Saturday, August 22, 2020

Deep and Personal


This activity is in an icebreaker format, but it may be better for a more established group as the questions require group participants to share their thoughts on some deeper questions and then afterward try to make personal application. Each question starts with discussion on a more philosophical level which should be reviewed first. Afterward, there is a follow up probe which requires more individualized responses based on group members own views, thoughts and experiences. (Some of the items are based on existing quotes so when applicable the origin of the quote is provided when known)

Answer the numbered question first (in any order), then probe deeper with the follow up question below it:

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? (Not an original quote but exact origin unknown)

What is the deeper meaning behind this saying and how can you apply it in your life in a practical way?

What would you want to know if you could know for sure, one secret of the universe?

How do you imagine you would change your life knowing this information?

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Søren Kierkegaard. – What does this saying mean?

How can you apply this in your own life and experience?

What is one thing related to “the big picture” that you think about in quiet introspective moments at night?

When you wake up, what do you do about it and if you aren’t doing anything, what can you start doing?

You get to go back in time briefly and talk to yourself at any age – What age “you” do you visit, what do you say and then what do you imagine that your life would be like when you return to the present?

How can you start the process of working toward this life that you want today?

You are in an airplane and your parachute is on and ready and the door is open. What do you say to yourself in your head to get yourself to jump (or not to jump)?

How can you apply this to situations in your life today?

What is one basic human truth you have discovered in your lifetime?

How does your knowledge of this truth impact your behavior and choices?

What is your secret or strange “superpower”? (Something you do unusually well for some reason)

If you don’t have one, how can you find or develop a special skill or talent? – Or, if you do have one, are you using this “power” to its full benefit?

He who is untrue to his own cause, cannot command the respect of others– (Albert Einstein) – What does this saying mean in your viewpoint?

What “cause” do you need to be “true” to in your own life today?

To live the right way in life requires that you are ready to handle that some people will think you are living the wrong way – What does this mean?

How can you apply this personally as you try to improve your own life?

Sometimes we say “I don’t care” when we really don’t care but other times we say “I don’t care” because we are afraid or embarrassed to let others know we really do care – Do you agree or disagree and why?

What do you care about that you should be more open and honest with others about?

An outward display of courage seen by others can build your reputation and fame, but inward acts of courage go unseen by others yet these build self-confidence, self-esteem and self-respect

What will help you increase your “inner courage” and how can you do this more in your life?

Are you afraid of the good you might do? Victor Hugo

If you can let go of your fear, what good would you do?

The issues we don’t face today can soon turn into barriers along our road to progress in the days ahead

What issues do you need to face in order to remove future barriers and enhance your progress?

You can choose to do whatever you want whenever you want to, or you can choose to try to have peace and stability in your life, but it is unlikely you will have them both at the same time

What things do you know that you need to limit or give up in order to increase peace and stability in your life?

Which is more important, to be in competition with others or to strive to be better than your past self?

How can you strive to be a better you today?

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe. Muhammad Ali

Personally, what mountains do you need to still climb and what pebbles in your shoe may still wear you out?

It’s not how well you play the game; it’s deciding what game you want to play. Kwame Appiah

When it comes to life, what “game” do you need to play in order to succeed and what game do you want no part of?



Monday, August 10, 2020

Pet Appreciation


Opening exercise: Complete the following questions below about a pet that you love. If you do not have a pet, you are still encouraged to participate by using a pet from your past. Another option would to be to use an animal in nature that you admire and appreciate. It could be a local animal like squirrels, birds or deer or an animal from around the world like a tiger or panda. Any animal that makes you feel good you can think of will work for this discussion

My Pet (or Favorite Animal) Profile:

Appearance -

Behavior Patterns - 

Personality - 

Likes/Dislikes - 

I am Drawn to (I Appreciate) - 

What this animal means to me personally on a deeper level - 

Process: Discuss your pet profile as a group. (If you did not use a pet, substitute pet with the word “animal”)

Some additional process questions:

What does your pet do for you emotionally? (or thinking about your favorite animal?)

How do you connect with your pet on a special level? (If your animal is not a pet, what is special to you?)

What are some things your pet does that you really appreciate? (Or things your favorite animal does)

How can your pet bring you out of an emotionally challenging situation even if it is just for a little while?

What positive adjectives come to mind when you think of your pet (Loyal, loving, sweet, unique, beautiful, etc.)

The following additional questions are pet specific and may not be able to be discussed by non-pet owners

One thing that my pet understands about me is

One thing that I understand about my pet is

One thing makes this pet special is

One thing that I truly and deeply love about my pet is

What do you do for your pet to make your pet feel special and loved?

What does your pet give to you?

How do you give back to your pet and how does that help you?


If this activity is being done via telehealth, a great follow up activity is to do a Telehealth Pet Show:

Telehealth Pet Show – Allow group members with pets an allotted amount of time to bring their pet on camera and talk a little about their relationship with that pet. For those without a pet, they can choose to bring a show a stuffed animal toy, a picture of an animal in their home, a picture from the internet or their phone, or a statue of an animal in their home of their choice instead of a live pet. Allow time for group members to ask questions. Process thoughts and feeling at the end of group.


Saturday, August 1, 2020

UNG - Unnecessary Grief

UNG – Unnecessary Grief - There are many challenges in life that can be considered “maintenance” problems that are eventually bound to happen with time. This can be similar to the way when you own a car; even if you do everything you can to take care of it, at some point you will need to get maintenance (i.e. the oil changed, the brakes fixed and tires rotated).  Paying the rent, taking the kids to the dentist, doing your assignments at work/school, cleaning the house; these all fall under “maintenance” types of issues. It is a waste of time to get too upset about maintenance problems because they are inevitable and to be expected

Then there is another category of problems which are the direct result of “decisional circumstances” that are the direct consequences of the choices we make. These problems are the ones we have the most control over and are the most avoidable. Sometimes it is also those little irritable little things we do (or fail to do) which can cause ourselves what can be referred to as “UNG or Unnecessary Grief”. It can be incredibly frustrating how much “UNG” a person can generate when one is not careful.


Some behaviors which can result in UNG. Discuss these as a group and add to the list if needed – Also consider how the COVID-19 pandemic can impact these challenges and effect your decisions

Not knowing when to shut up


Bringing up a subject you know will cause an argument


Not keeping promises

Not paying bills



Starting something, you know you cannot finish

Neglecting self-care

Not taking medication when you know you need it

Hanging out with someone you know is going to cause trouble

Getting back with the ex when you know from experience where that leads

Agreeing to things you will not want to do or be able to do later

Not saying no when you should

Debating with someone you know is foolish, dishonest or has no idea what they are talking about

Hanging out where you know trouble is

Breaking the law when eventually you’ll get caught

Taking shortcuts now that you’ll have to pay for later

Taking on too much

Moving too fast

Not listening to good advice

Trying to do something alone that you shouldn’t

Not knowing you limits

Making decisions or speaking your mind when in a heightened emotional state



Below are some specific examples where a person caused UNG:  Review these and then try to come up with some of your own personal examples from your life where at times you may cause yourself UNG


“I’m broke again because I went out and spent too much of my paycheck the first weekend that I got it”


“My significant other is mad at me again because I stupidly brought up a topic that I knew beforehand was just going to cause a useless argument like it always does”


“I feel depressed and guilty because I didn’t take good care of myself emotionally or physically all weekend”


As a group, discuss your own personal examples like these

What can you do in order to prevent UNG? – Review the following list of ways to prevent and avoid UNG. Discuss these below as a group and try to choose a few of these strategies for yourself for one of your own personal examples of UNG. Explain how you will use these strategies to improve your situation in the future


Plan ahead and strategize before these situations arise




Learn to pause and think before acting or deciding: A few seconds can make a huge difference




Practice self-awareness so you can recognize when you may be making a decision based on emotion so you can wait until you are in a more calm and rational state of mind before deciding




Know your triggers and avoid them or at least prepare for them if they are unavoidable




Know your areas of weakness as well as “high-risk” situations for you personally




Do what you can to follow a structured plan for living to limit chaos and unforeseen challenges




Listen to your instincts and your conscience when you have that feeling like something is not worth the risk




Consult with others whom you trust and then listen to their advice when applicable




Bring others with you who are supports when you know you will be facing a challenge




Remember how it felt to experience UNG last time so you can motivate yourself to stop setting yourself up with the same situations and then stop repeating the same unnecessary mistakes




Seek therapy to better understand why you may be repeating some of the same choices and behaviors and causing yourself UNG and avoidable stress. (Identify self-destructive patterns)







For more therapeutic activities like this visit: