Tag Archives: mental health

What to read when you feel miserable

It is the natural order of things that sometimes we lose our motivation, we lose faith in the future, or we start to see everything in dark shades. And in those gloomy moments, when our world loses colors, we need something that will chase away dark clouds. Something that will show us that there is a beautiful, bright world out there. We can try many things as a mood booster. Sometimes it could be as simple as reaching for an inspirational book. Here I’m going to show you my pick of spirit-lifting books.

Words that heal

I love Jen Sincero. I truly do. I think she is one of the greatest and funniest authors out there and her work has an incredible impact on many lost souls. Including mine. I bought ‘You are the bad ass’ not knowing what I’m buying – the book was sitting on the shelf and staring at me, so I just picked it up intending to read it sometime. Without further ado: in the next few weeks I bought three more copies (cause I thought more people need to read this) including an e-book, so I could carry it in my phone everywhere. How life changing ride it was for me!

Sometimes we need to see that another person who has had similar problems has succeeded. That it is possible, and that it is not too late, even if you have already turned 30 … or 40, or whatever. Because it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is to get your shit together and start creating the reality you dream about.

Jen Sincero is this type of woman you want to have as a friend, or to get drunk with and talk about everything. This is why reading her book is so enjoyable! It simply changes the perception, approach to many aspects of life and ourselves. After reading this, it is certainly easier to discover the greatness that everyone has in them. And it is also damn funny!

So if you ever felt like it’s too late for you and you already started lose your life this one is absolutely must read for you!

I think, therefore, I can create awesomness. Or horrendousness. But the bottom line is that it’s through our thoughts that we create our realities.1 – Jen Sincero

You can figure out everything

Now, talking about awesomness I cannot not mention Marie Forleo. She is the warmest, coolest and down-to -earth person on the planet, that you want to just sit and listen to whatever she is talking about. Her positive energy is so enormous that it spills out and reaches where it is needed most – to the readers and recipients of her podcast. Her book “Everything is figureoutable’ is a great collection of brilliant advices and examples showing that you can really comprehend everything in life. Because everything is figureoutable.

I’ve heard her first in one of my favourite podcasts “Feel Better, Live More” by Rangan Chatterjee (if you don’t know this one drop everything and go check it now!), and straight I reached for her book. I also developed a little addiction to her show ‘Marie TV’ you can find on YouTube.

If you are the person who struggle with unfulfilled goals, perfectionism, and the rest of the negative crap reach for this book.

“Perfectionism at its core isn’t about high standards. It’s about fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid, fear of making a mistake, fear of being judged, criticized, and ridiculed. It’s the fear that one simple fact might be true: You’re just not good enough.”2 – Marie Forleo

How to love yourself

Want even more positive energy? Here you are! I don’t have to introduce this gentleman. Wayne W. Dyer’s book remained on the bestseller list for a long time. The original text dates from 1976 – the content is still relevant and current. No wonder, this is one of the most valuable self-help books out there. It is a fundamental book on self-improvement.

This is ideal reading if you lack self-esteem, have trouble accepting yourself, and loving who you are. It will teach you how to block negative thought and manipulate awareness in order to take complete control of your life.

“Your worth is determined by you, and with no need for an explanation to anyone. And your worthiness, a given, has nothing to do with your behavior and feelings. You may not like your behavior in a given instance, but that has nothing to do with your self-worth. You can choose to be worthy to yourself forever, and then get on with the task of working on your self-images.”3 Wayne W. Dyer

Simply not giving a fuck

How could I describe Mark Manson’s bestseller? Raw, honest, true and funny. That’s it.

This book touching many aspects including values, purpose, and different mindsets. It is provoking in a way, but not as much, as you would suspect from the title. In fact it’s not about fucking everything, it’s about deeply rethinking many important matters. Truly inspiring read to live a better life.

“Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.”4 – Mark Manson

These are four books that I recommend wholeheartedly. If you are in a place in your life where you are not comfortable and you want to feel better, reach for one of them. I promise that will help. I will come back to you with other recommendations in one of the future posts, and for now read books, stay positive and be kind to yourself.

main photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

1Jen Sincero, You are a badass, John Murray Learning.

2 Marie Forleo, Everything is figureoutable, Portfolio.

3 Wayne W. Dyer, Your Erroneus Zones, Harper Torch.

4 Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Harper

How to stay sane during the pandemic

It’s been a while since we had to adapt to a new reality. The reality that turned upside down for many of us. We didn’t know what to expect, but we certainly expected something transitory and short-lived. And here we are – four lockdowns after and still not knowing when everything will be back to normal. And whether it will come back to normal.

Let’s forget about ‘normal’. It looks like we have new ‘normal’ and it would be good to get used to this thought. The more we distract ourselves from thinking that something is unusual or unknown, the more likely we are to somehow fear it. 

The pandemic did not treat everyone the same. Not everyone lost their jobs, not everyone has suffered from the misfortune of losing a loved one. However, everyone had to deal with uncertainty and stress. 

So how to mind your mental health during a pandemic?

All the lockdowns I’ve been through were different. During the first one, I didn’t expect it to last long and for sure I wasn’t prepared for it. Now I understand that I had no clue how to take care of myself.

I got blurry in time, which ceased to be important because I didn’t have to get up to go somewhere. Usually, I was reading in bed all night then I was waking up in the middle of the day with a cloudy mind. I had no idea how to replace my gym training, cause I’ve never been a fan of workout at home, without equipment. So for more than a month, I didn’t do anything and my form started slightly spoil. 

It took me a while to adjust to the new reality and in this piece, I’ll share with you what helped me dealing with lockdown anxiety.

Things that help you cope with life during isolation

I. Build a healthy and pleasant routine

Do not underestimate the power of routine. Well build routine is like a pillar of life. A good routine puts your mind in a certain frame, creates a structure. By introducing valuable behaviors into our everyday life, we can shape it as we want. After all, we are what we repeatedly do.

 I don’t think I have to convince you how good routine changes everything – it is a massive thing! When I stick to my routine everything is going smoothly and everything has its place. 

What works for me? I found that a cold shower and meditation in the morning helps with starting the day in the right way. I also try to reflect on things before I go to bed and this is like an evening ritual for me. I try to have my work done right after morning coffee, and usually, I focus on writing at least a thousand words.

Of course, I don’t follow it blindly and I do have exceptions from routine, as I still want to be flexible in my life. The thing is that having a frame helps with structurize life and be more efficient.

II. Move and eat healthily

We all know that eating and moving are the keys to keep a healthy body and mind, so I will not go into the details. It is simple: plant-based diet, restriction of processed foods, and at least 30 minutes of movement every day. How apply this to a life in isolation?

First, let’s dispel myths about movement and sport. To keep a healthy body you don’t need to run a marathon every week or participate in a triathlon. Studies show that moderate, but regular movement is the best for our bodies. Moreover, we don’t need to force ourselves into activities we don’t like. 

In ‘The joy of movement’ Kelly McGonigal notes that

“movement will give you access to joy that will dramatically improve the quality of your life and help support mental health and meaning and belonging. It’s not a gimmick to get you to exercise so you and burn some calories. That’s not what it’s about.”

No matter what level of power or condition that you start with, exercise will help move you toward a more high-energy, positive state. 

We don’t need a ‘workout’ to move. We can engage our bodies in an effort based on something else, something that brings joy; gardening, walking, or simple stretching at the end of the day.

And talking food, try to make some effort and prepare something you never ate before. It’s fun and you can discover new ideas and tastes. Or prepare a gourmet dinner, even if it is just for you, or for two of you. Pour a glass of favorite wine, light candles, and voila! Life is better already.

III. Take care of how you look like

It’s so simple. If you look shitty you feel shitty. There’s nothing more demotivating than stretched sweatpants or worn pajamas that serve as your outfit during the day.

It has nothing to do with vanity. How much effort we put into everyday things, even such as ‘decent look’, reflects our whole attitude towards life. As outside so inside. 

I’m not telling you to glam up so you can sit in the living room looking like you just walked the red carpet. Just make sure you feel good about how you present yourself.

Good appearance is followed by good feelings. And good feelings towards ourselves are base to cope with mental struggles during a lockdown.

IV. Pick up a thing to do

Don’t let time go completely idle. Doing nothing and resting is important, but only when it occurs in between those things that you are doing. 

We are not the same. We all like different challenges, other things turn us on. For me, reading and writing make my life sparkle, but you can find your spark somewhere else.

We are blessed that we live in the times that so many opportunities are available at your fingertips. Find a thing that will bring a bit of inspiration to your everyday life.

It can be anything; maybe you can start practicing yoga or learn how to dance, sing or play an instrument (lots of instructional videos to find on YouTube). Maybe you will catch up and finally read the books that lie forgotten or watch movies for which you did not have time. Maybe you pick some online course and learn a new skill (have you tried Udemy? So many things to choose from), or a language, or maybe you start to draw something just for fun. Possibilities are endless. 

V. Stay connect to others

I’m the biggest introvert I known and I admit: even I need some social connection (well, except for the one with my life partner and the cat). 

As much we need solitude from time to time (some of us more often), we are social beings. Even if we are forced to this separation, we still can contact each other. That’s what social media is for ( and you thought is for silly selfies!). 

The situation varies depending on where you live. If you can’t meet someone face-to-face, install Zoom or use Messanger and stay in touch with your loved ones. Even having a coffee together in front of a screen will make you feel mentally stronger. 

Of course, these are just a few, but important, things to pay attention in order not to go crazy during a pandemic. Do you have any advices you could share with us?

Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash

Three things that will help you get a life you want

Do you sometimes get the feeling that you are not keeping up with everything that is said in the world of great self-development? So many tactics, so many strategies and coaching programmes out there, that it is becoming overwhelming. The truth is that we all want better lives, so we are trying and trying, we are putting ourselves in some mind wrecking theories or woo-woo practices. But I tell you one thing; you can make significant changes in your life without reading each book on how to be happy, or without ten years of therapy with a Zen master. And it doesn’t matter if you are at the beginning your self-development trip, or you already walked a few miles this road. There are three things that you have to realise to achieve what you want in life. Interested? Please, be my guest.

I. There are two kinds of mindset; fixed and growth, and you better own the second one.

When you admire successful people it is not easy to escape the thought that all they have achieved is due to their innate talent. Admit how often you look at your favourite writers, musicians, singers and think, “I wish I had their skills, their talents, then I could do what they do.” Well, the truth is, talent isn’t everything. Sure, each of us is born with a certain set of innate flairs, but practically every success is based on work and practice. 

People with a growth mindset believe that during their life they can change, evolve and learn; that they’re not a finished ‘product’, the characteristics of which are fixed once and for all. And this approach makes achieving whatever thing they want possible. 

On the flipside, people with a fixed mindset stick to what they believe about themselves and never change their mind. If they were shy in the second grade or felt that they were not fit to be scientists (because one bitter teacher said so), they carry this image of themselves all their lives. They don’t believe that they can change anything about their personality and skills. How wrong they are!

The truth is that we, as human beings, are so flexible both in terms of our physicality, mental and character traits. By working on ourselves, on the qualities that we want to develop in ourselves, we can achieve amazing results. 

I’m not saying that everyone can be anyone, but everyone can become a better self.

By cultivating a growth mindset you can get closer to your goals and dreams faster than you think.

So, answer to yourself: What is the thing or a feature that you admire in others, but you don’t believe that you could own it? Is it confidence, ability to sing, or play an instrument? Or maybe the skill to design cool clothes, or write an interesting blog? The good news is that you can learn it all! Both skills and personality traits can change as we work on them. 

II. Acknowledge your limiting believes

Our mind works like a program. This human software is full of useful things as well as outdated applications and viruses that inhabit our proper functioning. The most tricky part of it is that very often we are not aware of these software bugs.

These are beliefs so deeply rooted in our subconscious mind that we perceive them as something natural, part of ourselves. But they’re nothing more than boundaries and limitations that holds you from a wonderful life you could have. They concern every sphere of life: finances, sexuality, self-worth, self-image as well as the more abstract concepts we create about ourselves. 

For instance, one of my limiting beliefs is ( I wish to write was, but can’t do it yet) the one that I am too old and don’t have enough time to achieve all intended goals. I have that feeling that I’m running out of time, getting older and older and there are still so many things that I can’t do. The other one is that I am too shy. Now, I do realise that my behaviour depends on so many aspects and I can be an outgoing and confident person. Yes, I know I can, yet this mean whisper in my head is still there. Is this voice the voice of my parents who kept saying she is shy?

So how to overcome limiting believes?

First, you need to recognize them and it usually takes a lot of time and a lot of staring inside yourself. But that’s the basis of the work you can do to eliminate them. Once you know your limiting believe start to be aware of it in everyday situations. Begin to catch them in your thoughts and behaviour. Then strongly contradict them – with your words and behaviour. Stand up to them, show yourself that they are not real, that you choose what you want to believe about yourself.

Let me use a simple example here:

Limiting belief: I am not good around people.

Recognizing in behaviour: shadowing during a group conversation at a party

Overcoming: 

1. Remember a situation where you could get along with people – friends, parents, siblings. Now, you see – it’s not true that you are always not good around people.

 2. Join the talk, even if you feel uncomfortable at first. Don’t bother with a sublime conversation – just throw one sentence on the topic, praise someone’s opinion, ask something.

III. You ALWAYS have a choice

This is very important, so stop here for a longer time. No matter what happens to you, no matter what the circumstances of your life, you always have a choice. Choice how you will react.

How we react to what happens in our life is our choice.

You can’t choose the social and background you were born into, but you can choose your reaction to possible judgment or even racism.

You can’t choose an economical background where you grew up, but you can choose to do whatever it takes to earn big money.

You can’t choose how people will treat you, but you can choose to forgive.

You can’t choose what bad happened to you, but you can choose how to live now.

It’s not a choice when some trauma has caused emotional havoc on you, but you can choose to not use drugs and alcohol to deal with it. 

When you realize that so many things are a matter of your own choice, you will feel that you are in control of what happens in your life. 

I strongly believe that working on these three things can bring amazing positive changes to everyone’s life. Starting from working on the cultivation of growth mindset, limiting beliefs and our own choices, we get closer to the place where we want to be. Our happy place.

Why drinking whole bottle of gin is not a great way to deal with anxiety relapse

That was pleasant Saturday morning when I sat with a cup of coffee after eating my favourite pancakes for breakfast. Little by little I started losing focus on a book I was reading. I felt trapped. I felt that I’m losing not only a breath but also a mind and ground beneath my feet. The walls surrounding me started to get closer, while the same thing was happening inside my mind.

Sounds like I experienced something horrible? Like I was part of some disturbing accident? Well, you know – in fact, nothing had happened. Just another panic attack.

Photo by Mary Oloum

Anxiety attack is not only a crushed stomach and trembling hands – it is above all a paralysis that overwhelms the body and mind. As if you were squeezed in a black hole from which you cannot get out. 

Even when everything is fine, relapses will come back

It is typical of neurosis and panic attack that they often appear for no good reason. If you’ve ever experienced a breakdown like this, you know the trigger can be anything, even something you wouldn’t think of. It is just happening at some level of our consciousness. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on yourself. Accurately and honestly assess ourselves and the situations we are in. If it weren’t for my physical symptoms, I would never have thought that lockdown and the pandemic had any effect on my well-being. 

Despite being one of the lucky people (who have not lost their jobs, whos business going well, and who have exiting opportunities appearing on the horizon) I can notice that the whole world has turned upside down and it had some destructive effect on my psyche. And if you are dealing with any of those dark friends like anxiety, depression or addiction you should realize that there’s no end to that story. Sometimes, even if everything seems to be just fine, they might come back and knock on your door. Now, it’s only up to you if you open and invite them in. 

How naive I was that not being able to sleep for almost 3 weeks has nothing to do with my state of being. Of course, I tried to explain it somehow – overwork, stress as we were finishing accounting year, an upcoming deadline for that damn book that I have no idea how to end. My mistake was to take it as normal and pretend everything is ok. Maybe it was until that fateful morning when my unwanted neurosis guest not only entered the house but made himself at home for good. 

So how should you deal with relapse?

I have to admit that drinking a whole bottle of gin to deal with it was not the healthiest solution. Well, I’m writing here so you don’t make my mistakes. There’s nothing worst than covering problems with another problem. Like dealing with anxiety on a huge hangover. Don’t do it, kids.

(And for those who loves that gin too much I have tasty piece here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/05/19/dealing-with-an-addicted-mind/ )

Here are a few steps that you can follow to avoid the destructive effects of relapses:

  • Watch yourself and accept; you need to observe your emotions – don’t ignore and push through, it only makes things worse. 
  • Name your enemies; you need to recognize the triggers to eliminate them before an attack occurs. Avoid situations and people that make you feel uneasy. I know this is the taught one, (especially coming to people) but we are talking about your mental health – this should be your priority, not trying to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Co-workers dilemma about Kardashian’s life annoys you? Don’t go for a coffee break together. That super slim athlete friend with PhD makes you feel like old wrack? Mute his/her feed on social media. You don’t need to compare yourself to someone’s ideal world created for instagram, especially while you dealing with anxiety. 
  • Apply a mind detox; cut your screen time and go offline for a while. You know, there is a pretty awesome world outside there. Don’t watch the news, don’t read upsetting articles. Pick up some uplifting book or a podcast and go for a long walk. Move your body, jog, meditate. Connect with your inner energy – that peaceful place is somewhere inside you, sometimes you just need to dig really deep to discover it.
  • Rely on medication if needed; in case you feel that the situation slips out of your hands and you lose control, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. We are not always able to deal with everything alone. 

And the most important of all: be kind to yourself. Always.

How to feel better with yourself? Stop striving for approval!

We all feel great when we are praised and petted. There’s nothing wrong with it. Approval in itself is not unhealthy. The requirement for acceptance becomes toxic when desire becomes the need – it’s just neurotic behaviour.

Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash
Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash

In a fantastic book by Wayne Dyer ‘Your erroneous zones’ he writes about self-destructive forces involved in the process of seeking approval. As when we are mentally overpowered when we do not receive approval or when we expect it always and from everyone. 

Such an attitude risks losing oneself completely – often, people who are dependent on the acceptance of others cannot live in their way. Because to please everyone, you have to bend your arguments and beliefs. That is why people who want to flatter everyone are perceived as devoid of character and clear views. And the truth is simple – you can’t please everyone. Deal with it.

You cannot allow the opinions of others about you to take precedence over your view of yourself.

If your value depends on the opinions of others, you have a serious problem. If you want to free yourself from it, it will be helpful to figure out why you are seeking approval. To do this, you have to go back to childhood, because that’s where programming begins. *

Our relations with parents and teachers often rely on the need to be appreciated. If we are perfect pupils and behave as expected, the prize we get is acceptance, appreciation and even love. Our culture support this mechanism; this is why we pay too much attention to what others think. 

By focusing on pleasing others, you lose touch with yourself. You lose self-respect because you treat yourself as the least important person. You put on masks to please others and therefore you don’t know what you really are. You do everything to make others fun and pleasant with you – that’s why you often suppress your emotions. This leads to a depressed mood and a lack of self-confidence. It also extinguishes your life energy and makes you even more dependent on the opinions of others about yourself.

Fortunately, we can work on changing our habit of seeking approval. 

Start with the thought that you can’t make everyone happy and prepare yourself for any disapproval that can touch you. Be aware of it when it comes – name it and name emotions which will then appear. Realize that someone’s disapproval of you is someone else’s problem – not yours. It sounds simple but takes practise to make it a habit. 

Analyze all situations in which you put someone else’s opinion above yours. Do you succumb to your partner regarding the appearance or design of the apartment? Do you still obey your parents’ instructions so as not to offend them? Do you hold back on opinion on a topic just so that someone who thinks differently doesn’t stop liking you? Do you often think about how others see you? What is your reaction to rejection?

You can learn to react in a completely different way to disapproval. Begin by addressing to someone who is holding that approval and say (even if only in your head): your lack of acceptance does not change what I think and feel – even if you don’t something in me I’m still ok.

You can also keep a diary and record all situations related to this problem. Practice ignoring disapproval. This will help you ensure that even a lack of recognition will not upset you. 

And always remember: what others think has no bearing on your worth.

*W.Dyer, ‘Your erroneous zones’ (1976)

How to want less (I)

I remember such a parable, although I do not remember it exactly – there was a man who found a beautiful, wild island. There he found a fisherman sitting thoughtfully by the seashore. “Old man, I want to buy your house and your land. I’m a rich man; I can offer as much money as you wish. Think, You can go anywhere and do whatever you want – what would you do if you have so much money?” “Well – fisherman answered slowly – I would settle on a small island and go fishing”.

What would you like if there was no one to show it off?

Too often, we strive to achieve things we don’t even need. We want newer phones, more expensive clothes, more cars, more fashionable furniture, expensive and sparkling jewelry (so that it does not hide from anyone’s eyes), the fifteenth bottle of expensive perfume, unnecessary gadgets, new headphones (because a famous rapper did not advertise the old ones). And this is only a fraction of what we can have. Why do we need all this?

It is a second lockdown for me, and if I ever learned something because of it, it’s a conviction that I don’t need much. I don’t need much stuff. I don’t need many things around me. Clear space around and clear space in my head it’s a real blessing – because everything we need is within us. If you don’t find happiness in simple things, you won’t find it anywhere.

When the world crumbles and the notion of normality changes, it’s good to find ourselves encircled by something that helps you get through these challenging times. And I’m not talking about cool stuff here – things people like to surround ourselves with because of the vanity – things that we want to collect or have because everyone else has; things that are used to express our social status.

Joy in ordinariness

Finding joy in ordinariness begins from appreciating what you have: health, food, peace, fit body and mind, free time, people and animals nearby, opportunities to come, a world waiting to discover more in it.

What I need during lockdown is a nice cup of tea drunk with my beloved one and confidence that everything will be fine. What I need it’s a good book to feed my brain and nutritious food to feed my body. All I need is a quiet moment in the evening when I can close my eyes and look inside myself.

People have too many things. It takes away your peace of mind if we have more around us than within us.

Minimalism is rebellious in a way because it means living a bit against the modern world, and declaring that our value does not depend on the amount and size of the things we have. Minimalism is a bit of contempt for contemporary values based on possession. And yet, when we are left alone in the walls of the house (if we are the lucky ones who have a house), all that surrounding, glitter, things on which we build our image, and which are not us, disappear. We are left alone with ourselves. And we only have this: ourselves and time; not even all the time, just a specific moment. Do we then think about having more things?

Instead of more things, we can have more time, space, love, friendship, peace, compassion, adventures, conversations, dreams, thoughts, emotions, ideas, walks, plans, fun. We should have plenty of this while we eliminating from life what we do not need, what is overwhelming and burdens us.

Do you suffer from excessive ambition?

Ambition can give meaning to life, but it can also take it away. It can add wings as much as it can clip them. How can we recognize if our driving ambition can be fatal? First, we need to know what drives our action.

Latin “ambitio” means a desire for recognition. We associate it with the desire to achieve success, goals, and development. And in fact, ambition is what motivates us, what makes us want more from life.

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash
Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

When does ambition start to be a problem?

When, despite the achieved goals, we still feel empty and unsatisfied, and we try to fill this void inside us with something from the outside – e.g. with recognition or splendour.

Excessive ambition is usually caused by comparing ourselves to others and wanting to prove that we are better or at least equally valuable. It is low self-esteem that makes us continuously prove something – to ourselves and others.

Timothy Judge, professor of management at the American University of Notre Dame, states in his research that

“(…) ambition was positively but weakly related to life satisfaction, there may also be negative consequences of ambition for individuals when a variety of dimensions of satisfaction are considered.” *

Psychology distinguishes three types of “I” – “real self”, “ought self” and “ideal self”. The imbalance in our interior leads to the growth of excessive expectations. Tory Higgins’ research has shown that the more discrepancies between them, the more problems. The divergence between the “real self” and the “ideal self” can lead to sadness, depression and burnout. On the other hand, the discrepancies between the “real self” and the “ought self” lead to shame, anxiety and fears.

It is an imbalance in our interior that leads to the growth of excessive expectations – to toxic ambition.

In its extreme form, ambition can be destructive. According to psychologist Sheri Johnson, excessive ambition is associated with the risk of bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Indeed, I can see this pattern among my friends or co-workers. I can see a lot of it in myself -the pursuit of the unsurpassed ideal. So many people broke their lives because their bar was set too high. You know this type of people – they are the ones who say “all or nothing”. If something spectacular was not achieved, they treated it 100% as a failure. And yet from 100% to 0%, there is a series of ninety-nine digits …Is the result not the highest, but on a level above average, also a loss? For many people, it is. And this is what we call a sick ambition. Great results, although far from perfect, do not satisfy them in the least. It’s like those kids at school who cry because they got A and not A +.

Excessive ambition is a way of dealing with complexes through overcompensation. We feel worthy only when we achieve something big.

The best solution to overcome the havoc caused by excessive ambition is to look inside yourself and cultivate who you are. At the opposite pole of sick ambition lies gratitude and self-acceptance. This is where you should direct your thoughts. It is also responding to internal motivation. Only what flows from within can fulfil ourselves. Only desire from within makes us strive in the direction we set for ourselves, not looking at external acceptance.

Each of us is different, and each of us has a different internal mission. Only we can answer what this mission is. So what you choose – the pursuit of recognition, or maybe something truer?

* (On the Value of Aiming High: The Causes and Consequences of Ambition )

What years of dealing with anxiety taught me about self-love

Most families seem normal, but if we look closely, we will notice that they are indeed dysfunctional. Sometimes we are growing up in households where the pattern of anxiety and depression have been passed down from generation to generation. No wonder that we did not develop a healthy approach to life as a younger person. 

Don’t get me wrong – I have no desire to blame anyone for my mental state. Just need to outline the point that since I remember ‘loving myself’ was something unimaginable. Encouraging humility, modesty and putting the needs of others in the first place prevented me from developing the feeling that should be the most important thing for everyone – love for oneself. 

Our parents love us, but they don’t know how to teach us loving ourselves merely because they don’t know how to love themselves.

As a teenager, I put on a mask that didn’t show how vulnerable I was. The very thought of someone seeing that I was weak, fragile, scared and feeling unworthy scared me. Hence I played the role of someone who doesn’t care about anything. Sinking into neurosis accompanied by overuse alcohol and drugs made all the fears that consumed me from the inside grew. Because sometimes you think you’re killing fear with drugs, but you’re just feeding it. 

And then you enter adult life equipped with luggage filled with guilt, low self-esteem, fear of other people, fear of the death, lack of a sense of purpose, traumas, lack of self-confidence, timidity, toxic perfectionism, inferiority complex, comparing to others, self-harm, insecurity. It’s a lot to take for one person. Sometimes it seems unmanageable to find warm feelings towards ourselves among all these harmful emotions. But nothing is impossible.

Learning to love yourself is not about standing in front of a mirror and repeating ‘I love you’. It’s not about forcing yourself to take actions that you think you should do but don’t feel at all. In my experience, the smallest steps we take every day are the most important. Because self-love, among other things, it’s a mixture of everyday habits and small things you can do that make you feel worthy. 

Self-love is:

  • saying ‘no’ if you think ‘no’ and saying ‘yes’ if you think ‘yes’
  • limiting contacts with people who are bad for your well-being
  • removing someone from your life
  • knowing that it’s ok not being productive all the times
  • resting when you are tired
  • investing in your development
  • surrounding yourself with things that make you happy
  • not spending time on things and people that are not worth it
  • not meeting people if you don’t feel like it
  • pleasing yourself
  • make yourself feeling comfortable
  • applying for a better job and more money
  • taking care of your body – nourishing it with healthy food and keeping it in good condition
  • doing things you love to do
  • taking alone time when you need it
  • getting enough sleep every day
  • realizing that you don’t have to be nice to everyone
  • and that you don’t have to please everyone
  • knowing that it’s ok to make mistakes
  • reaching out for help and support
  • leaving an unsatisfactory relationship
  • not blaming yourself for your past
  • not explaining yourself to anyone
  • spending money on the things you desire
  • feeling good about receiving compliments
  • standing for yourself
  • nurturing dreams, even the craziest ones
  • admitting difficult emotions
  • expressing your own opinion
  • not living to people’s expectations
  • setting boundaries and sticking to them 
  • accepting not being perfect
  • be proud of your achievements

What would you add to this list?

Do you also fall into the productivity trap?

Not so long ago, I had a slight breakdown. It seemed to me that I no longer had room in my head for more thoughts. At the same time, space and time seemed to narrow – everything got less – everything except responsibilities, plans and things to do. My anxiety returned, I could no longer breathe, and slowly began spiralling into depression.

Be careful with recently so popular word – productivity -there is a monster inside. 

There was a time when my diary was filled up with goals or things to do, to this level, that I didn’t have a minute to do anything outside of my schedule. Moreover, If I didn’t check out all things from a to-do list I felt unworthy. 

Even if it gives you an illusion of fulfilment, a full calendar is not a definition of success. It becomes dangerous when we base our importance on what we have managed to do or achieve. Overlapping with too many responsibilities can lead to burnout. So can we talk about “tascoholism”? Yes, when we are only focused on the future and our life starts to be a nothing else but a project. 

Planning is good and it’s good to have goals, but real life isn’t a list of goals to tick off. This approach cuts us off from being here and now. After all, the most important thing is to be present in your own life. 

How not to fall into this productivity trap?

Let it go

Whatever it is – everything can wait. Close your diary and close your eyes. Find a peaceful place at this moment, inside yourself. Feel yourself here, in this space and time. Feel what it’s like to just be. 

Now, do something for yourself. Something which will change your vibrations and take you from stress to pleasure. And most importantly – absolutely don’t feel guilty about it. There is time in life for work, for achievement, and for rest, which is equally important. Time for pure joy of being, most precious manifestation of life.

How I rescue myself from situations when I feel like drowning in reality? I choose some long novel, or a horror story (this is my weakness) and dedicate a few evenings only for myself, scented candles, herbal teas and immersion in reading. I don’t take phone calls and I don’t use social media. It’s only me and my small peaceful world. Sometimes I let my cat get inside 😉

Go inside

Starting day from a great routine that includes meditation helps cope with any kind of stress. Making mindful mid-day stops is also a good idea. Try to find a few minutes between your daily tasks just to ventilate your mind, turn off for a while. Be aware of yourself and your emotions all the time. Pause during the day and notice what’s going on inside you. If you feel you need a break, that there’s too much of something, just do it. The world will not collapse. 

And go outside

Nowadays we have lost our connection with nature, with the energy that flows through everything. We have forgotten that everything is one, that we are made of the same elements and come from the same source. Reconnecting to this source allows you to see everything as it is. Realize that you are a piece in the puzzle of the universe. 

Notice the world around you – trees, plants, clouds, starry sky, moon, powerful sun, life-giving soil. You can draw energy from it. Sit on the ground, lean on a tree that has been here for hundreds of years and will continue to grow long after you are gone. Find this particular stillness which is the anchor for this moment. Isn’t it a great feeling – being a tiny part of something bigger. To me, night walk under the stars is the most purifying and building inner stability ritual. Unfortunately, clear, cloudless skies over Dublin are not often found.

Verify your priorities

Is everything on your to-do list so important that it can’t wait? Do you have to do all of these – start a business, enrol in another field of study, learn Portuguese, take a speed reading course, learn to play the violin, build an athlete’s body, write a book? Choose what matters to you and focus on it. Don’t get distracted – there will be time for everything.

I’ve noticed that lately when someone asks “how are you” it’s is in a good tone to respond “busy”. Is being a busy person the new definition of being a successful person? It sounds like bullshit. Wouldn’t it be better to be able to answer “I am calm, peaceful and in the right place”?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Having addicted mind is like being trapped in self created illusions

According to World Health Organization around 31 million people have drug use disorders. Harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year, and it causes more than 5% of the global disease burden. These are bare facts. The thought? What the hell is wrong with us, that we do it to ourselves – committing a veiled, stretched over time suicide?

The image of addiction we have is twofold and depends on the context – on the one hand we see a tramp, and on the other, the tragedy of an addicted ‘great man’. We despise the drunkard, and we sympathize with the great addicted man. His drinking is somehow “better”, even sanctified in a way. Yet it’s the same addiction.

When I was a teenage girl we all were full of rebel and urge for an infinite freedom, which sense we actually didn’t understand. We raised our eyes towards Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and many long haired screamers from heavy metal bands, who replaced gods for us. We read Blake, Ginsberg and Keourac, thinking that we are the next great generation like them, the beatniks of 90’s. We skipped classes, drank cheap wine and smoked pot. We ‘expanded our awareness’ by reaching for heavier drugs. That was our ‘fuck you world’ religion. And we thought we were the smartest in the world.

In fact, we were just a bunch of lost young people unable to cope with themselves. Trapped into myths, overwhelmed by our own fears, sorrows and weaknesses. No one taught us how to deal with them. Reaching for stimulants made everything easier. Especially when we’ve seen those we admired would do the same.

The cult of intoxication is old, and its correlation with artistry and the avant-garde has always been strong. Have you ever wonder how Baudelaire’s ‘Artificial Paradises’ was created?

I can’t escape the impression that addictions, in a way, are glorified by our society. There’s so many biographies of great people that are build upon this fatal base. A story with a tragic background sells better.

There is nothing like an artist bending under the pain of reality. A brilliant creature who can only deal with himself through drugs and loses – world can only regret a lost genius. So moving and romantic, Right? Wrong. It’s total bullshit.

When we gaze at drunken idols, we see only the splendor of fame. We don’t see them hungover or be in a bad mood and sleeping all day. Or puking, stinging, gibberishing, smelly from not washing themselves. It’s hidden behind a veil of a ‘tragedy’. But we don’t need more tragic idols. It’s time to disenchant addiction.

Of course there is no rule here – there are people more and less susceptible to addiction. I’d say those more vulnerable or lost in their reality fall first. Those who carry a great void within themselves. How long does it take for them to understand that this hole cannot even be flooded with an ocean of alcohol? Sometimes whole life. Sometimes never.

Long time ago I had a friend who was type of a guy everyone wanted to hang out with. Super cool in every aspect of his nailing existence – from long hair and a leather jacket to the twisted poems he wrote while on high. I remember once we were sitting at the edge of the park, it must have been in the late 90’s. Drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, talking. Beautiful moment, one of those which would happened so often when you’re 15 and you had that feeling that everything can happen in your life. That absolutely everything was possible. Listening to The Doors and Janis, we missed times we never got to know. We didn’t give a shit about school, parents and the world. We wanted to live like them, listen to music, lie in the meadow, smoke weed and sleep under the stars.

Jack died at the age of 40 five years ago. Cirrhosis. We didn’t keep in touch, but when I’ve seen him for the last time he was a destroyed human wreckage. He stopped writing poems, but unfortunately continued on cheap wine and god knows what else. He was nothing like Jim Morrison. He was more like those people who gather at railway stations to collect some money for drugs. Hope he’s having amazing Woodstock now, wherever he is.

I’m only in my middle 30s, but I have several friends at similar age who passed away because drug overdose or drinking. Why this is happening to us, aren’t we thinking creatures?

We can explain a lot by psychology. Studies show that we are directed by many processes happening in our subconscious mind. In the case of an addicted mind we’re dealing with rationalization, projection (projecting their own problems into someone else) and repression.

The addict’s logic is twisted. It makes them not see things as they are. Gives them ability to explain away their behavior by denial and cognitive dissonance (holding two or more contradictory beliefs). I have focused on this issue deeper here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/05/19/dealing-with-an-addicted-mind/

Addiction mechanisms make us slide slowly, lose our sense of self while we spiraleing deeper into void. It’s unbelievable how addicts are good at creating a reality where their destructive behavior is never the fault of the substance they overuse.

Would it be easier to deal with an addiction if we did not reach for stimulants so thoughtlessly? I don’t know the answer for that question. What I know for sure is that there are many myths about this that need to be faced.