The saddest chinchilla you'll ever see and how therapy can help.

YOU GUYS. LOOK AT THIS FREAKING

SAD-PANTS CHINCHILLA. JUST LOOK.

Ok, you're right. I am not an expert on the emotions of chinchilla, but lets just pretend for a moment while I yammer on about the importance of environment in mental wellness. I think this chinchilla looks sad AF, and I can't help but wonder how his environment plays into his apparent emotional state. He lives in a glass box in a PETCO with several other chinchillas. One could extrapolate that this chinchilla is obviously pretty dependent upon others for his wellbeing, which is not a far cry from what happens in his human counterparts.

Sadness can be derived from a variety of factors. For the sake of this sad little chinchilla today, lets consider Maslows Hierarchy of needs with the foundational basic human needs being food, water, shelter, air, etc, and as we come up the pyramid (goals AMIRITE??) we become increasingly connected, in both internal (knowing and feeling connected to ourselves, inner wants and desires) and external (connected to others) ways.


I often retell the story of how I got into Mental Health Counseling-a job I took working at a wilderness therapy program in Utah. I loved that job, which is why I'm doing this now. Basically this company would take clients who were 12-17 and making some pretty intensely poor decisions (drug and alcohol use, runninaway, sexual behavior problems, just to name a few) and bring them into the deserts of Utah for 5-10 weeks of intervention. The interventions included group and individual counseling, while they backpacked around the desert and mountains of Utah, co-existing in these nomadic groups. Fascinatingly, the kids so often made drastic changes in that time frame-they looked like different people by the time they would graduate and move onto whatever was next. I always felt like at a base level if you took about anyone who was struggling and got them to workout daily (the kids would backpack around, moving camp daily), sleep regularly, take any medications regularly, and eat relatively healthy regular meals, their mental state would improve drastically. Not to mention the benefit of being immersed in nature 24/7 for that period of time.

To further prove my point please examine this picture that I found on the interweb, of a chinchilla in its natural environment:

Yes, I did cherry-pick the happiest looking chinchilla on google...I know that you're smarter than that. What I actually discovered in this process was that chinchillas naturally look a little sad.

BUT THE POINT ISN'T THE DAMN CHINCHILLA, GUYS!

The point is that if you're sad, is it maybe possible that your environment sucks? Yeah, I know-its not that simple and THIS is where good therapy can be so helpful. Sure, there may be a direct correlation to your sucky environment and your state of mind-but also:

(not to be all cliche about it or anything, but)

What were the past events and thoughts that led you to choose a sucky environment for yourself?

Yes; shit happens and we can't always say that we chose for XYZ to go down, but we do get some agency with regard to the outcome and how we end up internalizing and moving forward with the outcome of XYZ-and yes, creating intentional forward movement of XYZ can be super challenging-which leads me back to why it is so important sometimes to get some extra support in doing so. That support can look like a lot of different things, a trained therapist who can help you pull apart the pieces leading in and out of your state, a friend who can listen to whats going on, and maybe even a cute little sad chinchilla for you to pet; but please do something connecting, and get outside into your natural environment dammit.

#connection #therapy #sadness #chinchillas

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