Before beginning a microdosing practice, it’s important to manage expectations. Quite often I see people practicing short term microdosing coming away disappointed that they haven’t seen any major changes. It’s hard not to place big hope in this novel practice when the headlines about psychedelics are reading things like “one dose of psilocybin is like ten years of therapy.” Coupled with the fact that people are desperate to be relived of their pain, their stress, and their troubles, it’s no wonder that let downs happen when it doesn’t turn out to be a magic eraser for life’s problems.
Unfortunately, people are of the belief that microdosing is supposed to make you “happy” in the same way that they believe antidepressants will, and protect you from any negative feelings whatsoever. This is far from any picture of mental wellness we could strive for and respect. A better way to think about microdosing is not that it make you feel good, but that it makes you feel more connected. Psychedelics create a brain state that’s more interconnected and less intraconnected. If emotions come up, they are often ones we have pushed away behind walls because they are too much to manage, and we get stuck in small, safe ruminative thought patterns. If microdosing makes certain feelings surface, realise that they are yours whether you microdose or not, and they will surface in some way or another, for better or for worse, sooner or later. Sometimes when I start microdosing again after a break, I’ll have a big cry over some emotions I was pushing away and not feeling. It doesn’t mean that microdosing upset me or made me cry or did something negative, more that it broke down the wall between me and something upsetting – we’re just not used to thinking of this as a healthy thing.
I also often hear people mention that they experienced negative emotions whilst microdosing, and would complain that “this was supposed to make me feel better, but I don’t like what I’m feeling!” Correlation is not causation. What was the cause of anxious or other negative feeling before you microdosed? Everything. Life. Our experiences. They will always be there, we will always be weathering the way the world makes up feel. But proper, patient use of psychedelics and a conscientious approach to working with our emotions and not against them, means that in time, you can process difficulties functionally and without them taking over. Sad things will still be sad, but they won’t pull you under. Worrysome things will still give us anxiety, but we won’t freeze. The goal is to feel safely, not cease from feeling. This is another reason why microdosing is more suitable than macrodosing for many. It allows us to slowly unearth all these buried emotions, to come face to face with them, to safely feel them, and release the tension we have around them so that we can become more unified emotionally. We cannot do this all at once, but we can take as much time as we like.
The bad news is, the world is not going to change because you microdose, and you will still have to live in it. The good news is, with every stage of microdosing, our experience in the world gets a little better in some way. Whilst major changes do not happen overnight, little things do happen from the outset. It will start small, with some newfound motivation to clean the house, or get some unpleasant task out of the way, or it will just be a feeling that it is “a new day” as you go about your business. It may then start to feel like some instinct out of nowhere to eat better, or you start managing your self care more automatically. Habits that were a chore become something you want. You may find yourself reaching out to others more, or going out to see people more. Then there are the changes that happen that you don’t notice until you take stock. You may look back after several months and realise you handle things that come your way in a more stable way. You may recognise that you are not in the place that you were, no longer in some deeply desperate state, and it might surprise you to learn that.
For everyone, the changes are different, and we could not begin to quantify the possibilities, because they are as varied as we are as humans. If I were to condense all my wisdom about this practice into a few words, I would simply say:
“When we set out to practice microdosing seriously, everything is for the taking. You will not become a different person, but rather, you will finally meet yourself again.”