Looks Can Be Deceiving

Photo by NOTAVANDAL on Unsplash

Do you ever look at other people and think they look like their life is perfect? When people are smiling do you assume they are happy in general? If someone has a job where they make a decent living do you assume they have no real worries? If someone has a nice newer car do you assume their life must also be nice?

Assumptions are a dangerous thing and almost always incorrect. Most people have something in their lives that they are going through, dealing with, struggling with. Most people have had trauma of some kind in their lives. Remember, trauma does not mean everyone has been abused. Trauma is personal and its impact is personal.

Death and divorce can be very traumatic experiences. A much broader acceptance of trauma is needed to understand that most people have had trauma of some kind and that their trauma may be impacting them in negative ways every day whether you know it or not.

When we see people who we believe are living a great life or an easy life and we dismiss what might lie beneath, we can assume that they are fine emotionally. They may look fine on the outside. Good job, nice clothes, newer car and smiles, but what you do not see can be weighing them down.

Battles are fought every day by most people. Battles with the past, present and future. Battles with others and with themselves. Almost everyone faces daily struggles of some kind.

For some the struggles are related to physical health, which is also not always visible to the outside observer. For others the struggles are related to providing for daily needs such as housing, food, clothing and safety. Many struggle with mental health issues, which are almost always hidden from others and especially from strangers. It is the what you cannot see that are sometimes the heaviest burdens.

When we assume others have no problems or that others problems are so much smaller than what we are dealing with, we can be judgmental and unkind. We can have no grace or patience with others. We can dismiss others with our looks and words. We assume and move on to our problems.

There are those who would say that someone’s issues are not a reason for them to be frustrated, rude, angry or a multitude of other emotions towards others. What a perfect world that would be if it were possible, but it is not, we are all human and in moments of stress most find it very hard to be aware, present, and appropriately responsive.

There are plenty of old sayings about judging something on how it appears and all of them are true. What we see is very definitely not all there is to see or know.

We cannot control how other people respond to their own struggles, but we can control how we respond back to them. We can pause, reflect, and have grace and understanding. A kind gesture or word can offer someone the space to process their own struggle a little more easily.

Remember, we are struggling with something. Do not assume from first glances. Be kind. It could change everything for someone including yourself.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

The Addiction Train

Photo by Brian Suman on Unsplash

Addiction is much like a train. Many different things can be addiction and these are the cars of the train. Traveling on tracks in a one direction kind of way. And the cars can be added to and even stacked one on top of the other much like multiple addictions can be. A loaded and very large train can be extremely hard to stop and if it crashes it is a catastrophic mess. Just like addictions.

Anything can be an addiction. Absolutely anything. If there is something that we have to do, feel compelled to do, feel sick, sad, angry or a multitude of other emotions if we do not do it and it is required repeatedly to make us “feel” better, it is an addiction. If there is anything that we can NOT do, it is an addiction.

Some addictions are very harmful and others maybe not as much, but they are both addictions nevertheless. Most addictions are done to avoid things we find emotionally painful. All addictions release chemicals into the brain that can make us think we “feel” better. They can be very good at covering up painful things. For a while. Then as time goes on more and more of the addictive material is needed to gain the same feel good feelings. And when that does not work any longer, we must find a substitute addiction that works better.

Coffee is an addiction for many including myself. I have it every day. If I go without it for a day I get debilitating headaches from caffeine withdrawal. I like the taste of coffee a lot. I am pretty much immune now to the caffeine as in coffee will not keep me awake. But my body is very much addicted to the caffeine.

Addiction can be anything. Electronics are the addiction of choice for many now. Computers, phones, tablets, television, video games and more are fast becoming an addiction for many. People can spend hours every day watching funny cat videos on YouTube or TikTok. Spending and buying can be an addiction. Retail therapy is a very real thing. We feel better when we get something we want. Eating can be an addiction. Food can be very comforting in times of pain. Sex can be an addiction. Cutting or self-harm can be an addiction. The release of pain while cutting releases the feel good chemicals into our brains. To get more and more of this feeling we must cut more and more. Substances can be an addiction including cannabis. While cannabis does not have the same chemical/physical addictive properties of alcohol or other drugs, it is very psychologically addictive. Gambling can be an addiction.

Anything can be an addiction.

Addiction can be very hard to stop. First, we have to want to stop. This can be very difficult because our bodies and brains are addicted to the chemicals that are released when we participate in our addiction. It can also be difficult because we know to stop the addiction we have to acknowledge the pain of whatever we are trying not to face by continuing the addiction. If we have been addicted for a long time, it is not an easy road to stopping. It takes time. There will be relapses. And it is an ongoing process of addressing the reasons we sought the addictive thing in the first place and making daily decisions to avoid going back to it when things get difficult in the processing.

Working with an addiction counselor can be a good place to start if you are ready to change. Participating in groups or having someone to whom you are accountable can help along with apps that can also help you track your successes and support your progress such as Calm Harm for cutting, Pear reSet for substance use, rTribe for porn/drug/food addictions. There are many others that are also available for download for a huge variety of addictions.

Quitting an addiction is not an easy task and the road can be long and difficult. The first step is wanting to change and being willing to start the journey. Take an inventory of your life right now, is there something (or more than one) that you feel you are addicted to and can NOT stop doing and feel compelled to do in order to feel better or avoid trauma and pain. Be honest with yourself. And if you feel you cannot objectively look at your life ask someone who you trust and know will be absolutely honest with you.

Then it is up to you to make the decision to start on the path to recovery and change.

Until next time be well,

Deborah