Gym Class: What Weightlifting Taught Me About Productivity

With muscle, iron and insight, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Siddharth Bala forged valuable lessons in self-improvement.

There is no question that working out can impact your mental health in many positive ways.

A weightlifting concept that turned my life around is progressive overload. The idea is that, as a novice weightlifter, you start by lifting small. The next week you lift a bit more, and then more, until you reach your peak potential. The key word here is “progress”: it doesn’t matter where you start; you just increase the intensity of your workouts on a regular basis.

Here are three life lessons I took away from the progressive overload concept:

1) Start Small: After a long hiatus from my gym routine, I was shocked to see much of my strength decrease. I wasn’t able to lift as heavy as before and was constantly out of breath. I had to start somewhere, and I disappointedly started from ground zero with really light weights. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as within no time, I could feel myself getting a little stronger and lifting slightly heavier. From the progress I was making, I got an idea. I started inculcating this belief in my daily life as well. If I wanted to get more organized, I started small by cleaning the house just once a week. I wanted to improve my networking skills, so I started by meeting one professional a month. This made me brave enough to try new things without feeling anxious or nervous.

2) Progress Responsibly and Steadily: We often find success in a new habit we develop and become zealous and excited to quickly take it to the next level. Once I had noticed myself gaining a little bit of muscle, I overestimated my strength and began lifting weight that was a lot heavier. Initially, my excitement produced a lot of energy and I was able to manage and lift the heavy weight, but soon enough the excitement died off. I got tired easily and went back to lifting lighter. Seeing myself go backwards, I experienced that familiar feeling of disappointment once more. To recoup, I began lifting light again. Except this time, I progressed at a slow, yet steady rate. This made me feel both comfortable and proud, as I was still progressing. I decided to incorporate this into my plan to develop a solid work ethic: I started with adding just one additional task a month. This way I had enough time to become efficient in my existing list of tasks and kept my stress levels under control by increasing my responsibilities in a steady and stable manner.

3) Set Up SMART Goals: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. Like the acronym suggests, the goals must be specific, achievable and must include a time frame in which you can work on them. In my workout routine, I regularly set up fitness goals that I want to achieve. All of these goals have a clear number and timeline attached to them. My most recent goal is to be able to run 12 km under one hour by January 31, 2021. I can always gauge my performance relative to the timeline in this goal, to see if I am on track. If need be, it is also easy to adjust these numbers and timelines. By incorporating such a setup into my daily life, I find it easier to prioritize and manage time.

How has fitness improved your daily life, and what lessons have you learned while working out? Head over to our comments section or drop in on a Low Entropy meetup to let us know!

Pandemic Life, Inside and Out

In his exploration of contrasting experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Mike Vaness shows how gratitude can be gleaned from others’ perspectives.

The alarm comes to life, and your eyes reluctantly open. The room slowly comes into focus as you slam your hand down on the snooze button. The bright red pixelated time stares back at you: 6:30 a.m. You know you need to get up. You should start your morning, but lately it has been getting harder and harder to push yourself out of bed. You don’t really want to face the world. Perhaps your hesitation comes from the colder weather and dark mornings, making the warm bed much more appealing than anywhere else. More likely, it’s your growing concern about going out during a pandemic. You don’t want to leave this bubble of safety and comfort, but you also want to keep your job, so you don’t really have a choice. Your partner is still fast asleep: they work from home now, so they always get to sleep a bit longer. Jealousy bubbles inside you, but you swallow it down as you step away from your partner and start your automatic morning routines and rituals. Your partner arises for a sleepy goodbye, and for yet another day you step out to brave this strange world. You look back as the door clicks shut, already yearning for the warm reassurance and safety of home. They’re so lucky.

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The alarm goes off like a siren, and though you are awake, you keep your eyes tightly shut. Your partner dawdles for a few minutes before finally slinking out of bed to prepare for their day, but you remain still, cozily embraced by the thick duvet . . . you don’t really want to face yet another day of the same things, within the same walls . . . 

With a start, you awaken for the second time – when did you fall back asleep? Your partner is about to leave for the day. You pull yourself together to see them out. Not only will you miss their company, but this ritualistic goodbye is one of the more reliable methods for getting you out of bed. Motivation has become a scarce commodity, and you don’t foresee any new stimuli helping you through your day anytime soon. You shut the door behind your partner and turn to the same walls, the same furniture, the same decor you have seen day after day. You are growing increasingly weary of this monotony: the same computer screen and the same desk in your makeshift living room office. The bitter taste of envy coats your tongue as you think about your partner’s day. They can leave the house and go out into the bright, wide world. You yearn for the fresh air and freedom, the company and companionship of colleagues and clients – anything that could break this mind-numbing routine. They’re so lucky.

**********

Which of these scenarios speaks more to you? In conversations with my friends and family, I’ve found that our households have become all too familiar with this break in perspectives between partners – while one’s routine has remained mostly consistent, the pandemic has completely changed the other’s daily life. Even if your routine is familiar, with your work and commute fully operational, now it feels like maintaining this life places you in harm’s way. If you have either lost your job or transitioned to working from home, sheltering from COVID-19 feels, by now, like being trapped in a cage. Each situation comes with pros and cons, but no matter which day you are experiencing, the alternative always seems more appealing. The pandemic has put everyone into uniquely challenging positions; we have to deal with whatever hand we have been dealt. 

Businesses need to work harder than ever to stay open. In many cases, working from home is not possible. We’ve heard of “front line workers”: employees who are required to still go out into the world with the added challenge of keeping themselves, their colleagues, and their clients safe. The added responsibility can be anywhere from concerning to downright scary, as you are reliant on the public to do their duty and meet these same responsibilities. It can be hard to trust strangers, when you witness people disregarding the directions from our leading health professionals as soon as you walk outside or turn on the news. Going to work with the public makes me feel like I’m taking unnecessary risks, and there have been times I wished for a harsher lockdown so that I could find a safe haven at home.

Meanwhile, my partner was laid off when their office permanently shut down. The sudden loss of your environment outside the home can really affect your mental wellbeing – your home may be comfortable, but soon the lack of company and outside stimuli becomes boring and depressing. At the same time, the news is full of fear, so the outside world has become so unfamiliar and dangerous that even going out for exercise and basic essentials seems like too much of a risk. What is your motivation for the day? You are trapped inside a comfortable cage, and the walls that you found relaxing, comforting, and safe are now the source of your malaise. Working from home, there is no longer any separation between your place of rest and a place of work. It’s even harder to disconnect from the workday, often leading to longer work hours and added stress.  

Please remember that we are all getting through this pandemic together. While everyone’s situation is different, it’s as they say: the grass is always greener on the other side. There are always good things to find and appreciate, no matter where you find yourself in life. Your work may be riskier than your home, but at least you are able to get outside and interact with people. If you are at home, you have gained safety and security. No matter what you are going through, there are others who are going through the same, so don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or loved ones. We are all in this together.

How do you remind yourself to look at the bright side of life? Bring your life lessons and stories to a Low Entropy meeting, or share your insight in the comments section – and definitely stay safe and healthy out there!

Hiking Uphill: Depression and the Importance of Pushing Forward

Mired in depression, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Kathy Woudzia found herself inspired by a tough hike and an iconic slogan.

There has been a dark cloud hovering over me for the past several weeks. Sometimes, it immobilizes me. Writing is hard.

It amazes me that my mind is so much more powerful than my physical self: I am capable of pushing my body to extreme limits through exercise, yet there are days my mind prevents me from not only completing, but even starting the least physically taxing activity. Lately, I have little interest in doing anything.

Though COVID-19 has certainly made life more challenging, I think a part of this depression stems from my new life as an empty nester. Kids – all moved out. Husband – gone. I built my life around family, and now they don’t need me anymore. What is a person who gave up their career for family to do during a pandemic?

Volunteer work is next to impossible to find. What little there is, is online, and so solitary. A job? Who’s going to hire someone who left the workforce more than 18 years ago? I built a life around cooking, cleaning, looking after kids, shopping and working out. With only myself to look after, there is no longer a need – much less a desire – to do any of those past activities, with the exception of exercising. 

I awake in the morning with a pit of anxiety in my stomach. What am I going to do to fill all the hours the day has to offer? That anxiety spirals into a well of depression, where I am no longer motivated to do some of the things I used to love to do: reading, writing, and even exercising become nearly impossible. Without these activities, I spiral deeper into depression – it’s a vicious cycle.

When I do have an activity planned, I find it difficult to follow through. I find myself partaking in compulsive behaviours that are detrimental to my health. I overeat, for example, only to immediately regret it, something I never did six months ago.

My mind is in a haze most of the time. I have no personality, and nothing to say because I don’t do anything meaningful all day long. I used to be the talkative one in the room; now I don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation.

I’ve been listening to audiobooks on mental toughness that encourage me to do activities that I know will make me feel better afterwards, so I signed up for a Saturday group hike. Hiking is a physical test, but believe me, it took all of my mental strength to get there.

Even though I knew I was more than physically capable of completing the climb, mentally I was not prepared. I awoke at 6 a.m. to ready myself for this event. I began with meditation. Then, three impulsive cups of coffee. I begrudgingly packed my backpack in a fog of self doubt. Worried I was forgetting something, I packed and repacked my bag several times. I took my dog out for his morning walk, and when we returned home I felt frozen to the spot. Minutes turned into an hour . . . it was time to go. I knew that if I didn’t get in my car at that moment, I would miss the hike, so I took on the attitude that Nike is so famously known for: just do it.

I arrived on time at the base of Grouse Mountain, gathering with a group of 25 hikers from meetup.com. I immediately felt better; just knowing I’d gotten myself up there was a major feat. The leader decided to take a difficult new route called the Flint & Feather Trail. I had been hiking the regular Grouse Grind during the summer, so this was a welcome change. It was challenging and exhilarating, and the views were spectacular. I had a lot of fun and was happy I partook in it. When we finished, I felt intoxicated with euphoria and proud that I had mustered the mental courage to join the group.  

Mental health is a difficult thing. Struggling through depression is far more arduous than anything physical that I have had to endure. Mental toughness means overcoming the voices in your head that tell you that you can’t do something. Physically, your body can do anything, but if those voices make you feel incapable, they can leave you mentally paralyzed. I have to avoid overthinking things every minute of every day, and in everything I try to do. It has been a challenge, but for me, the most important step is, truly, to just do it.

Let us know in the comments which activities bring positivity to your day, or better yet, drop in on a Low Entropy virtual meet-up to join others as we trek along life’s winding trails.

Kathy Woudzia ascends one of the rocky cliffs on the Flint & Feather Trail.

It’s Okay if You’re Not Okay

Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Gurleen Mann, shares the moment she opened up about her mental health struggles, and how she learned to trust those who cared about her.

I’ve had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. As someone who comes from a family and cultural background where mental health is not something you discuss aloud, I always felt alone in my struggle. I always felt the need to mask my issues to avoid being stigmatized. My smile would often be the brightest in the room so that no one would be able to see how lifeless I felt inside. I kept to myself, my head always in a book, never letting anyone get close enough to take a peek inside my mind. This came easy to me because I was high-functioning most of the time, doing well in school and extracurriculars, so no one ever really noticed that I didn’t feel okay. 

Whenever I was debilitated by my anxiety or depression and couldn’t make it to school, work, or a commitment with friends, I would just say “I’m sick,” rather than admitting that my mental health was suffering. I could never ask for a “mental health break”, because just saying the words “mental health” seemed like too much information. For years, I silently suffered while maintaining this facade of happiness. 

It wasn’t until one day, about six years ago, that I finally opened up. I was at a particularly low point and finding it more and more exhausting to hide how I felt. I had just driven myself and one of my best friends to soccer practice. As I was getting out of the car, I dropped my cell phone, and the screen cracked. I don’t know why that moment was the turning point for me, but it was. I picked up my broken phone and, before I knew it, I was crying.

My friend told me not to worry and that I could get the screen replaced. Through tears, I told her I wasn’t crying because my phone was broken, but because I was. I remember finally saying the words “I am not okay.” I told her how sad and hopeless I felt, and how difficult it was to continue to keep things inside me. My friend said the words I’d needed to hear this whole time: “It’s okay if you’re not okay.” She normalized my experience and provided the emotional support I needed. She suggested I go to counselling, which I agreed to try. 

Gradually, I opened up to all my trusted friends and my mental health was no longer a secret – I finally started getting the help I needed. It was a while before I mustered up the courage to sit down with my family and explain what was going on with me, but eventually, I did. They didn’t quite understand at first, but that was okay – I knew it would take time. The important thing was for me to speak up, because the only thing worse than having depression and anxiety was having to hide it.

What I’d like to share with others who are struggling to acknowledge and speak out about their mental health, particularly due to cultural stigma, is that it’s important to not keep it a secret, because problems grow in the dark. When we’re ashamed of our mental health and hide how we’re feeling, we suffer alone and we suffer more than we need to. When we talk about how we’re feeling, even to just one trusted friend, we can find the support and acceptance needed to fight our demons. So please remember: there is nothing to be ashamed of! It’s okay if you’re not okay.

Is there something weighing on your mind or your heart? Low Entropy offers a range of Services to help you explore your thoughts and feelings in a supportive, inclusive environment.

Physical Activity as a Coping Mechanism: My Life Journey

Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Kathy Woudzia shares the positive, lasting impact of exercise on both her physical and mental health.

Please note that this article discusses relationship abuse and substance use.

I have spent the past 50+ years with many ups and downs. With more downs than ups, I’ve found constancy and solace in physical activity and exercise. I grew up in the small farming and summer resort town of Osoyoos, BC. My immigrant parents escaped penniless from Slovenia to Canada to find a better life. Dad was in the business of purchasing land and building homes. Mom was working hard at the fruit packing plant. We were lucky Dad had the foresight to purchase a large piece of land on Osoyoos Lake where he built our first home. In those days, land was cheap, so though we appeared rich owning lake property, we were truly anything but.

As children, we spent our days swimming in the lake, playing in the sand, and riding second-hand bikes that were far too large for our small statures. Although more time went into biking accidents than actual riding, we always climbed back onto the seats triumphantly. When Dad saved enough money, he bought a used ski boat so my brother and I could learn water skiing. The boat was constantly breaking down at the most inopportune moments, including the middle of the lake, so many days we were paddling to shore rather than skiing. When we became proficient at two skis, Dad insisted we try one. While most people learn to slalom ski by dropping a ski once already in the upright riding position, Dad was adamant we learn from the more challenging one ski, deep water, start. After weeks of practicing, my brother and I succeeded on the same day, greatly pleasing Dad. In the winter months, we skated on the frozen lake, where Dad spent his scarce free time clearing snow for hockey games on great spans of ice. He bought us snow skis so we could ski on our local mountain, too. Growing up, I never thought of these activities as fitness; it was just life. In hindsight, they were my first introductions to the amazing psychological benefits of exercise.

Dad was a control freak who dominated every aspect of my life. I was his project. That meant straight As in tough academic courses. I coped, during these rigorous senior high school years,with cannabis use. Growing up, I did not see myself as athletically inclined. I simply wasn’t doing the kinds of things typical athletes did. I was a second-string basketball player and a third-string field hockey player. My brother was a fourth-string hockey player. In order to escape the pressures of academics, I enrolled in what I presumed would be the easiest course: PE 12, or 12th Grade Physical Education. Once I understood that the opportunities my parents gave us as children were, in fact, a form of physical exercise, I came to the realization that physical activity was not only fun, but powerful for coping in life. It was in PE 12 that I learned about the freeing power of distance running as a coping mechanism. Running was the antidote to an overbearing father.

By the age of 19 I met Joe. I escaped the control of my father by marrying this man who was abusive and yes, controlling. Before the age of 26, I gave birth to three children. Due to his struggles with alcoholism, Joe was neglectful in raising our children, while his abusive nature made it more difficult to parent than if he had left us entirely. In order to cope, I went back to what I knew best: running and cycling. In the early hours of the morning, while my children and husband were asleep, I would lace up my running shoes and go for a beautiful 10k run. If just for an hour, I felt a sense of freedom on those daily runs where there were no restraints on me or my life. The high I felt from the running endorphins enabled me to carry on with each day.

After birthing my third child, I developed lymphedema in my left leg: a physically and emotionally debilitating disease. I was being challenged and controlled yet again, as the disease caused extreme swelling in my leg. I wore a support garment, which made me feel self-conscious. Doctors told me that any and all forms of exercise may worsen the lymphedema. Back then, lymphedema studies were the wild west and my physicians hardly knew how to treat me. My entire world was crashing down. The anxiety was relentless. I went through a period of deep depression until I determined that I could not accept this fate. Knowledge is power and I took initiative by educating myself about lymphedema. I searched for a physician who supported fitness as an invaluable coping mechanism. I implored him to write me a letter as proof that I could, in fact, continue to keep physical activity in my life. I resumed my running and cycling. These activities provided me a renewed sense of freedom: freedom to move and move on; to accept my disease. In fact, when you read about lymphedema now, there is great emphasis put on physical activity in treatment of the affected limb, as well as emotional coping.

The ups and downs have continued. I went through divorce, remarriage, the birth of another child, and then a big blow when one of my daughters and her partner became addicted to OxyContin and later, heroin. My granddaughter, their child, was born addicted to opioids. Three years later, my daughter succumbed to her illness and passed away of an accidental overdose. One year afterwards, my brother and only sibling passed away from complications due to alcoholism. Six months later, my second marriage deteriorated, and I now find myself living alone. Throughout these years, there was one thing I could always count on: whatever you call it, physical activity, exercise, or fitness, it always comes to my rescue. I’ve hiked, walked, ran, cycled, lifted weights, and attended spinning, aerobics, and yoga classes. You name the fitness activity, I have done it. Moving my body, whether a few minutes per day or a few times per week, provides a sense of freedom and a break from the overwhelming challenges life offers.

Enter COVID-19: I find myself alone in an apartment with very few connections. My life, once completely enveloped in the raising of children, is that no longer. Three of my children left home, as they are now grown up and leading their own lives, while one is no longer with us. I find myself very lonely. I gave up a career and friends to raise my children. Now I find myself with spans of time and nothing to do. In addition, COVID-19 has turned the lives of many upside down, with social distancing putting many of us in the precarious position of further social isolation. Despite these challenges, I remember that I have complete control over one important aspect of my life; what remains a constant in my life and something that I can always count on is fitness.

According to American psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser, our behaviour and choices are determined by the five following genetically driven needs: survival (food, shelter, security, breathing, personal safety), belonging/love, power (significance, competence, control), fun (learning), and freedom (autonomy). Fitness has the ability to fill those voids. You might ask how fitness can possibly do this: Love/belonging? Join a gym, a live fitness streaming group, or an online meetup group. Power? Fitness can give you a feeling of strength and confidence to overcome difficult situations as they arise. Fun? Fitness can be fun if you choose something you love. If you hate running, don’t run. Find something you love to do and you’ll keep doing it. Freedom? It is freeing to make your own choices, whether big or small, and fitness is that completely personal choice.

There have been many days where, in spite of years of knowing that each time I exercise, I feel better, I could not bring myself to perform an activity. I was worried I would not be able to finish that 10k run, or work hard enough on my bike. But I have also given myself permission to fail. I give myself a choice to attempt the activity for five minutes, and if I am not “feeling it”, I give myself permission to stop. Inevitably, I end up enjoying myself, immersed in sweat and hard work. Between the endorphine release and feelings of accomplishment, I feel ready to continue on with the rest of my day and the challenges life has to offer. Whatever the emptiness in your life, fitness is a way to gain your control back.

What role does fitness play in your life? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments section, or join one of Low Entropy’s free personal development meetings to learn from and connect with others who have navigated their own difficult situations.

Let’s Talk About Our Emotions

How do we deal with emotions? There is not an easy answer to that. How can we share our feelings without feeling judged or embarrassed about it? These questions were the central theme in last week’s Conscious Connections meeting.

It was a meaningful meeting that gathered 30 people from different ages, genders, countries, and life experiences. The shared intention throughout the meeting was to leave behind criticism or judgement and come from a place of love. This intention created the space for participants to open up and share their own stories.

At the beginning of the session, all the participants were together in the main zoom room. Each person said their name and one word that described their feelings. Some people said they were anxious, some said they were curious and others were excited. After the introductions, the group went into smaller rooms to create a space where each member had the opportunity to share their own stories and ways of coping with their emotions. An interesting piece is that most of the participants shared experiences where they struggled with emotions.

A clear example was a participant that talked about his journey, reconnecting with his crying. He said he lost the ability to cry through his life, because of the stigma around men and crying. However, this participant said that after years of working on this, he enjoys tears more than ever because tears in life represent emotional maturity. After this powerful statement, other meeting members started to talk about their own experiences with crying; participants shared that things that show beauty or compassion triggered them to shed tears. In the end, crying is just part of being a human.

Additionally, we listened to men talk about how challenging it was for them to show emotions because society labels men as “macho” or the “alpha male.” However, men struggle in the same way with their feelings, but it is hard for them to show.

The group also discussed anger. Coping with anger is hard for some people because this emotion can feel overwhelming and powerful. If it is not confronted, it can manifest into destructive behavior. A helpful way to release this emotion is sharing it with others. In a group like Conscious Connections, you can find a safe place to talk about these types of feelings because people will listen to you in a meaningful way.

Powerful statements were given from different participants throughout the small meetings, and It is incredible to experience how honest, open and empathetic the participants were. One of the participants shared this fabulous sketch below that he made during the session. It is amazing how humans can create beautiful art with a simple ballpoint pen. This participant said that for him sketching was a way to feel relaxed, calm and happy.

Finally, the most meaningful strategy was to embrace emotions. It is easy to say but hard to do, but in the end, we need to remember that we are not alone. Others are going through similar journeys.

Some key strategies that appeared in the different breakout rooms, to manage emotions were:

  • Yoga because it helps to focus the mind in the present moment that we live, Allows us to focus our mind in positivity thoughts, and teaches us to connect our breath and body mindfully.
  • Reading helps to learn ways to express emotions and to have personal growth.
  • Cooking or baking supports creative thinking to do something for you or your loved ones and it can generate positive thought and raise self-esteem.
  • Sketching to release negativity and cultivate compassion for others.

At the end of the meeting, the participants came together into the main zoom room and shared their final thoughts. It was energizing to see the positive attitudes and feel gratitude from the group.

This type of session brings people together that have never met before, but the connection, positive energy and the judgement-free space, creates a place of security that allows for individuals to freely express themselves. Finally, The most pleasant surprise was how honest the people were in the meeting. How easy they share their feelings without hesitation or fear.

Conscious Connections holds gatherings several times throughout the week. Each session has a different theme, and everybody is welcome to join the discussion. The only thing that you need to bring is an open mind to listen to others and share your own experiences.

A final question for you, how do you manage your own emotions?

Author: Catherine A Pulgar E.

Instagram: @cathyca21

Twitter: @cathy3120

Friendship

I had a friend who was a lot of fun to be around; she had a great sense of humor, I loved her spontaneity and her enthusiasm was contagious. We were friends for a few years, we didn’t spend that much time together, but when we did hangout, it was a lot of fun.

Lately we started seeing each other more often than usual and I noticed that she would often talk about other people. I noticed this habit of hers; talking about others, rather than talking to others. I didn’t particularly like this habit, and any time she vented about someone, I suggested she speak directly to the person she had the issue with, to which she would reply “yeah, I know, I know.” And that was that.

Over the past few months I felt some judgement coming from this friend and I had another friend mention a comment this person said about me, but I brushed it off and took responsibility to own my shit. The comment triggered me because there was some truth to it.

As it turns out, this friend has been saying many negative things about me to other people, rather than talking directly to me about her issues. I shouldn’t be surprised, if anything, I should have expected it. If someone is constantly pointing out the faults in others, they will eventually find them in you too.

This brings me to a fork in the road; do I continue this friendship or do I walk away? I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I like to focus on the best in others and I do my best to see the positive qualities in everyone. I do see this friend as someone who has a lot to offer to the world and I see her as someone who is struggling on her journey, just as many of us are. I enjoy being with her and walking through this journey together and now I realize that our paths are veering off into different directions. I still have love for this person and I will do my best to have encouraging and supportive thoughts for her however I don’t see this person as a friend.

It’s funny because I would always say: “strangers are friends we haven’t met yet” – I saw everyone as a friend but now I’m re-evaluating the way I see friendship. I am learning to see that friendship is built on a solid foundation of trust.

I’m learning to pay attention to how my friends talk about other people, I’m starting to see that you can learn more about a person based on what they say about others rather than what others have to say about them. If someone spends a lot of time bashing others, putting people down, talking about people behind their back, there’s a very good chance they will do the same thing to you.

In general, I don’t mind if people talk about me behind my back, I feel pretty good about myself and I assume most people have positive things to say about me.

However, I don’t agree with people that spend their time finding faults in others and spreading their negativity around to anyone who will listen.

I choose to surround myself with positive, loving people and most importantly; people who own their shit, rather than those who don’t have the courage to look at themselves and instead blame everyone else for how they feel.

I understand that no one can make me feel a certain way, even if a friend talks poorly about me behind my back and is nice to my face. It’s my choice to feel betrayed and see this “friend” as dishonest, OR I can choose to feel compassion and see this person as someone who is doing the best they can from where they are. For a while we may have shared a similar path through life and for a while, we may walk separate paths, perhaps one day our paths will cross again, in the mean time, I respect this person and the journey she’s on.

It seems to me that when we walk on the path together, we are friends, we trust each other and we support each other. When we take separate paths, we become acquaintances, friendly in passing, but not friends.

Friendship is reserved for those who are able to see you through your difficult times and help you rise up when you’re feeling down. Friendship is for those who always see the best in you and only have positive things to say about you, if they are upset with you, they talk to you, not about you.

Friendship is never having to say you’re sorry because a true friend will always understand that you are doing the best you can. See real friends don’t make each other feel bad, instead real friends lift each other up and bring out the best in one another. Real friends are precious gems, rare and unique, if you have a real friend, take good care of them because they can be hard to find.