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09 Aug
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How to Use Strokes to Have a Healthier Life.

This is going to be a short article, just so you can derive maximum benefit in little time.

In Psychology, the concept of strokes is a way to measure the attention one person gives to another. Every time you interact with someone (speech, gestures, expressions) you give them a stroke. Some strokes are small (a nod) and some strokes are big (saying "I love you"). Strokes can be both positive and negative, and come in varied and complex forms.

The most interesting classification is unconditional versus conditional strokes. Conditional strokes are when you receive acknowledgment for doing things ("Well done", "You could improve this"). Unconditional strokes are when you receive acknowledgment that isn't related to action, e.g. I love your eyes. They are strokes that you get of the virtue of simply "being".

This is important because most people tend to give and receive conditional strokes, which ties people's value to their productivity. While that is okay in moderation, it has been compounded by the sheer volume of attention we trade daily - we are connected all the time, whether we meet people in person or interact with a device. The continuous barrage of conditional stroking ingrains in us a need to be productive all the time. As you can imagine, that leads to exhaustion, burnout, depression, and anxiety.

Strokes are necessary because we are designed to be social creatures and we need attention, love, and recognition from others. We feel lonely and miserable otherwise, which is why negative strokes are better than no strokes. After all, even negative attention IS attention, and it is far easier for us to be confronted than be ignored.

If you are miserable or have a failing relationship, it's probably because you and your friend/family/partner are not being stroked by each other (psychologically speaking).


To understand why there might be a lack of strokes in your life, you can read this piece on the Stroke Economy at your leisure.

There is a variation on strokes called affirmations - short, positive strokes that you can give to yourself or to others. Think of affirmations like small permissions and boosts you can give yourself - such as "I have a right to exist," "I love myself just the way I am," and "I am capable of and willing to be happy."

Affirmations are great because they're completely within your control. You can create, modify, and adjust them specifically to your needs. You can say them to yourself, you can read them, you can video yourself and watch that, you can talk to yourself in the mirror, or you can write them down daily. Affirmations are highly versatile tools to help your mental strokes by giving you the strokes that you need.

For a slightly more detailed explanation and a wonderful list of templates, you can read this piece on Affirmations at your leisure. I want you to try saying the templates to yourself, and see which ones you have a reaction to. Those are probably the strokes that you're lacking in your life.

There is one problem though, as there tends to be. You have what I like to call a bastard brain, a mental block that likes being comfortable in its existing knowledge. If you are miserable with what you know and believe, your bastard brain will be comfortable in that misery and will resist change. Hence, when you start affirming yourself, you will find that you don't believe it, simply because your existing strokes might be conflicting with it. Think about it - if you've been told you're worthless all your life, telling yourself once that you're not might not immediately fix your problems. That is why creating a habit of positively stroking or affirming yourself is the way to success, even if you don't believe it. Start doing this habit regularly, and I promise you it will show results in a short amount of time.

You don't have to rely solely on self-affirmation, no matter how powerful it is. Rebuilding a shattered self-esteem by yourself is possible, but very difficult. Receiving external affirmations is generally more effective and desirable. Luckily, you have a community of like-minded people here at The Wall and Us, and you can setup a partnership with someone. Find someone you like in the community, show them this article, and set up a daily/weekly ritual with them of affirming each other. I promise it works if you can get past the initial awkwardness that your bastard brain is throwing your way. There are people here who want to talk to you - pick one.

Good luck. Some positive strokes for you before you go:

  • You are a wonderful and valuable human being simply because you exist.
  • It is okay if you cannot find the energy to do things today. What matters is you and your health.
  • You have the power to feel better, do better, and make others feel better.
  • You rock. ;)
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About the Author

Total Articles : 1
Vaibhav Gupta

Professional writer in 4 different ways. Giver of warm hugs.

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