the “FREE STUFF” on the header to see what’s new.
I can’t figure out how to create MP3 downloads so the audio recordings will have to be listened to on the blog
After a 6 month hiatus I will start facilitating live workshops again. That will help thin out the supply cabinet! I’ll post the schedules on the blog.
As many of you know, my attention span does not span a lot of time, my interests pull me in many directions and my physical health sometimes puts a damper on my intentions. So be patient, be encouraging and please share with your friends what I share with you.
“Inertia is the resistance of any physical object(read “Judy”)to a change in its state of motion or rest(the later, not the former), or the tendency of an object (“read Judy”) to resist any change in its motion.”
“The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics which are used to describe the motion of matter and how it is affected by applied forces. Inertia comes from the Latin word, iners, meaning idle, or lazy”(I prefer the meaning of “resting”). Wikipedia
I was talking to a wonderful client today, smart, perceptive, talented, dedicated to personal growth (how can that NOT be wonderful), about having inspirations and aspirations but doing nothing about them other than thinking. Was it fear of failure?, avoidance of success?, lack of focus, ability? All of the above? I flashed on my blogging (hey, sometimes it IS about ME . . .)
I had blogged almost daily for a few years. Then recently my heart went wack-o (literally) and I just didn’t have the where-with-all to think much less write.
It’s been a struggle to get back into the habit of talking to all of you. (well, no, to be truthful I’ve not struggled as that implies movement). It’s been out-of-sight-out-of-mind-floating-around-in-the-ether-what-have-I-got-to-say-anyway kind of thing.
How many times in my life – in YOUR life – has inertia of motion kept me doing a task that was needed or important to me. And how many times in my life – yours too – has inertia of rest kept me from doing something potentially gratifying? I admit it’s happened in more areas then I’d like to admit.
Not everything is psychology. Much of the time it’s just physics. Nice to be able to blame something other than my psyche.