After my first psychedelic trip, I was a completely new person. This is the experience of many people. If you’ve had an intense trip or are considering taking psychedelics, it’s important to be open to change and new experiences. They will happen, and the more optimistic you are about them, the better off you’ll be. Here are some ways psychedelics change you:
How psychedelics change you: more connected to your own creativity
Psychedelics are perhaps most well known for catalyzing the creativity of musicians, artists, writers, and performers for decades. When you have a psychedelic trip, it certainly feels as though it’s making you far more creative than you normally would be. These substances heighten your visual awareness, make you see the connections between things like never before, and help you think faster than you ever thought you could. While it’s easy to say that “psychedelics make you more creative,” I personally view this is as a misnomer.
When you say that psychedelics make you more creative, that implies that they add something to your brain that wasn’t there to begin with. Simply put, if you were incapable of being extremely creative, no amount of psychedelics would make you creative. If you were incapable of feeling love and connectedness, psychedelics don’t have the power to make you feel that either. A better way to say this is that psychedelics put you more in touch with your own creativity. This fantastic level of creativity exists within all of us already… psychedelics just help you see beyond the barriers you put up for yourself. Even one psychedelic trip can open you up to a whole new world of creative possibilities that bring the world to life. You can read more on psychedelic creativity here.
How psychedelics change you: less anxious or depressed
If taken in the right context, psychedelics have an immense power to lift anxiety and depression. At times, this world that we’re living in can seem rather meaningless and dull – it can be hard to see the point of life, especially if you’re not one for spirituality. This was my situation before taking psychedelics, and it’s something called existential depression. After my first psychedelic trip, I was totally changed. I saw the world as beautiful, powerful, and meaningful even if I couldn’t explain exactly why. It almost felt as if I was living in a whole new, different world because I saw it in such a different way. This has been the case for so many people.
Psychedelics have the power to turn loneliness and social anxiety upside down by showing you how completely connected everyone is to everyone else. This may be one of the clichés of taking LSD, but that’s only because it’s so true and potent. Its hard to feel nervous about talking to someone once you’ve felt that we’re all one being. These substances also tend to make you see even tiny details as extremely profound. Take a spiderweb for example. In normal life, you might see a spiderweb and immediately knock it down for fear of running into it. During a psychedelic trip, however, you might see a spiderweb and fearlessly stare at it for hours, seeing the entire meaning of life, beauty, existence, and love encapsulated in it. It’s hard to hold onto sadness in that state.
How psychedelics change you: more anxious or afraid
Notice that the section above started out with “If used in the right way…” To get immediate, positive results from a psychedelic experience, you must approach these substances with reverence and preparation. When you do too many psychedelics too quickly, use them “just for fun,” or trip in the wrong circumstances, it’s common for the experience to go south. A bad psychedelic trip can be life changing. In the short run, it can totally turn your life upside down, making you more anxious and afraid. Bad trips often leave people with a sense of PTSD or the feeling that they’re a totally different person.
In the long run, a “bad” trip can help you more than a good or pleasant trip ever could IF you properly heal. The journey to healing from a psychedelic trip can be a long and winding road. It often sends you on a soul-searching mission that lasts for months or years. At the end of that journey, you’ll likely be much more wise and in touch with yourself than ever before. Does that mean we should all try to provoke a bad trip? Absolutely not. If you’ve had a bad trip, however, it’s important to view it from an optimistic perspective. That’s the first step to healing.
How psychedelics change you: less ego-attached
The word “ego” is usually associated with people who think too highly of themselves for their own good. There are actually two different types of ego: the ego and the Ego. The Ego (capital E) is necessary to life on the physical plane. It’s how I know that I’m me and not you or the living room couch. Without the Ego, we wouldn’t be able to function as concrete beings with certain histories and attributes in daily life. The ego (lowercase e) is not so necessary. It’s the part of us that gets too wrapped up in me vs. you and tries to overcompensate. When we’re too attached to the ego, we can’t see past our existence in the physical world, believing it’s the end-all-be-all.
Psychedelics work wonders on getting us out of the ego. They show us how much there is to life and existence beyond our own little worlds and limited perspectives. They help us to see our individual existences as part of a fabric of consciousness rather than isolated experiences. A psychedelic can help dissolve both the ego and the Ego for the duration of the trip, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have a lasting effect. It’s your job to integrate the ego-dissolving experiences of a trip into your daily existence. By doing so, you can live from a state of Ego rather than ego.
How psychedelics change you: more open
Imagine your mind as a box that you’ve been living in for your entire life. In a good context, a psychedelic trip can act as a friendly person who comes along and takes the lid off of the box. In flows zany ideas, complex imagery, and a feeling of universal oneness. These experiences, if processed and integrated into your life, can transform you into an incredibly open person. Having a psychedelic experience can open to your mind to the possibility of all kinds of interesting new experiences when, before, you might’ve been rather close-minded. The zany thoughts of a trip can help you get more comfortable with thinking about out-there ideas and new ways of looking at the world.
Psychedelics can also help you to see that it’s okay to make mistakes. In a 1960s psychedelic study conducted at Stanford, researchers were interested in how psychedelics could impact creative problem-solving abilities. One of the most immediate effects the participants noticed was that, under the influence of mescaline or acid, they were less worried about failure. This caused them to try more interesting, radical approaches to the problems they were working on. It also helped them start, because they were less afraid of having to be good or right. More on this study here.
How psychedelics change you: more spiritual
An increased level of spirituality is an extremely common reaction to psychedelics. Traditionally, shamans administered psychedelics like Ayahuasca or mushrooms with the goal of helping people have mystical experiences. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if you take psychedelics, you will become spiritual. What it does mean is that many people have reacted to the intense experiences of psychedelics by attributing them to a divine being or creator. It’s true that it can be difficult to rationalize the intense feelings of unity, love, beauty, and profoundness experienced under the influence of psychedelics.
Before my first psychedelic experience, I was a staunch atheist. By the end of that first 10-hour LSD trip, I was absolutely positive that there was more to this world than meets the eye. Brief, intense DMT trips also have a knack for bringing about a spiritual change in people. If you’re not a spiritual person, you can still use psychedelics in a secular context. The advantage of viewing them from a spiritual perspective is that it helps people give these substances the respect they require in order to have a good, peaceful experience.
What it all means
Notice that many of these changes require direct work on your part to become permanent. If you take LSD, mushrooms, DMT, mescaline, etc. once, you’ll probably have an intensely wonderful, changing experience. For a few weeks, you may feel in touch with the open, flowing, happy flower-child part of yourself, but without real self-work, those changes will fade with time. In order for a psychedelic experience to truly change you, you have to put effort into understanding, processing, and integrating the experience into who you are and how you live your life. Psychedelics change you for the moment. Only you can change you for life.
Some related articles to check out:
- Psychedelic effects on creativity and how to integrate them into your life (with or without taking psychedelics)
- How to understand and analyze a trip. (This was written regarding bad trips, but it can help with analyzing a good trip too.)
- Why do bad trips happen? Read about some common reasons
Hope this helps,