How could you make yourself depressed? By never setting any goals for yourself, by never striving toward the future. By not believing that things change or that you can change. By expecting that tomorrow will turn out just as badly as yesterday did. How could you deepen your depression? By creating a polarity in your mind between “everybody else” (who can change) and you (who can never be different).
You should feel being human on every level, and remember, one very important factor as you do. It’s just an experience. Everything is an experience. There is no good or bad. There just is. It is what it is and that is, it just is. The sooner you realize that you are energy or light as are all things, the happier you will be. There is no separation. We are one. United we stand. Divided we fall. Race, religion, colour, class OR language cannot separate energy or light. It simply gives the illusion of separation, exacerbated by the ego.
It appears to be a human foible to divide ourselves into good and bad parts. For instance, in 1995 Dr. Daniel Goleman came out with his groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence. Until then, intelligence was thought of in terms of rational thinking. Emotions were thought of as irrational and less valuable. Humans were divided into the “head” and the “heart.” However, we all realize that some people are highly intelligent, yet they seem to have little common sense or compassion for other people. Other people have great empathy and wisdom, yet they may not be so intellectual.
Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used to gain power. And it works too well.
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.
You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.
2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.
3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.
4. They wear you down over time.
This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.
5. Their actions do not match their words.
When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.
6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.
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7. They know confusion weakens people.
Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.
8. They project.
They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.
9. They try to align people against you.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.
11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.
By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.
The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.
A visualization technique is a powerful tool used in psychology. It can be used in different scenarios, such as, helping a patient calm down their nervous system (stress or anxiety), it aids in rehearsing what a patient will do in specific situations (behavioral), and can be used in a controlled settings to help a person overcome phobias.
The good news is. Visualization can be used outside a therapeutic setting. Such as helping you relax after a long day. It can help you achieve goals by visualizing yourself crushing a presentation. It can be even used in sports by imagining yourself winning the race. With visualization the uses a unlimited.
1. Remind yourself that thoughts and feelings aren’t facts. Often we think extreme and negative things – which are not completely true in reality. Try to get perspective and to be more balanced – and try to counteract accusing, negative thoughts.
2. Be patient, understanding and gentle with yourself. When you’re fighting depression or are feeling overwhelmed then that uses up a lot of your energy. Accept that today is going to be harder and put fewer expectations and demands upon yourself.
3. Do one small thing as it will help you to get moving - and you’ll start feel more hopeful as you see yourself make some progress. Also, keeping yourself busy will interrupt your thinking, and will help stop your feelings from getting even worse.
4. Although it’s not usually helpful to isolate ourselves, be wise in the people that you choose to be around. If other people are too happy – or too harsh and critical – it may compound your feelings of negativity. Instead, try and spend time with people who are gentle and calm, and who help you feel accepted and more positive.
5. Remember that tomorrow could be a better day. You just need to find the energy to make it through today.
I live in Ithaca now, and at this time of year, the sun’s up for like 8-9 hours a day, and it’s cold and dark, and you often find yourself not wanting to do anything. However, I still need to keep up with my studies, and I’m sure some of you are faced with a similar problem. So, I’ve gathered some of the things I do to help me stay energized throughout a winter day.
Understand your energy levels and work with them
I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect yourself to be able to do as much work or be as energized in the colder months as you do in warmer months.
For example, maybe in the summer/fall, you could survive with 5 hours of sleep and more intense work sessions, but in the winter, you might need more breaks and more sleep, and trying to resist that might result in the further deterioration of your energy levels. If you don’t already, try taking a midday break.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for having to recharge. You’ll be more productive afterwards.
Get enough sunlight
Exposure to sunlight boosts your mood by increasing your body’s serotonin levels - one of the happy hormones. It makes you more alert, energized, and prevents you from getting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
My advice is to spend as much daylight time doing things so you can do them the most productively. Even if you’re more inclined to do things later in the day, at least push forward some of the things on your daily routine, or rearrange them in such a way that you get as much sunlight possible.
This semester - unfittingly called the ‘spring’ semester - I tried to schedule my classes as early as possible, even though I generally get sluggish in the afternoon and then work better in the evening. This is because I want to have time to do my work - or at least be out - while the sun’s still up.
Exercise where you can
It’s so hard to exercise outdoors in this weather, but I still see people going for jogs around campus, or hitting the gym. Personally, I just do some stretching and light exercise in my room.
Alternatively, if you take the bus, get off a stop early then walk the rest of the way (unless there’s terrible weather like a snowstorm or something where being outside is harmful). The key thing is that you get yourself moving, especially in the morning - you’ll be more productive and happier throughout the day.
I know the winter’s cold and you don’t feel like you have to take a shower, especially since it can make your skin dry. However, it’s a great energy booster, especially in the morning. Showering in the morning improves your blood flow and alertness, and reduces your stress levels throughout the day. If you don’t have time in the morning, shower in the evening, so you’ll have more energy after the sun goes down..
Make plans or have something to look forward to
Nothing is more draining than knowing that you have nothing to do, nothing to look forward to. You’ll probably just end up in your bed watching Netflix all day, which, let’s face it, might be fun at first but turns out to be a hell of an energy drainer. Go out to eat, study with someone, or at least watch something together.
Curl up with a good book. Watch your favorite show. Play some tunes while you sketch your favorite characters or OCs. It’s the winter, you deserve a little break to recover. If you don’t relax every now and then, you won’t be able to work as intensely and focus as hard as you want or need to.
Also, although it’s great to eat healthy, but a cup of hot cocoa or a muffin once in a while is fine and makes you happier in that moment.
Work on an indoor hobby
You’re going to spend a lot of time indoors, might as well use that time usefully (aside from schoolwork or other obligations). I like doing creative things like digital art, journaling, or bullet journaling while listening to a podcast, or reading - these types of activities are the most energizing for me.
You don’t need to do the things I listed - the point is, you should use your time indoors wisely, since during other parts of the year, you’ll probably be out a lot more.
Listen to the right music
I don’t know what y’all listen to but music is an awesome energy booster if you can align it with how you’re feeling. You know how sometimes you listen to a certain type of music and your mind just feels like it’s hovering there, like it’s slightly repelled by the music but you also don’t really hate it, and you just end up feeling unfulfilled afterwards? (That was a trash explanation but I hope you understand what I mean.) Yeah don’t do that.
During the day, listen to music that keeps you awake and energized - it could be hard hitting rock or dance-y pop or maybe even something mellow. Whatever it is, don’t try to counter it. I like to listen to roaring guitars in the morning, and slow jazz in the evening, and that works for me.
Get enough sleep (‘enough’ might be more than you usually get)
During the winter, you can take advantage of the cold and cozy weather to get more sleep. I know it’s tempting to keep working until you finish all your tasks, but if it means sacrificing your sleep, you’ll only end up depriving yourself of your already low levels of energy. Also, make sure you get good quality sleep so that you’ll be as energized as possible the next morning.
However, don’t get too much sleep. This morning, I came into math class, and my friend was like ‘you look really tired today, is something wrong?’ and no, there was nothing wrong. It’s just that this morning, I chose to sleep in until 8 when I usually wake up at 7, meaning I slept more than I should have. Too much sleep just makes you feel groggy once you wake up.
During the day, take a power nap if you have to, but don’t extend it for too long that your sleep inertia kicks in and you can’t get up anymore.
Focus on your food
I think the food we eat - and how we eat it - is a huge factor in maintaining our energy levels during these cold, dark months. So here’s an entire section about food-related strategies to combat the winter blues.
1. Eat well
Winter might tempt you to eat bulky food and sweets, but they’re not that beneficial to your productivity and energy levels. Sugary foods actually cause you to be sleepy during the day and reduce the quality of your sleep at night. Instead, opt to eat foods that contain
Vitamin C - like in fruits and vegetables - to boost your energy levels; and
Vitamin B12 - like fish, milk, and eggs - to reduce fatigue
2. Have good eating habits (don’t skip breakfast!)
In college especially, a lot of people skip breakfast - and sometimes even lunch - only to overeat during dinnertime. However, having a good breakfast - especially one with protein, fiber, and whole grains - will increase your ability to focus and boost your productivity throughout the day. Maybe you’re the type of person who tends to skip breakfast - the winter’s a great time to pick up the habit of having a morning meal. Recently, I’ve been having peanut butter and acai overnight oats - nutritious and convenient.
3. Have caffeine at the right time (if you consume any)
Studies show that the most effective time to have caffeine is between 9:30 to 11:30 am. Even if you have breakfast before that, I recommend waiting a little while before you sip your cup of coffee or whatever source of caffeine you take. You can always bring a cup to class or wherever you’re headed to at that time.
In the evening, I recommend having a cup of tea. Some teas contain enough caffeine to keep you alert but not prevent you from sleeping at night. My favorite is green tea, but other teas like oolong or black tea work just as well.
4. Snack (a little)
But not too much. A single square of chocolate or a couple crackers are great mood boosters, and it even improves cognitive functioning. You could even have a cup of tea along with your snack, which is doubly energizing.
That’s all I have for you now. Feel free to drop an ask or message me if you have any questions, and I hope the rest of the winter goes great for you!
p.s. wml bc I heard the winters here last till April
Impostor Syndrome: What it is and how to deal with it
There may be times when you feel like a fraud, like at any moment people will find out that you have no clue what you’re doing and you don’t deserve any of your achievements. You think that you’re unworthy of praise, that you only succeeded out of luck.
This is known as Impostor Syndrome, and around 70% of people have struggled with it in their lives. The problem arises when high achievers fail to internalize their success, i.e. when you attribute your success not to your own abilities but rather to external factors.
Some say that impostor syndrome could be linked to traits like anxiety or neuroticism. Impostor syndrome has also been commonly attributed to behavioral causes like childhood experiences, e.g. being labeled as “the smart one” or “the talented one”.
Another huge factor is how well you think you fit into a certain group, e.g. impostor syndrome is common among people of a racial/ethnic/cultural minority, women in STEM, and international students at US universities.
I’ve personally dealt with the first two types. I’m fairly certain I can attribute being ‘the genius’ to childhood/adolescent circumstance: I’ve been known as ‘the smart one’ throughout elementary school and high school - every time I made a mistake, it was met with a chorus of ‘wahh jo made a mistake…’ Even last month when I had a mini-reunion with some of my high school friends, one of them said something along the lines of “I like when Jo makes mistakes because it reminds me that she’s human, too.” I can definitely say I’ve overcome that now because, you know, college - everyone’s as smart or smarter than you and works pretty hard.
Being ‘the expert’ is still something I’m still trying to overcome. Last spring when I was applying to internships, I only dared to apply to those where I met 100% of the requirements. I’ve been coding for like 4 years but I constantly think I’m incompetent. It once got up to the point where I literally took 3 similar courses to assure myself that I actually do know how to do full-stack web programming. I still struggle to draw the line between relearning something because I don’t think I really know it, versus learning something for the expansion of knowledge.
How do I deal with it?
Firstly acknowledge that you have impostor-related thoughts Awareness is the first step to changing how you think and how you act.
How does impostor syndrome look like in a school/college setting? Examples include
You refrain from asking questions because you think other students/TAs/the professor will think you’re dumb;
You don’t respond to questions even though you kind of know the answer but you always think your answers aren’t right enough or that they’re simply wrong;
You don’t participate in discussions because you feel that you won’t add any value; or
You prevent yourself from having an opinion because you feel like you have no right to have one.
Reframe your thoughts
Think of their possible effects Do these thoughts help or hinder me? Will anything useful come out of thinking this? Acknowledge that not speaking up may mean slowing your team down or depriving your classmates of potentially valuable insights.
Separate fact from feeling Are they factual or simply a misinterpretation of my environment?
Differentiate feelings of fraudulence from feeling like an outsider Does my work show that I’m incompetent or is the fact that I’m the only female in a team of males/POC in a team of Caucasians make me think I’m inferior?
Stop comparing yourself to other people You might think something along the lines of “there are already so many people who can do what I do but so much better, so what’s the point in even trying?” However, remember that these people were once where you were, and taking even the smallest of actions could help you get to where they are.
Be more forgiving with yourself
Rethink perfection Not everything has to be perfect. Even if you have high standards, not achieving those standards doesn’t make you any less worthy.
Reframe mistakes and identify areas of improvement It’s okay to be wrong or not to know everything. Think of mistakes as learning opportunities and indicators of gaps in your knowledge/understanding of something, as opposed to a negative measure of your self-worth. Being wrong doesn’t mean you’re fake; it just means you have more to learn.
For example, previously I would only answer a question in class if I was at least 90% sure that was the correct answer. That’s a high threshold, and I don’t think it’s very useful for helping me learn and grow. Over the course of a year, I’ve managed to lower that down to I’d say around 60% (50% with coffee lmao).
Collect positive experience
Remember and reflect on praises Think about the efforts you exerted to help you achieve something and the positive responses you garnered when you finally achieved it. Remind yourself of the words of encouragement other people have told you, no matter how small. You could even keep a folder/document/journal to look back on when you feel like a fraud.
Heck, sometimes I feel like my posts aren’t useful or my designs are terrible, but then you guys tell me such kind things and I think, maybe I’m not as bad as I thought.
However, while it’s good to remember the good words people have said, don’t work just for the sake of praise. Focus on the value of the work itself and not the validation that comes from it.
Focus on providing value
Focus on what you can say Instead of thinking about what you don’t know, focus on what you do know and what you can say. Even if what you say isn’t entirely correct or relevant, it’ll get others around you thinking.
Remind yourself that holding back is like robbing the world of your ideas There’s always some value in your words, even if you don’t initially think so. How that value affects the world or other people may differ. For example, when you put forward an idea/thought in a discussion, it could be that
If there were parts that were incorrect, other people might have had the same misconception and are more than happy for the clarification;
Again, if there were parts that weren’t correct, they might not have had the same misconception but now realize that there is a way in which the subject can be misinterpreted, thus allowing them to have a more comprehensive understanding of the subject; and/or
It’ll stimulate further thinking and discussion and raise more questions, especially if other people wouldn’t normally think what you just thought. Then other people could bounce off your idea and form an equally great one.
Take action You won’t feel as much of a fraud if you’re doing something that brings you a little closer to achieving your goals or that adds value to your work.
However, be careful not to overwork yourself. Every time you start doing something, pause and think: is this really important to my progress or am I just trying to prove myself?
Instead of working on too many things, do something outside your comfort zone each day no matter how small. Once you do this, focus on quality (your growth) instead of quantity (the number of things you do).
Also, for those of you who fall into the ‘expert’ category, this also means practicing just-in-time learning, i.e. learning things when you need it, not just to comfort yourself.
I hope that was helpful, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions/comments/suggestions :)
Self-love is the basis for love of others. It is where real charity begins. When you love yourself, it will spill over; when you don’t love yourself, your energy will consciously or unconsciously be focused on finding it, and you won’t have time for anybody else.