Trust

Trust is a tricky thing, and it becomes even more complicated for those of us who have been hurt in the past. For those of us who have ever felt used, lied to, or have found that someone we believed in was never who they claimed to be. Trust is a difficult thing to hold on to after life has given us reason after reason to be skeptical of those around us, and even of ourselves.. After all of this, we begin to associate trust with naivety. Some of us decide that to trust is a weakness; that if we put our faith into someone again, we’ll end up looking like a fool.

How can we learn to trust again without feeling so vulnerable or naive?

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, and the episode I came across was a lecture by Dr. Jordan Peterson, called “Structuring Your World View”. Before I continue on with this post I want to say that I can not recommend Dr. Peterson’s lectures enough! As a psychologist, he has some amazing insights to share, and this episode in particular gave me the clarity I needed when I found myself in a hazy place. He is one of my inspirations for pursuing a degree in psychology and becoming a therapist.

One phrase that Jordan Peterson said in this lecture stuck with me, and that is “You trust people because you are courageous.”

The reason why I believe this is so crucial to understand is because when I have been brave enough to trust in others and even myself, some amazing things have happened. The decision to trust has undoubtedly led to more opportunities, from forming new and valuable relationships to discovering my own capabilities. Even if it’s intimidating to put yourself in such a vulnerable place, it is absolutely worth it to take the leap.

In contrast, the times where I have been the most unhappy are in no doubt the times where I let a cynical, distrustful mindset take over. That is exactly what has happened to me in the past. I found myself choosing to stay in my inner circle because of the poor experiences I had with letting new people in. Although we begin to see choosing wariness over trust as a defense mechanism, becoming too distrustful of others can lead to a path of loneliness and missed chances. Although I’ve never been on the extreme side of this, I have known people who have let their past hold them back from jumping in to new relationships or experiences. It’s hard to see the people you care about lose faith in others, especially when you know that they how much happier they could be if they would learn to trust others.

That’s not to say that we should put blind faith into anyone and anything, but we can’t keep our walls so high that no one can ever find a way in.

I like to think of it as this way. You may not always know whether or not your decision to trust someone is worth it, but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a chance. If every time a new person came into our lives and we shut them out, we might be missing out on a new great friend, a significant other, or someone who simply enhances our life. Likewise, we will never know what kind of impact we could have made on them, either.

No matter how daunting it may feel to put ourselves in a place where we feel uncertain or afraid, it’s essential that we never mistake trust as a weakness. To trust again doesn’t make you weak; for some of us, it’s the bravest choice we can make.

Toxic Friendships and Mental Health

It’s key to remember the environment we live in- that includes the people we surround ourselves with- has a profound impact on our well being. Studies have proven that having a solid support system of friends and family is linked to better mental, and even physical, health. Likewise, any toxic relationship will leave you feeling dejected, tired, and sometimes downright miserable. Why is it that some of us choose to stay in these relationships for so long, even when we know it’s not good for us?

(* Please read the disclaimer at the end*)

Speaking from personal experience, there are a variety of reasons for continuing to stay in a toxic friendship. For one, it’s difficult to leave once you have invested so much time into any relationship, whether it has to do with a friend or significant other. Once you are so attached to someone you don’t only see the poisonous side of them. You think of all the memories you share and the good times you associate with them. Unfortunately, these joyful memories tend to overshadow all of the trouble they bring into your life. Seeing the good in people is by no means a bad trait, but blissfully ignoring the fact that they are bad for you will only inflict more damage. 

Another reason it’s difficult to separate from these people is something that is not always noticeable right away. That is that sometimes, we cross paths with a downright manipulative person. Anyone who has ever found themselves in a toxic friendship knows how frustrating and hurtful being manipulated is. Sometimes it goes right over your head, and you can not pinpoint the source of the negative emotions you associate with them. Other times you know it is happening but feel like you can’t do anything about it. Manipulative people have a knack for turning the tables on you and making you question whether you are in the wrong for not trusting them.

If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, you have to seriously consider the kind of toll it is taking on your mental health. As a friend, someone should bring positivity to your life. They should bring honesty, support, and encouragement to the table- not deceit, confusion, and degradation.

Speaking from first hand experience, I know that separating yourself from a toxic friend or significant other can be complicated. But at the end of the day, we need to make choices to protect ourselves. 

I remember being in a certain toxic friendship at one point in high school and so much confusion and even hurt came from it before I finally went my separate way. Although I would never blame this person for my struggles at their time, their friendship did anything but help me when I needed to work on being happy with myself the most. This person was not satisfied with themself, and wanted the people close to them to feel the same way, which as a result hurt my mental health. While I was trying to improve myself they would always discourage me from doing so, and that is when I started to realize they didn’t really want the best for me.

Once I started to find my own interests and achievements they would instantly find a way to discourage me. This person said things to me sometimes, and although now I know it is because they were in a bad place, that severely impacted me and my confidence. It’s not that I really think that they were full of malice, but we were at completely different places in life and it became clear that staying close with them would prevent either of us from moving on and growing.

So at one point I decided to let it go, and even though it took a while, I found more supporting and good-hearted people to spend my time with. It was hard at first to part with someone who I associated with so many good times and cherished memories. However by doing so, I learned what the difference between true friendships and toxic friendships are. People who have your best interest at heart will build you up and be honest with you, while manipulative people will break you down. It should seem obvious what a healthy friendship is like, but once you are caught up in a toxic friendship for so long the lines between what a normal friendship and a toxic friendship should look like become blurred.

If you decide it is necessary to cut ties with someone, it is also important to know that you do not need to be hostile about it or leave any bad blood behind. If the other person involved is reasonable enough, it is always best to be honest and considerate when telling them you want to put an end to the friendship.

Again, I would like to emphasize that I know cutting ties with someone you share a long history with is not easy, but if you ever find yourself in a toxic relationship of any kind, it is crucial that you put yourself first. At the end of the day you are living this life for yourself, not them, and need to take care of your own mental health. The effects of toxic relationships can be devastating, especially when it is taken too far. You should never second guess how important your own health, happiness, and safety is for someone who doesn’t do the same for you. 

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Thank you for reading. This blog is based on my own personal experience and the advice I give is based almost entirely on that. If you have found yourself in a dangerous relationship or friendship of any kind, please seek help. Below I have linked resources to learn more, and a hotline if you feel you need outside help.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/peaceful-parenting/201810/how-identify-and-inoculate-toxic-friendship

thehotline.org

Can You Always Be Positive?

True happiness isn’t forever, it might not even be for a while. It is found in the moments we least expect it, and sometimes hidden in the times we need it most. Happiness is fleeting.

When I say that happiness doesn’t last forever, I don’t mean that in a such a cynical way. I say that happiness is fleeting because the truth is, life happens and we don’t ever get to choose when. Mistakes are made, things are lost, and bonds are broken. And with these losses, there goes our expectation of infinite happiness right down the gutter.

Many of us feel unsatisfied with our current state of life because our ideas of happiness don’t coincide with reality. Our ideas of what real success and happiness look like are corrupted by social media and the fabrications we’re exposed to every day. We are lead to believe that happiness is perfection, and we convince ourselves that once we are finally happy that it will last forever.

This faulty perception of happiness only gets worse when we begin browsing through social media. I consistently come across a sea of lifestyle posts and ‘hacks’ on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram that I can’t take seriously. These influencers tell us that if we drink more water and get some sunlight each day, then we’ll grow into the person we want to be as if we are mere plants rather than complex, unique human beings. If it were as easy as drinking water and getting sunlight, then we would achieve perfect physical and mental health. For someone who has dealt with anxiety that interferes with everyday life, I understand that there’s a lot more to overcoming the downs of life than that and I’m sure almost everyone can agree.

The thing is, of course platforms like Instagram are going to be filled with picture perfect profiles. We all want the world to see the best version of our lives- even when it isn’t truthful. I can relate with the desire to create a positive image, and I do believe that platforms such as Instagram can be beneficial in that sense. When people land on my profile I want them to see the best version of myself.

The issue I have with this is the negative effect it has on all of us to be mislead by these perfect profiles, particularly the younger generations who are so invested in social media. When we scroll through all of these images, we’re seeing people living in a dream like state. These perfectly crafted profiles make us feel as though we’re missing out on the joy that all of these people we follow are experiencing, or seem to be experiencing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people comparing themselves to popular influencers that promote this image, or commenting along the lines of “I wish I was you!”

So there we go again, reaching for something out there, for that pure joy we see on social media.

But it’s not real.

We can convince ourselves that we can control our lives the way that we control our social media profiles, picking and choosing which moments we want to live out.  

But again, that’s not possible. If that was the case, then we’d all be manic.

In real life we live out the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the sunshine and the rain. We don’t get to slap a sunset filter over it and say that we had a perfect day. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we want it to, and that’s okay. That’s life. And the sooner we begin embracing the unexpected rather than running away from it, the closer we are to real happiness.

I came across this quote while watching Euphoria the other day that perfectly sums up my point.

“I had a therapist once who said that these states will wax and wane.

Which gave my mother relief, because it meant that in the bad times, there would be good times.

But it also gave her anxiety because it meant that in the good times, there would be bad times.”

Although simple, this episode does an excellent job of explaining how clinical depression works for most individuals. Not only does this episode accurately portray how it feels to live with depression and anxiety, but it holds true to the nature of life for all of us.

It can be somewhat frightening to realize that we don’t always know when the next low point will be for us. But if everything always went the way we want it too, we simply wouldn’t be alive. Think of it as the ups and downs on a heart monitor. If you see a straight line, there’s no pulse. If you see it consistently going up, well, that’s not exactly healthy either.

So at this point you might be asking yourself, what’s the point? 

Why am I writing this? As I began to write this post I didn’t know exactly what direction I was headed, I just wanted to remain honest above anything else. Even though I try to keep my writing on the positive side, it’s not always so easy. If I only covered the positive topics then I would be missing out on exploring so many other subjects surrounding mental health that other people can relate to.

So back to the question I set out to answer, it’s a little complicated. While I don’t believe there is a way to always be positive, I do feel that it’s important to always hold on to the hope that things will get better.

If I could give anyone advice on how to be a more positive person, it’s to accept that you don’t always know what tomorrow will bring, but hold on to the hope that the hard times will pass and you will find yourself living out those happy moments again. Don’t let that fill you with fear, let it fill you with excitement.

Instead of viewing happiness as perfection, instead of trying to keep it forever, view it as moments. It’s true that happiness is fleeting; like every other emotion it comes and goes. Happiness is found in moments that turn into memories we can cherish.

So stop chasing perfection and start chasing those moments. It’s that rush you feel when you catch the perfect wave, or that moment when you break through the surface of the water after taking a daring leap. It’s the sense of pride you have when you can finally feel your diploma in your hands and the warmth that radiates from those who supported you along the way. It’s in those moments when you find yourself laughing until your chest aches, or that joy you feel when you reconnect with a friend for the first time in what felt like forever.

Even on your absolute worst days, happiness is there, in that smile that illuminates someone’s face when you do something kind. Happiness is everywhere, even in the bad, if you would just open your mind to it. 

It’s like catching a firefly in your hands, even in the darkest nights. There will be times where the nights feel dark and you think the light has ran out, but it is still there, waiting to land on the palms of your hands again. And those moments, like fireflies, will come back to you when you least expect it.

Roundabouts.

I wanted to take the time today to reflect on the past month. Additionally, I want to explain exactly why I have held back from publishing any blog posts the last month.

This post may seem a little scattered, mainly because I wasn’t certain on how to approach this as I began writing. I just felt that it was important for me to keep The Journey as up to date as possible. So please bear with me as I try to piece all of these thoughts together.

If you take anything from this post today, let it be that stress can be turned into a positive experience. Let stress be that force that pushes you to do your best work, rather than something that holds you back.

If I could describe what this last month has been like for me in one sentence, I would say that I’ve been stuck in a never ending roundabout. Fortunately, even the most hectic roundabouts have an end, and that brings me to where I am now.

Thankfully in the last few days I have managed to find some sanity and, finally, have a pretty solid schedule again. Meaning I will have set times to write again- something that I have been missing from my life.

The reason why I had to hold back from publishing any work is for two major reasons. First and foremost, huge changes that took place in my life. For those of you who don’t know i began blogging in high school and I just graduated, so I’m currently planning for college which had to be my main focus. During this time, I had to figure out how to balance two jobs while trying to finish up my last few weeks of school before the summer began.

Second, is that I have been working on polishing up the first few parts of Don’t Speak. Since this new series is so important to me, I want to take time time to ensure that everything is thorough and complete before I share it on my blog. My long term goal is to turn it into either a podcast or a complete book, so I’ve been pouring so much energy into it.

So given these factors I decided to hold off on posting anything, knowing that I wasn’t in the right place mentally to publish work I was proud of. I began feeling really conflicted. I was a little disappointed in myself for not having created any content for my blog.

However, this past month has motivated me to keep writing, and has left me with some ideas I’m very passionate about, and many rough drafts for me to elaborate on. For a moment during this time the stress almost got to me. In the end, it ended up being the force that kept me on my feet through all the chaos. I believe a lot of bloggers can relate to this. Many of us feel this pressure to keep creating, even if we’re at a place in life where it’s difficult to.

I think it’s important that more bloggers take the time to do this no matter what situation you’re in. Even if you’re not in a place where you can share your work, never hesitate to jot down some ideas or a stream of consciousness. This is an amazing way to keep in touch with your voice as a writer and have some rough drafts prepared for when you are ready to write that next story or blog post.

If you feel like you’re in the same situation as I was in- don’t worry, that roundabout will come to an end! Don’t forget to take some time to relax and gather your thoughts once you do.

Feel free to share any comments below if you’ve come through any similar experiences. How do you currently feel about activity on your blog?

xx

Thank for for reading as always!

An Honest Review: “The Voice Of Knowledge” by Don Miguel Ruiz

I caved. I’ll admit it.

I finally read the infamous series I heard so much about.

My family told me to read it, every lifestyle blogger alive told me to read it, my dog told me to read it, even my my neighbor yelled over the fence, “You have to read this book!!”

I may be exaggerating a bit- but the point is, I heard a lot about the series before I finally picked it up for myself. For some reason, my very stubborn personality works in strange ways. Sometimes the more I hear about a book, the less I want to read it.

Despite this, the main reason I was so reluctant to read it was because it’s common for the reputation to precede books in this genre, and I couldn’t help but convince myself that this would be the case.

When I got stuck on a five hour flight I decided I would give it a chance, and to my surprise I couldn’t put it down. I was pleased to discover that The Voice Of Knowledge lives up to all of the praise.

After reading it thoroughly, I felt enlightened and refreshed with a more positive perspective on life. On some days when I’m feeling particularly stressed or negative, I find myself reaching for the book again.

Reading The Voice Of Knowledge took me on a walk down memory lane, reminiscing over the joy I experienced as a child before I let the the opinions of others affect my self image.

Any young adult will thoroughly enjoy this book because I’m sure we can all relate to Don Miguel Ruiz’s experiences growing up in a fast paced world. As he mentions in the first book of the series, so many of us let the opinions of others define our worth.

At one point Ruiz remarks that you must read his book multiple times in order to catch some of the details you missed the first time, and this definitely holds true. Depending on what your current situation is, you can apply lessons learned in the book to your own life.

Ruiz’s work in The Voice Of Knowledge stands out to me for his ability to take such a complex topic, finding inner peace, and breaking it down into a way that any reader can understand. Ruiz draws inspiration from toltec wisdom and applies it to the modern world.

There is a certain simplicity to the book that makes the message even more powerful. Ruiz stands by the “one simple truth”, inspiring readers to stay their most authentic selves. Ruiz motivates readers by telling them to take control of their own happiness again and embrace every little thing that makes them different.

Anyone who reads the first book of this series will take away so much knowledge, and get a step closer to a peaceful mind.

Now if you haven’t read the book yet- I’m adding myself to the list of people who recommend it.

xx

Thank you for reading as always. Have you read any of Ruiz’s work? Let me know in the comments!

Using Poetry To Discuss Mental Illness

Today I’m returning to a more personal topic, or what I originally began this blog for: understanding and recovering from mental illness.

Too many of us shy away from the topic in fear that we won’t attract as many readers, however we should all learn to make it a priority. After all, one of the best ways to provide support for others online is to discuss mental illness and raise awareness. I wanted to take the time to share an outlet of expression I use as a writer that may help other people.

After I experiencing episodes of depersonalization, a side effect of anxiety, I found it difficult to describe how I was feeling. Writing helped me stay in touch with my emotions, even when I felt disconnected from myself.

I wrote the poem “Blue” to describe what it feels like to lose yourself due to uncontrollable forces.

As somber as the poem is, it was the only way I could put what I was going through into words. I know that others reading it will have their own opinions; but at the end of the day it’s honest and true to my experiences, and that’s always how writing should be. Being able to describe my feelings through writing is always therapeutic.

I didn’t know what depersonalization was at the time because I never knew that there was a term to describe it, nor do I hear it discussed nearly as often as the other symptoms are. At the time it helped me pinpoint what the true source of my worries was.

Not only is writing my feelings out a process of catharsis, but it helped me realize that what I was going through was more serious than I thought at the time. It encouraged me to find an explanation to the distressing periods of depersonalization I endured. This realization ultimately became the reason I was able to combat that feeling of helplessness and take control of myself again.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and naturally the changes in the poetry I write reflect that changes I go through in my life.

It took me a long time to decide whether or not I should share it before posting it online about a month ago. I feared that no one would relate to where I was coming from. It can be terrifying to post work, especially personal posts like this, because there is that fear in that back of your mind that you’ll be misunderstood. But sometimes it is necessary to let go of that fear.

To my surprise, I received feedback from various people who said they experienced the same feelings before. In fact, the more I found other writers, the more pieces I found that I truly resonated with. Writing proved to be a common outlet of expression for so many people.

Writing isn’t the only form of art that can be very effective in portraying and educating about mental illness. Take music, song writing, painting and many other forms of art for example- they are outlets in which people can express themselves better than they can through a typical conversation.

xx

Thank you for reading as always.

The Fear of Missing Out as a Blogger

When I set out for vacation this spring break, immediately I thought about how much writing I was going to get done for my blog. With the peace and quiet that being away from work allows, I’ve always been able to get a lot of writing done when on vacation. Before I left I was already excited thinking about it, but things didn’t seem to go as planned this time around.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I realized I made a poor mistake. I forgot my laptop. All of my saved progress and pieces I was planning on completing were left 2,471 miles away in California, with no way to access my saved work or by blog. When my phone lost all connection, too, I grew paranoid thinking about what I was missing out on back home. I found myself trying to remain positive, yet the feeling of restlessness ate away at me.

“This should be a positive thing!” People told me when I confided in them about my worries. “Now you can take a break from writing and relax for a week!.”

I began to think, maybe taking a week off from writing would give me inspiration to write once returning home. They were absolutely right, too. I should be enjoying myself and taking advantage of it.

I contemplated that idea for a day before I realized that would not be so easy for me to just forget about writing, though. As grateful as I felt to simply be on vacation and appreciate the beauty around me, I could not take my mind away from what I felt like I was missing out on.

As soon as I was without my beloved laptop I drifted towards my natural tendencies as a creative writer. The more I couldn’t write, the more I grew paranoid that I would forget all of the ideas that I conjured up. So during my vacation, I quickly compiled pages upon pages worth of scattered notes on my phone. Ideas for my creative writing, quotes, and ideas for my blog. However I couldn’t write to the extent I wished to.

Quickly I felt the fear of missing out overwhelm me.

I have experienced “f.o.m.o.” on numerous social occasions, but never considered how it affected me as a writer. I came to think, writers may get the worst end of it.

We are constantly pressuring ourselves to create and create and create. Then create more as soon as we get the chance.

What more writers and artists of all mediums should remember is that you are still an artist, even in the moments you are not creating. We can all use breaks sometimes, even from what we love most. 

Returning home, the anxieties and fears melted away as soon as I realized that everything was fine.

Missing out on writing for a week didn’t kill me. In fact, I was able to get back to work without any problems. I was worried about something that frankly, didn’t matter in the long run. That is why it’s so important to tackle the fear of missing out on vacation so you can truly enjoy yourself.

What sounds like a minor inconvenience ended up affecting me much more than I thought it would. I never knew that “the fear of missing out’ would affect me as much as it did during vacation. It goes to show that sometimes we need that push to help us learn more about ourselves.

Without the opportunity to share work online I was given the opportunity to let go of the “working” side of blogging and focus entirely on art. Spending the days taking photos, enjoying the water and touring the island may be even better without worrying about blogging or social media the entire time. I also found that the writing I did through the notepad of my phone was more honest and vulnerable than work I may have written others.

This is something that all writers should practice whether on vacation or not. Sometimes we need to return to the basics and just write, without worrying how successful it will be on our blog.

Don’t let the fear of missing out as a blogger stop you from experiencing more.

XX

Thank you for reading. This post is intended to share my experience on vacation- not to criticize how others view it. If you’d like to share your ideas make sure to comment below and start a discussion!