Category

Psychology

Mindfulness Psychology

AHH – I cringe at the thought of…

November 17, 2017

You’re out to lunch with your friends, minding your own business and having a fantastic time, and all of a sudden you remember that one thing you did when you were really drunk 6 years ago and you can’t help but cringe. This phenomenon, I have learned, is called an involuntary memory. That’s right, after something embarrassing or traumatic happens, we cope by pushing these memories to the back of our minds, hoping they will stay there forever. Unfortunately, that cringe-tastic treasure chest likes to pop open at the most random times and leave us feeling awful. Oh how fun the human psyche is!

Is there a reason we retain these memories?

Surprisingly, yes. As humans, we’re shaped by our experiences, no matter what the emotional outcome of them may be. Embarrassing memories serve us in a very interesting manner – they keep us from repeating those specific actions in hopes that we won’t embarrass ourselves again. Funny, isn’t it? (Okay, it’s not that funny – I wish the memory of me vomiting all over the chalk board, in front of my whole first grade class would never come up again). While some people experience embarrassing memories similar to the one I just mentioned, involuntary memories can be extremely traumatic to some of us, especially if they have substantial impact on our lives.

What can I do to better deal with this cringe-fest?

Great question, Srna. You can sit at the pub while everyone’s enjoying their drinks and think about that super awkward hookup with that one boy five years ago, or you know – you can try to occupy your mind with something else. Anything else. I have a handful of these memories that like to pop up ever so randomly, and I find myself feeling sad or cringing every time. If I’m in a social situation, it is a lot easier to brush it off and remember that the specific memory is in the past and has nothing to do with who I am today. I actively engage in unrelated conversation until I completely forget about my troubled and / or cringe-filled past.

But what about when there are no imminent distraction? Say, I’m sitting at home on my couch, sipping my coffee and eating a cookie (as I often do, don’t judge me), and all of a sudden as I’m minding my own business, I remember the time when I was 12 years old and a random boy told me I needed to lose weight or nobody would ever love me. Twelve years have passed, and I can still remember the warm tears streaming down my face as I walked home. This is when trying to distract myself doesn’t quite work as well as I would like it to. In moments like these, I actually like to sit down, journal about the experience, and try to get it out of my head and onto a piece of paper. Then I go on to have a pamper session or watch a happy film, basically try to keep the feelings of my twelve year old self from taking over.

Okay, but what if the memories aren’t funny and are so traumatic that they’re borderline obsessive?

There are some memories that we’ve repressed so hard, that when they do pop up, they hit us like a ton of bricks. If you’re ever in a situation where a past memory is so traumatizing that it affects your day-to-day life, please seek out professional help. Therapists know how to walk you through situations like these, and can help you cope with any memories that you don’t want popping up. If you’re unable to find a therapist near you, there are always alternative options such as BetterHelp.com.* If you can’t reach out to a professional, reach out to somebody you trust. Getting things out of you head space and off your chest is such a liberating feeling, and you deserve that.

*I am NOT sponsored in any way by BetterHelp, but I have used their services in the past and they have helped me tremendously.

 

Do you ever find yourself cringing at something that happened a long time ago? Let me know in the comments below! I did a poll on twitter and over 90% of you guys said you could relate. Truth be told, I am not surprised!

Until next time, keep that chin up.
Srna

Advertisements
Happiness mental health Mindfulness Psychology

Is Instagram making us unhappy?

July 12, 2017

 

When scrolling through Instagram on any given day, you will easily come across beautiful photos of friends or strangers, depicting themselves as if they are living their best lives. It has been widely discussed and debated online whether or not these views are realistic. Perhaps the most notable argument was that of Essena O’Neill, when she claimed that Instagram doesn’t depict real life. Today I would like to look at the so-called “Instagram Culture” through the eyes of Carl Rogers, a psychologist that lived long before Instagram was a speckle of anybody’s imagination.

Carl’s theory is pretty cool and easy to grasp. He believed that people have an “ideal self”, the kind of person that they wish to be, as well as a “real self”, the person that they are the very moment.  His theory belongs to the field of humanism, which states that as people, we are inherently self-aware, and can shape our personality by constantly striving to reach our fullest potential. Thus, the more similar our ideal and our real self are, the happier and more fulfilled we become. Perhaps the best part of his theory, is that as humans we are born with free-will, and have the mind-capacity to constantly strive to be better. The broader your imagination, the more likely you’ll be to reach the good life.

So, if we were to apply Carl Rogers’ theory to today’s Instagram Culture, wouldn’t imagining ourselves in the best light possible be a positive trait? Shouldn’t it help us become better, happier, and more fulfilled people? And of course, if this is the case, why are people such as Essena O’Neill so unhappy with Instagram’s ability to distort reality?

I believe that Instagram can be an amazing tool for the mind, if used correctly. If you imagine your ideal self, and then feel motivated to push yourself to live your life in such a manner, this will allow you to get closer to happiness. Many people launch successful businesses, portray aesthetically pleasing lifestyles, and create opportunities for themselves through the photographs they post on Instagram. Using Instagram as a visual tool for self-fulfilment is something that I firmly believe in, as it has helped me become more self-confident. On the other hand, if your ideal self doesn’t match up with whatever image you are trying to portray on Instagram, which I believe is the case of Essena O’Neill, you will end up drained and unhappy.

What do you think about Carl Rogers’ theory of self? Do you think that Instagram is good or detrimental to our self-actualizing process?

I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Until next time,
Srna