• nicole calder

i talk a lot about warning signs, but often in relation to people that you see regularly, that you talk to regularly. is it still possible to detect warning signs with people you don’t see often? or you don’t talk to often? i believe the answer is yes. and i think discussing these warning signs is perhaps more pertinent to the world we now live – a world where we’re constantly accessible, but less connected. a world where missing the signs is easy – it’s no longer about detecting physical or behavioural changes; how can you when you don’t see them? what then, are you supposed to look out for?

when someone isolates themselves, that’s usually a pretty good indicator that they’re going through something. what does this look like to someone who you only converse with via technology? it looks like avoidance – they might avoid catching up, avoid questions pertaining to how they are, or just avoid replying. we’ve come to accept that people don’t need to reply straight away, or within a day, or even a week, or even at all, but how do you know this isn’t an indirect sign that they aren’t okay? an indirect cry for help? rarely will people explicitly say that they’re not okay, but they’ll give you signs with their behaviour.

as i’ve formerly mentioned in other posts, we put so much emphasis on individuals talking about their problems, but i think we should be equipping individuals with the skills to detect these signs in others. we need to learn to emotionally calibrate ourselves to others. to tune in to their behaviour and what their behaviour might be communicating. would it help if someone explicitly stated they weren’t okay? absolutely! but sometimes people have communicated this, and nothing much has changed. when behaviour isn’t reinforced, it’s punished. and this means it’s less likely to occur in the future. so individuals will try something else, anything else, to garner the attention of those around them.

my suggestion then would be to look at their past behaviour – is this a pattern of theirs? are they known for not replying? or have they drastically changed their technological habits? removing themselves from social media is another form of cyber isolation. the worst part is, we hardly notice when someone is no longer active because we’re constantly inundated with so much other shit, we fail to notice when one of our peers is no longer active.

i get it – everyone has their own stuff going on. but i also know we make excuses for not checking in with others – it’s too hard, too much effort, they haven’t replied to us etc. but i challenge you to put this aside and look at their signs. what does their support network look like? are they in a stable job? a stable relationship? are they exercising? do they have other friends they’re leaning on? any time an individual loses one of their core components to living a fulfilling life, it puts strain on the other areas in their life. people need other people – it's a fact. they also need purpose. and they need to feel valued. without them, individuals might question what the point of living is.

as far as emotional warning signs, sadness isn’t the only emotion people experience when they’re struggling. anger, apathy, and numbness are also concerning feelings (especially when these become the dominant feelings someone is experiencing). when people lack core components of their life, small things become big things. they become big because often these individuals don’t have much else in their life to distract them, to fulfill them. so, what happens? they become consumed by trivial disturbances, so much so that it potentially ruins relationships. an individual’s inability to let something go can sometimes be an indicator that things are out of balance in their life – that there are needs that aren’t being met. so instead of letting go, they hold tighter onto the one thing that gives them some form of temporary purpose, some form of temporary distraction. anger can do that.

so the next time someone doesn’t reply to you, or doesn’t answer your question, or changes their technological behaviour, don’t just brush it off – check in. keep asking them if they’re okay and ask them if there’s a reason they’re avoiding your questions. when people aren’t okay, they push away the thing they need most: people. it isn’t personal, but they do it to reflect what they feel inside – that they’re alone. that they’re hurting. isolating themselves further is like a cruel addiction; it fuels this pain. but it’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break. it takes emotionally calibrated individuals to break these barriers. can you be one of these people to someone else?

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  • nicole calder

we often perceive anger as being a negative emotion or an undesirable attribute, but what if anger is actually what defines us?

in one of the school of life books that i read last year was a question that the author posed as being a necessity for getting to know who someone really is - who are you when you're mad? albeit a fantastic question, i take this question one step further - what makes you mad?

we attribute anger and madness as being the worst parts of ourselves, but what if they're our gateway into ourselves? i believe anger fuels us. it motivates us. it highlights what we deem to be important, it shows us what we value.

over the past few years there have been a few situations that have infuriated me, many of which have been associated with money. but it's not the money that lies at the root of the anger; it's fairness. as complex as humans may be, there are a few things that aren't so complex about us - like our need for fairness. or our need to feel valued.

in a world where comparison is readily accessible and often unavoidable, learning of others' treatment can often be a disservice. humans opt for the path of the least resistance. so when someone has to continually fight for their worth, for their value, i can guarantee their fight won't last long.

because although anger is a fuel to catalyse change, there's only so much fuel you can put on a fire before that person realises the fire will never be self-sufficient; that their value will never be actualised.

so the next time you're angry, don't suppress your anger. become curious. determine the root cause of the anger and use that as motivation to either change the situation, or prevent that situation from occuring with others. become the person you wish you had. and the next time you see that someone's angry? listen to their anger - listen beyond the words. listen to the values they're communicating. listen to the root of the problem. only then can you truly rectify the problem.

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  • nicole calder

how do you not compare?

in a world dominated by individualism

selfishness becomes a virtue

necessary to succeed.

what you don't know,

can't hurt.

but how do you escape

the infiltration of information?

knowledge is no longer power,

but fuel.

fuel for anger,

for dissatisfaction,

for envy.

humans are complex

but a few things remain true -

like our need for fairness,

and our need for value.

but the reality is,

the world rewards the loud

the selfish

the demanding.

while punishing the loyal

the hard working

the compassionate.

what incentive is there

to continue being 'good'?

when being good means

one must go without.

go without payment

go without recognition

go without value.

so the questions remain:

how can you remain sane,

in a world so insane?

how can you remain healthy,

in a world so sick?

how can you remain optimistic,

in a world so cruel?

a world that values things over people

a world that rewards 'me' over 'we'

a world driven to divide rather than unite.

what hope is there?

and where do we go from here?

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