Winter of Our Disconnection

What's Your Grief Podcast / What's Your Grief Podcast : Litsa Williams

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The What's Your Grief Podcast: grief support for those who like to listen.

In this grief podcast, Eleanor Haley, MS and Litsa Williams, MA, LCSW-C, the mental health professionals behind the website and book 'What's Your Grief', leave no stone unturned in demystifying the complicated and messy world of living life after loss. One digestible topic at a time, Haley and Williams distill topics ranging from grief theory to coping. Grief is sad and confusing, but your grief support doesn't have to be. You can listen here by using the player above or listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Below we have provided a transcript of the episode.

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to another episode of the What's Your Grief podcast. This is Eleanor and as always  I'm joined by Litsa. How's it going Litsa?

It's going  pretty well, I guess. I mean it is the holiday, you  know. We're in the holiday thick of it and that  is a time where I am always feeling kind of not sure what I'm supposed to be doing. And like I (I) don't know, it feels like a sort of weird limbo time. So, yeah, that's how I'm feeling.

While, I (I) understand, I think I understand what  you mean by that. Like, it's (it's) a departure from our usual structure, of our day-to-day lives, right. Because we have events we wouldn't normally have, or we're on break from school, or work, and things like that. So I do sort of have that sense of not really knowing what I should be doing even though there's so many things to do. But also, I just think it's funny that your mental status going into the holidays is just confused and unsure.

Yeah. Actually, that summarizes my feeling about the holidays. The holiday season, in general. Confused and unsure. Yeah. So that's (that's) me. What (what) are your holiday, if I'm confused and unsure, what are you, what are your two holiday feeling words?

Oh gosh, two holiday feeling words. I don't think I can distill it into two words. Because this year I'm having a time. And it's kind of a bummer for me, because I was actually really expecting for this holiday season to be, like, kind of great. Like, not great, but yeah, maybe great. I don't know, we have, my youngest is at a great age for the holidays. She knows what's going on, unlike last year. And is so excited. And I have so, for those of you who don't know I have a toddler and then I have older girls, I have a 13 year old and a 15 year old. And so, the  older girls are always so excited to make the younger ones day. And so I was expecting for it to be a good holiday season. And I'm not saying it hasn't been, but I don't know, I've just been a little disappointed, because I feel like my, if I had to choose one word, it would feel, it would be that I feel disconnected.  And it's not how I was expecting to feel. And it feels like disappointing, it feels like a loss. Because we're almost at the holidays and I haven't, like, made the most of it, and had that kind of warm and merry and nostalgic feeling. And I, I don't  know why. Like, I can't, I've been thinking about it a lot. And I have some theories, but I don't know why. And we were talking about how this might be a lead-in to something to talk about for us today because feeling disconnected from the holidays after a loss is extremely common. People have a lot of emotions, and a lot of experiences around the holidays after loss, but I do think that that disconnected feeling is one that people often feel. And it might be one that they're not really expecting. Because when I say disconnected I kind of mean a little bit like numb, feeling a little bit outside of things. It's not an extreme of emotion, like I almost wish that's what it was for me personally. It's more just, like, this kind of like, numbness, anxious, sometimes frustration. Have you ever felt that way?

I have certainly felt that way. And I think that you're right. You know as you're describing it that it is sometimes that's the feeling of nothing, if one can feel nothing, but like feeling nothing at a time where you feel like you're supposed to be feeling something. Like, whether that's something is happy, merry, cheerful or like miserable, angry, raging, despair, hopeless. Like, you know, you feel like the holidays. Or I mean, again, I think this comes up so many times in Greek, not the holidays, but I think the holidays, specifically, we have this expectation that we're gonna feel something. Like, it's going to either be wow, this is going to be a nice break  and reprieve from my grief. And I'm gonna feel these moments of joy and connection and happiness or we feel like oh my gosh they are going to be miserable. It's going to be awful I'm just going to want to go and hide in a cave and like curl in a ball and cry. I (I) feel like there is something destabilizing almost about that feeling in the middle of detachment, disconnection, numbness. It, it feels unsettling.

I (I) personally agree. And I (I) think that anytime I've ever felt the feeling  of nothingness or numbness, I have had a very hard  time putting it into words. Like, it's one of the, like, and I feel like I'm very much aware of my emotions, able to label emotions, talk about emotions. I spend way too much time inside my head thinking about those things. And I (I) find that I really struggle with describing it to people  who don't understand what I mean by it. Like, it's in (in), it's also hard to explain how the absence of having feelings can really feel very terrible. 

Yes. Yeah. I think that this is, I mean I think one of the misconceptions about depression, and this is not me saying oh well I think you're depressed right now, but for people who've never experienced it themselves or spent time thinking about what depression really is, is that people have this misconception that depression is all about sadness. Or you know, that if you're depressed you're really really really sad. But when you look at what people describe about their state when they're feeling depressed, one of the most common things that people describe is feeling detached, disconnected, anhedonia that kind  of mental health word for not being able to feel pleasure. So I think it is common but not what we expect.

Oh yeah. I think that that is like you said. Like, one of (one of) the prevailing experiences that  describes depression, and (and) just like in grief I think, people are often surprised because like you said they think it's supposed to be sadness. And it's actually not. Oftentimes, it's more just like an inability to derive any sort of pleasure from the activities that once maybe made up the fabric of your life. Things that once brought you purpose and meaning and (and) so on. And I also do think it's important, like you said something like, I don't, I'm, I don't feel that I'm going through, like, a depressed period. I feel like something about the holidays is bringing this out in me.  And I think that's an important thing to note  that there, we can have a lot of these experiences just in our, the context of our life. And it doesn't  necessarily mean that we've like crossed the threshold of needing a diagnosis, and we, so we can't like mention them or talk about them unless like it's gotten to that point. It could be that you are at that point. And if you're worried that your feelings of numbness or nothingness are, you know, getting in the way of your day-to-day life essentially, and it's not related to a very recent loss or something like that, then it never hurts to talk to a mental health counselor. And frankly enough, never hurts to talk to mental health counselor even if it is just a blip on your radar. But I do think it's important to note that we can have these experiences on and off. We can have grief related experiences on and off. I'm 16 years out from my mother's death and I do feel that that probably has something to do with how I'm feeling right now. And like we can  have these experiences during these heightened times of year, during difficult times of year. And (and) there doesn't necessarily have to be, like, a lot of rhyme or reason to it. It just, it  can happen.

Oh yeah. I (I) think you're absolutely right that people often, we want to find, you know, some sort of underlying cause for something or things being very linear. Whether that's I am  going through a period of depression or anxiety or something like that, or I can draw a straight line to say okay this is the reason I'm feeling this way. And sometimes it's just like there are moments where we're not even sure what it is. Sometimes it is that there's a more a straight line. But, you know, it's not always as predictable or sort of a A plus B equals C as we want it to be. I'm sure you said, like, you had had theories about maybe why you're feeling this this year, is that (is that) your main theory, like what is that about, why you might be feeling it?

I don't know. I do think I've had some feelings about my mother's absence and just about, like, we've talked about this a lot. The passage of time, and just the fact that the past is gone, I laugh because it's tragic, right. To me. But it is very...

What else (what else) can you do sometimes?

I know, just got a lot of common and universal and it's part of being human. But it also makes me very sad. So I (I) do think that has something to do with it. I also just, I don't know, I feel like I'm far away from my (my) early years. Like, in terms of, like, proximity, like I, where I grew up. And the people, my family, and so, I don't know, I just remember those heightened feelings of being a kid and, like, not just having   to do with the presence but with all the stuff, you know. And I just, I don't feel it right now. And so I think one of my prevailing theories, though we had talked about this a little bit, is just that I'm distract, I'm unable to be in the present moment. And I think that's a big part of it. Like, I think my thoughts are pulling me away, I think just the stress of the holidays are pulling me away this year for whatever reason. Just the logistics of the holiday have felt very stressful. Like, everyone I talked to is like I can't order  anything it won't come on time. I went to Target and there's nothing on the shelves anymore. And  everybody just feels seems very stressed out. And I (I) feel a lot of that as well. And so I feel like there, there's that. And then, it's  just you know, the mix of like wanting to do the holiday stuff and the kids in (in) work and all that. And I, you know, balance is something that I'm still working on. So that's, that's me. But I think that that my (my) issue is one that a lot of people probably have. The inability to, like, really feel like they're connected with what's happening around them for a wide range of reasons. Like, those are my reasons but there's a lot of other reasons why people, especially grieving people, might feel disconnected from the present moment.

Oh. I think, you know, it's interesting. Because it, in some ways, it feels awful to be disconnected from the present moment at this time of year when we have these expectations about what it should be. But (but) often in grief, I think we make an effort sometimes to disconnect from the moment, you know. We, especially early on, I think about in the community, you know. Just last night, we met for people to talk a little bit about the holidays and remembrance, and one of the things that came up was people talking about not having pulled out their holiday decorations because it was just too emotional. And, you know, somebody else shared about being so connected to music in their life normally, but avoiding all the holiday music because it's too sad and upsetting. So it's like, okay we disconnect because we don't want to have the hard feelings, the sad feelings. It feels like too much. But then, sometimes we even create a little bit of that disconnection, nothing feeling. Because now, we are smack in the middle of the holiday season and we're sort of just in this avoidance bubble where we're trying to not engage with anything that'll make us feel too much. So I (I) think that's just one other reason that sometimes people are feeling disconnected from the present this time of year. 

I think that what you described is an interesting, I want to say negotiation that might not be the right word, that we make when we choose avoidance. And (and) we will fully acknowledge that  avoidance in grief especially when we're talking about facing some really distressing emotions. In doses might make sense, right. You might want to avoid the thing that's going to make you break down in tears when you have a full day of errands ahead of you, right. You might want to avoid being honest about how you're feeling to your co-worker at work because you don't want to have an emotional moment with somebody who you don't really feel like you know that well. So there are certainly reasons why it can be adaptive. But  when it becomes your go-to, we're making kind of a choice about which emotional experience we're going to have, right. We avoid something that we're worried is going to make us feel really, let's say, sad or upset. So we're avoiding the sad-upset feelings but instead we're having a different  emotional experience by (by) avoiding. And that's one that might, like you said, be feel a little more numb. Might feel just more anxious because when you're constantly, like, worried about the next thing you have to avoid that causes anxiety, and so we may, sometimes, be surprised because we're still not having a very pleasant experience, right. It's not like we avoided this and now we're having a super pleasant experience because we're still dealing with that feeling of numbness and anxiety. And I think, people might not always expect that that's going to be the outcome of that.

Yeah. I think, actually, somebody just commented on our post they'd put on Instagram the other day. And talked about another, I think, another piece of why this feeling of numbness or nothingness or whatever we want to call it, can bring up anxiety. Which is that she described it that's how she was feeling this holiday season. She was completely thrown off by the feeling. It was not what she expected. Things had been really hard for her recently. She expected the holidays were just going to make her feel worse. Instead she's feeling this kind of nothingness. And so now she described feeling like she was just waiting for the other shoe to drop or the bottom to fall out. Like, Okay this can't be sustainable. What's gonna happen? All of a sudden am I about to, like, fall off of a despair cliff and if so when is that coming? So  there's almost that anxiety of feeling, lik,e this must mean that I'm, I don't know, setting myself  up for some sort of big drop, which, you know, may or may not be what happens. But I think, sometimes, people feel like nothingness can't be ongoing, so what comes next?

Yeah. No, that's true. Interestingly, avoidance does sometimes become ongoing. And so, I mean, in some ways I want to be, like if you, if this is your first or even second year and you're just really struggling, I want to be like it's (it's) up to you, you know. Like, the thing that you feel is most manageable. But the mental health person in me wants to also push back a little bit and say we got to be careful about how often we're choosing avoidance and when we feel that we have the time and space and strength to face some of those things that are going to cause more (more) difficult emotions, whatever those may be for you, we probably need to push ourselves a little bit to try and face those things. So, you know, listeners we don't know where you are today, we don't know where you're at, we don't know, so we can't tell you, like, what the right thing is to do for you. But all we can say is, like, avoidance can become a really big problem in people's lives if that's a constant coping mechanism.

Yeah. And, you know, I think, the thing that's tricky here, and you know this is (is) kind of getting in the weeds. It's like, well sometimes it's the avoidance, and then sometimes maybe you say okay I'm really going to push myself. I don't want to avoid, I'm going to go to the church service that I was thinking of  avoiding because I didn't want to feel the emotions that would go with it. And I, you know, think about being there last year with people who are gone now, or whatever it is. And so then, you know, you push yourself to go and, you know, one of the things that is especially hard, I think, for people is that there's no guarantee that that is going to bring the feelings. Like, you might go and feel disconnected still and be in that environment and not have that emotional, whatever it was going to be, reaction that you thought you were going to have. And, I guess, I (I) say this just, you know, normalize that sometimes you do push yourself just to stop avoiding. And then you do feel your feelings. Sometimes you push yourself to stop avoiding and you still feel that kind of numb, little bit dissociated experience of being in an environment  where your brain might do that thing that our brains do sometimes, where it kind of checks out and compartmentalizes and we don't experience the emotions for different reasons, you know. But  sometimes, because our (our) brains aren't letting us quite access that, because maybe it feels like, it'll be too much.

Yeah. And something you said, this is a bit of a, in a way, a bit of a subject change, but it goes along with this. I think another reason why people could feel disconnected, may just be because they don't know what they connect with anymore about the holidays. I think, you bringing up going to church made me think about this, and something that was also mentioned in (in) our community recently was the feeling of, well, the holidays always used to be about faith to me, and now since my loss I'm feeling really disconnected from my faith, in my church community. And so I do feel, like, disconnected from a lot of those special feelings that I used to have, you know, whatever those were. And so I think that that's just one example, there's a lot of examples. Like, it might be that it used to always be about the joy of having the family together and now the  family feels completely fractured. It used to be maybe that you and your loved one spent the the holiday together in your own special way and now that's not a possibility. And so I know that after the holidays, like, I think a big part of why people feel disconnected is just because they don't know what's important to them anymore. They don't know what the tradition is anymore. The values that you, that really mean something, those things change, sometimes temporarily or sometimes forever.

Yeah. I (I) completely agree and I think that (that) want for some sort of connection to the past and a  feeling associated with that, you know. So often the reason our traditions meant so much is because of  the feelings that they created in us. And when we realize that even if we're trying to recreate those traditions, feeling is gone or different. That is incredibly hard and it does leave us feeling, like, What does this mean? Does this mean I'll never feel connected to this again? Does this mean that this tradition that meant so much to me is now kind of meaningless or at least feeling-less? And what does that mean for the future? And I think, one thing that's important to know is that it does change, you know, in (in) grief. And that sometimes, we do feel disconnected from certain things and then reconnected again. And sometimes, we do, something loses its sense of, maybe, purpose or value, you know or whatever it is and then it does re-emerge with time. Because our grief keeps evolving. And we keep evolving. And, you know, our (our) relationships keep evolving. And so I think, if there's one piece of hope around it, it's going well don't discount the fact that even if certain things don't feel important in the same way, if you don't feel connected it doesn't mean that that's a new permanent state for you.

Yeah. That's right. (I) I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Because something we do often say is when all tradition has fallen apart, right, because they it can't happen the way it used to or for whatever reason people don't want to do it the way they used to, something we often advise people to think about is the WHY. You know, what is the value behind it? What is the reason that you did it? And sometimes, if we can stay connected with the why, it makes it okay for the what to fall apart a little bit, right. So if the why was to get together with family, then it's (it's) okay if you don't do it in the same exact way because you're still honoring that value. But I've been thinking about this a little bit, because I do just know how much the an experience of loss can impact our values. And it's like, there can be that period of time where you just don't know. It's like you sort of have to redefine a lot of what has meaning to you. Not everybody, not everybody will feel this way. A lot of people will not feel this way but a lot of people do feel this way. That things that used  to make sense for them, just, and had so much meaning and had so much purpose no longer do. And it's like something that you want to hold on to and you don't know whether there's a hope of maybe it'll be the same again one day so let me keep trying. And there's, like, this struggle to know when to, like, let go and say I need to shift gears a little bit. Maybe I'll come back to this someday, maybe I won't. So there's that ambiguity of whether there's a reason to hold on and keep in that direction or whether it would make sense to (to) change directions a little bit.

Yeah. As you were describing that, I was thinking about something with my family which, you know, it's very, it's one particular thing. But, at the holidays, which is that I think, we really, all (all) of us really struggled with gift giving after (after) my dad died. And you know, this is obviously a really long time ago now. And my sister was still, you know, I, we were, (I) I was 18 and my sister was 12 when my dad died, and so my sister was still, you know, when you're 12 like you still want your Christmas presents.

Oh yeah.

And so I think, you know, we, you know, my mom still did that, but I think, we never really felt connected to gift giving again. And I don't think any of us did. And we kind of struggled through of it for a few years, I think while my sister was still a teenager. But I think that very quickly, we like tried a couple of, I don't know, you know, you go into this creative options of trying to do something a little bit not, and we tried  that, you know, and ultimately we just stopped exchanging gifts. And I can't even tell you, like, there was not, I don't think, like, a definitive or maybe that, I don't ever remember having some sort of definitive conversation, we must have somehow done something. Because we just don't, my mom and my sister and I do not exchange gifts anymore. And we have not, for many years. And I think that we just never really found a way to connect with that again. And, you know, I don't feel sad about that. Like, I feel almost like I should feel sad about that. Like, I should feel a sense of loss because I actually do love gift giving in other contexts and other situations. And I do have people who I give Christmas gifts to, but for us, we just, I think, never really reconnected with that. And we all still know we, like, love each other and it doesn't change, you know. I (I) don't know, it's not reflective of something about our relationship at the holidays but it's just something we were never able to reconnect with. And, you know, sometimes I think that that's okay.

Right. But like you said, I (I) think that there is that sense from people like is Should I be upset about this? Should I feel concerned that this is, like, one step in (in) a series of steps towards losing the holidays all  together? And so, I do know that why people worry about making those changes and those shifts but it takes a while. Like last night, we were talking with some people who have been grieving for a couple years now, and they were saying that the second holiday is definitely harder than the first holiday. And it's, like I'm definitely realizing that it takes a couple of years, at least, for people sometimes to figure out what the holidays look like without somebody really really really important to their holiday. And that's, like maybe, you should just be expected. And it sucks sometimes but it's (it's) totally normal for it to take time.

Yeah. And, you know that, I think that (that) knowing that it will feel different different years, you know. Like, and there will be those years, I (I) think, most people who are grieving have had that experience of saying each year of the holiday brings something different. And maybe some more really emotional and sad and devastating and some of them were kind of numb and disconnected, and some of them were joyful and, you know, really felt good. Like, I think there's just there's ups and downs that come with it and we get better usually year over year at learning to roll with those punches or kind of have that flexibility to say this is normal that (that) it's unpredictable. But I think early on, especially that's really hard because we have expectations about...


...what we're  gonna feel.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I've already shared  a lot about myself here. So I will close out by saying I (I) have had a few thoughts about, like, what constructive I personally can do. I don't know if it'll work, but...

I was going to ask, so I'm glad that you've already jumped right in. I was about to say.

...and this is just me and like I, you know. We always encourage people to think about you may, like look, you're not gonna all of a sudden, like magic wands, make everything feel totally better. But I do think that at no point do people need to say that this is not salvageable. You know, we've talked about this before, like, you've talked about, like, what was the Thanksgiving or Christmas where your holiday went awry.

Regrouping in general.


The holidays. Oh well, I mean, there were a couple ones, but there was a really really bad Easter and then a really bad Thanksgiving as well. You know, sometimes you just regroup. And you just have to say all right, like, this is going to look nothing like I hoped or expected, everything has gone off the rails. And so now we just kind of  hit a reset and say like all right let's just forget about all the expectations and salvage what we can out of the day. And I think (it, it takes) it takes work sometimes. But I think that actually some of those holidays, you know, I think specifically about the year my mom, you know, broke her knee at like midnight, the night before Thanksgiving, and was literally in the middle of, like, setting the Thanksgiving table for the next day and, like, getting things set up when this happened. And in so many ways it was a train wreck of a Thanksgiving. And yet, also, I have some, like, sort of weird affectionate memories of that Thanksgiving because we were able to regroup and salvage the day and toss out everything that we thought it was gonna look like and just make the best we could of what we had.

I do agree. I think sometimes make-the-most-of-it type of holidays or even days or anything in general can turn out kind of special and different. Like, sometimes (sometimes) it's terrible. Like, who are we kidding, like, sometimes things just suck and making the most of it feels like still the worst. But I do think that sometimes making the most of it holidays are not terrible, like the (the) year of COVID was terrible for so many reasons, so I hate to say it but I do feel like that was one of my fondest memories of a holiday. Just being kind of, like, stuck at home with my nuclear family and we were just stuck with each other just making the most of it, you know. There was nothing making the most of the gifts that arrived on time, and I don't know, I do sometimes think that there is some (some) good in those make-the-most-of-it type of moments. Though you can contradict me and say I had a terrible make-the-most-of-it holiday because we know it happens.

Well, I think that, you know, what it forces you to do sometimes is to do this thing that we sometimes suggest people do, which is get (get) rid of some of the rules that are (that are) in your mind. And, like, yes, identify the traditions you really want to hold on to. And in those sorts of things but also give yourself permission to say we can let this be what we need it to be this holiday season. But I think that's really hard to do. And I think sometimes these external disasters, for lack of a better word, almost force us into that position where it was like okay well now I  had no choice and so we release something kind of  gets released. That, then allows us to access that. And, you know, it's you'd never wish for the thing, right. I would never wish for my mom to, like, break her knee again and need emergency surgery, or COVID,  or any of those things. But they are these external factors that kind of force you to let go of the  things that you might have been holding on to in a way that was (was) getting in your way.

Yeah. I totally agree. I think throwing away the rule book can be so refreshing. I think that's really hard at the holidays just because the holidays are often so rooted in tradition. And there are expectations, you know, if you have kids involved it can be really hard to deviate. I, my kids, are the  biggest tradition keepers in the family. They get so upset when things deviate from tradition. So I get that it's not always possible, but sometimes if you feel like you're doing something because you should or you're going through the motions, throwing out that rule book to a degree can be kind of refreshing. So I (I) totally agree. Sorry, I kind of like deviated from what I was going to say initially. And so, I don't have any grand ideas. And they're just like, I (I) think the couple things that I've really identified I need to do, one is (I) I'm done with the shopping. So I'm done with the checklist of everybody, you know, who needs what. And then, I am drawing a boundary and saying that I'm done working after today. Which is something that we're, you know, Litsa, you and I have very strange jobs, and we work from home and we work at all hours and so it's, I'm not something I'm used to doing. But I'm doing it. I'm saying...

I'm very very glad you're doing it, no, and I support you doing it, and want you to like just disconnect.

And then, the one thing that has really been kind of bugging me, and it's, I just feel like my phone is so distracting. And we talked about avoidance and it made me think about the (the) fact that I think my phone, even though I don't  know that I'm turning to it for avoidance, there  are certainly times when I do. Like, when I'm in (like when I'm in) a room full of strangers and I feel uncomfortable, I, I'm gonna pretend I'm on my phone instead of like striking up a conversation with a stranger, and that is technically avoidance, right. So, there are definitely times when I use my phone as avoidance, but when I'm around the house I'll just pick it up and mindlessly start scrolling and next thing I know I've lost, like, I deep dived like, two of the most random things yesterday. I don't even want to, like, say what. And like, I realized, like, a half hour 45 minutes at times will have like melted by. So for me, that's one that's, like, in a way, I think causing some unintentional avoidance and distraction. And so, I really want to try and set it down a little more over the holidays. So that's a  bit me.

I love that.

Yeah. No. I (I) completely, I agree and understand. I mean, I don't think there's, like, anyone who doesn't feel that on someone.


I know there are some (there are some) of you, very disciplined people, who probably have very healthy relationships with your phone. But I think that, like, many of us don't. And I think it is that, you know, sitting with boredom. Sitting with, like, and not like you're sitting around bored because you don't have anything to do. But, like, I think those moments of just, like, down time that you know you're standing in line at the grocery store or you're like anywhere, I do tend to just pick up my phone. And with this holiday season, I think the thing that is also kind of adds to this a little bit is that then you're like consuming  holiday content but that are things that I think can exacerbate that feeling of disconnection a little bit. Because you're, like, looking at someone else's created holiday moment. I (I) don't know, I think it creates a feeling of where it's like seeking connection or we're seeking, I mean if nothing else, distraction and a dopamine release from our phone. But instead, we might be reinforcing some of that disconnection. Because, like, I will be honest, I can think of very little, if like or no, holiday content that I have consumed online this holiday season that has made me feel like a significant feeling.

I honestly don't know why I do it. Like, I (I), there's (there's) reasons I do it that  I'm not conscious of, right. Obviously, like you've mentioned, dopamine released things, like that. But I mostly just feel agitated when I scroll social media and things like that. And I don't know why I'm still on them, because I (I) mostly just feel agitated at people. It's not making me feel like oh I love people so much more and now that I've seen all their reels on Instagram. It's making me feel, like, I, the opposite. And that makes me then feel like a jerk. And it makes me feel I already, like, feel disconnected so I already feel like a Grinch. Like, that's something we haven't talked to, what I talked about. I know that we we're, we've talked for a while now. But like, I think one of the reasons is hard to acknowledge you feel disconnected is because it makes you feel like a total Grinch at the holidays. And then, when I'm looking at everybody else in a happy happy joy joy, you know, concerts and content and curated whatever, I'm like eh.

Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh, okay, this is like a topic for another day. We can't dive into it now. But I will just say that there's this interesting kind of concept that they use a lot in both addiction and (and) habit forming things, where they talk about how, like, when we first are exposed to something. Our brain sort  of creates this value association with that thing. And then over time even though the value of it changes, such that sometimes now it doesn't feel good anymore or it's harming us even...


...that our brain still defaults to kind of our old value, our initial Value Association of like oh this is something that feels good. And I think that phones are very much like that. And social media is very much like that. Like, initially, I think in the earliest days of accessing some of these things, people were like oh this is so great. This is so, you know, wonderful. (get) We get to connect with old friends, we get to do all these things. And there's sort of that, you know, we get likes, which our brains love. And then, even when you consciously know, I'm accessing this and I'm feeling bad afterwards. Like, nothing, I'm not getting any Pleasure Principle anymore. Are, it takes, you know, part of this thing and substance use and habit, for me, is that it takes this really deliberate process to change that. Which we can talk about another day because  there's like tools to to do that. But I do think it's really hard and so that's why we part of (part of) why we do it is that our brains are like oh wait you'd rather, you know, rather than be sitting here doing nothing, you'll get a feel-good feeling from scrolling through social media, even though  that's often not what we get anymore.

Yeah. And I think maybe, that is why, I don't know, just speaking personally I guess, why we think we're going there for connection. Like, maybe, initially that's what it was. But (but) then, more times than not, it's not connecting you. Like, social media started for me, like, we were around before social media, right. We were around for Friendster, we were around for the early days of Facebook, my only, Myspace.  And so, I do think, there was that initial, like, connection Oh I can see what this old person from my hometown, like, whatever. And now, I still feel like I can't get rid of it for the FOMO of, like, not being able to see my cousin's best friend's neighbors baby, you know. But it's like, it's it's just, it's not one out of every 20 posts is (is) that meaningful Oh, you know, I'm so glad I got to see that photo.


I think, you're right. Like, my brain is kind of hardwired now to think that's the purpose of it. And really I've just been thinking, like, so often lately, like, I was probably so bored before my phone. But I'm probably was, I don't know, maybe better off just staring at watching paint dry, right. Well, it's just, you know, it's (it's) just so different and I (I) do, I think the disconnection, you know, you think about how I think we used to talk about, like, not that we don't talk about, like, Netflix being its own avoidance still and whatever. But I think it was like TV had this, like...

Right. Yeah.

Like, that was the thing where people were checking out, you know. It was, sort of, like watching TV. And it's like, oh no, well, now it's like scrolling TikTok, where I'm like watching strangers I don't even know recording 15-second videos. Like, what? It, you know, it's just a weird cycle.

Right. And, like I know. My teenagers would, like, roll their eyes at me having this conversation, right. Because our parents did say, well not my parents I watched a lot of TV, but our our parent's generation did say, like, oh TV's gonna rot your brain. And (and) now, I'm like, Is TV bad? I kind of (I kind of) think TV's great. I love, like

We're in the golden age.

There's so many great stories to be told. There's so many great documentaries and, like, I don't know. Now, I'm like, well my kids watch a lot of TV, but I (I) don't know.

No. I, I'm like oh. I (I) mean something substantive, I do think the bar on online in every way has moved so low because it's like everything has become bite-sized. Like, nothing, you know, every video has to be super short. Every article has to be, you know, tiny. And I think, that in some way, it has made TV, I'm like it's substantive in a different way, and I mean truly I do think golden age of...

Yes. I know.

...of things that are...

Right. I feel like I was meant to be alive. Like, now.

I said it's so true. I completely (I completely) agree. And appreciate it.

Wow. Okay, sorry. Such a tangent.  But anyways, yeah. Gonna try and detox from the phone a little bit. Especially when it's, you know, more family focused days, things like that. Now, I got to convince everybody else in my family to do it, which is an uphill battle, for sure. But I guess, I can only (I can only) control myself sometimes, so I'll worry about that first. And then, I think, the last thing that is always in my mind somewhere is, we talk a lot about knowing the things that can contribute to well-being. We talk a lot about Perma. I'm not going to get into it, but Perma is, it's kind of Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology theory about what contributes to well-being. And it's things like anything that brings positive emotion. Things that help you to really feel engaged with activities. Like, I just finished a 2000 piece puzzle. I talked about jigsaw puzzles constantly. But I really like them. Relationships, anything that, like, can boost positive relationships and connect you with positive connections, whether they're close connections or even maybe more distant connections. Meaning, anything that gives you meaning and accomplishments. So getting (getting) stuff done, right. Or (or) accomplishing something that's important to you, whether that's a big or small thing. So, I'm always trying to keep that stuff in my (in my) head, because I'm trying to tell myself to, like, do more of them. Like, because that's the stuff that really counts, and the stuff that really makes our lives feel a little bit more worth living. So I'm gonna try and do more of that. And especially, with a holiday related theme. Because I do (I do) still really want to feel connected to the holidays and I feel like there's still time for me.

There is. I have (I have) faith in you. There is.

I mean, (the Grinch) the Grinch's heart grew, wasn't it Christmas morning? So, I still have time.

Oh, you still (you still) have several days. I mean, I think you're (I think you're) well on your way. I think, you, the intention is there, I have (I have) faith.


Even if it's just a (even if it's just a) few moments, I am, I hope you'll find something.

No. I will. And I (I) have. We've had some good stuff. And I (I) know that it'll be (it'll be) a mix. As when you become an adult and who's experienced loss and has lived a little bit, I just think that's what it is. And I think maybe having that expectation can be helpful and and realistic. And so, yeah. I'm gonna hope for some good moments and recognize that they're not all gonna be great. And when a good moment  happens, I'm gonna try to stop and notice it.

Well, I think the last thing we wanted to just take a minute as we wrapped up, as the, you know, we're heading to the very end of the year, to ask everyone to please check out our community. I know we've mentioned it there. But I, one of the things that our community is really doing is helping us to be offering this podcast again and back to recording. And I think, we don't have like a patron or other type of  support that way, but joining our community which is $12 a month or a $100 if you join for the whole year, is really what is supporting the podcast still existing and being ad-free. So even if you have no intention whatsoever of, like, using all the resources, we do a lot of cool stuff, we do, like, regular webinars there, we do little mini coping sessions, (you do) we do community writing, we do, there's a forum, like there's lots of you want to get involved that you can. But even if you don't want to get involved with any of  that, and you just enjoy this podcast and would like us to keep recording, we would love if you would consider just checking out and joining. And we hope that if you are celebrating or not celebrating the holidays, whatever it's going to bring for you in the in the coming week or two, that you're able to find some moments of connection to get you through.

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