How To Forgive Someone & Why You Should Do It For Yourself

We’ve all heard the phrase “forgive, but never forget.” Well…forgiveness can be a lot easier said than done! We’re diving in on how to forgive someone who hurt you, forgiveness without an apology, and why forgiveness is important. 

 

 

How To Forgive Someone

There are two key ways people can hurt us — by what they do to us, or by what they DON’T do. Both have to be acknowledged and both have to be grieved! Unfortunately, forgiveness is not a light switch that we can just turn on and off whenever we need it. So, before we can fully forgive someone, we have to see just how deep their needles stung, and assess the situation from there. 

10 Factors Of Forgiveness

There are quite a few factors (10, in fact) that will dictate whether forgiveness will come easily, if it’ll be hard, or if it’ll be damn near impossible. 

1. Empathy: Can you see what historic trauma has led them to do that to you?

2. Rumination: How much are you thinking about what they did or how angry you are?

3. Personality: Are you a compassionate and kind person who tends to forgive easily?

4. Severity: How much did the experience hurt you and change how you view others?

5. Frequency: How many times were you hurt by this person? Is it a pattern?

6. History: How long has it been since you were directly impacted by this experience?

7. Relationship: Who hurt you and how much did you rely on them? A parent, a partner…?

8. Quality: What is the quality of the relationship you have with this person?

9. Hierarchy: Do you feel like you need to forgive them because they hold power over you?

10. Intention: Was the person intentionally trying to hurt you?

Now, intention can be perceived differently by you and the offender! You may feel like they were trying to hurt you on purpose, meanwhile they may say it was unintentional. It’s important to figure out the truth and focus on that, rather than hyper fixating on how it felt

An 11th, and very important, factor is whether or not the person even feels sorry. And that’s a whoooole other ball game. 

What Forgiveness Is, What Forgiveness Is Not

Forgiving someone isn’t acknowledging that you deserved whatever they did or said. It’s something you do to give yourself peace of mind or repair a damaged relationship. Not to mention, there are some pretty gnarly mental and physical symptoms that can pop when you keep pushing those feelings to the curb! So, let’s dive into what forgiveness entails and why it’s so important.

In 1992, psychologists Robert Enright, Elizabeth Gassin, and Ching-Ru Wu described forgiveness as “the overcoming of negative affect and judgement towards the offender — not by denying ourselves the right to have a negative affect and to judge others, but instead by endeavouring to view the offender with compassion, benevolence, and love.” 

How To Let Go Of The Past

Learning how to forgive someone who hurt you is less about saying what they did was okay, and more about treating them with compassion and understanding. They’re human too, and likely acted out of their own trauma, pain, or heartbreak.

Remember in Grey’s Anatomy when April neglected to tell Jackson she was pregnant until after their divorce was finalized? He was suuuper upset, because that info would have changed a lot of things in their relationship. But, eventually, Jackson was able to forgive April to form a healthy co-parenting relationship — and they were happy for each other when they each found love again elsewhere!

Choosing to see the good in a bad situation, like the one of April and Jackson, doesn’t make you weak, but actually quite the opposite! It doesn’t mean you’re denying the seriousness of the experience, it doesn’t mean that you’re forgetting, and it doesn’t mean that the offender is excused. Instead, you have been freed of your anger because you chose positivity over negativity — and that takes some guts!

Forgiveness Without An Apology

Figuring out how to forgive someone who isn’t sorry for hurting you can be a tricky feat. It is SO frustrating, because they show no remorse and meanwhile you’re still suffering! It’s even worse if they’re continually hurting you and proving that there will never be an apology. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, because there’s a big difference between forgiveness and reconciliation!  

Reconciliation would imply that you both want to fix things between you — and they clearly don’t! So, you can instead keep adopting those positive attitudes we talked about earlier and (figuratively) kill your offender with kindness. Otherwise that resentment will keep living in your body and bring about mental and physical discomfort (which we will dig deeper into shortly).  

 

 

Why Forgiveness Is Important 

Now that we’ve covered HOW to forgive, let’s tackle the WHY. Learning how to let go of the past is never easy but, if you don’t, you will be stuck harbouring that anger and resentment for the rest of your life! Anger affects both our mental and physical health, but research shows that even just thinking about forgiving someone starts solving those problems (pretty cool, right?).   

“You don’t have to forgive the person that is asking for your forgiveness, or that you wish that you could forgive,” says psychotherapist Dr. Courtney Tracy in an episode of the Truth Doctor Podcast. “But to a degree, you’re in chronic fight or flight mode. So, you’re constantly upset…constantly triggered by this person…constantly wishing that things were different. Or, pushing them away because you just don’t want to deal with them at all.”

Forgiveness is a process and will vary depending on the severity of the situation you’re in. But for whatever pain you’re going through, practicing how to forgive someone will make you hurt less, make you emotionally stronger, and prepare you for similar situations in the future!

Forgiveness For Yourself

First things first, let’s establish the fact that you don’t HAVE to forgive. For example, when it comes to an abuser who is still potentially dangerous, you probably shouldn’t reconcile. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a place of empathy and understanding within yourself — even if that means cutting someone you care about out of your life to get rid of toxic patterns. 

“This is an internal process that is for you. Even if the other person’s asking you to forgive them, the process is for you,” adds Dr. Tracy. “It’s very important that you don’t feel pressured to forgive them, because it has to be something that’s pure and genuine with good intention.”

To paraphrase, forgiveness should be something that happens inside of you — not to please someone else! YOU choose if someone deserves your forgiveness, and YOU are the one who will benefit from that decision. 

 

 

Forgiveness For Your Health 

Believe it or not, not forgiving someone can be mentally and physically damaging. Dr. Tracy tells us that “unforgiveness” can actually be viewed as a disease because of the toll it takes on our bodies! And this can lead to an overall feeling of discomfort because our minds affect our bodies, just as much as our bodies affect our minds (basically a never ending cycle, ugh).

By suppressing the damage of how much that experience changed your life, you may start hurting others (and yourself) in the same way you were hurt! And feelings of anger and frustration will eventually build up and attack your cardiovascular and nervous systems…we defs don’t want that.  

“When you haven’t forgiven, what research has shown is that a lot of us have an increased heart rate, our blood pressure has changed, our immune system is down,” explains Dr. Tracy. “And when you forgive, it actually calms your stress levels. And that can allow you to have a reduction in chronic illness, in autoimmune diseases, in anxiety and depression, and suicidality. It plays a factor!”

 

For more info on all things forgiveness, listen to Dr. Courtney Tracy in the “No B.S. Break Down: Forgiveness” episode of the Truth Doctor Podcast!

 

 

Feeling Energetic: A Guide To Your Emotions

Look, we’re busy people. Whether with work, school, volunteer or social life commitments (maybe even all of the above), there’s a lot we have to juggle! And with the incredibly busy lives we have, finding enough energy to get it all done can be, well… a bit of a struggle. Sooo when we actually DO feel energetic, it’s hands-down the BEST feeling ever, right?! We feel a burst of motivation, ready to take on all of our tasks and crush our goals like it’s no problem-o. Who doesn’t wanna feel like they’re the Energizer Bunny, powering through life and accomplishing all the things! (This is a rhetorical question; it’s safe to say we all do!)

Like we said, feeling energetic is the bee’s knees (and will have you buzzing like one too)! Let’s dive thru feeling energetic and its impact on our mental wellbeing, ‘cause it’s highly, highlyyy underrated. We give it a 10/10 rating in our books!

A Deeper Look At Feeling Energetic

Feeling energetic? Pffft, what’s that like? *chugs coffee* Well, let’s look at a trusty definition, just ‘cause we can. Dictionary.com defines energetic as: “adj. possessing or exhibiting energy, especially in abundance; vigorous.” Wowza. Having an abundance of energy?! Sounds too good to be true.

Something we wanna mention is that feeling energetic is actually rooted in one key emotion: joy. You’re probably thinking: well, duh! But let’s look a bit deeper here. The link between these emotions is super important. Think about it: when we’re happier (and less stressed) we tend to have wayyy more energy. That excitement, motivation and positive outlook we have on life when we’re feeling energetic? Yep, it’s all connected to that joy we feel. Take the boost of energy you feel when you’re passionate about something, for instance. Maybe you love your job, like reallyyyyy love it. And whenever you have a new idea for a project, it’s like a fire is lit under your butt! You have so much energy and excitement, that it pushes you to do your best!

And on the opposite end, think of how it feels when you’re super low-energy. Like, can’t get outta bed. Dragging your feet. You might feel drained, sluggish or burnt out which can be caused by any stressors you’re experiencing right now. And stating the obvious here, but stress does NOT = happiness. Booooo, stress! You suck the energy right out of us.

There are so many ways to boost your energy levels boost your energy levels, like getting enough sleep, drinking water and making sure you’re nourishing your body. But it’s important to note that your mental health is just as important as your physical health! So be sure to take precious care of both, friend. You deserve all the happiness and energy in the world!

How Feeling Energetic Shows Up Mentally

Since feeling energetic is rooted in happiness, it’s no surprise that our mental wellbeing is off the charts when we have boosts of energy! The two are linked, remember?! When we’re happy, we’re more likely to feel energetic and vice versa. Sooo, how does feeling energetic impact our mental wellbeing specifically? Excellent question. Here are some positive symptoms you might notice:

  • Lifts your mood
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Increases attentiveness and focus
  • Boosts productivity
  • Sparks creativity
  • Improves analytical skills
  • Promotes good thoughts
  • Increases motivation

When we’re happy, our brains release the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin throughout the body. And as a result, these positive hormones give you the energy you need to do alllll the things! Hell yeah, that’s what we’re talkin’ about.

How Feeling Energetic Shows Up Physically

When we’re feeling energetic and really happy, the physical benefits are also pretty amazing! It’s almost like the body reacts positively to a happy mind. What a concept, right?! Here are a few physical symptoms you might experience when you’re feeling energetic like you’re battery-powered:

  • Reduces cortisol levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Provides better sleep
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces pain
  • Lengthens lifespan

All of these physical symptoms sound great, if you ask us. Especially that last point! Who doesn’t wanna live longer?! So embrace that energetic feeling, friend. It’s worth it!

5 Ways To Embrace Feeling Energetic

Okay, so you’re feeling energetic. Now how do you channel all of that energy and use it to promote your mental wellbeing to the fullest?! You’ve come to the right place, friend! We’ve got some great methods for you. They can also help if you’re not feeling super energetic but could use a lil’ boost! Check ‘em out:

1. Move Your Body

We’ve got one word for you: endorphins. We know that exercise boosts endorphins, which make you happy! Even if physical activity isn’t your fave thing, there’s lots of fun ways to get active. Go for a walk, run, swim, bike, rock climbing, yoga, you name it. Dance around your room to a fun playlist like nobody’s watching, if that’s more your style! Whatever way you like, just get movin’ and groovin’. It’s worth it!

2. Engage In Compassionate Self Talk

If you’re feeling sluggish or could use a boost of energy, one of the best things you can do is show yourself kindness. Before you roll your eyes, hear us out! You deserve compassion, always. Even on your worst days! Try saying these phrases to yourself out loud: I don’t feel happy, motivated or energetic at this moment but that’s okay. I can get through this rut. I can accomplish my goals.

3. Connect With A Friend

When you’re feeling energetic and on top of the world, here’s an idea: why not connect with a friend?! Put that energy to good use by doing a fun activity together, whether it’s a hike in the great outdoors or a fun paint night at home. If you can’t meet in person, play a game over Zoom or just have a gab sesh! We get by with a little help from our friends, as the Beatles say.

4. Get Creative

Another great way to channel your energy? Let us spell it out for you: c-r-e-a-t-i-v-i-t-y! Get artsy by drawing, sketching, doing calligraphy or painting. Write poems or try your hand at blog writing. Practice an instrument, sing, dance! Feeling energetic can really put you in the right headspace to get creative, and the possibilities are truly endless. ENDLESS, we tell you!

5. Practice Gratitude

Showing gratitude for the things that bring us happiness and provide us with tons of energy?! Yeppp, that’s the best! Gratitude can look like simply taking notice of the good things in life and showing them appreciation. That might involve writing a list of things that bring you joy, volunteering in your community, or showing acts of kindness to the people who make your life better. Whatever it may be, gratitude feels great for everyone!

That’s it that’s all thanks for stopping by friend we really appreciate you and think you deserve all the good things in life no matter what and— *gasping for air* Phew, sorry. Got carried away there for a sec! We were just sooo energized after diving thru this emotion with you. Hopefully you learned something new about your emotions with us! Thanks for stopping by, friend.

 

Feeling Faithful: A Guide To Your Emotions

We can feel faithful in so many different areas of our lives. Most people might think of feeling faithful as something that’s religious, which is true. It can be, if you’re super devoted to a set of beliefs or your spirituality. But there’s other ways we can feel faithful, too! Maybe you have a routine that you like to stick to everyday because it helps you stay on track. Or you might be in a committed relationship that you go above and beyond to keep it strong and healthy. You might be faithful to a team sport, a hobby, a club or any other part of your life that takes up a lot of your time and hard work. Whatever it is, you’ve shown a lot of loyalty and commitment to this part of your life. And that’s something you should defs feel proud of!

This might not be an emotion that’s talked about a lot, but that’s why we’re here. Let’s dive thru feeling faithful and how it can impact your mental wellbeing!

A Deeper Look At Feeling Faithful

So, what does it really mean to feel faithful? Actually, Dictionary.com has a few definitions for faithful: “adj. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.; steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant.” On its own, faith means: “noun. Confidence or trust in a person or thing.” Basically, someone who feels faithful towards someone or something is gonna remain loyal and consistent, no matter what.

When we think of the word ‘faithful,’ it’s probably most common to think of relationships. You can have faithful friends who will always have your back and be there for you when you need them the most. They don’t talk behind your back or make you feel like a second choice to spend time with. They’re loyal AF!

In romantic relationships, we think of faithful as being committed to respecting the other person’s boundaries, trust and staying loyal to them. Of course, this can look super different depending on the couple! But at the root of the meaning, being faithful in a relationship means standing by the promises you’ve made to someone and staying consistent.

How Feeling Faithful Shows Up Mentally

Feeling faithful is actually connected to the core feeling: powerful. And the benefits that feeling powerful provides for your mental health are ones you don’t wanna miss! Here’s how feeling faithful can impact your mental wellbeing:

  • High self-esteem
  • Increased confidence
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Lowers stress
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improves relationships

When we feel faithful to something, it can also give us a lot of motivation. We might strive to be our best and do our best, because we’re so committed to a positive outcome. And hey, that sounds pretty great, don’t ya think?!

How Feeling Faithful Shows Up Physically

You’ve probably heard us say this 873139 times, but our mental health and physical health are closely linked. So when your mental health is so thriving, that means you are gonna have some positive physical symptoms to show for it! Here are some physical symptoms you might experience when you’re feeling faithful:

  • Increased energy
  • Better cardiac health
  • Improved sleep
  • Less muscle tension/better posture
  • Developing healthy habits like staying hydrated, eating balanced meals, physical activity, etc.

Like we said before, feeling faithful can give us a lot of motivation. If your mental wellbeing is doing great, chances are you are taking better care of yourself! You keep up a healthy routine, make sure you’re getting enough rest, and treat yourself with love. It’s almost as if… you’re being faithful to your own wellbeing. We love to see it!

5 Ways To Embrace Feeling Faithful

Wait! Before you go, we have some fun practices for you to try out. They’re great for working through emotions and gaining a better understanding of how you feel! Trust us, you’re gonna love ‘em. Here they are:

1. Practice Meditation

Mediation is a super popular practice for many good reasons! This practice allows us to slowww down and shift our mindset, which is great when you’re stressed and need to calm down. If you’re not sure how to meditate, follow a guided practice to get you started. It’s a game changer, trust us!

2. Journal

We’re big fans of journaling here at DiveThru. It’s a great practice for exploring your feelings and reframing any negative thoughts you might be experiencing. You get to put pen to paper and let the words just flow! Does it get any better than that?! We think not.

3. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude allows us to show appreciation for all of the good things in life. That might include writing a list of things that bring you joy, volunteering in your community, or showing acts of kindness to the people who make your life better. It honestly feels great for everyone involved, so why not try it out for yourself!

4. Engage In Compassionate Self Talk

Speaking to ourselves compassionately has been shown to improve our mental wellness. Does it feel silly and weird at first? Maybeee a bit. But it’s a great habit to start, so why not give it a shot? Tell yourself what you like about yourself, what you’re proud of and what makes you feel content. You might surprise yourself!

5. Practice Deep Breathing

This practice right here is the best. Whenever you need to take a moment to collect your thoughts and manage your emotions: take deep breaths in, followed by deep breaths out. Taking a moment to focus on your breathing has actually been proven to lower anxiety and reduce stress. Plus, deep breathing slows your heart rate and provides your brain with enough oxygen to stay calm and refocus.

Well, that’s all for now! We hope this has helped you as you navigate your feelings. Remember: we’re rooting for you, friend!

 

Learning How To Be Vulnerable & 5 Steps To Get There

It can be ridiculously hard to let your guard down with new people. Like, heart-racing, shit-your-pants hard. Sharing all of the trauma you’ve been through, your triggers, and the chaos that goes on inside your brain can make you feel like you’re going through it all over again. But, believe it or not, being vulnerable has a lot of benefits.

Now, when we say “vulnerable,” we don’t mean high-risk-for-COVID-cause-underlying-health-conditions vulnerable (although still VERY important). We mean being vulnerable about emotions, experiences, and mental health. So, let’s figure out what exactly that means and how to be vulnerable!

What Does Being Vulnerable Mean? 

The literal definition of vulnerability is being “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” But we don’t really like that definition, because it doesn’t take into account ALL of the ways we can be vulnerable with those around us! 

Brené Brown is an American researcher who has studied vulnerability for OVER 20 YEARS, and has a better understanding of what it really means. She defines vulnerability as “the feeling we get during times of uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure. This includes times when we’re showing our feelings and we’re not sure what people will think and times when we really care about something and people will know that we’re sad or disappointed when it doesn’t work out.” Now THAT’S more like it. 

We are the most vulnerable as children, sharing every small aspect of our lives without the fear or shame of embarrassment. But as we get older, this weird black cloud takes over our brains, telling us that being vulnerable is something we should avoid because it makes us seem “weak.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Avoiding vulnerability is avoiding feeling, and numbing everything is defs NOT the way to go. We have to peeeeel back that protective skin we’ve grown for ourselves and let it alllll out, or else we’re never gonna be fully happy! 

“Let’s talk about the shit…the pain…the mistakes that we think that we made. Let’s get real, let’s get honest, let’s risk putting ourselves out there,” says psychotherapist Dr. Courtney Tracy in a recent episode of the Truth Doctor Podcast

How To Be Vulnerable In 5 Steps

Alright, now that we know what vulnerability is, let’s put it into action! There are many different ways to actively put ourselves out there and bare our souls to the important people in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as just shouting: “Hey! I’m being vulnerable right now!” But here are some tips on how to be vulnerable that def come close! 

1. Get To Know Yourself

First things first, you need to decipher what’s going on in your head. You can’t be vulnerable about something if you’re not 100% sure what that something is! Take some time to recognize what you are feeling and where that feeling stems from. Look in a mirror, say it out loud, or write it down if you have to! Once you’re more in tune with yourself, you can help others see what you’re going through, too. 

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help 

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, it can be SO easy to just shut everyone out and pretend that you don’t need anything (trust us, we know). Admitting that you need help can feel like the hardest thing in the world, but it’s such an important first step! Whatever it is you’re going through, you don’t need to go through it alone. 

3. Share Your Feelings

Once you’ve recognized your feelings and come to terms with them, sharing them with someone else can lift a huuuuge weight off your shoulders! It’s not so much that you’re expecting them to have the perfect solution to your problem (because they probably won’t)…most of the time, a simple “I’m here for you” will do the trick!

4. Be In The Moment

If you’ve taken the next step to being vulnerable, chances are you’ve already spent a LOT of time in your head! The best thing to do after a solid vulnerability sesh is to allow yourself to soak in the feelings with whoever you just shared them with. You know that half-cry, half-laugh thing we do sometimes when we’re relieved? Yeah, that. It can feel so good to let it all go and bond with someone in that moment. So enjoy it, rather than crawling back into your brain! 

5. Set Boundaries 

Vulnerability is a sensitive emotion that, unfortunately, can’t be shared with just anyone. So, you’ll also want to take some time to think about who you can be comfortable with! Whether it’s with a therapist, a parent, a friend, or a partner, that person should be someone who you know will understand where you’re coming from and won’t take advantage of it! Because the last thing you want in that moment is to feel even more alone than you did in the beginning.

5 Reasons To Be Vulnerable

Being vulnerable can be scary af because we risk getting hurt, getting rejected, or being criticized! It takes a lot of courage, but if you find the right people to be vulnerable with, you can become more self-aware and be the best possible version of yourself. And if you ever forget how liberating being vulnerable can be, just remember these points! 

1. Vulnerability Strengthens Relationships

Whether with an intimate partner or a close friend, being vulnerable can result in a much deeper connection! Like, Grand Canyon deep! Sharing your love language, being the first to say “I love you,” or even just sharing your feelings and being empathetic to theirs, all foster a more meaningful relationship. Vulnerability helps us better understand and forgive each other when things get heated, so that everyone knows that their emotions are valid and that they are worthy of love. And not only that, but being vulnerable can also help us RELATE to each other! 

2. Others Relate To Your Vulnerability

Just think of the celebrities who have been the most open about themselves — like Lizzo! They cut through the bullshit and tell it how it is and, because of that, you can relate to them on a deeper level. The same goes for us when we open up about what we’re going through! It’s almost guaranteed that whoever is listening has gone through something very similar, and they can feed off of our vulnerability to OWN their shit and feel empowered!

3. Being Vulnerable Empowers Yourself And Others

Let’s take another look at Lizzo, shall we? That woman OOZES self-love! But how did she get here? She’s been through the same rejection, the sadness, and the fighting that we all have, because we’re taught from a young age to be strong and nothing else! 

But Lizzo recognizes that strength has to be met with an equal amount of vulnerability — that we need the space to embrace every ounce of human emotion so that we can turn around and lead our lives how we want to. That confidence is CONTAGIOUS, and we can definitely spread our own version of Lizzo-love to those around us! 

 4. Being Vulnerable Helps You Grow 

Taking charge of your emotions plays a big part in embracing imperfection and realizing who we truly are. Because without emotions, we may as well be the speck of dust floating through the wind in Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! Once you can actively recognize how an emotion is affecting you and be kinder to yourself for it, you will be able to see the beauty in being alive. Listening to your body is the first step in personal growth and acting on it is the second, so you can push aside that fear of criticism and show up anyway! 

5. Vulnerability Makes You Stronger

Fear, insecurity, and doubt will never go away — they’re just a part of life! But what we CAN change is how we deal with them. Every single time we take a minute to be vulnerable, we practice dealing with that emotion or obstacle so that we can be even more resilient the next time it pops up! So, when you feel like you can’t take any more pain and start shutting down you have to take a moment to remember who you are, think about who you want to confide in, and be VULNERABLE! 

“Let us be vulnerable, let us deal with the possibility of being attacked or harmed for sharing our mental health struggles so that, hopefully, one day it doesn’t have to be ‘vulnerable’ when you share about your mental health issues,” adds Dr. Tracy.

To dive into everything there is to know about vulnerability, tune into the “No B.S. Break Down: Vulnerability” episode of the Truth Doctor Podcast!

 

Feeling Sleepy: A Guide To Your Emotions

Some days, we’re full of energy! We feel motivated, productive and can get shit done on our to-do list, no problemo. Other days, though… we just wanna sleep. Hit the hay. Count sheep. Get some shut-eye. Catch some ZZZs. And ya know what? It’s important to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us! If you’re feeling sleepy, there’s a reason for it.

It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is super important for our mental wellbeing. Buuut it can be easier said than done. Even though we feel sleepy, maybe it’s not at “the best time.” We might feel sleepy during class or at work, making it hard to get through our tasks for the day. Or maybe we have a hard time actually falling asleep, even though we’re tired as hell. Hey, there can be a lot on our minds! (Like, do aliens exist? And if so, do they wanna be our friends?!) But when feeling sleepy 24/7 starts to impact on our lives, that can be a big problem. So let’s dive thru feeling sleepy and its relationship to mental wellness!

A Deeper Look At Feeling Sleepy

First of all, let’s define what it means to feel sleepy. Dictionary.com defines sleepy as “adj. ready or inclined to sleep; drowsy.” Yawwwnnn… Sorry, did we put you to sleep just now?

Everyone feels sleepy from time to time. Whether it’s because we didn’t get enough rest the night before, our brains aren’t being stimulated, we’re not being active, or our daily tasks are just draining all of our energy, there’s lots of potential causes for feeling like you could use a snooze! Sometimes, a good nap or making some changes in your schedule can be the solution. Maybe you delegate some of your work tasks so that your day becomes less busy and overwhelming. Or you start a new sleep routine to help you unwind, including a bubble bath, lighting some candles, stretching or drinking a cup of decaf tea before bed. Finding the cause of your sleepiness is a great first step to getting back on track! ‘Cause who likes to feel sluggish all day everyday? NOBODY.

While feeling sleepy at times is a normal part of being a human being, being excessively tired all of the time can be a sign of a larger issue. Here are a few conditions that can cause excessive sleepiness:

1. Sleep Apnea

This condition causes you to abruptly stop breathing during the night, making you feel sleepy during the day. It can also cause snoring (pretty loud!), gasping for air, sore throat, headache, irritability and difficulty focusing.

2. Restless Legs Syndrome

Ever get that feeling when you’re about to fall asleep, but suddenly your legs start twitching and it wakes you up? Well, when this happens every night and each time you start to drift into sleep, it can be a sign of RLS. Basically, it causes a throbbing or itching sensation that makes you wanna move your legs or feel the need to get up and walk around.

3. Depression

One of the most common symptoms of this mental illness is a change in your sleep patterns. You might sleep wayyy more than you usually do, but still feel sleepy and not well rested when you wake up. Or you might toss and turn all night struggling to fall asleep, which obviously makes you super tired. You don’t feel like yourself, and it can really affect your mood and overall wellbeing.

Like we said, everyone feels tired sometimes. But if you feel excessively sleepy too often, it can impact your life in negative ways. Take notice of what your mind and body are telling you! Let’s look at some more ways sleepiness impacts your health, both mentally and physically. 

How Feeling Sleepy Shows Up Mentally

Lack of sleep is a common symptom for many mental conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar and ADHD. A few other mental indicators of sleepiness includes:

– Drowsiness

– Lack of focus

– Brain fog

– Difficulty making decisions

– Apathy

Irritability

– Poor memory

Try to remove some of the stressors in your life, or set a nighttime routine to help regulate your sleep. If your sleepiness persists and affects your ability to go through your normal daily routine, it’s best to speak with a doctor to help with this problem.

How Feeling Sleepy Shows Up Physically

Sleepiness can be a result of stress and other physical health problems. Here are a few medical conditions that can cause you to feel sleepy:

– Dehydration

– Poor nutrition

– Thyroid problems

– Fibromyalgia

– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

– Anemia and iron deficiency

– Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis

We repeat: listen. to. your. body. Yes, it’s normal to feel tired sometimes. But if you’re constantly sleepy and have a hard time keeping up with life as normal, there could be a serious reason! It’s important to seek medical attention if your sleepiness continues, despite your best efforts to improve it. There might be a medical reason that needs attention. Don’t ride it out!

5 Ways to Cope With Feeling Sleepy

Okay, so you’re sleepy. But you’re trying to snap out of it so you can get through the day, focus on your tasks and crush your goals. You’ve come to the right place! We have some coping strategies for you whenever you’re feeling sleepy and could use a pick-me-up. Try ‘em out!

1. Practice The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise

This practice is great for keeping you alert and improving focus! Engage all five senses and mindfully notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Go in any order that makes sense for you and your current situation – no pressure!

2. Run Your Hands Under Water, Splash Your Face With Water, Hold An Ice Cube

This method might sound weird, but we swear it works. Try to mindfully note the temperature of the water and the sensation of the water on your skin. The sensation helps by slowing your heart rate, lowering your cortisol levels (stress hormone), and releasing endorphins (happy hormone). Plus, it’s refreshing AF.

3. Move Your Body

Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when you feel sleepy. But trust us, it’ll wake you up! Go for a walk, stretch, ride a bike, dance, you name it. Exercise releases endorphins, improves your mood, boosts your energy and improves focus. What can’t it do, really?!

4. Give Yourself A Pep Talk

If getting through the day when you feel sleepy is a struggle, don’t be hard on yourself. Try giving yourself a little pep talk! Even though I’m sleepy, I’m gonna give it my all today. I can get through this. Soon, I can go home to relax and unwind.

5. Find A Positive Distraction

When you’re feeling sleepy, crawling into your warm bed is probably all you can think about. Instead, find a positive activity that takes your mind elsewhere! Listen to a podcast, pick up a book, do a crossword puzzle, watch a funny show or take a shower. Do something that perks you up and makes you feel a lil’ more alert!

That’s all for now, sleepyhead. We hope these tips help get you through the day when you’re feeling tired. Remember: getting enough rest is self care!

 

Feeling Bored: A Guide To Your Emotions

Boredom. is. the. worst. It feels like the hours, minutes, and seconds are dragging on and on… and on and on. You feel kinda frustrated and restless, like you’re itching so badly to do something that will pull you out of this rut. But also like your mind is kinda empty and numb, so you can’t focus. Maybe you’re trying really hard to study, but the reading material is sooo dry it makes your eyes glaze over. Or you might feel so uninterested in the work tasks that you’ve been assigned, you just stare blankly at the computer monitor hoping you’ll suddenly feel motivated. Ever been dragged to an adult function when you were a little kid, with no one else to play with and nothing to do? Yeahhh, feeling bored is almost like that some days. Like you’re trapped in a situation that you have no say in, and you just gotta ride out the complete and utter boredom until it’s FINALLY over.

We all experience boredom now and then. It could be a temporary fix, or a sign that we could use a lil’ change of scenery. Whatever the reason, we’re here for you! So let’s talk about boredom, how it impacts our mental wellness, and ways to overcome this feeling.

A Deeper Look At Feeling Bored

What does it mean to feel bored, exactly? Well, APA Dictionary defines boredom as: “n. a state of weariness or ennui resulting from a lack of engagement with stimuli in the environment.” So yeah, that restless feeling and lack of satisfaction you get now and then? Could be boredom. It happens to the best of us.

We might feel bored for lots of reasons. Boredom can arise when you feel mentally drained or you’re dealing with too many stressors at once. Having too much going on around you can put your brain on autopilot, and then you just feel bored to death. Maybe you’ve taken on too many responsibilities at work, and your personal life has started to suffer. Or your studies have taken up so much of your time that it feels like you never have time for your hobbies, or hanging out with friends (student burnout is a thing!). Your time is consumed by work, but you’re not getting enough opportunities to unwind and have fun. When life feels repetitive and you get too comfortable doing the same thing most days, it can make you feel restless and bored with your schedule. We all deserve some “me” time away from all of the responsibilities we’re juggling!

How Feeling Bored Shows Up Mentally

When you feel bored, there’s nothing you want more than to find something that will stimulate your mind and cure this feeling. Buuut it’s not always easy! Here are a few other mental signs of boredom you might experience:

– Fatigue

– Irritability

– Feeling sadness or hopelessness

– Inability to stay interested

– Lack of motivation

Clearly, boredom can have a major effect on your mental wellbeing. Some of these signs can also be symptoms of depression, especially feelings of hopelessness, sadness and avoiding opportunities to make you feel more engaged. If you continue to struggle with boredom despite making an effort to combat this feeling, speak with a mental health professional. They’re equipped to help you work through difficult emotions and find positive solutions, and you don’t have to do this alone.

How Feeling Bored Shows Up Physically

Just like it impacts your mental health, boredom has its ways of affecting your physical health. Feelings of restlessness, discomfort and lack of interest from boredom can look something like this:

– Yawning

– Fidgeting

– Jiggling legs and feet

– Staring off in the distance

– Moving in your seat restlessly

Again, everyone gets bored sometimes. It’s when we feel constantly bored and unstimulated that it starts to affect our health in negative ways. It’s important to work through these feelings with a professional if boredom is affecting your quality of life.

Getting Rid Of Boredom

Feeling bored could be a sign that you need to make some changes and find ways to relieve stressors in your life. Try some new hobbies, join a fun class with a friend, and find ways to switch up your daily routine. Maybe on your lunch break, you start going for walks. Or you try studying in a different location like a coffee shop instead of the library. You could initiate a new strategy at work with your team, like having a fun brainstorming sesh in the middle of the week to get some fresh ideas. A lot of the time, we just need to try things that are out of the ordinary for us to help stimulate our mind and spark our interest again.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. It sucks, we know. But you’re not alone! Boredom doesn’t have to be a default emotion. It takes some trial and error, but it’s so worth it once you find something that works for you and makes you feel excited!

5 Ways To Cope With Feeling Bored

Sooo, you’re bored out of your mind. Now what?! Don’t worry, we’ve got a few coping strategies for your boredom. Try ‘em out for yourself!

1. Engage in something creative

One of the best cures for boredom? Flexing your imagination, channeling your creativity and having a lotta fun doing it! Draw, paint, sculpt or do calligraphy. Write poems, blog posts or stories. Practice an instrument, sing, dance! The possibilities are endless.

2. Reach out for support

When you’re bored, it can help to get a little social interaction. So try reaching out to a friend or family member! Shoot them a text, chat on the phone, or meet up for coffee. It makes you feel less alone when you can open up to someone about how you feel.

3. Find a positive distraction

Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Watch an episode of a show that never fails to make you laugh. Clean out your closet. Listen to a podcast. Do whatever takes your mind off things and sparks a lil’ joy! You deserve it.

4. Move your body

Let’s get physical! Go for a walk, stretch, ride a bike, dance, you name it. Exercise releases endorphins and improves your mood. Plus, it actually boosts your energy and improves focus. It does alllll the things.

5. Visualize your happy place

It could be a cozy bookstore on the snowy mountainside with a crackling fireplace. Or maybe it’s the beaches you sun-bathed on during your last family vacay. Whatever your happy place in your mind is, go there. Picturing something that makes you feel warm and at peace can help lift your mood.

Well, that’s it. No way you’ll be bored after all of the strategies we’ve given you! Go shake things up. Your mental wellness will thank you for it!

 

Traumatic Shock: Why You ‘Froze’ And Couldn’t Say Or Do Anything

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

When we experience trauma, our brains can respond in super unpredictable ways. We probably think that in the face of danger, we’d take charge and find all the best ways to protect ourselves. We’d run away, or channel our inner Karate Kid to fight back. There’s absolutely no way we would just “let it happen” to us. But that’s not how traumatic shock works.

You know that moment when you’re watching a scary movie and yelling at the character NOT to do something because it seems stupid? Are you kidding me right now, you’re gonna run and hide upstairs where there’s zero chance of escaping?? That makes no sense. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t make those decisions if that were me! It’s not that simple in real life.

Responses To Trauma

Chances are, you’ve heard of fight or flight before. But there are actually 2 other common types of trauma responses that we gotta give some recognition: the freeze response and fawn response.

Let’s talk a bit about the fawn response first. This one happens when we immediately go along with what’s happening in order to avoid conflict with another person. It can be seen as a “people-pleasing” response, where you want to prevent any further abuse by pleasing the other person. Even if it means ignoring your own feelings of discomfort. The fawn response is common during childhood, where the abuser is usually someone older who has more power over you. As you grow up, you might notice this pattern showing up in other areas of life too: pleasing your friends, romantic partners or your boss to avoid upsetting them.

Then there’s the freeze response, also known as traumatic shock. Basically, the freeze response happens when we freeze up in a scary or uncomfortable situation where we can’t move or speak. And it’s way, wayyy more common than you think. Sooo…why isn’t this response talked about more?

Great question. Let’s dive thru traumatic shock, why it happens and how it impacts our mental health.

Why Freezing During Trauma Happens

In the face of trauma, we might react in ways that make zero sense to us. At all. Anytime we feel really uncomfortable or unsafe, our brain shuffles through the fight-flight-freeze responses and decides subconsciously which one is best for us at that exact moment. So as it turns out, we don’t have as much control in these situations as we think we do.

During a trauma like sexual assault, it’s common to be in traumatic shock, to freeze up and be unable to move or speak. It’s like you’re suddenly under some sort of spell that turns you into a statue, and it’s a real defense mechanism our brains might use to protect us. But the thing you’re probably wondering is, why?? If our brains truly gave a crap about our safety, why keep us frozen instead of, ya know…telling us to get away from a scary, traumatic situation?

Ok, quick biology lesson. Stick with us here! It’s super important to understand how our brain works when we experience this type of freezing reaction. That way, we can hopefully alleviate the blame we might put on ourselves for not doing or saying anything in the moment. ‘Cause 1) your trauma is not your fault, and 2) how you respond is with survival. There is no “right” way to respond and it is often out of your control.

Our nervous system has two modes: the everything-is-totally-fine mode, and the holy-crap-what’s-happening-am-I-about-to-die mode. When we’re in safe mode, our brains are like, Yep, all good. Nothing to see here! But when we sense a threat to our safety, our brain is like, Hold up. We’re gonna focus on survival right now, that’s it, nothing else! The prefrontal cortex, where we have rational thoughts, clear thinking and control over our bodies? It goes on pause. Our brains have one goal and one goal only: keeping us safe.

So if we freeze during sexual assault, it’s because our brains decided in those milliseconds that was the best and safest option. Fight or flight could have had worse potential outcomes, so our brains told us we need to ‘play dead’ instead. Make no sudden movements and nobody gets hurt…this will be over soon…. Our minds might feel blank because we’re mentally ‘checking out’ from the situation. It’s another way of keeping us safe, by not letting us fully process what the heck is happening. It’s like the whole thing doesn’t even feel real to us.

Here are some other common symptoms we might experience during traumatic shock, on top of being unable to move or speak (it’s a hefty list):

  • Mind going blank
  • Clouded thoughts
  • Panic or dread
  • Hopelessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Feeling numb or detached
  • Dissociation
  • Feeling trapped or stuck
  • Fearing that you won’t be believed
  • Fearing that others will think you’re making it up
  • Heaviness or stiffness
  • Holding breath
  • Heart rate increasing or decreasing

Freezing Does NOT Equal Consent

This is a hard, fast rule that we want to make sure is explicit when it comes to consent: if it’s not an enthusiastic YES, it’s a NO. So if you’re in a state of traumatic shock or freeze response and someone commits sexual acts towards you without your YES, they did not have your consent. It’s as simple as that!

There are sooo many toxic and harmful misconceptions out there about the freeze response during sexual assault:

They should’ve just walked away.

Why didn’t they fight back?

They should have screamed.

If they didn’t say no, that’s their fault.

They just changed their minds after the fact…If they didn’t want it to happen, they would’ve said something while it was actually happening.

It really sucks, but we’ve probably all heard some variation of these phrases before. Society has done so much harm to survivors of sexual assault by pushing these false narratives, and it’s not fair. But we can change the narrative around sexual assault. Instead, let’s challenge those victim-blaming phrases, shall we?

It was not my fault.

I did what I had to do to survive.

My brain was working to protect me.

My feelings about my trauma are valid.

I did not deserve what happened to me.

The sad reality is that sexual assault is a common offense. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. *jaw drop*

It could be committed by a random stranger on public transit who gropes us as they walk by. It could be someone that’s considered a friend who forces a kiss on us without asking permission. And it could even happen with someone we’re actually dating, who takes it further than we’re ready to go without our consent. Stats show that most sexual offenders are people we actually KNOW, and that’s obviously a super dark, terrifying thing to realize. Often we don’t even understand what has happened to us until wayyy after the fact. But that doesn’t make what happened to us, or how we feel about it, any less real.

To understand more about what sexual assault is and what consent is, check out our article that dives thru a more detailed explanation.

How Traumatic Shock Impacts Mental Health

Someone who freezes or goes into traumatic shock typically experiences a lot of confusion and self-loathing afterwards. They might go over what happened repeatedly in their minds, wondering if they could have stopped it if only they had done something differently. Maybe if I hadn’t gone to that party…Or maybe if I didn’t drink…Maybe I gave them the wrong idea…If only I actually did or said something, I could have stopped it. Reflecting on how they froze during sexual assault, survivors might also feel:

  • Anger
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Blame
  • Embarrassed
  • Powerless
  • Weak
  • Cowardly
  • Foolish
  • Dirty or used

If this is something you’ve gone through, you could also be dealing with flashbacks, panic attacks and major anxiety. These symptoms might make you feel like you’re not YOU anymore. Maybe life suddenly doesn’t seem worth living. You’re going through the motions everyday, but something just isn’t right. You haven’t come to terms with what happened, or healed from it.

We can’t say this enough: your trauma is not your fault. And the way you responded when it happened? It was to survive. This is such a painful experience to work through. Coming to terms with what happened to you won’t be easy, but please know that you are not alone! There are resources and ways to cope with trauma that we wanna share with you.

Where To Find Support

The first step in finding support can look different for everyone. For some people, it is a trusted friend, family member, or significant other. For others, the thought of saying it out loud or telling someone is too scary. No matter where you are in your process, you can always receive help. 

Even if we have an amazing support system, trauma impacts the way our brain functions and there are times when we need professional help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. If your foot was broken, would it be weak of you to go to the ER for a cast? Nope, it would help you heal! Don’t underestimate the power of therapy.

It’s also SUPER important to note that going to therapy does not mean you have to talk about what happened until you are ready. Finding a therapist who can help you work through the trauma, process your experience and validate your rollercoaster of emotions will be helpful — but rest easy knowing that it will happen on your terms. 

Search for therapists in your area who deal specifically with trauma or sexual assault either online, or get a referral from your doctor or a helpline. Therapy will not only help you feel less alone, but it also provides you with necessary coping mechanisms to actually deal with your trauma head-on. The healing process can take some time, so remember to be kind to yourself!

Helplines

Here are some helplines you can reach out to for support who deal specifically with sexual assault. You might not know what to do after something so traumatic, but there are trained professionals who want to support you so you don’t feel lost and alone. They’ll tell you what your next steps are:

US: RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or chat online. Both are available 24/7.

Canada: Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (CASAC) or call 411 for your nearest crisis centre. There’s also a list of resources for every province here.

 

*If you need immediate help, dial 911 or your local emergency number. 

*To report a crime against a child, or other vulnerable persons, contact your local police.

 

Feeling Creative: A Guide To Your Emotions

When we think of creativity, what usually comes to mind? Maybe the image of an artist adding colour to a canvas, a musician strumming their guitar, or a kid building a mansion out of LEGO. Or you might think of the creative geniuses you admire the most, from Albert Einstein to Lady Gaga. Feeling creative can look like so many different things. Whether it’s art, theatre, film, music, science or more, there’s a whooole lot of creativity out there in the world! Seriously though, how can you NOT be inspired?!

Feeling creative allows us to try new things, follow our passions and learn more about ourselves. The sky is really the limit! Getting into a creative headspace can feel like you’re tapping into a whole other part of yourself. A side that gives us fulfillment, happiness and an appreciation for life. All work and no play? Nobody wants that. So let’s dive thru how feeling creative is great for our mental wellbeing!

A Deeper Look At Feeling Creative

What does it really mean to feel creative? So glad you asked. APA Dictionary defines creativity as: “n. the ability to produce or develop original work, theories, techniques, or thoughts. A creative individual typically displays originality, imagination, and expressiveness.”

As kids, we had so much freedom to be creative and use our imaginations. We made up silly dance routines to our favourite songs, drew murals on the sidewalk out of chalk, and wrote the wildest stories our little brains could imagine. Now as adults, getting creative might look a bit different. We might put our creative skills to the test when we’re working on a group project for school, or in our jobs. Getting creative isn’t just arts and crafts (but those are fun, too) — it’s coming up with ideas! Making something new! Finding ways to improve our lives and the lives of others! If it sounds thrilling, that’s because it is.

Experts believe that creativity sets people up for success and improves their quality of life. Flexing creativity helps with social skills, managing emotions, problem solving, productivity and resilience. Are we seeing a pattern here?! Getting creative solves everything! Kidding. But it does bring us a lot of good!

How Feeling Creative Shows Up Mentally

When you’re in a creative flow, where you’re so engaged in what you’re doing that the rest of the world seems to melt away, the benefits to your mental health are pretty great! Your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical. You feel motivated, inspired, calm and happy. Your mood is boosted. All in all, you feel amazing! And you’re more likely to repeat this creative activity since you know how much better it makes you feel.

Not only does it just feel good, but practicing creativity is great for coping with mental illness or mental conditions including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar
  • Dementia
  • Schizophrenia

If you’re struggling with mental illness, or know someone in your life who is, try getting creative with them however you like! Maybe suggest a paint night, learning to crochet or songwriting together. Connecting with other people creatively helps us feel inspired and uplifted! So don’t be afraid to reach out to someone with similar interests, join a new group and try new things. Your mental wellness will thank you for it!

How Feeling Creative Shows Up Physically

Creativity isn’t only great for your mental wellbeing. It has some notable pluses for your physical health, too! Like what?! Well, reduced stress, lower heart rate and a boosted immune system, to name a few. But that’s not all! 

Getting creative and practicing cognitive skills throughout your life can help combat degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. People with chronic illness can also find creative practices to be helpful with managing pain, reducing stress and inflammation. Obviously, the body responds well to a mind that engages in creativity!

5 Ways To Appreciate Feeling Creative

All right, now is the time to put that creativity to the test and enjoy this feeling to its fullest! Not sure where to start? Hey, we’ve got you. Here are some easy ways to channel all of that creative energy:

1. Do Something Creative

… ok, duh! But our point is, don’t underestimate your creativity or be afraid to try something new. Art has so many forms: there’s painting, drawing, colouring, sculpting, animation and so much more. You could try your hand at some grandma-esque but super calming activities like scrapbooking, knitting, embroidery or calligraphy. There’s also writing songs, poetry, stories. Anddd picking up an instrument, ‘cause why not? Do whatever sparks your interest and creativity!

2. Engage In Compassionate Self Talk

Everyone gets in a creative rut sometimes. It’s also easy to compare yourself to the creativity of other people and feel discouraged. But look, we’re unique and have different strengths. And that’s okay! When you’re questioning your own creativity, show yourself compassion. Remind yourself: I am creative, imaginative and unique. I do ___ because I love it and it brings me joy. My level of creativity does not define my worth.

3. Journal

Journaling is a great practice for exploring your innermost thoughts and feelings, but you know what else it does? It sparks creativity! Try writing about how you’re feeling, what makes you feel the most creative, and the things that inspire you. Putting these thoughts on paper will help you gain new ideas and some perspective into your creative process. Journaling saves the day, once again!

4. Connect With A Friend

We can pull a lot of inspiration from the people we know, especially if they like to channel their creativity alongside us! Call up a friend for a brainstorming sesh. Ask them to send you some motivational quotes or their current fave playlist. Meet up for a jam session or to go for a walk. Their presence can be the push you need to make something awesome!

5. Practice Meditation

Meditation is a method that’s been used to relieve stress and improve mental clarity since, like… forever. Sometimes, you could use a lil’ extra help focusing when you wanna get creative. This practice allows us to slowww down and shift our mindset. If you’re not sure how to meditate, follow a guided practice to get you started. It’s a game changer, trust us!

Thanks for diving thru feeling creative with us. We hope these strategies help put your creativity in motion! Now go make something great like you’re the next Picasso. 

 

Better Understanding Failure and Success

If you’ve watched Gilmore Girls, you’ll remember that Rory faced some harsh AF criticism during her internship that led to her dropping out of Yale. She took some time to grapple with her mistakes. But, ultimately, she came out of it as a hella successful journalist!

Success is something that’s universally encouraged and praised. Meanwhile, failure is viewed negatively (something to stay the heck away from!). But they aren’t the polar opposites that we’re used to thinking of them as. They actually have a very complex relationship. So, what lessons can we learn from Rory’s journey with failure and success?

What Constitutes Failure And Success?

Well, there is honestly no real definition for either. Google ‘failure,’ and you will get “the lack of success.” Google ‘success,’ and it will tell you it’s “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” If you’re even more confused than you were when you started, that’s because your question wasn’t really answered!

You’ll end up falling down an endless rabbit hole of search results just explaining that YOU create that aim, or purpose. And that’s just a long-winded way of answering our initial question: you DECIDE if you’ve failed or succeeded. In fact, since 1936 (woah!), researchers have said that failure and success are subjective experiences. They are determined by both our own expectations of ourselves and society’s expectations of us.

In his 1936 paper, Psychology of Success and Failure, German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin uses the example of a person throwing a discus. On their first try, it lands 40 yards away and they celebrate. Their second attempt lands at 50 yards…and 65 after that. They feel very successful. But on their fourth attempt, they hit 50 again and feel like they’ve failed — even though they just felt the thrill of success a few moments prior! This perfectly shows the relationship between expectation and achievement.

Achievement Is Subjective To Expectation

Whether you’ve placed fifth in a competition — or dropped out of Yale — you might say you’ve experienced failure. And we say “might” because someone else may not perceive that same experience as failure. (Tricky, right?!) So why does that annoying little voice in our heads constantly tell us that we should DO better…BE better? Because we let it!

Rory was so used to being perfect that, when she didn’t succeed in the eyes of a big-time journalist, she saw no option other than to give up. She had put value into what that person thought about her — rather than what she thought about herself (and her personal definition of success). After time away from writing, and Yale, she realized just how much she wanted to be a journalist. So she kicked her ass in gear and made it happen! Her mindset shifted. She no longer focussed on what others deemed “successful,” and focussed on attaining a level of achievement that she defined for herself.

“Success has to do with our expectations of ourselves,” explains psychotherapist Dr. Courtney Tracy in a recent episode of the Truth Doctor Podcast. “Failure and success impact us significantly — and success and failure are also significantly impacted by us. Our expectations of ourselves play a major role in whether or not we let a specific outcome be a success, be a failure, or be a neutral experience.”

So if it’s all about perception then let’s change how we perceive, or define, success.

Defining Success

Success shouldn’t be about being THE BEST at something. Instead, success should be about achieving something that you’ve put your mind to. You may not have that 4.0 GPA that Lisa has, but you’ve raised your GPA an entire half-point in one year. Congrats baby! And you may not have made those cupcakes by hand for the bake sale, but you said you would bring cupcakes and here they are! Doesn’t matter that they’re store-bought!

“Perfection” is impossible to achieve, so try to stay away from unrealistic expectations of yourself. If you start small and work yourself up to your ultimate goal, you can learn and grow from your experience along the way. In the end, you’ll find yourself getting more satisfaction out of your efforts — and becoming more resilient — because your definition of success isn’t tied to one specific end goal. What’s that saying? “The adventure is in the journey, not the destination.”

“Success and failure don’t actually exist except for in the mind of whoever is making that judgement” explains Dr. Tracy. “You hold the power. You hold the power to define what success and failure means to you.”

5 Ways To Encourage Success  

Since success is subjective, your best bet is to fill your brain with ALL the good thoughts. Beating yourself up over something will just keep making you feel like a “failure” (even though you’re definitely not), so let’s evict that mindset and let a more encouraging one move in!

Here are some tricks to get you on the path to success:

Believe In Yourself. Build up your self-esteem and tell yourself you can do this. 

Stay Positive. Always think about the best possible outcome.

Set Goals. Envision yourself where you want to be, and play to your strengths.

Think Forward. Don’t dwell on past failures, but use them as a lesson.

Work Hard. Be willing to put in some elbow grease, because nothing good comes easy. 

Accepting Failure

Failure presents itself in many different ways. For Rory, her perceived failure caused her to doubt her abilities. She thought less of her skills and intelligence, and lost all confidence in herself. Immediately, her fear of failure overtook all logic, and a newly developed performance anxiety led to her quitting school. She felt helpless as her path to success (the one she had been following since she was three years old) disappeared. Much like the athlete with the discus, Rory unconsciously invalidated her previous successes because of one piece of — rare — negative feedback. When you can actively recognize this self-sabotage, you can take failure for what it really is: a lesson!

“People who succeed are not people who know that they’re going to win. Often, only one person truly wins in our own minds,” explains Dr. Tracy. “People who succeed are people that are willing to fail.”

5 Ways To Cope With The Fear Of Failure

Learning from failure can be a lot easier said than done. What happens if you choke before you can even make another attempt because you’re too scared of failing again? Well, we have some resources for that!

If you’re feeling pressure to succeed, here are some tips that can help:

Breathe. Focusing your breathing helps take you out of instinct-mode and put you into a rational mind.

Keep your brain busy. Try whistling to bring your attention away from your worries. 

Rest and replenish. Like muscles, willpower can also be overworked and under-nourished. 

Focus on what you can control. Feeling in control is the literal antidote to helplessness.

Celebrate small victories. Whenever you hit a milestone, remember how far you’ve come.

Following these steps can help motivate you to try again, decrease the likelihood of another failure, and increase your chances of feeling successful! As Oprah Winfrey once said, “failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

To learn more about failure and success, check out “The No B.S. Break Down: Failure” episode of the Truth Doctor Podcast!

 

How To Talk To Your Parents About Difficult Things

Have you ever wanted to talk to your parents about something really hard but didn’t know how? We don’t blame you…it can be awkward AF. Maybe your mom believes she’s “not like a regular mom, she’s a cool mom” but that still doesn’t mean you’re running to tell her about a bad grade, the state of your mental health or any details about dating or like, your sex life. *cringes into the next lifetime*

Maybe talking to your parents about difficult stuff gives you major anxiety. Maybe you’re worried you’ll upset them. Maybe you’re afraid they won’t look at you the same way. You wanna keep that image of a perfect lil’ angel in their minds whenever they think of you! But hey, you don’t have it all figured out just yet. There are times when you could really use some help from your parents (even if you don’t wanna admit it).

Opening up this communication with your parents is super important! (If it’s safe to do so!) They wanna be there for you and guide you through life, even through all the scary stuff. If you don’t feel safe talking to a parent, talk to a trusted aunt or a friend’s parent.

Here are some things to help you talk to your parents about those uncomfy things that you would much rather not talk about, at all.

Practice What You’re Gonna Say

There are a lot of subjects that you might think are off-limits when it comes to your parents. Maybe you wrecked your car, or failed a test. Maybe you’re hanging out with a new friend who has a problem with shoplifting and you don’t know what to do. Or maybe you’re dating someone you really, really like but you’re starting to feel pressure to move faster than what you’re comfortable with.

This might sound weird, but rehearsing what you wanna say to your parents can be really helpful. When we’re panicking inside, it’s normal to fumble what we’re trying to say. So write down what you wanna tell them in a journal first before you dive into that talk. Even practice it in the mirror if that works for you! Ya you might feel kinda goofy doing it, but having an idea of what you’re gonna say will make you feel wayyy more prepared. Don’t know what to say? Keep reading and we will help you put the words together.

Find The Best Time To Talk

Even if you have a super-tight relationship with your parents à la Rory and Lorelei Gilmore, you still might not know how to start those difficult conversations. Picking the right time to talk can make the conversation feel a lot easier. Find a time when they’re not grumpy or stressed out about something. Wait until you’re more level-headed and calm if it’s an emotional topic for you. Then when you find that moment alone with your parents, seize that opportunity!

And keep in mind that you don’t have to tell them in person. You could also write them a note, text them or call them. Whatever you’re comfortable with!

“Are you busy right now? Do you have time to talk?”

“Hey, I want to talk to you about something. Could we go for a walk/drive?”

“There’s something on my mind I want to talk to you about, could you let me know when you’re free?”

Make Your Feelings Known

If it feels like your anxiety levels are through the damn roof right about now, it’s probably because you’re worried how they’re gonna react. So let them in on how you’re feeling right now about the thing that you wanna tell them. It’ll give them the heads up that a) you’re obviously nervous as heck to bring this up and b) they should try to go easy on you and consider your feelings before they respond.

“I wanna talk to you about something but it’s kind of embarrassing.”

“There’s something I need to tell you but I’m worried you’ll be disappointed in me.”

“I’m scared of upsetting you, but we really need to talk about this.”

Define The Real Problem

If you got a bad grade, maybe the problem is you’re struggling in that class and could use a tutor. It could be that you’re having a hard time focusing in class because of something else going on…like your mental health.

If you got really drunk at a party, maybe it was because you were worried about fitting in. Or you have social anxiety and feel like you can’t be yourself in a room full of people who might be judging you. Or maybe you just made a mistake, which we all do because we are human.

Maybe deep down, you don’t know what the problem is. Maybe you need help from your parents defining the problem. Whatever it is, you can work through it. Together.

“I know this behaviour isn’t like me. Lately, I feel a little bit lost.”

“I think I’m struggling in school because I’m feeling ___. I want to work on this.”

“I know I made a huge mistake. I don’t think I was thinking it through.”

Explain What You Need From Them

Make it clear to your parents exactly what you want out of this conversation. Do you need their advice? Their support? Do you just wanna vent? Are you in trouble? By sharing what you need out of this conversation, your parents will know what angle to come at this convo from (and maybe diffuse any potential anger or disappointment they feel towards you *crosses fingers*).

“I’m not sure what I should do. I could really use some advice from you.”

“I don’t need your advice right now, instead can I just vent to you about something?”

“I messed up and you might be upset with me, but can I explain? I would appreciate you hearing me out before you say anything.”

“I know you are going to have thoughts/advice. It is hard for me to even share so can I share first and then you can yell/talk to me about it tomorrow, or later, when I am mentally able to listen to what you have to say? Can you just listen to me for this moment?”

Be Honest

It’s hard to be honest with parents sometimes. But it’s really important to always stay honest, especially if you want your parents to understand your side of the story. Even if it’s something pretty bad, like you stole money from your parent’s wallet, or got into a vehicle with someone drinking and driving, own up to it. If you get caught in a cycle of lying to them, it’s reallyyy hard to build up that trust again.

So make it clear that you wanna be honest during this whole convo, even if it means facing the consequences. It sucks but honesty is 100% the best policy.

If what you need to share with them is in regards to trauma, you don’t need to share everrryyything at once. All you need to do is just start the conversation and be honest in telling them you’re not ready to share all of it yet.

“This is hard for me to do, but I know I need to tell you the truth. Even if there’s consequences.”

“I really wanna tell you everything, even the parts that I’m afraid to say. Please keep in mind this isn’t easy for me.”

“I want us to be honest and open with each other, but I also need to feel safe when I come to you about stuff. Can we work on that together?”

Try Understanding Their Perspective

Sometimes we forget this, but our parents worry about us. That worry usually comes out as anger when they’re yelling at us for wrecking their car, or as disappointed silent treatment after we get caught in a huge lie. They have their own feelings of fear and anxiety too, and it’s usually about our safety and well-being.

“I know you worry about me and just want what’s best for me.”

“I totally get why you would be upset about this.”

“I wanna be able to talk to you about difficult things, even if it’s kinda awkward for both of us.”

Remember You’re Loved

In case you needed this lil’ reminder: your parents love you, no matter what. It’s easy to forget this when it’s time to tell them something scary AF. You might be imagining all of the ways they’ll ground your butt or worse, if they’ll come for you with “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” like a punch to the gut. Maybe you’re imagining the mutual cringe when you come to them about relationship boundaries, or different birth control options.

But no matter how awkward it might be or how they’ll react, it’s alllll comin’ from a place of love. You love them. They love you. So lean on them when it’s time to talk about difficult things! Having their support, guidance and understanding can really help you get through some tough crap…even if you’re kinda stubborn and think you can figure it all out on your own. You don’t have to deal with anything alone.

Have Friends Or Siblings On Standby

If this conversation is going to be a hard one, have friends on standby or siblings that you can talk to after. Having someone to be with after this difficult conversation will be important.

We hope these tips help you start those difficult conversations with your parents. It’s not easy, but it’s 100% worth it in the long run.

However, we know that not everyone has a positive relationship with their parents. We know that there are parents who aren’t supportive, and who in some cases are abusive. The number one priority is safety so for those who don’t feel safe talking to their parents, you can adapt these talking points to any adult that is a mentor or parental figure for you. If you are concerned about your safety, reach out for help from the following resources and consider speaking to a trusted adult first.

*If you need immediate help, dial 911 or your local emergency number.

US & Canada: Crisis Text Line offers free emotional support. Their crisis counselors are available 24/7, just text HOME to 741741 or use Facebook Messenger. Check out their website for more info: https://www.crisistextline.org/

Canada: Kids Help Phone has a free texting service that’s available 24/7, just text CONNECT to 686868 to speak with a trained crisis responder. They’re available to talk you through anything you’re going through, big or small! You can also call 1-800-668-6868 to speak to someone on the phone. Visit their website: https://kidshelpphone.ca/