December 30, 2016
“Nothing is wrong with me.” How does it make you feel to say that? Incredulous to say the least? You feel like it’s more accurate to think that “Nothing is right with me?” Well, thousands of years of human experience begs to differ.
But first, let’s go to the movies. Take your pick. Comedy, drama, romance, ZomRomComDram (Zombie Romantic Comedy Drama), etc. The point is to snuggle into your seat with a buttery tub of popcorn and your favorite drink. The anticipation builds. The lights go down. The movie goes up and you are… transported.
You eat the popcorn but don’t taste it. You sip your soda, but aren’t aware of it. Why? Because you are no longer in the theatre. You are in the spaceship or running from dinosaurs or eavesdropping on a secret conversation with the queen. Needless to say, your body may be scarfing popcorn, but it’s on autopilot.
Until something happens. The guy in front of you starts playing Candy Crush on his phone. The couple next to you starts making out. The soda spills in your lap. Whatever. Point is you are no longer IN the movie. However, you might just be able to settle down and get back into the it if you’re lucky. Even so, you never actually think that you are a character in the movie and that you can actually affect the outcome of it… hopefully..
But the dynamic of watching a movie entails part of your brain being caught up in the movie while another part of your brain realizes that you are actually in a chair watching a movie but knowing that you aren’t really a part of the movie itself. Part of you knows that it is a completed piece of work and will proceed of its own accord regardless of your efforts to the contrary.
And so it is with your thoughts and emotions. The modern human brain is generally wired to conflate and confuse the fact that their thoughts, emotions, consciousness and psyche are all one and the same. Metaphorically speaking however, this is roughly the same as thinking that you are part of that movie and that you can interact with the characters in it to affect the outcome.
Simply put, and you can probably attest to this fact, thoughts and emotions pretty much have a life of their own and there’s very little you can do to change them. When we obsessively try to do so, however, we start getting into trouble.
And so we return to our original premise of there not being anything wrong with you. It’s not so much that there’s nothing wrong with you, but that there might be something dysfunctional about how you are thinking instead. When we superglue all of our thoughts and emotions and self-esteem and ego together in one big ball of pain, it’s understandable to see how we would think that something is wrong with us when it’s really just something wrong with how we’re going about this.
The cure? Mindful awareness of our emotions. The more we are aware of how our mind is mixing all this stuff up together, the more capable we will be at pulling it apart. What are two of the main things you need to start elevating your level of mindful awareness? Curiosity and courage.
Courage is needed to start. It’s like never having worked out in your life and then going into a gym for the first time to sign up with a trainer. It is dependent on a high level of motivation for change just like going into a gym to get into shape would be. It is also dependent on a high-level of patience because, just like the gym, you’re not going to expect to be running a marathon after working out 10 or 20 times. No, you have a more realistic expectation than that. You know that if you want to run a marathon and you are 100 pounds overweight, that this is going to be a long-term project.
Thus it is with developing mindful, emotional awareness muscles as well. It is a long-term project that takes a high level of courage and motivation. It is not a quick fix. It is not the result of reading a self-help book. It is something that takes a lot of work. However, it is also very possible to make progress. Steady, continual progress. So you might not be running a marathon anytime soon, but you might finally get up the gumption to enter your local 5K fun run instead. That's a big victory and it is possible to achieve the same mental and emotional victories as well, through emotional awareness.
The second thing needed for this progress is curiosity. That is the magic pixie dust that will help you to unearth what is going on with yourself. Without curiosity, there is not much progress. But if you can learn to engender a certain amount of clinical curiosity about what is going on with you in real-time, at that moment, then you can start getting all CSI on your emotions. Thus being able to ask yourself in the moment, “why am I overreacting to this situation?” or “why am I getting so anxious or depressed in this moment?” Then real, steady progress can be made.
How to get better and better at that and how to remove the obstacles which are preventing you from doing so, are the goals of good therapy. It is the essence of what I go through with all my clients every day, and I have lost count of how many times I have seen it work magic in peoples’ lives.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is hooked on instant gratification and we have transferred that unrealistic expectation to improving our mental and emotional health as well, but of course it is a fantasy. Sometimes we feel that if we can just watch the right talkshow, read the right book, or pop the right pill, that it will somehow throw a switch in us that will suddenly make us healthy. And while these sources are all good, expecting them to do that much work for you as well is just not going to happen. You are the one who needs to do the work – just as back and that fancy gym you go to, you can have $1 million worth of the latest and greatest exercise equipment but you are still the one who needs to sweat on it. The machines are just tools, they cannot do the work for you.
That’s when a very small percentage of people finally got fed up enough with their struggles to seek help and to finally admit that they are ready to put in some hard work to change the momentum of decades of their lives through therapy and/or courageous emotional introspection instead. As I said, I have seen it work countless times with my clients, with colleagues’ clients, and hardly ever with some quick fix.
So my wish for you is to remember that you need courage, curiosity, and patience. It is to hope that you will remember that you are not actually your thoughts and feelings but that your thoughts and feelings are mere products of your mind and you don’t need to interact with them. Instead, you can start to develop the skill of witnessing your thoughts and feelings like you would witness a movie in the theater-- without thinking that you can get in there and change their narrative. It’s a whole new way of thinking but also an ancient way of thinking that always does the trick -- if you are game.
Next time? Unconditional positive regard and how it is as important as breathing.
Written by 7 Cups Therapist, Matthew Peterson, LPC, NCC
December 25, 2016
Why you should hug more often
Do you have twenty seconds? Because that’s the little time it takes to give someone a good hug. Most of us like giving and receiving hugs. In fact, on average, people spend an hour a month hugging. It’s a way to show our affection to someone and makes us have a warm feeling in our hearts after all. But did you know that they’re actually psychological benefits of hugging? Are you curious and want to know more? Then, keep on reading!
1. It increases levels of oxytocin
If you don’t know what oxytocin is, it’s a ”love hormone” that acts on the brain’s emotional center. Oxytocin reduces your anxiety, stress and makes you feel happier overall.This hormone has also been known to help couples become closer, to relieve physical pain and has even helped people reduce their cravings for sweets, alcohol, and drugs. So if you have a headache or you’re stressed about school, just give someone a hug and you’ll feel better.
2. It boosts your immune system
According to research from Carnegie Mellon University. Hugging enhances your immune system. Most of us know that there are many stress-related health problems such as heart disease, asthma, accelerated aging and in extreme cases, premature death. Which is why we should avoid excessive stress. And, as we mentioned earlier, hugs reduce stress. Support can act as a barrier against the illnesses written above and much more.
3. Well hugged babies become less stressed as adults
If you want to make a difference and help the next generation, then hugging is a quick and easy way to do so! Emory University made an experiment with rats. The scientists had found out that as adults, the small rodents who had been cuddled with had lower levels of a stress hormone than those who weren’t. These researchers believe that the same thing happens with humans. So hug babies as much as you can! You never know, they may thank you later.
4. It reduces your fear of death
We all know that as living beings, there will be a time when we will pass away. Some people are completely okay with that. However, there are others, such as myself who are scared of it. If you’re one of those people, fear not! Touch, such as hugging, has been proven to help individuals deal with existential fears. Whether you hug a teddy bear or a person, it will help.
5. It helps our hearts
When you hug someone, it not only warms your heart, it also lowers your heart rate. In a study, some participants were asked to hug their partners meanwhile some didn’t. Those who weren’t embraced had their heart raced increase by ten a minute. That’s twice as much as those who were!
In conclusion, I hope that this article made you realize how important hugs are. Next time you think that you’re hugging a person for too long, just remember that a hug a day keeps the problems away!
Written by: JustALover
Edited and finalized by: TheThomas
December 20, 2016
Abuse. It is a word that can trigger extremely harmful memories/flashbacks or events within many of our world’s population. Most people think of assault or scars, but arguably the most nerve-racking form of abuse is emotional abuse. Unlike with scars, bruises, and black eyes, emotional abuse isn’t visible to the naked eye or any eye. You could have the most powerful microscope in the whole wide world and even it couldn’t detect it. This abuse is elusive and just as harmful as the other types.
Most would prefer to pretend that it doesn’t exist, just because we can’t see it or hope our society would be on a higher level than this. Despite some beliefs abusers don’t stick out like sore thumbs, it can be very difficult to spot one. They can live like “normal” citizens, have a job, sustain friendships, and even be happy. “But what about the victims?”, I hear you saying.
The victims may not even know they are being abused. Like I said it’s not obvious. But cases of emotional abuse can lead to a crippled image of self and think that harsh criticisms are always fact. Abuse can happen in any relationship: between two friends, between partners, between parent and child, etc…
But how do we know if it falls under abuse, well there are a few warning signs:
Humiliation: With this person do you ever feel like you are treated in a childish way? Do they go out of their way to put you down or insult you? Do they reinforce the belief that you are always wrong?
Domination: Do they control aspects of your life such as: Spending habits, Relationships, Social media
Emotional blackmail or distancing: Silent treatment, Playing victim, Neglect the actual victim
Emotional abuse is a huge problem, not only because 35% of married women experience this abuse, but because this affects us for the rest of our lives. So what can we do to help our society's victims?
At 7 Cups of Tea, we offer a variety of help for a whole plethora of issues our users might be facing. I noticed that from my personal experience people who select Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as their main issue don’t seem to open up completely. Which is okay, it is their choice and it must be very difficult.
But is there anything we can do? To outsiders, our beloved site seems to cater to depression above all else. So is it possible that we can make this website more appealing to issues like sexual, emotional, and physical abuse through advertising?
Just food for thought. What do YOU think we can do to help with catering to “atypical” issues on the site?
You can Private Message @TheThomas with any suggestions or ideas.
Article written by: Hopemaybloom
Edited and finalized by: TheThomas