April 9, 2020 at 2:48 pm #348480
The point you made is interesting indeed. And, although I don’t feel so, you may be right. I’ve noticed that I’ve always had a tendency to exaggerate about things, using words like “never” where I am not supposed to, especially during moments or periods when I’m really down.
And regarding how it feels to be loved, I think it’s in the little things. The simple fact that someone is interested about my well-being, the fact that someone wants to spend time with me, talk with me, do something together with me, these are things that make me feel respected and loved for who I am.
And what I actually feel is the lack of these things with peers. If I don’t call, they don’t call, if I don’t text, they don’t text for weeks. If someone texts me asking how I am, if they want to meet with me, or if they invite me somewhere, I am often surprised (in a good way) thinking “wow, someone wants to hang out with me”. But it happens rarely and seeing how often it happens with others makes me feel sad.
Writing all these makes me doubt what I had written before, and it makes me ask myself whether I am exaggerating with all this or not. What do you think? Do I actually have a great life and an average social life and I am just not able to see it? Am I not seeing the forest from the trees? Am I so preoccupied with comparing myself to others and chasing ideals that I am not able to notice and cherish what I have? I usually have these thoughts whenever I see somebody doing worse than me. Now I have them thinking about what I had written.April 9, 2020 at 3:25 pm #348488
It is common to exaggerate, it is one of the very common “cognitive distortions” referred to in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It is called “all or nothing thinking” or “black and white thinking”. So don’t be alarmed about exaggerating in this way.
“Do I actually have a great life?”- you are not enjoying yourself and you have been suffering for a long time, so no, you are not having a great life.
“Do I actually have.. an average social life and I am just not able to see it?”- I don’t know what’s average, but you clearly have more positive social experiences than what you acknowledge and remember. I think that you are very bitter, understandably, about the rejection and bullying that you experienced. That bitterness blinds you to positive experiences, causing you to minimize and even forget those positive experiences.
I heard from other members before, saying that their experience in school/ with peers caused them their significant lifetime distress, but in each case, I found out that the trouble started in their homes, in their relationships with their parents.
You are the first member where this seems to not be the case, that is: your distress did not start in your home, in the context of your relationships with your parents. It started in school and on the street, in the context of your interactions with peers/ strangers.
If you do choose to write more today/ tonight (whatever time it is where you are), I will read and reply tomorrow morning, about 15 hours from now (your story requires more of my awake- attention than what is available to me now, it being later in the afternoon here). Please do add anything at all that comes to your mind, that may be relevant to your topic: your emotional learning journey!
anitaApril 13, 2020 at 7:51 am #349142
First of all, Happy Easter!
And now my new reply:
Yes. The “all or nothing”/”black and white” thinking apply to me in many situations.
“That bitterness blinds you to positive experiences, causing you to minimize and even forget those positive experiences.” – Yes, I can recognize this happening to me a lot of times. Often, when something bad happens I forget about all the good. But I’m always trying to change this pattern and to appreciate everything I have and have had, which is actually a lot.
I’ve been often thinking that maybe the problem lies within me and I’m just trying to blame things on everybody and everything else, and I am only lazy and afraid, but if I dig deeper I still get to the conclusion that, of course, I have my own part of the problem, but not all of it. And even if I feel sometimes lazy and afraid, if I look back at my past years I have proven that I’m not. I have done things and have achieved goals that many other people would be afraid to pursue, and I’m proud of it.
But I’ve also noticed that I see myself through my achievements, meaning that I value myself by what I have done (or not), and not by who I am. Whenever I feel that I’ve had a productive day I feel I deserve happiness, but when I feel I haven’t done anything “useful” I immediately feel that I don’t. My self-worth comes from my achievements and not from my self. And thinking about it more has also made me realize that this is how I look at and value many other people, which I believe is wrong and I’m trying to change. I’ve also asked myself whether this comes form my parents, but I don’t think so. They always encouraged me to try to achieve high goals and get far in life, but it was never an obligation or a condition. I just have a constant feeling that I need to achieve very high things in order to be content with myself, to feel that I’ve done things right.
In the next reply I will continue with my story, with the high-school and college years.April 13, 2020 at 10:32 am #349190
You wrote today: “I value myself by what I have done (or not), and not by who I am.. My self-worth comes from my achievements and not from my self.. this is how I look at and value many other people”.
On the first page of this thread, you wrote: “The people in my family were all educated and respected not for their job, but for the way they were as people. They’ve always been hard workers, and they’ve never fooled others for their own advantage”-
– can you explain these two sentences I quoted?
anitaApril 17, 2020 at 3:02 am #350018Soul-searcherParticipant
I would love to also be ready for my journey
xApril 20, 2020 at 12:34 pm #350738
I think what you meant to ask me is to explain how the two contradict each other. You have made a good point by putting the two paragraphs next to each other as they are indeed opposed.
Honestly, I have no idea how to explain it, but I’ll just write down my thoughts hoping that they help find the issue.
In my family, I feel accepted and loved no matter what choices I make or how I spend my days. Of course, my family has always valued high jobs and they’ve always talked highly about people who had important positions, but I think this can be found in mostly every family. Even though it wasn’t a condition, I’ve been thinking that maybe indirectly all these things have made me want to be part of that category of people who are important and successful. In the outside world I’ve always felt that achievements mean so much more to people than the kind of person one is. You can be an amazing writer, but if you don’t become successful, you will never be regarded to as an amazing one. You will be perceived as a writer who wasn’t good enough to make it. And it’s not only the way other people perceive you, it’s also the way you perceive yourself.
I’ve realized the fact that so many people who are regarded to as “important” have actually been involved in illegal things, and have done some bad things in order to achieve their success, which is something that I don’t like and respect. I couldn’t imagine myself pushing others down or hurting them in any way purposefully in order to get what I want. But I kind of notice that this becomes a more and more acceptable trend that I can simply not take part in. Nowadays, it’s normal to get a job not because you are good at it, but because you know somebody, which is very sad.
So, I think that even though I believe I am a moral, smart person with many abilities and talents, I feel that I will not be valued based on these things by people, but rather based on what I’ve done, and how high I have climbed on the ladder of success and achievements. I feel that most people will not be interested in me (partners included) if I don’t have something to show. Therefore, I believe that I started viewing my own value based on my achievements because I want to feel accepted by the world, and that’s the way the world will accept me.
On the other hand, of course, I’m trying not to look at or judge other people this way, because I think it’s wrong, especially given the situation in the world and the way so many people reach success, but at the same time, I’m aware that this will not make me be perceived differently.
I’m the kind of person who usually doesn’t care about people’s opinion, but recently I’ve been more and more anxious and afraid about my future, including jobs, place to live, relationships, network, etc., and all these depend on many other people, not only on me. So, in other words, I feel that I depend on people, so I need to be accepted and respected by them in order to advance in life.
This is the best answer that I’ve managed to come up with. Again, if I contradict myself or talk nonsense, it’s because this is how I feel my mind actually is now: confused, filled, pressured, my thoughts contradicting each other, worried, and afraid.April 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm #350748
I read your recent post and it is a pretty good answer to the contradiction I brought up to you: that on one hand your parents were valued for who they are as people (not for their achievements), and on the other hand you value your achievements only, not who you are as a person.
You wrote: “my family has always valued high jobs and they’ve always talked highly about people who had important positions”- can you elaborate on that: what did they say about people in important positions (and did they talk highly about people who reached their important positions illegally or morally?)
* I know that you are a very loyal son and it would trouble you to portray your parents in any way other than positive, but remember, you are anonymous here, and this thread is not about your parents, it’s about you. Also, no parent is perfect, so if you did state that your parents are perfect, that would be unbelievable. We are not attacking your parents here, we are just looking for evidence as to your state of mind, for the purpose of you living a better life.
anitaApril 22, 2020 at 12:25 pm #351110
I’m aware of the fact that my parents are not perfect, of course. I may tend to bring out only their good side, but whenever something comes to my mind that is bad or less good I promise I will mention it.
I’ve been thinking more after re-reading what I wrote to you and I have to add something else: my parents have jobs that are valued by society. They are very nice and helpful people and many people like and respect them, but I think it’s very possible that all those people would not have the same respect for them if they didn’t have these jobs. So the fact that they are valued for the way they are and not for their achievements is actually not true. They are valued for who they are by close friends and family, just like I am.
And now my answer to your request for the to elaborate on “my family has always valued high jobs and they’ve always talked highly about people who had important positions”: I meant that if the subject of our dinner chat was a friend of theirs or a son/daughter of somebody we know, who has gotten a high status job they would have talked about them with words of praise, saying how smart and diligent they were for getting there, talking about how good a life they must have in the future, and honestly I think the same way. I respect people who have managed to find their way in life righteously and are happy, but it also makes me feel very sad and empty because I haven’t, and I feel like a failure for not having been able to achieve things that other people who are even younger than me have easily achieved. I consider myself smart, but whenever I hear about or see these people I feel stupid for not finding a way like they had. I feel inferior to them and this makes me talk to them like they were some kind of chosen ones who know the secrets of the world.
I am very aware of the fact that what I talk about is pure envy, because ever since I remember, I’ve always had in mind the image that I will become a successful person, I will find my way, I will move away to a great place, I will achieve high things, I will be an example for others, I will be respected and wanted (meaning that people will want to hang out with me), and the reality is that after I graduated from college none of these have become true and I became very disappointed, asking myself when or where I have made the mistakes that caused me to leave that path. And this resulted in me becoming full of sadness and envy when I hear about people my age or younger being successful and advancing. I know that being envious is not healthy, but it has become my natural reaction to these things, and I would very much like to get rid of it. I’m actually very happy for those who did it without cheating or doing anything illegal because they really deserve it, but then I remind myself that I deserve it too.
And secondly: No. My parents never talked highly about nor they respected people who achieved things illegally or immorally. This is how I was also raised, but it’s been happening more and more often that I regret being so moral and righteous. I know I shouldn’t, but it stops me from imposing myself and from standing up for myself in different situations. My parents have never raised their voice against somebody except for situations when their reasons were very strong. And I am just like that. I’ve never shouted at anybody, I’ve never faced or took revenge on anybody who had hurt me in any way, and I’ve made my first official complaint to a company against an employee who didn’t treat my right for the first time when I was 25, and I actually thought about it a lot before sending the e-mail (I was too afraid to afraid and anxious to call because I thought I would not be able to think clearly when I tell them my reasons). I regret the fact that I’m not more “manly” because it would help me in my every day life. So here it is, one bad side of my parents, not raising me to be a tougher person But I also need to add something else here: It’s not only my parents who raised me like that. In the country I live in customer service is not something that people care about much, so even if the driver of a bus is rude to the customer without any reason, the customer will be afraid to say anything, they will just bow their heads and stay silent because if they raise their voice, if they are not a really smart and tough person, the driver will win the conflict and will kick them out of the bus. The complaint I had made was against such a bus driver because he was very rude to me for telling him that he had made a mistake with my reservation, and I made the complaint only after I got off the bus at the destination because if I did it earlier he would have not taken me anywhere and the people from the company would have stuck with him. So growing up in a place where I didn’t feel entitled to be treated nicely by people was also a very strong factor which added up to my sensitiveness, my anxiety and my fears.April 22, 2020 at 1:23 pm #351120
I read your recent post, but before I reply to it, question: do your parents know any of this, how you feel, comparing yourself to others, feeling less than, feeling envious, feeling so badly about the aggressive society where you live, etc.?
I wonder if you shared any of this with them, and if you didn’t- how do you manage to be around them day after day and not share these things; and if you did share this with them, how did they react and what were the follow up conversations with them on the matter.
(I don’t think I asked you this before, let me know if I already did).
April 25, 2020 at 3:00 am #351496
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by anita.
Yes, I told them recently while being very down and crying, about my fears, about my lack of self-confidence etc. and they were surprised and said that I shouldn’t feel less than others because I have no reason to. I also told them how I envy people and they said they believe I could do anything I want, much more than others, and that they think others are envious of me for how much I’ve accomplished in my life, and how good I am at things.
I didn’t tell them that I wished they had taught me to be tougher and to stand up for myself more, because I feel it would not help with anything. I cannot change any of the past now, so I don’t see where the point of it would be except for creating conflict, which I see no reason for.
They’ve had a lot of stress during the past with problems and people and now they are in a state where even little things can change their mood, and I’ve noticed that my father prefers to get rid of problems quickly instead of talking about them thoroughly and going to their roots. I don’t want to make it sound bad, they care about me and they try to help me whenever I have a problem, but I sometimes feel that it’s better if I don’t tell them certain things because it would do more harm than good, and doing harm is in nobody’s interest.April 25, 2020 at 8:47 am #351534
I agree with you that telling your parents that you wish they taught you to be tougher and stand up for yourself , “would not help with anything”. Plus, I say: it will hurt them unnecessarily. From all that you shared, your parents did (and continue to do) their best with you. I figure that they weren’t able to teach you to be tougher and stand up for yourself when bullied because either they were not bullied themselves as children or if they were bullied, they didn’t learn to be tougher and stand up for themselves. Therefore, they weren’t able to teach you what they didn’t know themselves.
It seems to me that your troubles all stem from the following combination of factors:
1. Your physical looks: “wearing glasses and being so thin”, which communicated to your aggressive peers (people about your age and about five years older), and to yourself that you are weaker than them (“I began feeling that I look and am weaker than others.., ‘hitting back’ was never an option because I was realistically aware of the fact that being physically inferior”).
2. Experiencing an aggressive peer society: in school and on the streets (“mocked.. called names.. stopped on the street”, etc.).
3. Experiencing no adequate help and protection from the aggressive-peer-society: your parents, teachers and a few peers tried to help you but they were all ineffective, plus the police was not a reliable source of help and protection (“apart from her scolding them nothing else had changed.. The police doesn’t do anything against them”).
* As a result of the above, you experienced having “absolutely no power over the situation”, and you experienced social rejection and isolation (“others chose going with the group instead of me.. Everyone else seemed to be just fine without me…people around me.. have always chosen to spend time or so things with others than me.. I never felt genuinely respected or loved by others… If I don’t call, they don’t call, if I don’t text, they don’t text for weeks”).
* Your parents’ acceptance of you, their loving and support of you (“encouraging me to do anything I wanted to do.. trying to make me feel that I am worthy and lovable person…they said they believe I could do anything I want, much more than others.. and how good I am at things”) is unfortunately irrelevant to your current goal of experiencing life in a healthier way.
* Your focus on achieving professional and/ or material success is misguided: such success will not lead you to a healthier experience of life (“I started viewing my own value based on my achievements because I want to feel accepted by the world, and that’s the way the world will accept me….ever since I remember, I’ve always had in mind the image that I will become a successful person.. I will be respected and wanted meaning that people will want to hang out with me”).
Professional and material success will bring you income and some social applause and even admiration, but it will not bring you the desired good feeling of being socially protected and accepted.
* Here is what is relevant to your goal of experiencing life in a healthier way: having that friend you wish you had, “that friend like you see in the movies, who would always be on my side, who would defend me in conflicts and who would support me when I’m feeling down”. Only that friend has to be you.
Because life is not a movie, and because wishes don’t magically come true, it is you who has to be that friend you wished to have for so long.
How to make it happen: you will have to practice self empathy, being on your side; you will have to understand that it will be a slow and painful process, that repeatedly you will feel distress, then feel better, then feel distress again; that repeatedly you will have to act a certain way even though it is scary, like (figuratively) jumping over a large crack in the pavement underneath you, not knowing if you will make it safely to the other side. As you make it safely to the other side again and again, over time you will build confidence in yourself and the good feeling that you are after will follow.
Literally jumping over cracks means exercising and increasing your muscle strength, so that you personally experience being physically strong, and then learning and practicing assertive and social skills.
May 3, 2020 at 7:47 am #352794
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by anita.
I don’t know about my parents having been bullied, but I know that they have always been the kind of people who never hit back, no matter what. So, as you had said, they couldn’t teach me that.
The factors that you wrote that my troubles stem from and their results are all very well outlined. I couldn’t have written it better myself, and I really appreciate your detailed insight. It means a lot that I can feel that you care.
I am aware of the fact that money and success don’t necessarily bring happiness, but I still feel they would help me feel independent socially, because I wouldn’t be afraid of saying no or standing up for myself to people who don’t treat me right, as I would feel that I don’t need anything from them. But, while I am not a financially and professionally successful person, I do depend on them, because people are the ones who can offer me opportunities. I’ve looked back on chat that I’ve had 7 years ago with a friend of mine and it made me sad because I noticed that I told her my problems back them and they were exactly the same as now: I’ve always tried to impress people in order to be accepted (without any results), I haven’t had any confidence in myself, I had no idea how to approach girls, and I kept facing rejection.
I’m trying to be the friend I wish I had, but for others, not for myself. I’m trying to behave and talk to people the way I wish my best friend would do to me, but they don’t seem to need that from me. Everybody seems well off without me, and this doesn’t encourage me in my pursuit of finding new friends, because it all makes me feel like I’m forcing things, and a real friendship cannot be forced; it must work naturally. I recently tried becoming friends with a girl I’ve known for a long time. Our families are very good friends, and we are almost the same age. We’ve talked sometimes but we were never friends. I visited her a few times, I gave her a gift on her birthday and I invited her over to watch a movie or out in the city to just talk (I am sure she didn’t see my invitations as dates because I didn’t behave that way with her). I’ve never said anything stupid or offensive to her, and I actually always tried to have interesting conversations with her, and I even opened up to her about myself a few times, but not too much, because I tried to make the conversations about her, not about me. She never really wanted to visit or never initiated any meeting, and whenever she said that she was busy and she would call me the next day, she never did. After a while I heard that she temporarily moved to her parents’ home because she felt very lonely in her apartment and wanted to be around people. This came down as something very odd to me because I’ve always tried to be her friend and for her it seems like it nothing. So I eventually gave up on her too, because at that point I really began feeling like I was forcing it, which I didn’t want. We still talk when we see each other and we chat, but I’m always the first; if I don’t do it, she never does it either.
Being my own best friend is something that I agree with, and I consider it a major part of loving myself. Jumping over cracks, not being afraid of the unknown, trying again and again until I make it, these all sound great, they really do, but I still don’t understand what they imply practically.
I am not as thin or as weak as I used to be when I was little. My former girlfriend (2 years ago) actually said that she really liked the way I looked, which was a very pleasant surprise to me. And I still exercise frequently. But I think that all these things that happened early in my school years have stayed with me, and the added more recent experiences have made me lose faith in the world. The proved me that the way I see the world is not right, and this only leaves me clueless because I don’t know how to see the world the way it really is.
I’ve heard a lot of stories about people who have showed their talents and willingness and they were therefore noticed and appreciated, which lead them to advance, and I thought that would happen to me too. But no. From almost all my experiences (with only a few exceptions), people who were clearly less qualified, willing or caring got to advance while I stayed in the same place, watching them, unnoticed.
To be honest, I often feel the need to just hug somebody, apart from my parents. That’s a different kind of hug. And the thought that there isn’t anybody who would hug me (I’m not even imagining more) makes me feel very sad, because it only strengthens the feeling that I’m not wanted or needed. I’ve actually realized at some point these days that I forgot how it feels to be kissed or touched by a girl in a romantic way (something that so many people talk about being so simple and normal to get), and I almost cried. I think that deep down I can feel that I deserve it, and that’s why I feel this way, but if I look at things logically, the only conclusion that I get to is that it’s my fault, and I don’t deserve it, because if I did, I would have it.
In the last 2 paragraphs I just poured my heart out, and wrote what I feel at this moment. I don’t always feel this way, but this is something recurrent, so I think that these are the thoughts and feelings that lie deep inside me.
Thank you for your reply, Anita, and thank you for taking the time to help me. I’m not planning on giving up, even when I am in my lowest moments, because the only logical step is still to move forward, because it’s my only chance.May 3, 2020 at 9:33 am #352814
You are welcome, and thank you for your expressed appreciation.
“money and success.. would help me feel independent socially, because I wouldn’t be afraid of saying no or standing up for myself to people who don’t treat me right, as I would feel that I don’t need anything from them”-
– first, if and when you have enough money and success, people will treat you well, won’t they? Because they will be needing something from you.
– second, if you are afraid now to say no and stand up for yourself, you will not get to the situation where you have enough money and success, so to no longer be afraid.
-third, there are examples of people who did achieve international fame and financial success and yet, they didn’t stop being afraid. Early life fear does not go away because life circumstances change.
Right now, you are trapped in something like the following distorted thinking: I am too afraid to stand up for myself, so I will achieve money and professional success without standing up for myself. When I am professionally and financially successful and people respect me as a result, I will not be afraid to stand up to their.. respect.
“I’ve always tried to impress people in order to be accepted (without any results)”- time to change the strategy.
“I don’t know how to see the world the way it really is.. people who were clearly less qualified, willing or caring got to advance while I stayed in the same place, watching them, unnoticed”- humans are animals. Animals such as humans, in nature, are about the survival of the fittest, and fitness in nature is physical strength. In human modern society, the rules didn’t change that much, only the concept of strength is not limited to the physical. Money, fame, political power.. this is Strength, so people like Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist, was strong while having zero physical strength. But to get to his professional and financial success he used strength of some kind. In other words, strength breeds strength; you don’t get strong by remaining weak.
“Jumping over cracks.. trying again and again until I make it, these all sound great, they really do, but I still don’t understand what they imply practically”-
Here is a practical implication for you, relevant to the present time and circumstance: call that friend you mentioned who moved back to her parents because she was lonely, and tell her that you are interested in taking her out on a date (or having a pandemic appropriate iso-date): tell her in a confident voice that you are interested in getting to know her better.
Unlike in the past (“she didn’t see my invitations as dates because I didn’t behave that way with her”), make sure that this time you do behave that way with her, and that she sees your invitation as a date.
Unlike in the past when you “tried to make the conversations about her”, make the next conversation about you.
What do you think?
anitaMay 3, 2020 at 1:04 pm #352900
Thank you for the fast reply, Anita.
Yes, I totally agree that I am trapped in a distorted thinking like the one you mentioned. But I have no idea how to get out of it. How do you change a thinking pattern when what you see around you doesn’t reflect the one that you want to believe?
I didn’t make myself clear enough. When I mentioned that “She didn’t see my invitations as dates because I didn’t behave that way with her” I actually meant to say that I didn’t want her to be my girlfriend, but a friend. I wrote the parentheses in case you were going to say that maybe she rejected me because she had thought I wanted a relationship.
If I had liked her that way I think I would have let her know.
And regarding the conversation, I read everywhere that people like talking about themselves, so that’s why I thought that people would like me more if I would be interested in them.
As I’ve said earlier, I don’t want to force anything. But I feel very lost, like I were left behind, and I have no idea where to begin.May 3, 2020 at 1:41 pm #352908
You are welcome.
“How do you change a thinking pattern when what you see around you doesn’t reflect the one that you want to believe?”
Don’t believe what you want to believe, believe what is real, that is, what exists, whether you like it or not.
“I feel very lost, like I were left behind, and I have no idea where to begin“- I suggested you begin with asking your friend for a date, but because you are not interested in dating her, find something that you do want and assert yourself in the context of accomplishing that thing that you do want. Start small, that will be the beginning that you need.