Often we want to present ourself to others as we have it all together, sometimes we even deceive ourselves that we do. But when we are hurting or struggling, the ones we seek for comfort or counsel are those who’ve been there and understand, not the “perfect” people.
Broken people who have gotten through and healed can offer compassion, understanding and wisdom that others cannot.
Perhaps the most valuable thing about us that we can offer the world is ourselves, real and transparent. Perhaps our mistakes, failures, pain and struggle are more valuable than our successes, because they empower us to have an eternal impact loving and helping others right where they are.
If you hide who you are and what you’ve been through from people, how will they know you are someone THEY can go to when they are hurting or struggling?
I’ve had people tell me I share too much, and they show their disapproval, including judging and condemning me for it. Sometimes they question my motives, or think I’m just saying things for attention. I can’t control what people think or how they perceive my words or actions, so I’m not going to try.
I value sincerity, and despise when people are false and shallow, because they are acting like they are better than others. When people look down on the hurting and suffering, it reminds me of when Jesus confronted the religious leaders in Matthew 23:27-28, where He referred to them as white-washed tombs filled with rotting bones. It also reminds me of Job’s accusers (his friends by the way) who claimed that his suffering must be because he did something that caused him to deserve his misfortune.
As a result, we keep to ourselves and don’t reveal what is going on in our hearts, minds, and lives, because we fear the judgement and accusations from others. We also want to avoid the embarrassment of appearing weak or not meeting up to the expectations others place on us. This leads to isolation and loneliness, even when surrounded by people, within our own families, friendships, and churches. I’m sure this has led to the downfall of many in positions of leadership.
There have been countless times that someone has reached out to me privately to discuss something they were going through, simply because I shared something publicly about my own life or experience. Being transparent opened a door for someone to not feel so alone. It resulted in an opportunity for my pain, struggle, or experience to transform into wisdom and healing for someone else. Transparency builds trust. Because of that, I won’t be silent. I won’t fear what people think. I like helping people, and believe the world would be a better place if there were more “real” people in it.
Helping others is essential to being a well-adjusted human being. Some of us do it in our every day life, with simple acts of kindness, helping at the local food pantry, volunteering at our church, or participating in youth organizations. There is something about helping others that adds to our own feeling of personal self-worth and connection to our community and the world around us. Connection to others is not only an emotional experience, but a spiritual one, and we all need this kind of interaction, just like we need a hug and physical affection.
Those who only engage in “taking” and “one-upmanship” cannot be truly happy, as any relationship is a two-way street, and you cannot experience closeness and development of trust without reciprocal actions and feelings. Although we all have times in life where we may have to focus on ourselves for one reason or another, it is healthy to practice being “others-focused”. This doesn’t just benefit other people, but it benefits you as you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself, and experience feelings of community and making a difference in other people’s lives. If you haven’t previously participated in volunteerism or charitable efforts, this may be foreign ground to you, and you may not know where to start. The key word here is PRACTICE.
First of all, I must agree that being more personally interactive will yield the most benefits, as this causes growth within yourself, and the effects are in real-time. Serving others directly allows you to see how your participation is affecting people and your community. If you can get out of your comfort zone and find somewhere locally to volunteer, it won’t take long before you question why you’ve never done something like this before, and make some new friends in the process!
Supporting charitable organizations financially can also be another way to practice giving of yourself. Perhaps you’ve thought about doing this, but didn’t know where to start, or are wary of which organizations you can trust to be fiscally responsible. Donating locally can be more personally rewarding, as you can see how your donations are improving your own community, and you may feel “safer” giving money to an organization where you can actually see results and believe there is more accountability. At the same time, there are many regional, national and international organizations that greatly need and deserve our support!
If you would like to venture into supporting one of these, I have found a website that offers some essential information to assist you in determining which charity (or charities) you would like to give to. Charity Navigator uses objective ratings to find charities you can trust and support. Their listings offer organizational, financial, and contact information for each charity, rate each one by accountability and transparency, and even provide “expert advisories” for organizations that may have raised some red flags. You can see the programs each organization offers and compare them to see which ones are more suitable regarding what efforts you would like to support.
Regardless of how you choose to start giving, I hope that you find it greatly rewarding, and experience personal growth as a result. It only takes one person to make a difference.
Sticking to a conventional diet and exercise plan can be difficult. However, there are several proven tips that can help you “mindlessly” eat fewer calories. These are effective ways to reduce your weight, as well as to prevent weight gain in the future. Here are 11 ways to lose weight without diet or exercise. All of them are based on science.
Your brain needs time to process that you’ve had enough to eat.
How quickly you finish your meals may also affect your weight.
A recent review of 23 observational studies reported that faster eaters are more likely to gain weight, compared to slower eaters (4).
Fast eaters are also much more likely to be obese. To get into the habit of eating more slowly, it may help to count how many times you chew each bite.
BOTTOM LINE:Eating your food slowly can help you feel more full with fewer calories. It is an easy way to lose weight and prevent weight gain.
The typical food plate is larger today than it was a few decades ago.
This is unfortunate, since using a smaller plate may help you eat less by making portions look larger.
You can use this to your advantage by serving healthy food on bigger plates and less healthy food on smaller plates.
BOTTOM LINE:Smaller plates can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are. Therefore, it’s smart to consume unhealthy foods from smaller plates, causing you to eat less.
One study found that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories helped participants eat 441 fewer calories per day and lose 11 pounds in 12 weeks, without intentionally restricting anything (9).
In one study, overweight or obese women who had eggs for breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch compared to those who ate a grain-based breakfast (10).
What’s more, they ended up eating fewer calories for the rest of the day and during the next 36 hours.
BOTTOM LINE: Adding protein to your diet has been shown to cause “automatic” weight loss, without exercise or conscious calorie restriction.
This is also linked to weight gain (12).
One recent study found that if high-calorie foods are more visible in the house, the residents are more likely to weigh more, compared to people who keep only a bowl of fruit visible (12).
Store unhealthy foods out of sight, such as in closets or cupboards, so that they are less likely to catch your eye when you’re hungry.
On the other hand, keep healthy foods visible on your counter tops and place them front and center in your fridge.
BOTTOM LINE:If you keep unhealthy foods on your counter, you are more likely to have an unplanned snack. This is also linked to increased weight and obesity. It’s better to keep healthy foods, like fruits, visible.
Eating fiber-rich foods may increase satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer.
Viscous fiber forms a gel when it comes in contact with water. This gel increases the time it takes to absorb nutrients and slows down the emptying of the stomach (14).
BOTTOM LINE:Viscous fiber is particularly helpful in reducing appetite and food intake. This fiber forms gel that slows down digestion.
Drinking water can help you eat less and lose weight, especially if you drink it before a meal.
One study in adults found that drinking half a liter (17 oz) of water, about half an hour before meals, reduced hunger and helped them eat fewer calories (15).
Participants who drank water before a meal lost 44% more weight over a 12-week period, compared to those who did not.
If you replace calorie-loaded drinks — such as soda or juice — with water, you may experience an even greater effect (16).
BOTTOM LINE:Drinking water before meals may help you eat fewer calories. Replacing a sugary drink with water is particularly beneficial.
Portion sizes have increased during the last few decades, especially at restaurants.
One study in adults found that doubling the size of a dinner starter increased calorie intake by 30% (21).
Serving yourself just a little less might help you eat significantly less food. And you probably won’t even notice the difference.
BOTTOM LINE:Larger portion sizes have been linked to the obesity epidemic, and may encourage both children and adults to eat more food.
Paying attention to what you eat may help you eat fewer calories.
People who eat while they’re watching TV or playing computer games may lose track of how much they have eaten. This, in turn, can cause overeating.
One review article looked at the results of 24 studies, finding that people who were distracted at a meal ate about 10% more in that sitting (22).
However, not paying attention during a meal actually has an even greater influence on your intake later in the day. People who were distracted at a meal ate 25% more calories at later meals than people who were not distracted.
If you regularly consume meals watching TV or using your computer or smartphone, these extra calories can add up and have a massive impact on your weight in the long-term.
BOTTOM LINE:People who eat while distracted are more likely to overeat. Paying attention to your meals may help you eat less and lose weight.
When it comes to health, sleep and stress are often neglected. But in fact, both can have powerful effects on your appetite and weight.
BOTTOM LINE:Poor sleep and excess stress may disrupt the levels of several important appetite-regulating hormones, causing you to eat more.
Staying away from these beverages entirely can provide enormous long-term health benefits. However, note that you should not replace soda with fruit juice, as it can be just as high in sugar (35, 36).
BOTTOM LINE:Sugary drinks have been linked to an increased risk of weight gain and many diseases. The brain doesn’t register liquid calories like solid foods, making you eat more.
One weird trick is to use red plates to help you eat less. At least, this seems to work with unhealthy snack foods.
One study reported that volunteers ate fewer pretzels from red plates, compared to white or blue plates (37).
The explanation may be that we associate the color red with stop signals and other man-made warnings.
BOTTOM LINE:Red plates may help you eat less unhealthy snack foods. This may be because the color red triggers a stop reaction.
There are many simple lifestyle habits that can help you lose weight, some of which have nothing to do with conventional diet or exercise plans.
You can use smaller plates, eat more slowly, drink water and avoid eating in front of the TV or computer. Prioritizing foods rich in protein and viscous fiber may also help.
However, I wouldn’t try all these things at once. Start to experiment with one tip for a while, and if that works well and is sustainable for you then try another one.
A few simple changes can have a massive impact over the long term.
While most people imagine depression equals “really sad,” unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.
To find out how depression shows itself in ways other people can’t see, we asked our mental health community to share one thing people don’t realize they’re doing because they have depression.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “In social situations, some people don’t realize I withdraw or don’t speak much because of depression. Instead, they think I’m being rude or purposefully antisocial.” — Laura B.
2. “I struggle to get out of bed, sometimes for hours. Then just the thought of taking a shower is exhausting. If I manage to do that, I am ready for a nap. People don’t understand, but anxiety and depression is exhausting, much like an actual physical fight with a professional boxer.” — Juli J.
3. “Agreeing to social plans but canceling last minute. Using an excuse but really you just chickened out. It makes you think your friends don’t actually want to see you, they just feel bad. Obligation.” — Brynne L.
4. “Hiding in my phone. Yes, I am addicted to it, but not like other people. I don’t socialize, I play games or browse online stores to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It’s my safe bubble.” — Eveline L.
5. “Going to bed at 9 p.m. and sleeping throughout the night until 10 or 11 a.m.” — Karissa D.
6. “Isolating myself, not living up to my potential at work due to lack of interest in anything, making self-deprecating jokes. I’ve said many times before, ‘I laugh, so that I don’t cry.’ Unfortunately, it’s all too true.” — Kelly K.
7. “When I reach out when I’m depressed it’s ’cause I am wanting to have someone to tell me I’m not alone. Not because I want attention.” — Tina B.
8. “I don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer to text. Less pressure there. Also being anti-social. Not because I don’t like being around people, but because I’m pretty sure everyone can’t stand me.” — Meghan B.
9. “I overcompensate in my work environment… and I work front line at a Fitness Centre, so I feel the need to portray an ‘extra happy, bubbly personality.’ As soon as I walk out the doors at the end of the day, I feel myself ‘fall.’ It’s exhausting… I am a professional at hiding it.” — Lynda H.
10. “The excessive drinking. Most people assume I’m trying to be the ‘life of the party’ or just like drinking in general. I often get praised for it. But my issues are much deeper than that.” — Teresa A.
11. “Hiding out in my room for hours at a time watching Netflix or Hulu to distract my mind or taking frequent trips to the bathroom or into another room at social gatherings because social situations sometimes get to me.” — Kelci F.
12. “Saying I’m tired or don’t feel good… they don’t realize how much depression can affect you physically as well as emotionally.” — Lauren G.
13. “Answering slowly. It makes my brain run slower, and I can’t think of the answers to the questions as quickly. Especially when someone is asking what I want to do – I don’t really want anything. I isolate myself so I don’t have to be forced into a situation where I have to respond because it’s exhausting.” — Erin W.
14. “Sometimes I’ll forget to eat all day. I can feel my stomach growling but don’t have the willpower to get up and make something to eat.” — Kenzi I.
15. “I don’t talk much in large groups of people, especially when I first meet them. I withdraw because of my anxiety and depression. People think I’m ‘stuck up.’ I’m actually scared out of my mind worrying they don’t like me, or that they think I’m ‘crazy’ by just looking at me…” — Hanni W.
16. “Not keeping in touch with anyone, bad personal hygiene and extremely bad reactions to seemingly trivial things.” — Jenny B.
17. “Being angry, mean or rude to people I love without realizing it in the moment. I realize my actions and words later and feel awful I had taken out my anger on people who don’t deserve it.” — Christie C.
18. “Purposely working on the holidays so I can avoid spending time with family. It’s overwhelming to be around them and to talk about the future and life so I avoid it.” — Aislinn G.
19. “My house is a huge mess.” — Cynthia H.
20. “I volunteer for everything, from going to PTO meetings to baby sitting to cleaning someone else’s house for them. I surround myself with situations and obligations that force me to get out of bed and get out of the house because if I’m not needed, I won’t be wanted.” — Carleigh W.
21. “Overthinking everything and over-planning. The need to make everything perfect and everyone happy, even if it’s taking all my energy. As if validation from someone else will make it all better. Sometimes I start out on high power, then just crash and don’t even enjoy what I’ve spent weeks/months planning. And no one will see me for months after, as I retreat into my safe bubble.” — Vicki G.
22. “I smile all the time even though I don’t really want to, but I do it because I don’t feel like I’m allowed to be sad when I’m with other people. I also do whatever it takes to make someone else happy because since I don’t feel happy most of the time, it just makes me feel a little better seeing someone else happy. I also isolate myself even though sometimes I really just want someone around.” — Wendy E.
23. “People don’t realize I say sorry before I even think about expressing any opinions because that’s how worthless I feel. I’m apologizing for feeling anything about anything because that’s how little I feel I matter. They don’t just know I feel like apologizing for even breathing in their general direction. I even say I’m sorry before asking to use the bathroom no matter how long I’ve held it. I feel like a burden for biological needs I have no control over.” — Amy Y.
24. “Neglecting to do basic things like laundry, not wanting to cook a meal or eat. They think I’m being lazy.” — Rebecca R.
25. “Sometimes I’ll go days without speaking to anybody. People tend to believe I’m ignoring them on purpose when really I am just lost within myself. I don’t mean to seem like I’m pushing people away. Some days it’s hard when my thoughts consume me and when I can’t find the motivation to do simple things that others do on a daily basis.” — Alyssa A.
26. “People don’t realize I can’t say no without feeling guilty. I have to have a good enough reason for everything I do. I guess it’s customary to try and convince someone to change their answer, but people have no idea how much it takes for me to say no in the first place. I feel worthless so much that I feel guilty for even thinking of putting my needs or wants first. Then I just feel like a doormat when I cave into the pressure. It’s a never-ending cycle.” — Amy Y.
27. “I push away/cut off everyone who I care about because I can’t bear to be hurt by them! Everyone just thinks I’m mean and anti-social.” — Tina R.
28. “Going for late night walks by myself. My depression keeps me awake at night and my thoughts can get so overwhelming I feel physically crowded inside. Late night walks help me quiet the screaming in my head.” — Lynnie L.
29. “I have often been accused of having ‘no sense of humor.’ So wrong. Before depression took over my life I smiled and laughed as much as the next person. Now, having lived with depression for over 15 years, the humor I find in a joke or situation is rarely visible on my face or heard in my laugh. I feel humor, but it’s just too much effort to express it. I don’t have the energy.” — Martha W.
30. “Keeping the house dark is a comfort thing for me. People always point it out, like, ‘No wonder you’re so depressed. You need to let some light in.’ Darkness in my living space makes me feel comfortable, almost like I’m not alone. Good days, I’m all about the sunshine!” — Michelle T.
by Sarah Schuster