Tag Archives: psychology

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.

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.

Trapped mind: quite different addictions

IF YOU ASK ME WHAT THREATENS OUR DEVELOPMENT THE MOST, I WOULD TELL YOU WITHOUT BLINKING. THE TRAPS OUR MIND CAN GET CAUGHT IN. AND THERE ARE MANY OF THEM SET UP: ANXIETY, DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS, DEPRESSION, OCD, PHOBIAS, PSYCHOSIS, MANIA AND THE BIG ONE – ADDICTIONS – DOUBLY DEVIOUS BECAUSE THEY CAN APPLY NOT ONLY TO SUBSTANCES.

Another kind of high – brain on an emotional boost

The mechanism of any addiction remains same no matter what is the substance. And what interesting, it is still same, if there is no substance at all. Well, not in a physical form.

Every addiction causes specific reactions in the brain and is associated with impaired function of neurotransmitters and hormones, mainly in the structures of the reward system. Simply speaking, even if you don’t supply the brain with a specific substance, such as a drug, brain can still make it. All you need is the right stimulus. In this case, we can talk about behavioural addiction. Gambling, sex, internet, food and even falling in love – it can all be related to our internal emotional catastrophe. 

Much of addiction issues I’ve touched on already here: Dealing with an addicted mind. As this is very personal topic to me, I’d like go deeper into in areas which are less talked about.

Erotomania is not only sex addiction. Its variation is the ailment of being addicted to being in love. This is where a person needs that specific kick of pleasure – dopamine secreted by the brain – which equates to being high. Think, when you are falling in love you feel that an amazing inflow of pleasure and ecstasy. In a healthy mind, this evolves into a deeper feeling or simply disappears. For some, there is that the irresistible need to re-trigger it. And here we have a problem.

The phenomenon of sex addiction we refer to people who need closeness very much and are just as afraid of it, so they meet their needs by entering into relationships with the body of another person, and not with the ‘whole’ person. A quite different variation is the addiction to emotions that occur when falling in love.

behavioral addictions can be as toxic as those of substances such as alcohol or drugs

Toxic passion

Why is the mind so vulnerable to all these pitfalls? It all comes down to this big, empty hole that we carry within us. Some trying to feel it by overusing alcohol or drugs, some by food, self-harm or uncontrolled shopping, and others trying to fix it with compulsive falling in love. As it might seem innocent, can lead to serious complications in various areas of life.

Firstly, it is difficult for a person with such a problem to build a solid, valuable relationship. Because if something begins to fail, she ( I use this pronoun, as this issue is most common among women) runs away and falls in love elsewhere. Here, the partner is not the most important – it’s addictive emotions that take over. Secondly, the person is susceptible to becoming obsessed. And this can be very damaging to mental health.

Love obsession is also an addiction that brings inability to focus on other areas of life besides the obsession object. We are missing something, and we think that only thanks to the other person we can become complete. And, I know – who read in the nineteenth-century literature may perceive it as something very romantic. But trust me on this – it is essentially unhealthy and destructive. Remeber, even Werter shot himself in the head!;)

Quick fix for the broken soul

Compulsive behavior is one that gives us emotional satisfaction. Is an easy, but ineffective way to deal with what bothers us. It’s like sticking a broken vase with adhesive tape – it seems to stick, but when you pour water into it and put flowers, it will fall apart immediately. For any emotional disorders, there is only one way – working on emotions.

Ways to reconnect with your emotions

When we lose contact with ourselves, we also lose control over our lives. To recover it, we can take steps that will allow to connect with what is happening inside us. Some of the effective techniques to help reconnect with emotions are:

  • Meditation – silencing the mind and putting it in an alpha wave state – you can start with a few minutes a day and gradually deepen your practice. Meditation is about clearing the mind of thoughts and focusing simply on ‘being’.
  • Mindfulness – practicing being here and now – focus on everything that is inside and around you, contemplate reality, see what is happening in your body – what you feel and how you experience it: smells, flavors, sounds, colors, touch …
  • Journaling – make contact with yourself by keeping a diary of feelings – do not focus on the form, just write what you feel, what you think – pour on paper everything that sits in your heart and head. Is a great way to cleanse yourself of overwhelming emotions, as well as to awaken creativity.
  • Exam yourself – as you might think you know yourself very well, there might be parts of you that you’re not aware of. Or parts of you that have changed over the years. Commit to a journey of self-discovery. Make list of questions and answer them. Write it down and come back to it in some time. You can make a list of things you love to do. Things you hate, things that makes you nervous, things that scares you, excite you, amuse you. Play with it!
  • Name what you feel – sometimes it’s not easy to recognize what we feel. Even if you struggle to define your own feeling and emotions, try to name them. If you are unsure what are you feeling make up a name for it. As example- jealove can be a feeling towards a friend you admire, but you also envy him a little. You can create your own personal dictionary of feeling and it could be a fun!

Problem of emotional addiction is not black and white. If you feel that somehow it may affect you, you should look closer at yourself. Even if it touches you slightly, you can still be exposed to its toxic effects. No better way to deal with it, as learning to recognize everything that takes place within you.

/main photo by Nick Fewins on Unsplash/ Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash/

Dealing with an addicted mind

We have been equipped in the great and very powerful, yet fragile tool. Our mind. In ideal world we would be able to fully control it, same got control of whole our life. However, there’s no such a thing as ideal world. It always amazed me, that people can be strong and vulnerable at the same time. That, despite their uniqueness and intelligence, they can lose to a simple substance – a chemical compound, a cluster of elements. Maybe it’s because we are just cluster of atoms too?

Despite the fact that modern psychology and medicine explain more and more mechanisms of bad habits, addictions are still stigmatized. I think it’s because many people still doesn’t quite understand it. The addiction mechanism itself is rather simple. What is more complicated lies in the mind that creates these mechanisms. Many studies indicate that addiction to alcohol, drugs or medicines are a certain, ineffective form of self-healing.

We all have this idea of ​​what addiction is. It’s medical problem. The diagnosis includes a bunch of physiological, behavioral and cognitive phenomena. However, it’s vital to distinguish a habit from addiction. There is a subtle difference between repetitive activity and impaired ability to control it.

So how to recognize the addiction mechanism?

Basically, we become addicted to something that we think helps us cope. The thing we reach for, stimulates our brain in such a way that we feel rewarded. Or relieved. Addiction develops in the context of human personality. You can be susceptible or not, as you would with self-destructive behavior. Because it comes down to it in a broader spectrum. And although the mechanism is the same for every human being, each addiction is different. Below you can see coping cycles of affected and healthy mind:

by Sarah Smock Jordan

If you often seeking relief and running away from yourself into artificial states of mind, you might be in this dangerous spot where the roller-coaster ride starts. Why do I say this? Because this is how it looks from my own perspective.

Am I really an addict?

When I was 20 years old I ended up on rehab. After being locked for few weeks in institution I followed few years of group and individual therapy. What a fun, I’m telling you! While joining university (and you know how students life looks like) and starting over again, I wasn’t even able to socialize, cause most of human interactions are based on things I had to avoid to stay sober. Casual beer, parties, gigs, pubs and restaurants meetings. You know, all that things young adults like to do. I missed all of that in my first years of college. Instead, I spent lots of time with a bunch of ageing guys from AA group. Oh, and got emotionally involved with my therapist. Firmly I do not advise!

You can ask how did I manage to withstand it at a young age? Well, I really tasted it before, and I had it all too much. You know this slogan sex, drugs & rock’n roll? What can I say – I can’t describe teenager me better than that! Following years manifested themselves in depression and neurosis, and eventually a return to bad habits. What I can be proud of, I’ve never back to hard drugs. But there still was irresistible inclination towards that bottle full of happy percentage, not mention overusing holy herbs. It’s long and painful story. Anyways, it happened that I solved this problem in a way, that it no longer bothers me. Not so much. Amazing that I began to develop a healthy awareness of myself and these issues in my thirties. As they say – better late, than never! So, am I sober now?

No. For sure not in a way my therapist wanted me to be. But I’m not drunk or under influence of shitty stuff anymore. And here starts the tricky part. Before I write more, I would like to tell you, that I am not an advocate of ‘not staying away’ from stimulating substances. What I’m trying to say is that in some cases rigid separation from everything can be toxic.

 I remember that obstinate thought I had once looking at people having fun - I want to have fun too. Like a normal person, not an addict. I don't wanna be careful with every thing around me, I don't wanna live in constant fear of triggers that might appear everywhere on my way.I like to try treat everything normal, not as a potential threat to my sobriety.

Not a therapeutic thinking at all. But you know what? I can tell you that for few years of total sobriety I wasn’t happier person at all. Withdrawal from any substance will not help much if you still have a mess in your head. My therapist used to call it “ass cramp” – when your body is sober, but your mind still high in drunken promised paradise.

All addicts needs revolution in the brain and some dabbling in mental guts.

Use of psychoactive substances is transformed into addiction, which further aggravates all previous problems. Without proper changes in your mind, nothing will come out of being sober. Those changes must touch every aspect of your wounded soul. I can tell you it’s not easy journey. And in my case very long.

Did you know that getting drunk or drug use is a self-destructive behavior that is associated with a deep personality disorder?

Overcoming problems with addictions it’s a matter of achieving right perspective. Pint of beer won’t harm you if you know how to approach drinking. Having awareness that you are looking for intoxication is the first step to understand the problem. If you realize that you are drinking to kill something inside you, better put the bottle down. Allow yourself to it only if you are sure that there is no hidden intention.

This applies to all other addictions, because not all of them result from the abuse of psychoactive substances. The same mechanisms apply to addiction to gambling or sex. In addition, different types of addiction can be identified. According to American biostatic and physiologist Elvin Molton Jellinek, who referred to alcohol addiction, there are five types:

  • Alfa – when the substance is used to relax, reduce stress and it leads to loosing control over drinking/using.
  • Beta – addiction combined with physical complications
  • Gamma – most common, is distinguished by a gradual increase in alcohol tolerance. An addicted person loses control over the amount of alcohol consumed, but drinks intermittently, maintains the ability to decide when to start drinking after a break.
  • Delta – can control the amount of alcohol consumed, but is unable to refrain from drinking.
  • Epsilon – periodic getting drunk, in ‘series’.

We can also identify four stages of addiction development: initial, warning, critical and chronic. As you can see all habits and addictions are complex issue. If there is anything that worries you about this topic, I suggest you take a closer look.

Bottle of wine is not a plaster for a broken soul.

addiction is not only alcohol and drugs, it is also medicine, sugar, sex, gambling, food, masturbation, games, pornography, falling in love …

This is probably the most important thing – intoxication will not help you heal yourself of sadness, lack or emptiness. What’s more, it can increase their intensity. Substance abuse is like self-propelled destruction machine. Addicted mind is confused and fragile, it gets easily lost in the complexities of reality. I can certainly say that in my case it contributed to the deepening of nervous problems. Although it’s ok now, I know these problems will come back. Because this is life – take the bitter with the sweet. Relapses may appear unexpectedly. There was a time, bad time, when I was treated medically, but I gave up medication. I currently believe that a holistic approach can be equally effective. Of course, this depends on the specific cases.

To start dealing with any addiction we need to understand what wounds we want to cover with it. We need to look deep inside ourselves, even if we think this is really dark and cold place. We can’t close eyes to avoid seeing those scary shadows we are afraid of. We need to meet our demons – fears, disappointments, failure, rejection, guilt, emptiness. And we need to accept that they are there, inside. Otherwise will be impossible to fight them and transform. I know it might sounds naive, but once we deal with all unpleasant emotions, we will be able to move to the level where we can reveal in ourselves understanding, forgiveness, fulfillment, love. This is how healing starts.