We’re Holding On To Things We Don’t Even Know Are Hurting Us

There’s something challenging about looking within. 

And since the only person who will ever truly be able to do it is ourselves, that makes it a pretty big challenge. 

Objectively, I think that everyone has the capability to take a look at what’s brewing underneath their own hood- and there are major health benefits in doing so. 

Being self-aware and taking the time to look at ourselves can help us notice and address things that aren’t helping us anymore; things that could actually be hurting us yet we’re entirely unaware of. I’ve been learning about how the body can store different types of emotional pain in different areas of the body.  This means that how something made you feel can literally translate to physical discomfort or pain building up in your body somewhere. 

When our hand touches a hot stove, or even feels some heat coming off of it, we immediately pull it away, or better yet keep it away from the stove altogether. This is common sense, that s*** is hot, why would we want to burn ourselves. 

The problem with emotional and psychological pain is that there’s a lot of it that we don’t see or have an idea about. And you can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have, right?

The thing with taking a look at what’s happening inside the mind is that it’s no coincidence that we’re oblivious to what’s happening. As already mentioned, we can’t see it ourselves; so unless we actively put an effort to peak at what’s inside us, it’s never going to happen. Nobody on this earth can do it for you.

So why don’t we then, if the onus is really just on us?

The answer is that it can be a pretty daunting, scary, and damn right uncomfortable thing to do. Who we are inside is between one person and one person only. We can’t blame something we don’t like on someone else, a situation, or some other thing. Which, as it turns out, is what our minds really like to do. Whether we like it or not, the conscious and subconscious parts of our mind are constantly justifying and explaining things to ourselves to reduce the amount of distress or tension that we feel. 

There’s a term for this, if you cared about these things. 

It’s called Cognitive Dissonance, and it’s a name for the mental stress we feel when we consciously do or think things that don’t jive with what our subconscious truly feels. 

For example, if you say you can’t stand when someone comes in late but had the time to stop and get themselves some coffee, and then you go ahead and waltz into a meeting 15 minutes past the start time with a pumpkin spice latte in your hand, it’s going to put some pressure on your mental (whether you know it or not). 

When things are going on that we don’t know about, there’s simply nothing we can do about solving them. I’ve found that looking deep inside of myself can be intimidating, because I find things that I like and things that I don’t. Looking at things that I don’t like about myself, for all intents and purposes, is uncomfortable. As it should be. 

Pairing that with an open-mind but more importantly, a willingness to grow can pay dividends in the long run when it comes to mental (which translates to physical) health. 

It takes courage to actively look into things about your personality and emotions and see them for what they are. And part of that is understanding who we are when we take that look. Being critical and just searching for things to criticize can deal significant blows to our psychological ego that we might not be prepared for. 

It’s like a simple form of pure observation: gently looking at everything we’re seeing with an open-mind, jotting down the things we notice. I find it just as important to be observing positive things as much as negative things, maybe even more. Fortifying the characteristics we love about ourselves by affirming them in thought, and being open and inquisitive to the things we find that we don’t like.

Authors that have influenced the way I think about these things talk about questioning these things, becoming curious about them in a non-threatening way. Simply challenging them in this way can start foraging a path for us to begin walking down.  

Pairing it with a strong perspective of a growth mindset can help us realize that growing through it and changing this aspect of ourselves is a very real possibility.

I used to struggle significantly with anger in my youth and as a young adult, and it’s through processes like this where I enabled myself to challenge it and grow. 

It’s not easy, instant, or fun; but its value is undeniable. Uncovering things about yourself might feel uncomfortable, but getting down deeper and exploring why you are the way you are about something can help take the ammo out of the gun that you don’t even know is firing. 

If it sounds like something you’re up to the challenge for, you’re going to have to do some convincing.

But only for one person.

Practice happiness, reduce your stress with a simple guided journal, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer.

Order your copy of ‘The Five Minute Mind’ here:


Book Launch Coming Soon

Friday Feels: Searching for Good Vibes

The fresh feelings are great to write, and honestly free and easy, when I’m bubbling with a good mood. This week though I noticed that I was comparably a bit more irritated than I normally am in other weeks. While it’s dope to give some focus on the good things when times are good, I think it’s extra-important to shed some light on them during those times that aren’t as great. Positive psychology isn’t just blind optimism, but rather accepting that no matter what, there will be good and bad- and it’s up to us to control how we perceive it all.

As always, gratitude is a great antidote and here’s my log for the week. However, this week I thought it would be pretty fitting to feature some feelings left by readers and friends, who have definitely helped out in giving inspiration for this segment.

1. When you find something you lost after you’ve already given up looking for it
-Brock Boyd

Losing stuff happens all the time and when it happens you often just try not to lose your mind as well. In our house of males, it’s not uncommon for something to disappear for a few months, seeming lost in the fray. But when that thing unexpectedly turns up, you turn up too- especially when you’ve already given up on it more definitely than the stupid Rubik’s cube that sits smugly on our coffee table.

Where the heck did I put that thing

2. When you meet new people and instantly click, and everything is easy
-Lea Riemeier

Science says that meeting new people can be some of the toughest things we have to do, so when you meet someone, or a group of people, that’s smooth like Teflon right from the jump it’s a great feeling. Life’s all about finding people who match our type of weird, that feeling of finding familiar weirdo’s can’t be overlooked.

Pro tip: don’t laugh at your own jokes just yet, I guess people think it’s lame

3. Getting a good hug from someone, when they really mean it
-Chalene Kuefler 

Anyone around my friend group knows that were pretty open with our emotions and hugs go right along with that. Yeah, we’re grown men and we like to show affection- that’s just love. As experienced huggers as we are, we can attest that some hugs just hit differently than others- this is a shout out to those hugs that are a little warmer, a little tighter, and a little better. Giving someone you care about a good squeeze is the bees knees (sorry for the Seuss-like line).

Live, Laugh, Love right?

4. Being told or telling someone you love them 
-Kellie Smith

We’re cruising down Emotion street so let’s just keep rolling. Verbalizing how much someone means to you or being told it by someone dear to you is without a doubt a warm, fuzzy feeling. A simple phrase that can just stir up a whole host of nice feelings when you hear it, love in any form will always be dope and should always be celebrated. 

Keep ’em on their toes.

5. The feeling of finishing a good workout or challenging physical task

-Philipp Kawaletz 

I’m a sweaty guy when I get up and go, so this feeling is likely a whole lot damper than yours but man, I’m sure we can agree on a solid feeling of achievement. This is the single best feeling of working out, in my opinion, and seeking it out does wonders for health. I get dirty, I get sweaty, and just bask in it for a minute before hitting a nice, cold shower. 

These days it seems like ‘pics or it didn’t happen.’

If One Thing’s For Certain, We’ll Never Have It Figured Out- And That’s Alright

There’s so much more to life, from the things that grab my attention for a moment or two, to the things that impact me forever.

An incredibly vague statement, but let me get going here.

Like the lust that overcomes an adrenaline junky seeking out their next thrill, I’ve become pretty hungry for anything putting me along a path of growth and personal development. In doing so, I feel like I’m relentlessly searching for things, ideas, and concepts to get my fix. This is great, but I feel like the mentality of this pursuit is sometimes like seeking out an always-elusive feeling of certainty that just doesn’t exist.

In other words, sometimes I’m chasing a feeling of absolute stillness within myself that isn’t real. As a child, always thinking that teenagers were so old, wise and cool, transitioning to being a teenager and thinking someone the age I am now has it all figured out. To what I’m sure will be the feeling as I approach the next phase of life, revering the generation before me as the ones that just have life down and pegged out.

I’m here to tell myself now that it’s garbage.

Wisdom is a wonderful crystallized knowledge that we get after trading it for youth. And while I have no experience to back it up from, I feel as though wisdom will teach me that of course no one has all the answers, figuring out life and laying back in satisfaction. There will always be someone who knows more, can teach me something- younger or older.

I write this because I feel like now more than ever I’m being shaped by my experiences. Currently on month number three of jumping around Southeast Asia, every day is something new that offers something I can learn from.

Some stuff hits me to the core in some profound way, some stuff makes my mother worried sick for my safety. I’ll ominously leave it at that, and sorry Ma…

But this wave that I’ve felt come over me recently is just the overpowering realization of how much more there is to life than anything I could ever do. And because of this, making sure I’m taking the time to do things that I want to do and live the way I want to live just seems like the only logical option.

Why wouldn’t I?

There’ll be more to life regardless of whether I’m down in the trenches of something unpleasant, unfulfilling, or upholding values I don’t believe in. In the nicest way possible- it doesn’t matter, aside from the standard I hold for myself.

As children we grow up trying to fit into and belong to the fast-flowing social ocean of youth, trying to belong somewhere. As adults I can’t help but feel everyone around me and at similar places is now trying to distinguish themselves from the herd of  ‘everyone else.’ More and more I find the peace that comes with living for myself in spite of the repercussions of what other people might think- this is a thought I hope to keep running with as I try to live free from the influence (indirect or otherwise) of what someone else might think.

To those younger, or those trying to find their own way, it might seem like that’s all that matters right now but man, those feelings will pass- be you and learn comfortability within everything about yourself.

This might be common sense, or a long-known truth to others, but growth is a subjective path and I’m happy to relay where I’m at and how I feel. As always, I write for myself but thanks for taking the time to read and share with me- the support has been fantastic.

Top photo: Mui Ne Sand Dunes, Vietnam. Above photo: Da Lat Canyon, Vietnam. 

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