How relating to others going through similar life experience can be helpful

Written by: The Circles Team

Sep 01, 2020

Life throws unexpected adversities your way, and at times, it may feel as though you are the only one dealing with such a tragedy. Support groups are a place to meet with others going through similar life challenges.

Meeting a group of strangers can be intimidating at first, but sharing a common complicated process has benefits that even your family or friends may not understand. There might be an adjustment period of opening up to the group, but you will experience a sense of relief that you might not have found elsewhere once you feel comfortable enough to do so.

Here are some benefits of relating to others going through similar life situations.

You will feel less lonely. With the social distancing and stay-at-home orders, relationships feel farther away than they have ever felt before. There seems to be no hope for those who suffer from chronic loneliness as much as those newly dealing with societal disconnections.

Fostering connections is a way to fight your loneliness and promote health amongst the emotional stressors. We may be limited in our ability to connect physically, but it is still possible to build healthy connections. Relating to people will lessen your loneliness, especially with those who will understand your pain the most.

You will be able to process your emotions safely. Our current society provides rare opportunities to relate deeply and intimately with others concerning our struggles. Honoring your complicated story and processing the emotions that arise from your situation is an essential part of your healing journey.

Processing one’s emotions is a way of recognizing, understanding, finding appropriate ways of expressing them. It takes a safe space to accept and receive all spectrums of your feelings from negative to positive. Most of us are used to suppressing our emotions, especially the negative ones, in a way that develops into an unhealthy relationship with ourselves and even others. Meeting with others that understand your uniquely painful situation creates an opportunity for you and all your emotions to be accepted and processed.

It improves motivation in your day today. When stress is overwhelmingly taken over our daily lives, we are left exhausted and unmotivated. One’s willpower is tested from the first thing in the morning; if activities such as getting out of bed turn into a struggle, motivation in your day can be found within an empowering community.

A community is where you feel a sense of belonging and understanding. Going through a challenging situation gives you a new lens through which you view your life. There is a community of others that also share that lens with you. You will cultivate motivation for healing with people that share similar life experiences.

It alleviates mental distress. Challenging life events position us in a spot of emotional ‘stuckness.’ We become frustrated, angry, and stressed with the negative cycle we are trapped in. Hearing other people’s struggles and ways to deal with their challenges can unfold ways to deal with the distressing situation that you haven’t thought of.

Once you hear about similar experiences coming from others, you feel validated and accepted. There is an alleviation associated with sharing your distressing emotions. You will be able to share your heavy load with people who can understand and help you carry it.

There is a powerful healing that takes place when you share your story with others. Your emotional challenges matter to us, and at Circles, we are here to provide a safe space for your account to be heard.

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This Simple Mindset Shift Can Help You Feel More Happiness Everyday

Written by: The Circles Team

Sep 15, 2020

The Dalai Lama shares a straightforward but important message “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” It would seem that happiness does have a pretty important role in our lives. In fact, our happiness can have a huge impact on the way we approach our day to day, how we relate to others, and most importantly on our overall health.

One thing is for sure, we all want more happiness in our life. And in order to find more happiness, you need to define what happiness looks and feels like for you. Take a minute and ask yourself are you happy? I mean really truly happy. Are you happy with the way your life is right now at this present moment? Or do you have a running mental list of things you think you need in order to be truly happy? You are not alone if you feel like you are always chasing happiness. A recent study from NORC at the University of Chicago found that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy.

What is Happiness?

Defining happiness is difficult. It means and feels something different to each and every one of us. Perhaps the best place to start is to understand what happiness is not. Happiness is not losing ten pounds. Happiness is not a bigger paycheck. Happiness is not right around the corner. Happiness is right in front of you. Happiness is the warmth of sunshine on your face. Happiness is the joy you get from helping others. Happiness is the hug you receive or give to a loved one. Happiness is the satisfaction of time well spent. In this sense, happiness comes from a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. It is a sense that no matter what life throws at you – life is as it should be. Happiness is not about never feeling sad or challenging. Happiness is not about feeling happy at every single moment.

Happiness is Good For Your Health

Studies show that happiness really can influence health. We feel happy in a variety of ways. It can make us feel relaxed, euphoric, and content. When we are happy we tend to take better care of our physical and emotional needs. We find the time to move our bodies, eat well, stay connected, and get good sleep. On a cellular level, when we are happy, there is a lot of important stuff going on. Some of the benefits of happiness include:

  • Happiness boosts the immune system
  • Happiness fights stress
  • Happiness lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Happiness promotes longevity
  • Happiness promotes a healthier lifestyle

Finding Happiness

The best advice I have ever received in my life is that happiness depends on you. It depends on the internal dialogue that you are having with yourself. Your spouse, your shiny new car or your new career is not going to provide happiness for you. When you open your mindset to this new way of framing happiness – you will find that happiness has always been there waiting for you – right under your nose.

Happiness and joy become elusive when we attach it to an external force and when we give that external force power over our emotions. Finding happiness is not easy, but the steps to happiness are simple. Here are a few steps to get you started to a happy, more fulfilling life:

Step One: **Acceptance **: The key to happiness is accepting where you are today. Accept where you are at this very moment. Love yourself and be kind to yourself. If you have gained ten pounds, so be it. Do those ten pounds make you any less loveable? Should it make you any less happy? Accept that some days will be harder than others. Accept that life will have emotional and physical challenges and hurdles. Accepting life as a winding path with detours will allow you to have space to embrace the joyful, happy things that life throws your way.

Step Two: ** Choice**: Remember you own your feelings. You have the choice to be happy or angry or sad. Take the time to do things that you enjoy. Surround yourself with loving supportive people. Draw boundaries around things in your life that need boundaries. Focus on the positive and make a conscious effort to have gratitude for the little and big things that life brings your way.

**Step Three: Coping **: No one ever said that life is easy. Times will get tough. You will have challenges. What are the tools and resources that are there for you to help you through difficult times? Stress is not always unavoidable. It can build up. What daily routines can you incorporate to manage your stress to make more room for happiness? Nurturing a circle of supportive friends can help you feel happier and less stressed in many facets of your life.

If you feel like you need some support, join our Circles of Support. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people and a professional therapist that will guide you through your journey.

Community: Together, Even from Afar

Written by: The Circles Team

Nov 08, 2020

So many of us are currently living lives far from what we’re used to.

We may not be going to the office every day, seeing family members in person, or taking that long-planned trip to visit friends across the country. Instead, many of us find ourselves seeing a close network of people and living much of our social and community lives online, through screens. We’ve discovered the joy of connecting with college friends over Zoom and doing family birthday parties virtually. And it is joyful! But it can also be challenging.

As COVID continues to impact our lives and shape our daily routines, we are still getting used to the new normal, even if it takes us a few months! Part of this is recognizing and accepting the importance of community, no matter how we tap into it - virtually or in person.

While meeting people over a virtual platform is not the same as sitting together with them in the same room, so many of us are doing exactly that and realizing that it has the power to forge and cement real connections. Though the setting may be virtual, the relationships are genuine.

So, while we continue being careful about our physical health, we also have the opportunity to be mindful of our emotional health. A crucial part of that is continuing to seek out friends, family, and a support network. One way we can do that today is by taking advantage of the opportunity technology gives us for being together, even from afar.

After all, we can find communities – people with whom we share something in common – many different ways. And the gift of finding a community online is that we can overcome the boundaries of our immediate networks and geography. Think you’re the only one who’s going through a hard time? Does it seem like no one else can relate to what you’re going through? Well, it might be the case for the people in your immediate network. But there are others out there who do know what it’s like.

That’s what we do at 7Chairs. We help connect you to others who know what you’re going through because they’re going through the same thing. Whether it’s dealing with COVID-related anxiety or grieving the loss of a loved one, others face similar challenges. These people can be your allies, your circle of support - your community.

We’re here for you.

Because we know together is better, even from afar.