The mental shift that helped me free myself from a 15-year nicotine addiction painlessly

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Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay

I used to love smoking, like really love it.

When I was happy, I would smoke. When I was under stress, I would smoke. Just bored? Smoke. I was treating nicotine as a clutch that could help me through anything.

Of course, I knew that smoking was bad for my health. Every smoker knows that. But still, it was my little pleasure and I would not let anybody take it away from me. Like most smokers, I completely numbed the pain I was inflicting on my body and my mind. I always woke up tired. I couldn’t run 300 feet without being out of breath. I was constantly worried that I wouldn’t have enough cigarettes left and I would buy 2 or 3 packs at once “just to be safe”. …

A simple 6-step method to create a meaningful life despite doubt and fear

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Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

2015 was my last year in school, the year that held my last carefree moments, as I would think back then. On top of starting adult life, I went through painful events in several areas of my life, and my childhood trauma was starting to catch up with me. 2015 was a brutal shot of reality.

That year was also a real breakthrough for me as I discovered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). As my “avoid-feelings-at-all-costs” routine was falling through, I had the presence of mind to start seeing a therapist. That therapist introduced me to ACT, and it changed my life. …

#3: Make sure your hangovers last at least four business days.

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Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

If you’re about to be an adult or have been struggling to become one, this article is for you. I’ve been adulting myself for many years now. Not to brag, but I believe I’ve been quite successful at it, so I thought I’d share my secret recipe for doing it right. I guarantee you’ll see results within a few days.

1. Hide your emotions

In fact, ignore them altogether. You’re not a baby anymore. You’re an adult who knows how to hold it together. You must act like everything is fine at all costs. …

Life as a woman in an African Muslim Arab third-world male-dominated country

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Photo by Analise Benevides on Unsplash

Last night, I overheard some girl say she missed the lockdown. Weird, I thought. As I got closer, I realized she was saying that during the lockdown, she could walk to work without having dozens of men looking at her or making comments about how she looked. And it struck me. I was finally able to put words to the injustice I had been witnessing for so long: I lived in a male-dominated public space.

And I don’t mean first world male-dominated, with the occasional cheesy pick-up line and manspreading in public transportation (although these are also reprehensible). …

I am here for you

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Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

This may sound crazy, but I think there is something special between us.

I know we haven’t known each other long, but I can tell we have chemistry. I can tell this is for the long haul. And I know you can feel it too.

Remember what life was like before we met? You could go weeks without overthinking anything, months without ever feeling sad, years without having a single panic attack. Pretty boring, right?

You can rest assured, it’s all over now. I am here for you. I am here to give your life meaning. You don’t ever have to be alone again. …

Cognitive biases lead us to make irrational decisions such as …hoarding toilet paper

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Image by Burst

Remember when we thought a two-week lockdown would end the pandemic? We were under the influence of our optimism bias, one of the most common cognitive biases of the human brain.

What are cognitive biases?

Cognitive biases can shape our understanding of events such as the covid-19 pandemic. This unprecedented health crisis (for our generations at least) has us inclined to interpret current events using mental shortcuts.

These mental shortcuts affect our judgment and may lead to irrational decisions, such as hoarding toilet paper. And there are lots of other examples.

When we first heard about the virus outbreak in China, we all thought that it was unlikely to spread to the Western world for some reason. And when we had our first covid cases, we chose to believe that it was under control and that we didn’t need to get worried. When it did get out of control, with thousands of new cases every day, we started to pay attention to all kinds of conspiracy theories. …

Your guts are not very chatty? There are ways to reconnect with your intuition

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Photo by Rob Schreckhise on Unsplash

Raise your hand if you were told a million times to trust your guts yet can’t seem to find them.

“Just trust your gut and everything will turn out just fine”

This is great advice. But here’s the thing: my guts are nowhere to be found. I genuinely don’t know what I want. And apparently this is common among millennials.

Right now I’m stuck in a job I hate because I don’t know what I want to do next. I like writing but does that make me a writer? Do I really want to risk losing my comfortable monthly income? What do you think, guts? Intuition? …

The long and messy bereavement of a loved one lost to mental illness

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Thunderclap in a clear sky. This is how the French describe the onset of schizophrenia for the patient’s family.

I will never forget the night I realized there was something wrong with my brother. He was 27 years old back then. He had lived a perfectly normal life for 27 years, and it all went down to hell that night.

We hardly recognized him. He would claim that he was a prophet, say that people were following him in the street, or insist that the TV was talking to him.

Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split identity or multiple personalities. People with this condition can’t tell what’s real from what’s imagined, causing them to lose touch with reality. This is what happened to him. He lost touch with reality. He lost touch with us. …

They were also removed from the story settings page

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Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

A lot of medium writers are frustrated with the recent curation changes. Curation topics are no longer displayed and you can only see the mention “chosen for further distribution” in your Stats page.

After the news was announced, Medium’s finest detectives were able to find out curation topics were hiding in the Reader Interests section in story settings, but it seems they were also removed from there.

While I believe these changes may be for the better (Medium said they removed topics to make the platform more relational), I understand why some writers would want to gauge their readers’ interests in order to get better at addressing a specific audience. …

Black Lives Matter, #MeToo… Derailing tactics are used to invalidate the opinion of those calling out injustice

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

“What about women living in Saudi Arabia? Don’t you think they’re having it worse?”

“Since you care so much about equality, what about men’s rights?”

“Policemen get attacked too, you know.”

Sounds familiar? These are derailing tactics used against marginalized groups when they call out injustice.

If you ever tried to speak out about injustice only to have someone shift the focus to “worse” issues or their own feelings, your conversation was derailed. People derail conversations when they believe the injustice being raised speaks to their own wrongdoing. …


Rita Atlas

Economist, writer and psychology enthusiast

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