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healing Mental Health Mindfulness Psychology Uncategorized

Healing Isn’t Linear

As humans, we depend on sequence to understand events and establish order. Our ancestors invented devices to keep track of time that would optimize their functioning, and of course, the necessity to do so is maintained by our modern world.

Time has been, and continues to be, a necessary component to our survival as species. There’s a longstanding debate over the physics of time and whether or not it’s linear. Despite the multitude of existing theories, the non-controversial fact is that we perceive time as a straight line, even if it’s not.

Like an arrow, time has a sense of direction. In an hour, I’ll take my dog for a walk, and after that, I’ll go food shopping. We schedule our lives around conceptual time, and continue to do so, because it makes sense. It establishes order.

Since linearity is comfortable and seemingly universal, it’s presupposed onto everything. For example, if I continue to practice guitar, that invested time will make be a better guitarist. If I break my wrist, in six months, it should be healed. This all seems pretty logical, right? And it is.

However, not everything operates in similar fashion, which leads us to my main point- it’s easy to believe healing is linear, but there’s nothing straight about it. The reason I’m discussing this, besides it being important, is because I also forgot to be realistic with my own progression while healing.

After experiencing hardship or a traumatic event, progress made is assumably, not only going to stick, but continuously improve. Fortunately, that’s correct, but unfortunately, it won’t occur as expected. Because healing is a complex process, it’s unpredictable. Improvements can be seen and felt sporadically.

Let’s imagine yesterday was a really bad day, but today, you’re entirely unbothered. You feel so good, it’s difficult to reason with the possibility of backtracking on that progress, so when you do, it’s disheartening. During such moments, it’s likely to question whether you made any progress at all.

For these reasons, it’s critical to acknowledge that healing is more like a rollercoaster than a long drive from point A to B. It’s filled with pitstops, unpaved roads, and breakdowns. Taking these events personally prolongs this already complicated process. If you expect this, and stay prepared, the quicker you’ll bounce back.

Listed below, are a few tips to keep in mind during your journey toward healing. Personally, these have proven to be highly effective during dark moments that inevitably will rise.

  • Embrace honesty: When triggered or approaching a pitchfork in the road, you’re given opportunity to acknowledge a message. Of course, you may not know what the fuck it’s trying to tell you, which is why you’ll need to dig deeper. Almost everything has a cause and effect. Was the reaction followed by a thought or event? Perhaps, the reasons as simple as the body responding in the only way it knows how. (Typically this occurs after trauma. The bodies actively produces an excess of cortisol, thus disproportionately responds to stimuli) Be honest with how you’re feeling and locate how it’s presents inside the body. Acknowledgement is crucial.
  • Don’t beat yourself up: Like I’ve stated, expecting continual progress and receiving what feels like the opposite, can influence negative self-talk. If you’ve had several good days, and one bad day, don’t beat yourself up. You’re always making progress, even when it feels like you’re not. Let go of the expectation that you must feel a certain way. There’s never a right way to feel, and if that’s the focus, doubt will eat you alive.
  • It’s okay to ask for help: If you’re really struggling and find it’s too difficult to do this on your own, asking for help is always a viable option. This could mean confiding in a trusted friend or reaching out to a professional. Know your limits and be realistic about what you can and can’t do alone.
  • Take a step back: If something doesn’t feel right, take a step back and listen. Be conscious of presenting patterns. For example, if putting yourself out there in the dating world causes more harm than good, it’s alright to take a break. Healing will test your limits, and this is a good thing because you’re learning what you’re okay with and what you’re not. Taking a step back shouldn’t feel like defeat, and in fact, it can be rather informative. That time can be utilized to map out small and realistic steps to achieve your goals. Eventually, you’ll be doing all the things that currently trigger you.
  • Resist the urge to fix: Sometimes doing nothing is doing something. When problems present, we’re hardwired to respond. For this reason, most people don’t realize they suppress, escape, or distract from uncomfortable emotions. The goal was to solve the problem but it created more. Sit what your feelings, because ultimately, that’s the best solution.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Education healing Mental Health Mindfulness Psychology

The Truth About Being Happy

Everyone wants to be happy. It’s not an abnormal desire. We’re here, on this planet for a short period of time, so it’s natural to deter feelings of misery or pain. It’s not fun and it doesn’t feel good.

For most, the concept of happiness has taken a left turn. People seek it as if it’s some attainable permanent mood, which is entirely counterproductive.

Happiness is not something you win like unlocking new levels on a video game. Even if you’re listed on a leader board, will that be good enough, or will you find another game to beat?

Life is full of unexpected problems. That’s the inevitable truth. People you love will die. Shit won’t work out the way you hoped or planned. People will break your heart and betray you. That’s life. But, does that mean you can’t “be happy?”

When problems slap us in the face, happiness feels like a distant destination. Perhaps, we’re on the wrong road, or maybe, it’s a place we’ll simply never get to. Obviously, these defeating thoughts can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Sitting with pain is not something the mind and body particularly enjoys. In fact, like a machine, it’s hardwired to protect against invading stimulus. Consider a terrorist attack on ones homeland. Immediately, forces are set in place to protect and defend the country against further casualties.

Successful or not, the threat remains present. Plans will be devised to prevent a similar attack from occurring but bad blood remains. What they decide to do about it, isn’t the point, because if a solution exists, the aftermath of destruction doesn’t disappear. It happened. It’s real. People will suffer the consequence.

Our body works in a similar fashion, immediately defending from outside threats and attacks. It may successfully avoid, distract, or escape the pain, but it’s still there.

Staying present and falling into the wave feels unnatural. Our bodies are conditioned to enter survival mode, but unless you’re living in a jungle, continually attacked by primal species, reactivity is unnecessary.

As humans, it’s tremendously difficult to sit with pain, and unfortunately, it’s the only way to successfully banish it. Happiness is temporary, and so is pain. It comes in waves. Riding the wave as it comes, rather than fighting against it, is useful when hit with the next wave. The current won’t be as strong, the wave will be less demanding, and it arrives at your shore less and less.

Training the body to respond differently requires self awareness when trivial threats arise. Instead of habitually responding without much thought or logic, remain open to the “attack.”

It’s not going to kill you, and in fact, your body becomes resilient. Giving space for pain to exist is like paving a road to a “happier” existence. The more resilient you are, the less defensive you’ll be. Situations that were once deemed problematic are suddenly nonsensical and silly.

Although you’ll never reside inside of a permanent happy bubble, you’ll learn to withstand discomfort, and that alone is a freeing existence.

-Jessica Bruno

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Education healing Mental Health Mindfulness people Psychology Uncategorized

Do You Have A Destructive Ego?

The ego is a friend. Well….if it can be trusted. A healthy ego provides balance. It protects us from acting on basic urges and sets moral standards. Ego’s can wreak havoc, resembling more of an enemy than a trusted counterpart, and unfortunately, successfully dominates the life of most individuals.

A primitive ego seeks power, control, and regulation. Think of this as the first layer of an onion, defending against the more fragile layers hidden underneath, such as vulnerability, fear, shame, and insecurity.

An ego rooted in fear constantly wages wars in the mind, behaves destructively, and often regrets poor decisions. Our emotions are hijacked during distressing events. To ease discomfort, our bodies create defenses to protect us.

A protective self manifests when struggling to regulate emotions or carrying unresolved issues and unhealed wounds. The protective self is false. It’s oblivious to the hidden layers of the onion.

When I was betrayed by someone I loved, the protective self masked my feelings of rejection and inadequacy with anger, distracting away emotions I didn’t want to feel. This resulted in destructive, spiteful behavior, making matters worse. Inevitably I was led right back to those avoided emotions, except they had intensified.

A weak ego sticks to what’s comfortable, whereas a strong ego understands embracing discomfort is healing and necessary. The ego isn’t intentional. It believes it’s doing the right thing, which is why we must check that shit.

Three effective ways to check our egos:

  1. Do not assume or judge without first considering all perspectives. In other words, be open to the possibility that your perception may be biased or inaccurate. Listen to others before reaching conclusions.
  2. Ask yourself what the ego is seeking. In personal relationships, pride, control, and anger are consuming emotions and tend to make terrible decisions for us. Connect and listen to your body and mind before engaging impulsively. Remember to never make decisions in the heat of an intense emotion. Wait until the ego calms the fuck down and only then should you reevaluate.
  3. Make a list of fears, flaws, and insecurities and examine how your ego acts in defense to those things. The ego masks the aspects of our identity we perceive as bad. Practicing self-love and compassion is important. The “bad” aspects of ourselves are typically irrational and stem from a place of pain. Reflection, self-love, and feeling the bad things allow you to heal and grow with them, rather than against.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Education Emotionally Unavailable love psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

The Reason You Date Emotionally Unavailable Men.

Do you continue dating unavailable men? If I asked, “What are the warning signs of an emotionally unavailable partner,” you’d recite them swifter than a recovering alcoholic recounting the big book.

After dating several self-absorbed men, you’d assume spotting one a mile away would be easy, as if their clothes are draped in red hazard lights, sporting a sign that reads, “Caution, you are entering a hazard zone. Turn around or die.”

You were certain this guy was different, and yet, he turned out to be the same. What gives?

Well, the common denominator in all your relationships is you. The process unfolds in a subtle manner, so it’s easy to conclude you’re the available one and he’s not. You’re also emotionally unavailable, and the reason this truth is deceptive, is because it began in infancy.

John Bowlby’s, Theory of Attachment is widely recognized in the field of psychology, and offers insight into how emotional bonds formed in early childhood affects ability to secure relationships later on in life. In order for a child to develop normal social and emotional development, a healthy attachment must be formed with at least one caregiver.

It’s the first relationship a child experiences and it sets the tone for future bonds as it teaches what it means to be loved and nurtured. Receiving adequate nurture and affection throughout early childhood develops an adult with secure attachment– securing fulfilling and healthy relationships with likeminded people.  

Out of the four, the avoidant and anxious-insecure are the two adult attachment styles that compel to one another, forming a toxic, dysfunctional relationship. Avoidant dismissive attachment develops when a primary caregiver fails to comfort their infant, forming an inclination to suppress their emotions.

The avoidant-dismissive adult has learned, in early development, to bury emotions due to the formed belief that depending on others isn’t sufficient in meeting their needs, hence their value for independence and desire to remain detached- avoiding vulnerability.

Anxious-insecure adults receive inconsistent nurture from caregivers; fluctuating between responsiveness and affection, while other times, unresponsive, and emotionally unavailable. Having needs met is a gamble. This unpredictable behavior is confusing, causing a child to cling as an act of desperation- like hey! I’m here you asshole, pay attention to me!

 When successful, the child feels rewarded and validated, encouraging the clingy behavior, and when it’s not, feelings of insecurity and distrust arise. Anxious adults internalize beliefs that love is a confusing and inconsistent ordeal, influencing future relationships to reenact that relational dynamic.

Opposites do attract. An avoidant adult is familiar to the anxious adult since they offer unpredictable displays of affection, resembling their first attachment. As he pulls away, you seek validation by moving closer, and if successful, needs are met. This dynamic allows space for both partners to dance around their opposing vulnerabilities.

 He retreats with little consequence, since you’re always waiting for his return. With control to set the limitations, this persistent cycle mainly benefits him. Within this dynamic, a committed relationship will not form, allowing both partner to remain unavailable, acting in a way that’s familiar.

If you haven’t considered the relationships formed during early development, I would recommend doing so. A significant portion of human behavior is learned from childhood. We tend to behave, abiding by what we believe is “normal.” As a child, belief systems aren’t challenged, and unfortunately, are so engrained, that as adults, we hardly recognize their influence.

It’s important to stay vigilant, discover your blind spots, and challenge them!

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
healing Letting go Mental Health Mindfulness psychology Toxic Relationships

Seeking Meaning As A Tortured Soul

Don’t let the term, “tortured soul” fool you with it’s negative connotation.

A tortured soul is someone persistently seeking meaning. The saying, “everything happens for a reason,” just isn’t good enough. What is that reason? Who is dictating such things? Is there even a spiritual or religious force behind it or are things just the way they are for no good reason?

I have sat with my thoughts countless amount of nights contemplating every possible explanation for the misfortunes I encountered to the degree of mental exhaustion. Sounds pretty unhealthy, right? And it is.

There’s no denying that beating a dead horse will get you absolutely nowhere except stain your white tee with splattered blood and guts.  Why is acknowledging this truth never enough to halt the obsessive rumination? 

Tortured souls have the tendency to dwell on misfortunes and wallow in negative emotions with intent to achieve a heightened state of awareness. We perceive this awareness may result in growth and self-development, so the outcome becomes satisfying. Only then, do we believe we gained something positive, hence concluding it meant something, and we’re better for it.

Not only do tortured souls seek to uncover hidden meaning, but we also yearn to contribute to the good of society. We tend to express the self creatively. Successful creative expression often stems from painful experiences. Dwelling on these emotions becomes an outlet of self-expression. Suffering sucks, and it is not only inevitable, but can be the source of creating a beautiful masterpiece.

The reason I use the word tortured, is because a search for meaning can engulf and swallow you whole, leading way to a destructive path. Wallowing in self-pity occurs when you’re unable to find peace in a situation. Since creative expression is common during these moments, one may become too comfortable in isolation.

After a while, it becomes a normalized state, and the ability to creatively channel pain is lost to saturation. So, how do you greet it with peace and close the door? If you feel stuck, it’s time to take action. Sometimes, the insight we seek is driven by our own insecurity or inability to let go. Instead of clinging, empathize with yourself. It’s okay to feel what you feel. No explanation needed. You could beat yourself up for it or you can accept it.

We perpetuate negative feelings by choosing to focus on it. When we form a habit to empathize with ourselves and fully comprehend that our current state does not have to be our permanent state, the situation becomes less frightening.

Don’t give your pain a home. It’s a visitor and it’s not meant to stay.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

Does distance truly make the heart grow fonder?

We all know the saying and we’ll use it from time to time to make ourselves feel better when facing a shit circumstance… but is it true?

Here’s the thing. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Love releases chemicals within the brain that are similar to the effects of cocaine. When removed, just like cocaine, distance creates symptoms of withdrawal within the body.

The brain became accustomed to the euphoric release of chemicals and without them, functioning becomes impaired for a short period of time. Like drug addiction, the body’s dependent on their drug, so when devoid, intense cravings occur, along with uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Most individuals crave and miss their partner during distance. Their presence was comforting, familiar, and felt good, however, not everyone will experience this phenomenon.

An emotionally unavailable partner is likely to reach out during distance when bored or lonely, but not because their heart grew founder. Why?

Any symptoms of withdrawal such as cravings or missing their partner, is considered a negative emotion, so when experienced it’s habitually suppressed.

Boredom and loneliness, although negative emotions, are also suppressed, however, they’re present enough for action to take place, but it’s not authentic. It’s like a watered down juice; you taste the flavor, but not nearly as strong.

When feelings are wholeheartedly expressed, withdrawal produces impairment and takes time to recover because the body’s essentially detoxing. If you loved and cared deeply for someone, it’s natural to feel deeply saddened by the loss.

It’s also important to consider that an emotionally unavailable partner or a narcissist, have sought out a replacement, filling that void. Since incapable of creating lasting, meaningful relationships, it’s likely they’ll reach out when that replacement ends, like it inevitably does.

If you find this dilemma is applicable to your current situation, just remember that you’re not an option, especially when they’re bored or lonely. Not to sound crude but…. fuck that.

Be with someone who treats you like the main course.. not a platter of desserts to pick and choose which one to indulge in.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing Letting go Mindfulness Psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships Uncategorized

Your Love Won’t Save Him

Letting go of someone you love deeply is a very hard fucking thing to do. Grieving over someone who’s alive feels strange. He’s not dead, but it’s easier to behave as if he is, because thats the best route to take when moving forward.

It’s even harder to let go when the decision to do so feels forced due to circumstance. I loved someone in a way I never thought was possible and not only was he emotionally unavailable, but dabbled with cocaine a little too frequently. (that’s a nice understatement )

For over a year I tried to help, which of course, pushed him away. He showed interest in changing but actions remained the same and yet I persisted.

In retrospect, attempting to change someone who’s not willing is selfish. Of course, I cared and wanted to see him be his best self, but more importantly, I was so blinded by love, I never considered that I was sick of feeling heartbroken.

If he improved then maybe I’d stop hurting or he’d be “normal,” and treat me the way I deserve to be treated. Sadly, I ended the relationship. We didn’t date very long but that didn’t stop me from seeing him in hope he’d eventually realize what he lost, deciding it’s time to change.

It never happened and I can’t say I believed it ever would. Despite having a constant taste of reality in my mouth, I didn’t give up, and he broke my heart several times- each time progressively worse.

Letting go of someone who’s incapable of authentic love really sucks when you’re committed to fight for it, but in reality- it’s not going to happen. I’m not saying it never will, but the decision isn’t yours to make.

You’re not giving up on love because you’re tired of setting yourself on fire and burning for someone while he looks the other way.

I’m still in the midst of healing and I won’t lie and say it’s been easy or devoid of relapses, but I’d like to share a few tips that really help the process.

1. Acceptance & Honesty:

Holding on to someone who makes you feel lost, anxious, and upset is wasted energy. You’re doing yourself a disservice when you could be directing that energy inward to eventually crawl out of the darkness. The first step must be acceptance. It is what it is. You cannot change someone who doesn’t want to be changed. It’s not fair to you or him. Accept him for who he currently is. How does he fit into your life? Chances are he doesn’t. Be honest about the situation. Acknowledge the damage it ensues within your life and take action. Letting go is an act of self love and respect.

2. Commitment:

Its not enough to merely accept the situation and decide to let go. You must commit to that acceptance. From here on out, you dedicate yourself to the journey, making healthy actions that guide you forward rather than keep you stuck.

3. Ride the waves:

You also must understand there will be moments of emotional turbulence. We often backtrack any progress made when reacting to heightened emotions, instead of riding that wave. It comes and goes. You won’t feel that way forever. Once you successfully ride a few waves, they lose their momentum- occurring less frequently and won’t pull you all the way under.

Remain compassionate and self comfort during dark moments. You’re the only one who can truly make YOU feel better. It won’t be him.

You have all the tools necessary to let go and move forward, you just have to use them.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing Mental Health Mindfulness Psychology Uncategorized

How To Heal Emotional Wounds

Emotional wounds are a complex form of trauma, stemming from painful experiences, which profoundly affect functioning and/or psychological state.

The impact of such a wound is quite similar to physical pain, and in fact, if an individual were to undergo a scan during moments of emotional and physical pain, brain activity would lit up in the same area. Emotional pain can cause physical pain, and if it doesn’t, that wrecked mental state is psychologically painful.

Such wounds typically develop during childhood when needs aren’t met. Abandonment or rejection from a primary caregiver leaves an imprint, which may be carried through adult life outside ones of awareness. Other times, events such as divorce, loss, or breakups occurring later in life leave hefty wounds.

Emotional wounds must be processed, otherwise they’re considered unhealed, eliciting a lasting devastation. It’s like carrying a heavy bag of weights, which presents itself through feelings of irritability, anxiety, or depression.

If you have an unhealed emotional wound you may have difficulty sleeping, isolate from others, grapple with low self esteem, random bouts of loneliness, feeling lost and/or numb.

Healing emotional wounds requires a healthy action plan. Implementing the following steps will help process and heal your emotional scars.

1. Understand your emotional pain. To do this you must be aware as it occurs, paying close attention to your thoughts and what they’re saying. Change your internal dialogue by replacing unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones.

2. Instead of numbing, escaping, or avoiding the emotional pain, fall into it. Notice bodily areas affected by the pain. Unprocessed pain is stored, becoming locked inside your body, revealing itself in unexpected, hurtful ways. Allowing yourself to feel that pain aids in releasing the energy.

3. During such moments, do what your body is telling you (as long as it’s harmless- of course) If you need to cry or scream- do it. Once subsided, comfort and self soothe yourself with positive affirmations such as, “You’re safe and loved,” until you feel safe expressing, validating, and owning your emotions.

4. Journaling is an effective practice to reflect and process emotions. Write down feelings or thoughts that make an entrance throughout the day. It’s hard to reason with the mind, especially when it feels like someone’s running a marathon up there, enslaving you until they finally pass the finish line. Writing helps slow your thoughts down so you can reason with that beast in the attic.

Be patient and persistent. Healing requires time, especially when battling emotions you’ve grown comfortable neglecting.

Create space for healing to take place and be gentle while doing so. Refrain from critical self-talk. Validate your emotions instead of judging them. Everyone is entitled to feel what they feel and that doesn’t define you.

Sending love to those struggling. It doesn’t last forever. ❤

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
healing love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

The Dizzying Cycle of Narcissism

A narcissist is a complex, manipulative individual, so naturally being in a relationship with one is mentally exhausting.

It feels as though you’ve been running in circles, accomplishing nothing, except an occasional bathroom trip to vomit from incessant, dizzying bullshit. It could be sunny outside, but a cloud of confusion rests above your head, and depending what phase you’re at in his dizzying cycle, it may be a thunderstorm.

A narcissist uses a three phase tactic, referred to as “the dizzying cycle,” to keep their partner engaged. Using the term “partner,” in such a context feels morally irresponsible, so instead I’ll use the word “target.”

Throughout the relationship, a narcissists target will experience three phases: idealization, devaluation, and discard.

The lovely idealization phase occurs at the beginning of the relationship. A narcissist identifies a new target they’re keen on procuring. When they look at you they see profit, and of course, they want it.

To be trappable, a narcissist understands he must put his best face forward, making sure interactions are flawless. To do this, he wears a mask, careful it doesn’t slip and reveal his true colors.

In the idealization phase, he love bombs the shit out of you, saying what he thinks you want to hear, throwing compliments, giving gifts, and showering you with attention, intent on making you feel special. Before revealing his true identity, it’s imperative you fall for him, otherwise, he has no legs to stand on.

When successful, he initiates the devaluation phase. Depending on the narcissist, this may occur overnight. Suddenly, they’re behaving like a different person. Naturally, issues arise due to this character change and any conversation is unproductive, leaving you confused and overwhelmed.

He offers no explanation for his behavior, and if he does, he’ll flip the blame on you. After a period of behaving callously and cold, he sometimes follows up with a sob story, plucking at your heart strings.

Eventually, after a period of benefiting from your supply, he decides you’re not worth the headache- too many emotions to deal with. You were poking holes, not only through his logic, but his mask as well, so he discards you.

It’s like being tossed in the trash, displaying no emotion or care while doing so. You won’t get an explanation, and because he lacks empathy and truly doesn’t care, he smiles while doing it.

Whatever action is taken afterwards, in attempt to establish closure, is denied via silent treatment. You reaching out, calling, and sending texts, expressing your emotions, only serves at feeding his insatiable ego. It makes him feel important and special.

The alarming thing about this cycle, is how parasitic a narcissist can be. Just because he discarded you, doesn’t mean it remains that way. A narcissist will come back, repeating the three cycles for as long as you allow it.

Each cycle becomes worse. The idealization phase will have a shorter duration and his method of discard will become increasingly cruel. The process is selfish and undeniably heartbreaking.

A target could spend years trying to maintain the idealization phase, riding the highs and lows in hope that one day he’ll remain the person they fell in love with.

Hopefully, after enough abuse, a dawning realization transpires: he was never the man you fell in love with.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
Education healing Mindfulness psychology

The Stories We Tell

Humans are the only documented species known to tell stories.

We’re the most intellectually advanced species, using language and abstract thinking to hypothesize scenarios and experiences.

When an intellectual species invades earth, I’m sure this will change, and I hope I’m alive to see it because I should be dating an alien. It’s more fitting than these human men.

Stories shape our reality. They influence and enforce our identity, the way we view the world, as well as others. When relating to someone, else’s story, you’ll use your own to help connect.

All moments and situations in life are perceived through personal biases and subjectivity. Your environment, past relationships, and experiences have influenced your perspectives, thus the way you tell stories. For example, has someone’s actions ever appalled you?

For whatever reason, that person behaved in an unexpected way that caused you to feel personal about it. As you witnessed their behavior, you relied on your own beliefs and past experiences to judge the situation and develop an opinion. Needless to say, others may have a different perception of the same situation.

The Art of Making It All Make Sense

Did you know every story must make sense to you? If it doesn’t, you’ll search for meaning that does. Trouble arises when emotions distort our perspectives, leading to irrational storytelling. As a child, if my mom didn’t come home from work at the usual time, I would become sick with worry.

I’d imagine something terrible happened to her, and the later she was, the more drastic my hypothetical scenarios became. As she walked through the door, I would throw a hissy fit. She’d be like, “Jessica I was at the store and left my phone in the car.” Suddenly, I felt stupid for the stories I told.

While experiencing intense emotions, our stories can become ridiculous, motivating inappropriate behavior. It becomes even more problematic when we’re unaware of the stories we’ve been telling and how they build upon each other.

In relationships, stories become all kinds of fucked up. If your experiences were bad, it likely altered your beliefs and perspectives, entrancing their way to present relationships. For example, let’s say your ex cheated with a stripper.

One night, your new partner is hanging with the boys and hasn’t responded to your text message. Three hours pass and your imagination runs wild-now you’re considering he’s at the strip club, having sex with a stripper.

Melodramatic examples are the best when driving a point home. Honestly, I’ve yet to understand why strippers have become a common reference of mine.

Defining Your Story

Stories are often exaggerated and falsify the truth. Personal insecurities or perceived shortcomings are often overstated and magnified– skewing how we see ourselves. We begin crafting this identity throughout early development.

Imagine the stories we told at a young age when we didn’t know any better? Bits and pieces of our identity get stuck with us, influencing our adult life outside awareness.

For example, if you were bullied at a young age, you may have faced low self esteem and insecurity, even after the bullying stopped. Both positive and negative moments bring forward thoughts and feelings. Beliefs arise and become engrained within us.

More often than not, we don’t even know what those beliefs are or what they’re saying on a daily basis. We have a shit ton of daily thoughts, coupled with an internal dialogue that never shuts up.

It’s difficult to listen when it’s goes on and on, like background music. You become desensitized to its noise. But you shouldn’t tune it out- especially if you’re unsatisfied with an aspect of your life or if looking to improve and self develop.

The amazing thing about being a storyteller is having the ability to change your story. After all, you’re the author. But first, you must listen to the story and decide what needs re-writing.

This is where mindfulness comes in. It’s a successful technique for emotional regulation, as well as increasing the mind/body experience.

To understand what’s going on upstairs in that mind of yours, you must remain fully present in the moment, attentive to arising thoughts and emotions while remaining accepting, without judgement.

This is how you bring attention to awareness and heal. Mindfulness takes dedication because initially- its challenging. But, if you set aside at least fifteen minutes each day, you’ll begin listening and hearing in ways you weren’t able to do before.

What stories are you telling?

What stories would you like to tell?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC