Ways To Spot a real friends from the fake ones

Have you ever caught yourself wondering if the people you call friends are really your friends? Have you ever complained, “He only talks to me when he needs me” or “I only exist when you need something”?

Apparently, fake friends are the ones that only contact you when they need something. People who complain of fake friends feel unsatisfied in their friendships. They feel they’re being taken advantage of. They feel motivated to ditch their fake friends.

Why do we form friendships?

To understand the phenomenon of fake friends, we first need to understand why we form friendships in the first place. The golden principle underlying all friendships and relationships is mutual benefit. I can’t stress this point enough because everything revolves around it.

We form friendships because they help us satisfy our needs- material and psychological. After we’re born, our family members are our first friends. When we go to school, our family can’t be with us all the time so we satisfy our need for companionship, among other needs, by making friends.

Shared beliefs, culture, and values also play a role in determining who we call our friends. We have a tendency to identify with our friends, especially the ones that are closest to us. This is why close friends are often carbon copies of each other. They have a lot of things in common and their personalities match. They have things that they can think about together, topics they can talk about together and activities that they can do together.

This is encapsulated in how one’s closest friend is often called one’s alter ego- other self.

Wherefrom cometh fake friends?

Humans, for some reason, tend to overvalue their psychological needs. Even Maslow, famous for his hierarchy of needs, classified psychological and social needs as ‘higher’ needs compared to physiological needs. Because psychological needs have such elevated status, people classify those who help them satisfy these needs as ‘real’ friends or ‘true’ friends.

The thinking goes like this: “He doesn’t only reach out to me when he needs help but we can just hang out with each other, expecting nothing from each other. Hence, he’s my real friend.”

The problem with this type of thinking is that it’s wrong. Even when you’re just hanging out with your “real” friend, your needs are being satisfied- be it the need for companionship, sharing your life, talking about the things that matter to you, and so on.

Just because these needs are psychological, and your friend isn’t helping you in some conspicuous way, doesn’t make this friendship any different from the ones where the ‘give’ and ‘take’ is more conspicuous.

Since we overvalue our psychological needs we call friends who satisfy these needs as real friends.

In friendships where psychological needs are not being met, there’s a greater risk of these friendships falling into the vilified realm of fake friendships. But these friendships are just as valid, as long as the principle of mutual benefit holds.

The person complaining about having fake friends perceives that the principle of mutual benefit is being violated. There are two possibilities underlying such complaint:

The first possibility is that the fake friend isn’t satisfying the person’s psychological needs and so the latter is inclined to think that the friendship is fake. It’s not absolutely horrible when people contact you only when they need something because the mutual satisfaction of various needs, not just psychological needs, is what friendships are based on.

Say you feel bad that a friend calls you only when they need something. Next time you need something, you’re going to call them and they’ll think you only call them when you need something. See where I’m going with this?

Often, the people who make this complaint are usually the ones who’re not getting as much as they are giving. But this is not an excuse to call the friendship fake. They ignore that sometimes wanting help can be a good way to communicate again when the communication has been infrequent of late.

The second possibility is that the fake friend is indeed being exploitative. They only call when they need something and if you try and strike a conversation with them along the lines of “How’s it going?” they’ll show a lack of interest in pursuing that line of conversation.

This again shows how we value psychological needs more. We want them to know that we care about them and are not just interested in helping them out. If the fake friend were blunt and said, “I’d rather you only help me. Don’t try to satisfy my psychological needs”, you’d be offended and perhaps ditch the friend right away.

If you’re in a friendship where you think you’re being exploited, the best strategy is to ask your seemingly exploitative friend to help you as much as you’re helping them. Real friends will not make excuses and won’t have any problems in helping you, even if you ask for it over and over.

Even if you ask of them more than you’re giving them, they’ll help you. This isn’t necessarily because they’re selfless but because they trust in the mutuality of the friendship. They know that that you’d do the same for them.

Importance of communication.

Communication is the lifeblood of all relationships. When we need help from a friend of a friend, our friends often say something like, “But I haven’t even talked to him for months” or “We’re not even on talking terms”. This goes to show the importance of being on talking terms. We expect those people to favour us who are at least on talking terms with us.

When communication has long been absent, we’re unsure about the friendship and, consequently, whether or not we can succeed in obtaining favours.

The problem with communication is that the person who communicates first gives the impression that they’re in need and this can hurt their ego. So a person’s ego tries to prevent them from communicating first when communication has long been absent.

If a friend puts his ego aside and makes an effort to communicate with you when communication has been absent, then it’s a good sign that they value your friendship. Or they may suddenly be in need of something that they don’t mind putting their ego on a backseat for. Again, you can test that by steering the conversation toward psychological needs to check if they pursue it. Also, you can ask them for a counter-favour.

As long as the contract of mutual benefit holds, we’ve got a good friendship going on. Whenever one party perceives that the contract is being violated, the friendship is endangered. When both parties perceive that the contract has been violated, the friendship dies.

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6 Animal Species With Strong Family Bonds

When it comes to animals, humans still have a lot to learn. We forget that some animals are also capable of most of the same behaviors that we have – we just don’t see them because they might do them differently.

We often forget that animals are capable of feeling the same emotions we do and sharing similar bonds with friends and family. The result of this willful “forgetfulness” is reflected in the way we treat animals. We separate them from family and friends, place them in captivity for our own entertainment, or even condemn them to life on a factory farm until the day they are turned into one of our meals.

A major step towards ending this vicious cycle of forgetfulness is to practice compassion. Animals really are not all that different from us, save the tails, fur, or scales. So, let’s for a minute take a look at all the ways that animal families are just like our families.

Here are six amazing animal species with extraordinarily strong family bonds:

1. Elephants
While males live relatively solitary, female elephants live in highly bonded herds. PBS says that in a herd, the matriarch will rule over a multi-generational family with six to 12 members – consisting of her offspring, sisters, and sisters’ offspring. Elephants have long been known to rush to the aid of babies caught in strong river waters, or stuck in mud, or staying to mourn the death of a herd member.
Back in 2012, two herds of South African elephants made their way to the house of Lawrence Anthony – the conservationist who saved their lives. They stayed at the house for two days apparently mourning his passing, according to Belief Net. It had taken them 12 hours to reach the house, not having visited in a year and a half.

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2. Wolves
Wolves may have even stronger bonds between the alpha male alpha female dogs. Defenders of Wildlife says that some may even sacrifice their own lives to protect the rest of the pack. It was once thought that wolf packs consisted of unrelated individuals who often fought each other for dominance till L. David Mech researched wild wolves and debunked the idea. He found that the pack consisted of the mated alpha pair, their puppies, and some adult offspring from previous litters.

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3. Orcas
Sarah Heimlich provided the first evidence suggesting matrilineal (individuals linked by maternal descent) social organization in killer whales in the 1980s. According to the report “Conservation Plan for Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)” prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the members of these groups from extremely strong bonds and individuals rarely separate for longer than a few hours. Even offspring live with their parents for their entire lives.

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4. Dolphins
Dolphins exhibit strong social bonds and are a species that only exhibit caring behavior towards their own species but also towards others as well – they have saved humans from shark attacks and drowning, and have also helped seals and whales. The first time dolphins were recorded trying to help save another dying dolphin was in 2013 when five individuals formed a raft with their bodies to keep an injured dolphin above the water, with ten others later taking turns to do so, according to the BBC.

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5. Lions
Lions are the most social of all the wild cat species, and live in prides. While males have a harder life once they become older, The Big Cats says that old females even with missing teeth are waited on and shared food with. Nuzzling is not just a cuddly behavior, lionesses lick each other and males rub their heads to strengthen social bonds says the Business Insider.

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6. Chimpanzees
Bio Expedition says that there is a strong social structure within chimp troops. The mother-offspring is so strong that, even after they grow up into adults, they will continue to have affection for and care for their mother. Like with lions strengthening social bonds, chimps socially groom each other not only to clean off each other’s bodies but to reassure each other as well as to maintain friendships, says the Canisius College Ambassadors for Conservation. The site also says that chimpanzees live in communities with different sub-groups similar to human society, with a male chimp gaining the support of other community members to help him become an alpha male.

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References, One Green Planet
Lead image source/Wikimedia Commons

How Highly Sensitive People Can Stop Saying Yes When They Want to Say No

As a highly sensitive person, saying no is one of the hardest things for me to do. Turn down a friend who wants to hang out? Not answer my phone at odd hours? Restrain myself from re-organizing my schedule to accommodate yet another person? Even when I want to say no to these situations, I find myself saying yes.

But that means I’m saying no to myself.

I’m not alone in this problem. In general, highly sensitive people struggle with saying no. When we say yes to people and put them first, it makes us feel like we’re being a great friend or partner. But we’re often left wishing others would reciprocate this pattern of being “yes” people.

Not only does saying yes make us feel good about ourselves, but the people in our lives enjoy it and might actually encourage it. They may, unconsciously or consciously, start taking advantage of this characteristic of ours. As a result, we HSPs get walked all over. We end up exhausted, emotionally and physically.

Let’s take a closer look at why HSPs are prone to saying yes — even when it comes at a cost to us — and how we can balance the scales by setting better boundaries.

Why Highly Sensitive People Struggle to Say No.

There are many reasons HSPs might struggle to say no to people, especially when it comes to their loved ones. The overarching theme is empathy. We have the capacity to not only put ourselves in another’s shoes and imagine what they’re feeling, but actually absorb the emotions other people are emitting and feel them ourselves.

Empathy is basically the HSP’s superpower, but it can also be our downfall if we do not learn how to turn it off when we need to. This relates to saying no because we can usually tell that the other person wants us to say yes. Therefore, we desperately want to say yes as well.
It’s like being caught in a double bind. We want to say no, but we can tell that they want a yes — and then that desire becomes our own feeling. In order to say no, we have to set our minds on not listening to the absorbed emotion. And that’s no easy feat.

In addition to absorbing emotion, many HSPs are terrified of rejection. This fear is in no way limited to HSPs, meaning, people who aren’t highly sensitive experience it too. Really, fear of abandonment is one of the most common human fears.

Consider survival instincts, and this fear makes total sense. Isolation kills, so we desperately want human contact. HSPs often crave deep connections with others, so the absence of them has a more significant effect on us. Saying yes leaves less room for abandonment than saying no, so we say yes in order to feel safer in our relationships.
HSPs also tend to feel hurt more easily and have the unfortunate habit of taking things quite personally. We could easily take being told no as a personal slam, therefore, we avoid doing the same thing to others. HSPs hate making other people upset due to our empathy and fear of abandonment, so we never want to be the cause of someone’s negative emotions. Our empathy is too strong for that.

How HSPs Can Say No Effectively.

All of these HSP traits combined make it exceedingly difficult to say no to people. However, when we constantly say yes, we slowly but surely become depleted and emotionally exhausted. And because HSPs tend to feel emotion more sharply, this depletion can have greater effects on our well-being. Learning how to set boundaries and say no is therefore a crucial skill for HSPs to develop.
Saying no comes back to setting healthy boundaries, and realizing that sometimes when we say yes to other people, we are in fact saying no to ourselves. Often times, the simple fix to this problem is being open and honest with our loved ones. Though it sounds unnecessary and nerve-wracking, explaining your need to say no can be super effective with friends and family.

For example, cutting off a conversation that’s going too late into the night when you’ve got an early morning could simply look like, “Hey, I really want to hear the rest of what’s going on with you, but I need to call it a night. What time can I call you tomorrow?” This lets the other person know you’re eager and intentional about hearing the rest of their story. I can’t imagine any solid friends or family members responding negatively to that.

Putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode when you’re relaxing is also effective. If someone really needs to get ahold of you, your phone will let you know. Otherwise, enjoy the quiet.

Saying no is more difficult with family and friends who take advantage of our selfless acts of service or who don’t quite grasp our need for some “me time.” Again, when we’re open about the reasons we need a break, people tend to soften.

For example, after a busy work week, if a friend asks you to hang out, stating that you’re exhausted and need a self-care night is a completely legitimate excuse — though be prepared to have to say it a couple times.

Or, when people ask you to help them with something that isn’t your responsibility, try a technique called “reflecting.” This involves noticing their emotion and reflecting it back to them. It can be just what they need — and not necessarily you doing the job for them.

For example, say a friend continually asks you for favors. Instead of simply doing them, try saying something like, “You seem pretty stressed this week. Is there anything going on?” Simply opening the door to a vent session might reveal the reasons they’ve been using you, and by addressing the emotions the person is feeling, they feel heard and cared for much more so than if you had just said yes. And if they still need help, having had that conversation will allow you greater insight into what would actually be helpful to them.

Sometimes, HSPs just need to get a little more comfortable with not pleasing everyone all the time. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

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‘Blue Monday’

This year ‘Blue Monday’ falls on January, 21.

January is a month where we attempt to blow the cobwebs away and hit the reset button, but when the dark nights hit and the finances take hold it can turn into a tough period.

One day in particular gets us down more than others, according to the experts.

Whilst it’s been around for a number of years now, Blue Monday is more than just a hashtag – it’s the result of an actual formula thought up by a psychologist.

“As the days get darker, and the more you wake up before the sun even rises, you might start feeling a persistent low mood or lack of energy. You may be struggling to concentrate and it’s possible you may even find less pleasure doing your usual activities.

“These symptoms could mean you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is very common and can affect people from all walks of life.”

Mental health charities have often rejected the term ‘Blue Monday,’ arguing it trivialises those who are actually suffering from depression.

Last year, Mind wrote a statement in regards to Blue Monday on their website reading: “Here at Mind, we think BlueMonday is dangerously misleading. Those of us who live with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the date. Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression is ‘just feeling a bit down,’ something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously.”

“Eat your greens”

Whilst it can be tempting to stock up on carbs this winter, opt for leafy greens instead as these are rich in folic acid, thought to be used in the production of serotonin, which is a happy hormone,”

“Antioxidants and polyphenols in things like berries and dark chocolate can also help elevate your mood.”

” Keep active”

If you want to beat fatigue and general sluggishness, exercising regularly to keep those hormones happy.

“If you find yourself demotivated at work, do some deskercise or go out for a brisk walk at lunch time.”1548027910292

My Vegan Story

Fast forward to about two years ago…

A Saturday night at home with a glass of wine and Netflix. My boyfriend (at the time) had gone to the gym so I found myself scrolling through documentaries (why not movies?!! ha) I came across Vegucated. This documentary stood out because I remember seeing it all over Twitter. I started following vegan Twitter accounts a few days prior (subconsciously, I think?). How ironic, the stars had aligned! Just kidding… but really… I read the description and knew if I watched this, I’d be crying the rest of the night. For some reason I was okay with that!! We all need a good cry every now and again. It was one of those days where I felt relaxed and open for anything, plus I was intrigued to know what the vegan hype was about. Boy, was I in for it…

Throughout the documentary, concepts started to click in my mind as if I was buckling my seatbelt. I was in the process of connecting to the plant based lifestyle. My mind was in horror, shock and became overwhelmed with anger, but I was connecting on a higher level. I felt nauseous but I knew it was necessary; there was no way of getting around these feelings. As much as I didn’t want to think about it, this was real. I could see the animals suffering from anxiety, fear, and immense pain. They knew what was coming and could sense it. How could they not? I watched absolutely unnecessary, heartless acts being performed and it brought up real human emotion that stems from instincts. Raw emotion, real happenings and video footage led me to this daunting crossroads in my life..

I realize most documentaries show the worst of the worst and not all slaughterhouses run the same but I still saw what I saw… it still happened to those animals and happens everyday… I’m unable to remove the images from my mind.
Feeling those feelings opened a new door to an unknown world. Those same familiar feelings from years before, but with a higher level of understanding and compassion. After the documentary ended, I sat there for a while.

Stunned. Numb. Confused.

Then came the sobbing. Then the thinking about what our world has come to. Then feeling disgusted with society. Disgusted with myself as well, that I had been so ignorant and oblivious to what was happening behind slaughter house walls but mainly behind big corporations. That the big name meat and dairy brands are powerful, full of lies and are absolute experts with their marketing and labeling. That for the most part, there are no happy cows or free-range chickens (unless you have a chicken coupe in your backyard). That cage-free doesn’t mean what we think it means. That we don’t know any better because we are swarmed daily with happy dairy ads, commercials and marketing schemes. That factory farming is very much existent, not to mention all the hormones and antibiotics that they pump into the animals to keep them from getting sick and to speed up the growth process, which is all too common, and is also powered by the big name brands connected to the government. That our food has become so processed and nutrient-lacking, we think we are eating healthy from the labels and what society says (got milk?), when we are actually missing the point completely, and it’s not our fault. That we don’t need animal products to thrive.
That my life would never be the same. My seatbelt was buckled. This time, I was ready.

Since that night I have not eaten any animal products whatsoever. Especially after those images and videos which are now burned into my brain… I wanted nothing to do with meat or cheese or milk or any of it. I made the connection to a plant based lifestyle, to what my body needs in order to thrive and to all animals.

Happy Vegan Christmas!  🎄🎅🌱

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The Benefits of Therapy Animals

Animal therapy is very beneficial for children. The animal, besides being a companion, causes the child not to focus on himself when he suffers from an illness.

Children accept animals in their games as equals. They make them partakers of their emotions and experiences. They are another way of showing affection that can help improve relationships with people.

The objective of the therapies with animals is to attend the therapeutic needs of the participants in a fun and enriching way, with the additional motivation for them of the relationship with the animal.

It has been used for some time in the treatment of alterations in physical or cognitive development, in attention and behavioral problems and specific pathologies such as autism or cerebral palsy.

Dogs, horses, dolphins, and even sea lions, have helped people with disabilities or socially isolated to get or regain contact with their environment, or to develop their communication skills, as in the case of those affected by an autism spectrum disorder.

On the other hand, the calming effects of animals are especially valuable with children who show alterations of inattention and hyperactivity and behavioral disorders and have served as the basis for therapeutic interventions.

The good results achieved by using animals to help people with disabilities, or even in the treatment of depression or anxiety, have prompted studies on the therapeutic effects that can be achieved with animals. The playful aspect of this type of experimental therapies also contributes to motivate patients and facilitates their participation.

The work with animals, mediated by a therapist or professional, always brings benefits for the person both physical, for their interaction with the animal, and psychological, derived from the affection of a living being.

Among the values and qualities that promote therapies, both equestrian and with dogs, dolphins and pets, include nobility, respect, loyalty, balance, motor skills, attention, learning routines, respect for standards, attention and memory.

They also improve mood, guide reality, are a good antidote to depression and provide a reason to be excited.

They are a great social stimulus, invite collaboration and promote empathy, in addition to promoting the development and growth of a living being.

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‘The hidden happiness’

At the beginning of time, before humanity populated the Earth, the different gods met in order to prepare the creation of the human being, in his image and likeness. However, one of them realized that if they were made exactly like them, they would actually be creating new gods, with which they should remove something in such a way that it differentiated from them. After thinking carefully, another of the people proposed to take away their happiness and hide it in a place where they could never find it.

Another of them proposed to hide it in the highest mountain, but they realized that by having strength, humanity could rise and find it. Another proposed that they hide it under the sea, but since humanity would have curiosity, it could build something to reach the depths of the sea and find it. A third proposed to bring happiness to a distant planet, but others concluded that since the human being will have intelligence, he will be able to build spacecraft that can reach it.

The last of the gods, who had remained silent until then, took the floor to indicate that he knew a place where they would not find it: he proposed that they hide happiness within the human being, so that he would be so busy looking outside I would never find it. Being all in agreement with it, they did it. This is the reason why the human being spends his life looking for happiness, without knowing that he is really in himself. ”

This beautiful tale in the form of a story reflects something that is very present in today’s society: we often seek happiness as if it were something external that we can achieve, when in reality we find it precisely when we are not looking for it but enjoying the here and now.

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