Tag Archives: #MentalHealth

Stop Explaining Yourself. Why explaining ourselves to Gaslighters, bullies, and abusers never works.

Image created by author with Nightcafe AI.

There are two types of people we will meet in the world. There are the folks who don’t get us, or we them, and it’s not a big deal. Just move along. Then there are the ones who do get us. Which sounds perfect. Generally, these are folks we can talk and joke with, be honest and ourselves around. We can disagree, but generally without intending harm, and difference is welcome.

Unfortunately, not everyone who “gets us” is in it for friendship or love. Sometimes the people who understand us best are the ones who use that knowledge against us.

Those who treat us as less than, undeserving, and make us feel small usually know us very well. Just like a conman can choose their “mark” from a crowd, or a poker player can read another player’s “tell,” these types, sometimes called “dark empaths,” have us pegged and they’ll use that understanding against us.

Don’t feel bad if you find yourself in this situation. Usually, it’s a backhanded recognition of our strengths. Strengths they may not have, and envy. But we still need to equip ourselves to handle this insidious form of psychological manipulation.

The most vulnerable to attack in this way are “people pleasers.” We want to do good, keep the peace, and make others happy. We were probably brought up that way. Very young children usually believe that bad things are their fault. This causes overwhelming feelings of self-doubt, shame, self-loathing, and can follow us to an early grave (those of us with Trauma, Depression, Anxiety have worse health outcomes than the general population).

That pain can lead us to think that we are, at our core, somehow essentially wrong. That we’re guilty of all sorts of horrors, and it’s only a matter of time until others notice and we receive our just punishment. People who want to control us, put us down, and keep us there know this intuitively. It’s as though they know exactly where we hurt and insist on poking that spot.

Many of us become angry, reclusive, depressed, hyper vigilant, rigid, and constantly on edge looking for the next threat. On some level we may understand that the problem is not with us, but we may not know how to successfully turn this understanding into healing and separation from our tormentors within and without.

Once we realize that the person we trusted, loved, and probably stood up for despite our own welfare is undermining and Gaslighting us, we tend to go on the defense. We want to prove that we are good, deserving, and loveable just as we are. Of course, one of the main elements of Gaslighting is to deny our version of events, question our memories, our intelligence, and our sanity.

We may write down what others say to us that hurts so that we can prove to ourselves and the world that we are not crazy, or bad, evil, or selfish.

We could document conversations, remember specific phrases, or instances so we can say: “Look. I’ve written it all down. I took screenshots. I have it on video.”

But ultimately, all that self explaining will not be effective on a person out to use and/or Gaslight us into submission and agreement. The reason this does not work is not that the other person lacks understanding, it’s because they understand precisely what they are doing. In fact, they may outright deny or claim not to remember what we are talking about. They will only become more adamant in their judgement against us the more evidence and defence we provide. And they will most likely twist that information to their advantage.

So how do we escape that trap? First, we need to understand that, despite the protests of the other, that they are the problem. Their hurts, insecurities, fears are being reflected onto us to lift their own poor self confidence or self concept. Since they actually do get us in a profound way, we could earn the Nobel Peace Prize, yet these folks would find a way to discredit the prize, the achievement, and use it against us.

Secondly, we may attempt to “unmask” these people publicly. To gain enough of the world’s sympathy for our cause that we can bring our tormentors to account. This is not wrong in itself. The #MeToo movement, and the revelations of the extent of child abuse by the Catholic Church and other clergy are positive examples of how, with a lot of inner strength, effort, and the right allies, the powerful (even if they are only powerful in our minds) can be brought to account.

What we need to accept, above all else, is that we are, in fact, OK. That all people make bad decisions, act foolishly, accidentally burp at the dinner table or fart in church. But these people don’t seem to suffer for their humanity like we do. They embrace their silly, weird, awkward, and sometimes painful, unflattering, or boring parts of themselves. Because all people are burping, farting weirdos who do embarrassing dances or sing bad karaoke at a party.

Once we begin to see how much more like other people we are, it becomes easier to forgive and, most importantly, love ourselves. The spell of the Gaslighter may never fully be undone, but we can minimize their power. And, just as we would go to the doctor for antibiotics, there are people who specialize in helping broken people heal. And what needs healing is usually the heart. And it’s helpful to have a professional to guide us.

That is why therapists demonstrate unconditional positive regard for their clients. They are not there to lecture you. They’re there to help you to come to understand yourself and love yourself. With the guidance of a good therapist we can learn to embrace ourselves, farts and burps and embarrassing singing included.

As we learn to love and celebrate ourselves, we will learn self-confidence, and the freedom to simply exist as we are without excuses. We may take up an instrument and play it badly, but enjoy playing anyway. Our yearly karaoke serenade at a Christmas party could become a high point of good natured fun and pride in our shared foibles. And what could be more vulnerable yet human than dancing? But mainly, we will learn that what we’ve been told by others who enjoy our confusion and pain are lies.

So, let’s stop explaining ourselves. Don’t feed the predators any more information or attention. Starve them until they either seek help for their own damaged selves, or turn on someone else. Don’t cast your pearls before swine. Save them for the folks who love us: bad singing, stamp collecting, Klingon Cosplaying, wool dying, wilderness forager, Magic card enthusiast, whatever it is that makes us the unique and improbable people we are.

And remember. So far as we know, we are the only species in the vast Universe that can reflect on ourselves, our world, and Universe. We live on a magnificent oasis in the desert of space and time. Our lives, however long or short, matter because space is big, time is long, but we get the privilege of just being here now. Spend your time with people who get you and love you as you are. And once you learn to love yourself, spread it around.

Namaste, you legends!

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ––πŸΌπŸŽΈπŸ’πŸŒžπŸŒŒ

If you’re considering suicide, self harm, or have a mental health crisis: call or text 988 any time to talk or text with someone from the National Suicide Prevention and Crisis Hotline. Help is always available in English or Spanish.

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Mental Health Gamified. Why I Talk to a Finch

Meet Peter, my Wellness Finch friend!

Peter is my Finch friend. Don’t believe me?

See that.
UBER BESTIES!

This is an app called Finch. It’s a nearly complete wellness app in one adorable, fun, motivating package.

The premise is that you begin to set small goals and gain energy to hatch an egg. Then you name your new baby Finch and personalize them. You then continue working with your goals and the program to gain more energy for your Finch to grow. Rainbow Stones are earned by achievements and are your currency to personalize your little friend.

Shut up and take my Stones!
Perfect for his new sporty style!

While Peter’s on a sporty health kick at the moment. They have had many phases over our four plus months together.

Peter’s King of Love look.
When they got into thrifting.
Were into fluffy.
Went to Bali to celebrate Pride.
Obligatory hippie phase.

You can start Journeys (basically habit building) in different categories, such Mindfulness, fitness and health, work life balance, a cleaner home, etc. You then add goals/habits to hit on scheduled days over time. Earn rewards from the daily practice goals and leveling up on your Journeys!

Some of my Journeys with Peter.
Suggestions to get you started.
Tons of suggested content to explore and mine.

The app has nearly a full range of wellness content in one space. Breathwork, movement, Mindfulness, loving kindness, gratitude practices and journaling. Instead of twenty apps you ignore, you can keep one well. Bonus extra memory on your device.

Here is some of what lies inside each category.

Reflections are writing exercises to help you to see yourself and the world more clearly. Or just to Rant or remember something funny.
One of my favorites. The breathing exercises for any situation.
Ambient noise tracks with different themes that you can customize.
Ways to practice loving kindness in your life.
Do a quick mental health check in.
Ways to get your body stretched and moving. Even on the couch!
The Panic zone is useful. Especially the Rant feature. Helpline is a touch of the screen away. For tough days, you can choose goals like Get Out of Bed. “We’ve all been there,” the app assures.
Suggestions based on time of day, mood, interests.
Some of my goals with their Journey in a different color.

The more content you explore and use, the more energy and goals you hit towards each of your Journeys. And more goodies to spoil your Finch.

Leveling up my Journey towards not living in a pig sty.
Woo! New Tee and Rainbow Stones to spend!

Everyday you build up your Finch’s energy so they can go out exploring, learn and grow! Yes, grow. The farther you progress, the older your Finch grows. They go from a Infant, to Child, to *gasp* Teenager, to Adult. This is the most fraught process for me as a Finch parent.

Here’s a peek at Peter exploring.

He’s exploring the Sonoran Desert now.

When they come home, they have questions.

*Click to expand.

Yes, the personality of this little creature depends on you! Your actions, habits, and responses to them affect the growth of their character. (No pressure.)

From 9 o’clock, clockwise: Security, Curiosity, Tenacity, Logic, Compassion, and Extroversion. I’ve worked hard to give Peter the Security and Compassion they need to fill out their Personality.
After they become an adult, they leave Finchie Forest. I sent my spoiled bird to Bali!
Your answers also can control their likes and dislikes. What can I say? It’s hard to get kids to eat broccoli.

I’m noting here that your information is stored in your device, not uploaded to a server, in order to ensure your privacy is protected. You can download save files, to reload to another device. Because the app is looking at you too!

It judges your moods with check-ins and tags in your Reflections and Goals.
Note when I had Covid in June. Got disgusted into cleaning. And my Adventure of Mindful Walking and the Lost Cell Phone with Good Bluetooth.
You get updates on you and your Finch’s progress, mood changes, goals hit, and what’s lifting you up or weighing you down.

I know it seems like a lot to process, but the more you use it the more benefit you get. Especially as you start to explore the reports on yourself. You also learn how to manage your goals to better suit your needs, while handling triggers, anxiety, depression and even trauma.

If you’re wondering, is it social? Heck yeah. But it’s controlled by you and your prospective Finch Friend. Two users must share their codes to connect. Soon you have the beginnings of a Wellness support circle!

Peter’s friends right now.
Suggestions on supporting your Finch Friends!
Choose a Finch Friend.
I am a big fan of sending dance.
And more XP rewards!
You can even hang and explore with Friends.

I went to this length to cover a digital pet wellness app because it has helped me put in the work towards all of my goals and positive habit building. Finch app helps me integrate and track my goals, augments my therapy, and teaches me coping strategies. But above all, it’s fun!

A gamified approach to anything is a successful approach. Think of why you play games. Challenges. Quests. Rewards. Little celebrations with special achievements, awards, unlocks. Character/avatar creation and personalization. Exploration. Work, practice, time. It all comes from the mindset that drives you to play a game!

My absolute favorite goal. I go totally Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill on this one. And it works!

Life is frustrating and difficult. But gamifying your outlook turns disappointing moments into learning and the drive to keep at the Boss Battle of life. Also, as the Finch app reminds you, you can try to climb Il Duomo, build that base, slay that dragon, renew your quest for global supremacy again tomorrow. The one thing about life, though, is you can’t simply rage quit. And that’s where your Finch comes in.

Remembering you have an adorable little friend who relies on you, nevermind your actual friends and loved ones, keeps you in the game. So, I hope you give the Finch app a try.

Premium is $6 month. But the resources and fun make it worth it. If you cannot afford a Premium subscription, you can get a Finch Guardian sponsor, or win a raffle for free months. Finch app is family friendly, allows you to customize or change names, pronouns, colors, skin tones, and emojis to suit you. But really, if you can’t love yourself, your Finch helps you learn to love yourself through a loving an adorable friend. Amazing concept for my new favorite app!

Peter’s tired now. But he’ll be there for me tomorrow to help me care for myself because I care about this little digital bird.

Use Finch app? Want to join me in normalizing wellness and help one another? Contact me here! Let’s be Finchie Friends!

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ£

Check out my Instagram!! And connect with me on Facebook here and here.

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I’m Not Perfect and So Can You!

Jack Lemmon comes clean.

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon! Marilyn Monroe! Jazz! Gangsters! Billy Wilder directing! Cross dressing!? Oh yes, Some Like it Hot, 1959, has it all. Plus a heavy dose of humanity to spare. Lemmon and Curtis play jazz musicians who witness a mob hit, disguise themselves as women, and join a travelling girls only band. Only, Tony Curtis immediately falls for the band’s singer, Monroe. He sets Lemmon up with older millionaire Osgood, at a Florida resort, so he can sneak Monroe on board Osgood’s yacht. Only, Lemmon suddenly likes all the attention Osgood lavishes on him. Curtis falls in love with Monroe, and they all gotta get out of town when the mafia comes for a convention, and their cover is blown.

As Curtis, Monroe, Lemmon all pile into Osgood’s boat to escape to his yacht, the truth comes out. Curtis admits he’s just another lousy musician, and Monroe loves him anyway. While Osgood presses Lemmon for marriage. Exasperated, Lemmon eventually pulls off his wig, declaring, “I’m a man!” To which Osgood smilingly replies, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Through all the wacky, frenetic energy of the film, runs a deep vein of humanity. Nobody’s perfect.

I always say we all get at least one vice or major flaw. And if none are apparent, that’s the person with the thumb collection in their crawl space (definitely not thinking of Mike Pence, but Mike Pence!). Those are the dangerous types.

I’m here to announce I’m a nobody who is not perfect. My vice? Vanity. Shoes down in the heels? Emergency! Hair looking scrubby? Pull out the clippers! And yes I DO need a new eye shadow pallette! I’m getting exercise because it makes me feel good (I want to lose weight). Walking and hiking and swimming are great (I hate work out reps). Yoga is its own reward (it rarely makes me sweat).

I can motivate myself to do just about anything out of vanity. Even turn 29 for a decade straight. But let’s look at this “fault” from the other side, shall we?

You silly!

There is a certain part of me that is concerned for how I present myself to others. Which isn’t a bad impulse left alone. How many of the above behaviors just keep up my self-esteem, aside from the actual benefits?

But it’s more than that. This is an urge rooted deep inside me. So, aside from shoes, hair and skin, vanity, my sense of self worth and esteem, force me to reckon with my shortcomings all the time. Writers write. Get writing, Jess! Good people follow the Golden Rule, so hop to it, me! You ingrate! Luke Skywalker cared. Well, I care.

He saved the frickin Galaxy!

Luckily, I’m also lazy! Because I’d probably overdo the vanity thing. I love to have fun. Laugh. Smile. Eat. Drink. Be merry. But even that gets tiring sometimes, and I need to become a hermit for awhile.

When you know yourself, you know your faults and failings. But I am going to suggest that someone super smart, maybe Jung, possibly a Greek? OK. Let’s just say it’s me suggesting that learning to embrace our human failings is the only way to be a better writer, friend, jazz musician, and human being. Because our “faults” are simply our qualities gone wild.

Curtis and Lemmon as “Josephine” and “Daphne,” gone wild.

So when you can identify your faults, which most folks are really good at, you can also zone in on your strengths. Something that’s truly challenging to most people. And if someone denies they have faults, just stand well back and protect your thumbs!

Hey, I’m just a Jersey girl. I vacationed in Wildwood, “Down the Shore.” I went to crummy schools. I had one nightmare of a marriage, and done dumb, hurtful things. But somehow I’ve achieved some things I’m truly proud of during my time here. Leaning into that mixture of confused, flawed humanity, yet desire to be better and do better makes me who I am. And I’m OK with me. Nobody’s perfect.😁

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ˜‡πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜‡

Check out my Instagram!! And connect with me on Facebook here and here.

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