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Can psychedelic mushrooms trigger psychosis? 



In the hours leading up to my first magic mushroom experience, I was overwhelmed with conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, I was exhilarated by friends’ tales of wandering the woods in a state of psychedelic wonder and oneness. But on the other hand, there was also a sense of trepidation. Urban legends of people who have hit the mushies hard and never been the same again played over in my mind and made me wonder whether I should rethink the trip I’d planned. (I went ahead with it, but ended up microdosing.)

For a long time, hearsay, anecdotes, and your friend’s cousin’s brother were the go-to sources for magic mushroom information. Nowadays, psilocybin is making its way into high-profile clinical drug trials, and scientists are investigating its therapeutic versatility in treating various  mental health conditions, like depression and PTSD. As a result, we have more access to a diversity of reliable data on this psychedelic compound and its effects. 

But for many of us, an unnerving question remains: Is there even the slightest chance that psilocybin can make you go crazy?

Psilocybin, psilocin, and short-term psychosis

When a person consumes magic mushrooms, the main compound in them—psilocybin—is quickly converted by the body into psilocin, its active form. Psilocin is responsible for the psychedelic effects of shrooms and plays a major role in the trip that unfolds. However, in the same way that cannabis is composed of thousands of compounds, magic mushrooms contain a host of active compounds that may also shape and contribute to the psychedelic experience.

Although magic mushroom journeys are unique for everyone, they often share typical features. Those who consume a standard or medium dose of magic mushrooms (about 1.75 grams) often find that the effects kick in after 30-60 minutes; peak effects occur around the 1- to 2-hour mark; and the trip lasts from four to six hours, with a lingering afterglow in the hours or days that follow. 

During the journey, users can experience mood swings and intense emotions, mystical experiences, a warped sense of time, ego dissolution (a loss of one’s sense of self), confused thoughts, hallucinations, and delusions. 

However, delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized or confused thinking or speaking are also hallmark characteristics of psychosis and schizophrenia

Psychosis is a term that describes when an individual has lost contact with reality and is experiencing difficulty understanding what is real and what isn’t. Psychosis can be a symptom of a mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (during depression and/or mania), but it can also be caused by sleep deprivation, an injury, a traumatic experience, certain prescription medications, or hallucinogenic substances—like psilocybin. 

In addition to hallucinations, delusions, and confused thinking, other symptoms of psychosis can include intense new ideas, strange feelings or no feelings at all, paranoid ideas, or difficulty concentrating. 


What are psychedelic mushrooms and psilocybin?

It’s important to understand that, in general, psychosis is considered a symptom, not a mental health condition (unlike schizophrenia). The duration of a psychotic episode depends on the cause. An episode that may be triggered by a substance, for example, typically has a short duration, lasting only while the substance is active in the person’s body. Psychotic episodes linked to a mental health condition such as schizophrenia, however, can last for days, months, or even longer. 

The parallels between the symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia, and psilocybin journeys are well-known. Psilocybin has been used in clinical research to model psychosis, and the experiences that typically arise during a magic mushroom trip can look like a form of temporary psychosis.

“In some individuals, psilocybin can trigger short-term psychotic episodes during a trip,” explained Dr. Sam Zand, psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer at Better U. Zand points out that although short-term psychosis may arise during a psilocybin trip and can feel frightening, it isn’t necessarily harmful.

“[It’s scary] because it involves losing touch with reality, which can be disorienting and distressing,” said Zand. “Additionally, the effects of psilocybin can include intense and confusing thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, which can also contribute to feelings of fear or anxiety. The unpredictability of the experience can also add to the fear, as the individual may not know what to expect and may feel out of control.” 

However, Zand emphasizes that it’s vital to remember that the effects of psilocybin are temporary, and they typically subside as the trip wears off.


How to dose psychedelic mushrooms

Can short-term psychosis be beneficial?

Although psilocybin can bring on challenging or frightening experiences, those experiences may in fact yield unique benefits.

“Individuals may have beneficial therapeutic effects despite a negative experience during the psilocybin experience,” explained Dr. Robert Alexander, Chief Medical Officer at Reunion Neuroscience. “However, it may be hard to keep one’s perspective when experiencing frightening illusions, the loss of ego boundaries or intense emotions.”

In one survey of almost 2,000 psilocybin mushroom users, researchers found that a psychologically difficult trip positively and significantly correlated to an experience of enhanced personal meaning, spiritual significance, and increased life satisfaction. In addition, 84% of participants believed that they had benefited from their challenging experience.

Other research stresses similar findings, with most participants reflecting that unpleasant experiences during bad trips had ultimately been beneficial, yielding deep existential and life-altering insights. Some psychedelic experts strongly believe that a temporary state of psychosis may enable the emergence of new perceptions and more flexible, creative ways of thinking. 

One researcher refers to psychosis as a double-edged sword: While the experience can feel immensely challenging, it may also be healing and life-changing. In this way, a temporary experience of psychosis during a psilocybin trip isn’t necessarily something to be avoided or feared. 


How long do magic mushrooms stay in your system?

Can psilocybin trigger long-term psychosis or schizophrenia, or exacerbate existing conditions?

Several 2022 systematic reviews have outlined the safety of psilocybin. The first, a review of studies investigating the use of psilocybin for psychiatric disorders, reported that there had been no significant adverse clinical events from psilocybin to date, and no verifiable recorded deaths. The second, a review of clinical studies exploring the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, found that psilocybin had a positive benefit-risk balance in the treatment of mental disorders and few serious adverse events reported. 

Dr. Alexander emphasizes that although short-term psychotic episodes can occur during a psilocybin trip, prolonged psychosis that persists for a day or longer is extremely rare. There are, however, several case studies that suggest that the compound could potentially (temporarily) worsen existing cases of schizophrenia or detrimentally affect individuals with existing mental health conditions.

In the first of these case studies, the individual had a history of schizophrenia and experienced severe mood swings, hallucinations, and delusions after consuming a handful of psilocybin mushrooms with cannabis twice daily. He was given an antipsychotic, and his symptoms improved over two weeks. 

In another case, a man with a 10-year history of paranoid schizophrenia experienced mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia, and compulsive thoughts after taking psilocybin mushrooms for an unspecified amount of time. However, his symptoms disappeared within days with no pharmacological treatment. 

While a few other cases exist, the limited data and confounding variables (such as the co-use of cannabis in the first case study) mean that it’s difficult to draw a definitive conclusion about the role psilocybin played in these episodes. 

Nonetheless, both Alexander and Zand recommend that people with current psychosis symptoms or a prior history of psychosis or schizophrenia may be at a higher risk of adverse effects and should therefore avoid psilocybin. 

“The importance of caution and consulting with a mental health professional before using any psychoactive substance cannot be stressed enough, especially for those with a history of mental health concerns,” said Zand.

It’s also crucial to consider whether psilocybin could detrimentally affect an individual with a family history or genetic predisposition toward schizophrenia or psychosis. Currently, there’s insufficient data, so many researchers and clinicians adopt a cautious approach and generally exclude people at high risk from participating in psychedelic therapy. 

“It’s unclear whether a positive family history of psychosis should be exclusionary [for taking psilocybin],” explained Dr. Alexander. “The concern is that the psychedelic could precipitate psychosis; there have been anecdotal reports of this happening with recreational LSD use, although it appears to be extremely rare in a therapeutic setting.”


Psychedelic medicine: The benefits of psychedelics

Tips for tripping with magic mushrooms

Drs. Alexander and Zand both emphasize that factors such as dosage, mindset, and setting can influence whether an individual experiences temporary psychosis during a psilocybin trip or not, and the subsequent nature of the experience.

Surveys suggest that the frequency of challenging experiences rises as the psilocybin dose increases. While this doesn’t mean higher doses should necessarily be avoided, it’s something to be aware of for those experimenting with psilocybin. Generally, a microdose is unlikely to kick off hallucinations, while a heroic dose will likely have you seeing, feeling, and hearing things that physically aren’t there.

“Dosage can play a significant role in the likelihood of experiencing psychosis,” explained Zand. “Higher doses of psilocybin can increase the risk of adverse effects, including short-term psychotic episodes. It’s important to follow proper dosing guidelines and start with low doses, especially for individuals who are new to psilocybin.” 

Having the right mindset and setting are other critical factors that can profoundly influence a psilocybin trip’s twists, turns, and ultimate outcome. In this context, mindset means approaching a psilocybin journey with an open, relaxed, and curious state of mind; setting means undertaking the journey in a comfortable and safe place, ideally with someone experienced holding space with you. This way, if you experience hallucinations or other uncomfortable feelings, they will be more manageable. 

According to Zand, “The importance of preparation, including setting a clear intention, creating a safe and supportive environment, and engaging in breathwork practices, cannot be overstated in reducing the risk of adverse effects and enhancing the therapeutic potential of the experience.”

Emma Stone's Bio Image

Emma Stone

Emma Stone is a journalist based in New Zealand specializing in cannabis, health, and well-being. She has a Ph.D. in sociology and has worked as a researcher and lecturer, but loves being a writer most of all. She would happily spend her days writing, reading, wandering outdoors, eating and swimming.

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Journeymen Collective: Magic Mushroom Retreat – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana




What is the Journeymen Collective magic mushroom retreat? Contemporary shamans Gary Logan and Rob Grover sat down with CLN the other day to discuss what really happens in a psychedelic treat.

Is it a type of psychedelic therapy? Not really, says Rob. 

It’s more along the lines of personal development. We recognize that there are clinical uses, there are recreational uses, and we’re in somewhat of the middle. What we’ve done is we’ve combined about sixty years of experience in personal metaphysical, spiritual teachings, and professional development as well. And we bridged all of those realms together to create what we know as the Journeymen Collective.

This B.C.-based collective uses psilocybin mushrooms to help guide executives, entrepreneurs, and other professionals. The goal? “We want to help people move from business to conscious business,” says Rob. 

But what does that mean?

Journeymen Collective: Magic Mushroom Retreat

Journeymen Collective

Magic mushroom wellness retreats are becoming more mainstream. But there’s still a lot of stigma to plant-based medicines like psilocybin. As well, not every psilocybin retreat is created equal.

Rob and Gary use their decades of experience to ensure a safe and secure environment. Since 2018, when they founded the collective, the results have proven it.

The success stories from the Journeymen Collective range from business executives who were unhappy with their careers to artists and performers who felt lost and anxious.

“A lot of the time it’s people are looking for a deeper level of connection,” says Gary. “And they don’t know how to access it because the cultural paradigm that we live in hasn’t granted them the opportunity to go into that aspect of self.”

Rob agrees. The people who’ve come through their retreat always leave “more consciously aware of who they are.”

They’re more deeply connected to who they are. They’re more passionate and purposeful with the work that they’re providing the world. And as a result, they’re actually making a greater contribution to the people that they work with… Basically, they’re more aware of how they can actually make a greater impact in another person’s life, whether that be in their company, and their relationships. We see it, taking place whereby people come and work with us and they’re not quite sure how it fits into the business. But then once they come through an actual Journey with us … one of the things that happens is they start to see opportunities to help their people at work.

Fostering a deeper connection with the people you work with can only have positive benefits. Indeed, the success stories Rob and Gary recount lend credence to the benefits of magic mushroom retreats.

What’s the Purpose of a Retreat?

What’s the point of a luxury magic mushroom retreat? If one is feeling down and wants to try psychedelic plant-based medicine, why not visit one of the many illegal psilocybin dispensaries popping up all over Canada?

The answer, of course, is that you need a guide. If you’re feeling depressed and take mushrooms to alleviate the depression, without proper set and setting, you could make your depression even worse.

However, some critics contend that psychedelic retreats like the Journeymen Collective aren’t the proper set or setting. Only white coats with PhDs in sterile medical clinics should provide psychedelic plant-based medicines – if they do so at all.

One argument against psychedelic retreats is that the experience may intensify your feelings of depression or anxiety. But Rob says that’s kind of the point.

“Maybe you actually do have to feel the depth that intensely and that’s what’s actually going to help you.” Adding that he and Gary have nothing but “respect and professionalism for the people that we work with.”

“If someone’s skeptical,” Rob says, “Chances are, they won’t be our client.” Both men emphasize that interested parties should do their due diligence.

“I think the biggest thing is that people aren’t skeptical,” says Gary, “They’re scared.”

Another common misconception is that psilocybin retreats don’t require any work on the client’s part. Sometimes, you get a sudden shift in thinking or concepts that benefit you. But other times, the conscious change is subtle. It requires you to be an active participant, not merely a passive observer.

But even without a big psychedelic-induced breakthrough, Gary says, “you’ll have the tools moving forward to deal with whatever comes up in your life because the old habits of thinking and doing and being are being addressed.”

What the Journeymen Collective is All About

Journeymen Collective
Rob (left), Gary (right)

The Journeymen Collective luxury magic mushroom retreat is about addressing your fear head-on and watching it run the other way. And even though Rob and Gary provide a safe location with proper set and setting, the power remains in your hands at the end of the day.

“You can create greater anxiety or depression or you can create greater well-being from that fear,” says Rob.

The problem, says Rob and Gary, is that culturally, we “haven’t been given the permission slip to step into the unknown and create something from the unknown.”

Rob adds, “The only permission you need is the permission from yourself and the permission to create.”

The fear people have – whether going to a retreat or clutching their pearls at the thought of a psychedelic retreat even existing – is tied back to how we structure our society.

Rob rattles off how fear and control begin right from our childhood. “Raise your hands to go to the bathroom; stand in line. You’re only allowed to colour inside the lines.”

Education will change public perception, which is why Rob and Gary emphasize education more than any other aspect of the retreat.

“That’s one of the reasons why we do interviews like this,” says Rob. “So that we can educate people that you are not going to lose your mind. You’re going to find your mind.”

But it also means education on what to expect from a retreat. Rob and Gary recount horror stories of other less-reputable retreats where multiple people are in a single room, and you must share your guide with others.

“And as a result,” says Rob, “They’re leaving more traumatized than they were when they walked in.”

Education is Important

This is not the case at Journeymen Collective, where Rob and Gary prepare you for a personalized journey and stay with you for the entirety of the experience.

“Education is a massive, massive thing that we are committed to,” says Rob.

I never thought that that would be something that we’d be stepping into when we started the Journeymen Collective. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we have to step into that and educate people. This is what an actual psychedelic Journey needs to include. It needs to include the personalized aspect. If there are 20, 30, 40, or 200 people in an actual ceremony, I would step away and find another way.

Gary echoes this sentiment. He lambasts the 60s and 70s narrative that magic mushrooms could cause you to lose your mind. “We have to change that narrative. That’s what needs to be done because it is a paradigm people get stuck in, and that’s all they know about.”

Rob and Gary agree that many old stories stem from inexperienced people tripping in their backyard with friends. This differs entirely from a guided journey, where Rob and Gary recall some people sitting and meditating for hours.

Rob says, “Sure you can do it on your own, but what is the set and setting and are you able to work through the stuff that’s coming up for you?” He warns of negative thinking loops that may make your problems worse.

Hence, Rob and Gary suggest a guided journey. “It’s not about looking at trippy pictures,” says Rob. It’s about an experience where “you can actually trust the person that you’re with and allow yourself to go deeply within and unearth some of the uncomfortable places within the self.”

Journeymen Collective: Magic Mushroom Retreat

Of course, some people want proof beyond testimonials. They want studies and papers and peer-reviewed research. As mentioned, if you’re genuinely skeptical of plant-based psychedelic medicine, odds are, you won’t be a client of the Journeymen Collective.

But if you’re on the fence, the story of one client and his Apple watch may persuade you to check it out further.

“He got a notification on his Apple watch to say that your heartbeat has dropped eight beats per minute,” says Rob. “What’s going on? It was after his journey. Well, his resting heart rate decreased eight beats per minute.”

Likewise, another client had a benign brain tumour that prevented her from being able to smell or taste. But one morning after her journey, “she was sitting having breakfast with us and basically was like naming every single ingredient in the omelette,” says Rob.

Evidence-Based Plant Medicine

This may not be scientific proof everyone accepts, but it’s clear something beyond the placebo effect is happening. But greater scientific and clinical acceptance is a double-edged sword.

Rob and Gary are concerned that clinical regulation could downplay the spiritual connection that makes psychedelic plant medicines successful. But they remain hopeful.

Says Rob, “My hope is that people who are guiding have the depth of knowledge and understand the science and the mind. And the mystical side, the spiritual side of what’s actually taking place here.”

You can learn more about the Journeymen Collective here and how to connect with Rob and Gary.

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Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition? – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana




Is cannabis addiction a treatable medical condition? According to one doctor, “cannabis addiction is a real and treatable medical condition.”

She claims the “cannabis legalization movement” has successfully pushed back against this narrative due to the drug war.

Fortunately, Dr. Salwan is not one of these old-school drug warriors. She knows cannabis doesn’t turn people into criminals and that cannabis prohibition has led to the mass incarceration of peaceful (mostly black) Americans.

Dr. Salwan represents the new school of drug warriors. The kind that promotes more opioids to wean people off opioids. That labels drug use as a “treatable medical condition” rather than an activity.

To her credit, Dr. Salwan recommends cognitive behavioural therapy as a solution to “cannabis use disorder” since that’s where the evidence leads her. (But not without mentioning the “promising” FDA medication that will “reduce cannabis cravings.”)

However, Dr. Salwan is on the education faculty for the American Society of Addiction Medicine. In other words – it is tough for Dr. Salwan to see substance use as anything but a medical condition.

What is Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)?

Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?

Is cannabis addiction a treatable medical condition? What is a “cannabis addiction,” anyway? “Cannabis use disorder” (CUD) is a topic we’ve covered before. It’s a myth that refuses to die.

The belief that outside forces determine our thoughts, behaviours, and actions is only becoming more prominent in the culture where neuroscientific theories of consciousness are accepted as “science” despite their philosophical shallowness.

But let’s get to the crux of Dr. Salwan’s argument. “To shake the collective disavowal of cannabis addiction,” she writes, “It helps to understand the clinical paradigm of all drug addictions, or substance use disorders (SUDs).”

So, whether we’re talking about cannabis, alcohol, or opioids, the hallmarks of SUD are always the same, categorized as the three Cs.

Craving: A strong desire to use the substance 

Consequences: Negative consequences of using the substance 

Control: A loss of control when consuming the substance (or in the pursuit of). 

Other residual SUD “symptoms” include developing a tolerance and experiencing withdrawals. But by this definition, nearly every American suffers from caffeine use disorder and a refined sugar addiction.

Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?

Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?

Of course, “cravings” are just thoughts. Perhaps you’ve “craved” ex-partners when visiting areas that remind you of them. It’s a common human experience. You don’t have to associate your stream of consciousness with your ego and attach yourself to each and every thought.

Especially if you’re breaking a long-term drug habit (or trying to get over an ex).

Likewise, determining whether the consequences of your actions are negative is up to you. So-called “addiction experts” are supposed to be neutral, value-free scientists.

You could drink a case of beer every night. Destroy your liver, your marriage, turn your kids against you, lose your job and house, and end up living on the street. These all sound like negative consequences of drinking.

But if you frame the experience as positive, then who the hell are “addiction experts” to tell you otherwise? It may seem irrational to us, but many prefer to live on the street and use drugs like fentanyl.  

This fact of life is lost on many advocates of taxpayer-funded supply of “addiction medicine.” They want to dehumanize someone’s choices and consider them “mentally ill” because they don’t conform to specific social values.

I find it hard to believe that the left-wing advocates making this argument have ever read (or understood) Foucault. Although they’ll claim him as one of their own.

As for the loss of control – despite the persistence of this myth, it remains just that. A myth. No research worthy of the label “science” supports a loss of control.

Some Real Science to Drive Home the Fact 

Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?
Gordon Alan Marlatt. 1941 – 2011

G. Alan Marlatt was an American-Canadian clinical psychologist and researcher in the field of addictive behaviours.

One of his most well-known studies helps answer whether “cannabis addiction” is a treatable medical condition.

Dr. Marlatt took a group of heavy drinkers who qualified as having alcohol use disorder. He separated them into two groups in two separate rooms.

He gave one group cocktails without alcohol. But the cocktails tasted as if they contained booze. He told this group the cocktail did have alcohol in it. Obviously, the participants reported cravings for more, kept drinking, and some even began behaving intoxicated.

He gave the other group cocktails that contained alcohol. But the drinks didn’t taste like alcohol, and he told the group there wasn’t any in the beverage. This group did not report cravings for more and did not binge drink to excess.

Others have replicated Dr. Marlatt’s study. The 3 C’s of addiction are not scientific concepts. They are a belief system of “public health” masquerading as scientific knowledge. 

Contradictions in Dr. Salwan’s Article

Dr. Salwan doesn’t seem aware of the contradictions in her article. For example, she writes it’s “heartening that the prevalence of cannabis addiction among U.S. adults remained below 2 percent from 2002 to 2017, even as cannabis use increased from 10 to 15 percent.”

But how does that make sense? Especially since the THC potency has increased. If the drug itself is causing addiction, shouldn’t higher use rates also increase addiction rates?

Dr. Salwan solves this issue by recognizing that cannabis has – more or less – been destigmatized. If you’re not losing your job or falling behind on the bills, who cares if you engage in wake-n-bakes or smoke weed every night after work? 

Destigmatization, says Dr. Salwan, is a “desired social outcome.” However, she believes it comes “at the expense of engagement in treatment,” where only 4 percent of people received CUD treatment in 2019 versus 9 percent in 2002.

Think about that. The number of people who have sought treatment for problematic cannabis use has dwindled, and she believes that’s a problem. 

If you make your money from “addiction medicine” and by promoting rehabs and treatment centres – then yes, people not viewing themselves as helpless addicts who need your paid expertise is a problem.  

This phenomenon of people viewing their cannabis habits as habits instead of an addiction is a step in the right direction. Only ideologues believe “cannabis addiction” is a treatable medical condition. 

FDA Drugs vs. Changing Your Mind

As mentioned, Dr. Salwan pays lip service to “promising” FDA drugs to remedy cannabis addiction or CUD. But, as she writes in the article, all evidence points to cognitive behavioural therapy (and others) being more helpful.

And it’s obvious why. These therapies tend to challenge an individual’s thought process and patterns of thinking rather than affirm how they feel and look for a “root cause” somewhere in their childhood.

Cannabis addiction is not a treatable medical condition because addiction is not real, and problems of the mind are not medical conditions.

Addiction is a social construct that feeds into itself.

Much like race. We’re all homo sapiens. But you can divide people by skin colour, create cultures based on these skin tones, and then propagate and control populations according to the beliefs and values of the various “in” and “out” groups you’ve created with this social construct.

Addiction is the same way. Whether it’s cutting back on cannabis, social media or trying to create positive habits like exercising and eating right.

You can recognize your free will and autonomy or believe your habits and preferences are a “disease” or “disorder” of the brain. That you’re masking some underlying cause that only years of therapy and a cocktail of pharmaceuticals will cure.

Dr. Salwan worries that people have been denied access to CUD treatment because of its illegality or because their “symptoms were trivialized.”

And indeed, we’re not trying to trivialize someone who feels addicted. It’s incredibly frustrating. But, like poor race relations stemming from government policy, school indoctrination, and media coverage, this poor relationship between drugs and consumers results from “addiction experts.”

Dr. Salwan’s framing of the issue does not help.

Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?

Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?

“Cannabis use disorder” is a concept created and reinforced by these so-called experts.

But what about people (i.e. “cannabis addicts”) who strongly prefer the herb with their actions but not in their speech?

It could be they think cannabis helps them cope with some traumatic past.

And it could be that some people just like to get fucked up. For whatever reason, they want to feel numb. And drugs are an effective way of bringing about that state.

But it’s a leap in logic to blame the substance. It confuses cause and effect. It’s putting the cart before the horse in every sense of the term.

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5 Ways To Become More Empathetic




Empathy is a word that’s thrown out a lot. It’s a word that specifically means to feel something with someone (i.e. put yourself in the other person’s shoes). While pitying someone else’s struggles is easier, understanding their pain is a skill that’s needed in all aspects of life.

According to Psychology Today, empathy is a vital trait for maintaining all sorts of relationships, ranging from friendships to marriages. It’s a trait that takes time, practice and personal growth in order to flourish.

Here are five things you can do in order to become a more empathetic person:

Think of it as a skill

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RELATED: Why Does It Feel Good To See Someone Fail?

While there are people who are better at empathy than others, everyone has it in them and it’s never too late to develop it. Make it a conscious decision to try to understand other people and to listen to them without interrupting, even if they’re completely wrong.

Don’t focus on the positive stuff

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If someone is coming towards you with a personal experience that has hurt them, avoid looking for the silver lining. While it might make you feel better to be positive, this habit erases people’s feelings and invalidates their struggles. While listening to someone discuss an awful situation is hard and uncomfortable, it might just be what that person needs.

Have contact with people that are different than you

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If you surround yourself with like minded people you’ll have a hard time exercising your empathy. Go out of your way to have conversations with people who think and act differently than you. Commit yourself to listening to others and to trying to understand their position. It’s also important to know that understanding someone and having empathy for them doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them or condone their actions.

Don’t try to one up people

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RELATED: Study Shows The Paw-sitive Effects Of Watching Cat Videos

Human beings are self-centered by nature but it’s important to rein in this impulse when you’re trying to be empathetic. If someone is telling you something sad that happened to them don’t pitch in with a darker story of your own. When people open up and are vulnerable, they’re expecting you to listen. There’s no need for you to become the protagonist of this conversation.

Be kind to yourself

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Forgive yourself when you can’t understand some people’s thoughts or when you’re unable to suffer through their losses. Mashable reports that people who punish themselves over feelings of guilt can diminish their desire for helping and listening to others in the long run. In order to sustain high levels of empathy, it’s important to ground yourself in your reality and to manage your emotions.

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