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Caroline

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  • #410232
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita, I wanted to say I was thinking a lot about our talks lately and that I am very grateful we have those here. Again thank you for this and for reaching out.

    you don’t have to be very careful here: you can type your words for me without much care because I will not punish you for wrong wording.

    That is very kind. Of course, I would never think you would be angry or disappointed with my bad wording, yet I do not want to seem like I miss any of your valuable thoughts.

    hating yourself is not kind. Whenever you feel hate for yourself, turn to empathy.

    I still fail to be kind to myself. I think about that you wrote and then I forget to use it in life. Still thinking about myself as a fraud. I think I need time.

    I feel less passive in general, though, more grounded. Learning to have my opinion, to be critical.

    How are you, Anita?

     

    #410228
    Caroline
    Participant

    Hello Anita, I am Ok. I saw your message yesterday and still thinking, looking for right words. I decided to just reply. Thank you for checking up on me. It has been okay mostly. I visited one of my colleague recently, had a really good time (she lives in another city).

    I am trying to learn how to have healthy relationships with people but it always ends with me feeling used or taken advantage of.. and being angry or them leaving me for some reason. (I see this pattern with my mom’s friendships, relationships, also people in my family have let me down several times. I grew up in hostile environment – family, school etc). It now has led me to distrusting people at the very beginnings of knowing them which I hate myself for. So it has been tough as well.

    #409037
    Caroline
    Participant

    Tee,

    thanks for explaining, good to know it happens here 🙂

    You go to work every day, which is productive… don’t count that as nothing

    You are right!

    Thank you for responding, good to hear from you.

    Take care 🙂

    #409032
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    Good to hear from you too.

    Sorry about the biiiiig smiley face! If it made you smile back – then I am happy too but no idea how this happened to be this big, ha ha 🙂

    no pressure=> no displeasure. Remember this… and practice NP (No Pressure!)

    This will be my motto for many days now 🙂

    Have a great day! (or night, depends on what is your time zone)

    #409028
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    Dear Caroline:

     When you encounter certain distressing real life circumstances, the old thinking will automatically return. You will have to repeat the new perspective and new thinking until these become your new habit.

    Understood. I need to practice new way of thinking and responding. I already behaved in non-passive way several times, maybe it’s not a lot but I know something has changed in me. I want to be more brave.

    Today my coworker told me that yesterday there was an argument and an outburst of anger of the abusive person in our team, the ex-friend of mine. The other girl who works here says it is becoming a problem and that “he would destroy everyone and he is a sociopath”. I know that on our next weekly meeting he will “perform” as usual (talk in specific way – like an actor, show off, laugh at people, curse – he would usually talk like that for 40minutes while we all listen) and it is becoming a problem indeed that we all passively listen and allow this – along with our manager (he is passive too).

    I know I probably won’t win this… or maybe I should believe I will. Already a couple of people left this job because of his behavior. None of us have an option of a new job yet. I want to call him out and stop his “showing off”, do something, stop being passive – because passive means accepting.

     I know that you deserve kindness!

    Thank you, Anita. It changed a lot since I allow myself to feel that I feel, to rest, even if that means watching low quality tv shows. I noticed since I do not pressure myself to do something creative, I have more pleasure spending the day whichever way I choose.

    Tee,

    Yes, it does help with grounding. The more grounded you are, the less chance that your nervous system will go automatically into dissociation. It’s like creating new neural pathways, which enable you to stay more present… Anyway, try it and let us know how it went…

    I have not had a lot of time to spend in the nature this week but I am planning to do it tomorrow: to go to the park, take some pictures and rest.

    Sometimes you’ll feel great about yourself, the next day you’ll feel like you’re back in the old patterns. Throughout it all, it’s important that you have compassion for yourself and are patient with yourself. If you haven’t succeeded to respond the way you wanted today, you can try again next time. Patience, self-compassion and taking small steps… I think those are key to progress.

    Great point. I will remember that. Being kind to myself.

    don’t be harsh on yourself if you sometimes end up binge watching on those TV shows… What you can do is you might limit the time you spend watching those shows, say instead of the entire afternoon and evening, you tell yourself that you’ll spend max 2 hours in front of the TV. So you make a compromise with yourself: a little bit of your favorite TV show, and a little bit of something else, which is a healthier/more nurturing type of relaxation. So no one loses and everyone wins 🙂

    I am trying to put it into practice. Unfortunately I ended up not doing anything productive this week but I what I did is took a bike few times to go to the supermarket and thus spent some active quality time, so..  I am working on it.

     

     

    #408766
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita, this, what you wrote,

    I don’t see how it is a part of the freeze response. I think that it’s a way to calm yourself down from the day’s stress, a way to regulate your emotions. Doing some of this is healthy.

    if other people are less stressed than you, then they are less exhausted and drained and therefore, they have energy left to be creative. They are fortunate for having had a healthier childhood than yours one that allows them more energy. Don’t criticize yourself for not having been as fortunate as them. Have empathy for yourself instead. The more empathy you extend toward yourself, the less stress you will experience and the less need you will have to distract yourself from the stress in front of the TV.

    .. that really changes my whole perspective and thinking about this. For years I was blaming myself for wasting time and not being creative, forcing myself to spend quality time.

    Anita, you write it all so easily. It really changes everything, in fact when I was afraid to state my boundaries and tell what I needed to say to my ex friend, You just responded “It is not that bad” (among other things of course). So simple and true.

    I wish I could do the same.

    I will be more kind to myself.

     

    #408762
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    Good to hear from you. I am sorry I took more time to respond.

    The people-pleasing, submissive person is not the real you, it is how you adjusted the real you so to manage certain unfortunate circumstances. Being assertive and valuing yourself is the real you.

    I want to and I do believe that.

    (1) “they seem and look like important people“- imagine these important/ superior looking people in situations that they really experience every day, situations where they don’t look or sound… or feel superior, such as when they suffer from intestinal gas or when they step on the scale and can’t see their feet, (2) “thinking I was incompetent“- think about the important-looking people in the meeting: they are currently incompetent in some ways, and in all the ways they are now competent, they used to be incompetent.

    What I did right above is correcting limited or distorted thinking so to make it more balanced and true to reality.

    Thank you Anita, I think I see this more clearly that I assume a lot and it’s wrong. One time my colleague mentioned that those “important people” (sorry I call them like that, just I prefer to not use their work titles or names) said something about me on another meeting that I was doing this project and it sounded like they almost… did not care to comment on me personally, just mentioned some information I sent them. I think I really do assume too much, that people judge or comment on me, my personality when in fact most of the time they do not focus on that. I am learning to see it more clearly now and to remember this more often.

    Everyday I am learning to unfreeze. Yesterday on the meeting someone accused me of not sending something and I right away said that I did, and that my version is somewhere in the e-mail. I repeated that again 3 times, did not argue but politely defended myself in response to what they “accused me” of. Normally I would just sit quiet and not respond, silently agreeing even if someone would not tell the truth. But this time I was really trying to analyze what was going on, that someone is trying to convince me of something and I wanted to not be passive, to not freeze. It is difficult and may sound weird but this is what I am learning now. It is not going fantastic but I am trying.

    I still have those days (like today) when I just spend all day watching trashy tv shows, or youtube channels, just wasting my time. I think it’s part of the freeze response. After I have stressful day I usually just sit on the couch until it’s late and then go to sleep, being passive, not “living” for the rest of the day. I want to fight it but it’s hard. I think this would be great obstacle – my freezing for the whole afternoon/evening which happens almost every day and I need to change that. I noticed I am not creative at all compared to other people and it is hard for me to focus on any hobby besides passive watching non quality shows or videos. Sometimes this is all I do all week after work but I am aware and want to change it.

    Tee,

    Congratulations on these amazing developments!

    Thank you, I have still a lot to do and fix about me.

    This “delay” in reaction can also be explained by disassociation. You don’t notice it immediately because you’re not fully present, you’re not fully observing what’s going on, while it is going on. Only later, in the safety of your home, you sort of “unfreeze” and start realizing what has really happened and that you might have failed to react… Do you think that this is what’s going on?

    Yes, I noticed that long time ago, but did not quite understand that. Even when my ex-friend was here and he scolded me about my cancelling plans and not listening to him, my first response was that I did not know what to say, I think I did not fully comprehend what was going on. Part of things I wanted to tell him I did, but it was a week later that I thought it through, talked here on this forum to Anita and made sure what happened. So yes, that is what is happening not only in threat situations but also when talking to people with no possible threat. I am trying to remember this to stay active more and more often during the day.

    Walking in nature also helps a lot in staying present and grounded. To practice being grounded during your walks, you can put your attention on your feet as they are touching the ground.

    The idea is to try to engage all of your senses. If you’re alone on your walks, you can even name out loud the things that you see and the sounds that you hear. That’s how you can further strengthen the sense of being grounded and present in the here-and-now.

    If this helps then I will practice that more. It gives me motivation to change my destructive daily routine, be more creative.

    So good to hear this! It sure does feel good to be respected, but also to have self-respect. You are making a lot of progress on that path and I am very happy for you!

    Thank you to both of you, Anita and Tee for giving your time and effort. Take care.

    #408669
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    it’s about letting the person we fear at the moment know that we accept their superiority so that they calm down and lose the motivation to show us via actual aggression (hurting us in some way) that they are indeed superior to us.

    – Now I will be more mindful and try to notice those situations in every day life.

    What you used to refer to as friendship with this work colleague was really a dominance hierarchy relationship, wasn’t it?

    -I think it was indeed. Observing his behavior at the pizzeria I clearly saw this need for dominance and superiority even over his manager. I know he needs people who act like I used to act and he will find some other.

    Fake it till you make it is a principle and a practice taught in psychotherapy. Pretending in the context of emotional healing and learning of new, healthy behaviors, is a good thing (not a bad thing).  My excellent therapist at the time taught me this. So, please do pretend, do fake it… until you make it (which means, until the new behaviors feel natural

    I will do that! Feels strange and “fake” but also powerful. I am pretending the person I would like to be, although It is not a different person, it is me – fixed. Right? We have this colleague, she is his friend of many years, She does not have much work yet (unlike me)  and she often suggests she would help me with my projects, research and send me some things, writes “hello” in the morning etc. I think she respects me (does not know me yet), maybe because I take long to respond and I respond very briefly. I do not act inferior with her, I noticed. Sometimes I feel … guilty? That I am “superior” and she is waiting for me to respond although I do not think it’s bad, I am busy, I do not do it on purpose.

    I actually tried to unfreeze once but did not know what to do once I did. It was last week. I was planning to – in the moment of distress, anxiety, to be able to, to force myself to pause for a minute, press pause and see myself, my emotions. I have those stressful meetings at work. For many years I was afraid of typical office work, among people, but life and covid forced me to. I have been working here since June 2021, in this particular department since December 2021 but I did not have that many meetings yet. First one I had in March – I did not sleep the night before, when I was waiting on zoom call for the other person (they often have higher position – we do projects for them) I looked in my camera – I felt sorry for myself, I looked really miserable. Last week I had my fifth meeting of this kind. I also did not sleep, I really did not want to go through with it. I was not only anxious, I was hopeless. When I started presenting the documents I felt stressed so it was not possible to pause, but after more less an hour, I guess, when we already established the agenda and I was done talking (although it was not much on my part, they sometimes ask what I can find, what I can add here etc) and we were still there on this meeting I suddenly looked somewhere in the middle of my presentation and thought: “I am here, in this meeting, I am here, I am stressing about it. They are here too” I tried to fake the feeling in my body as if the meeting was over, tried to feel the feeling of relief, I tried to fake it and fool myself into thinking the meeting was over and I do not have to stress over it anymore – although I was still there. Not sure if this makes sense but I think what I was trying to do is unfreeze myself, connect with my emotions, with feelings of anxiety that I had. Anyway I did not have many ideas what else to do and what to say to myself in that moment.

    Anita, You were asking questions about this moment: how do I feel? My heart was racing very fast, my stomach hurt, I could not eat since morning and still was not hungry, my voice was shaking I think and I have trouble breathing – sometimes the last one passes with time but it happens every time at the beginning – I sound like I just ran a marathon because I gasp for air when I start talking. What was the actual situation that brought about these feelings and sensations? – Just the fact we are in a meeting and I have to show I prepared something, they seem demanding, they are in a rush often, What were my thoughts following the situation? – I was obsessed thinking I was incompetent, that they would think I am not smart and the fact that they are mostly men over 50s-60s, they are important for the company and they earn a lot, they seem and look like important people  – I think it bothers me how small I am compared to them.

    when you notice a freeze reaction, if it is possible for you, take some time away from the situation, take a few slow breaths,  and write down in a journal specific for this exercise

    I will, from now on, I will. I know I need to plan it earlier because I will.. freeze and forget about it. I will try to do it tomorrow as I have another meeting. Then I will try to do it while talking to people, like on Saturday – I tried but it was very, very tiny attempt.

    #408661
    Caroline
    Participant

    On Sunday I talked less*

    *I mean Saturday, at the meeting of course. Sorry for mistakes.

    Have a great day, Anita and Tee, if you are reading this now 🙂

    #408637
    Caroline
    Participant

    Tee,

    “I am sorry that seeing things as they are caused you so much grief. Please do not fall into despair, because there is so much hope for the future, now that you know what the main problem is. You can still build happy, mutually respectful relationships, even if this wasn’t possible in your family of origin. Things can change” – I strongly believe things can change and I will work on that. Feels good to be respected.

    What you wrote about my mother is true. I know there is nothing wrong with me, she just projected her lack of confidence and shame on to me. She will not change, she does not want to.

    I am glad you listened to the song. I was never a greatest fan of music but recently (past 2 years) I started to listen a lot of music, maybe 500% more than in my whole life before that. It gives me joy, calm and changes me, I think.

     

    #408636
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    I was listening to her songs today and almost every day for the past two.. or maybe three weeks. It means a lot that you wrote this to me. “Arms Around a Memory” is also such a beautiful song. Not that many people know or listen to this artist. Makes me happy you are enjoying her songs, especially that we have never met, yet you gave me so much of your time and effort. (I am not good with words or expressing my feelings but I wanted to say just makes me happy you wrote again.)

    Thinking about all that has been written in this post.

    “I used to always be cautious around people, always ready to let them know… that I know that I am inferior, so that.. they’ll go easy on me, so that they won’t hurt me too much.”

    – I never realized what was the reason that I always want to make people feel better about themselves. It is a constant in my life.

    I gave myself time because I did not know how to respond. I was looking for solutions. But I still do not know what to say. I think I am trying to process that or shut those thoughts, because it’s too difficult for me.

    “My coworkers, a guy (M) and a girl.. they know (G) used to say we were friends… I texted (M) later that day that there is no friendship anymore between me and G…. But I still worry (M) may think (G) and I will make up”- it is as if what The Superior one (G) says is.. superior to what the alleged Inferior one says, and therefore what he says is believable and powerful, and what you say.. is not believable and weak…?” – I think I made peace with that. I no longer feel guilty or dishonest. I know I told them the truth and I have no power over what he is saying in the office, IF he does say anything. (maybe he does not – I don’t know). I stay true to myself.

    Thank you for explaining the dominance hierarchy in animal world. “If the threatened one does not submit, the aggressor will most often withdraw and rarely fight.” – Seems to me like a very coward thing to do (the aggressor’s behavior). I believe this is exactly what is going on between me and my ex-friend coworker. I never thought about it this way. I was afraid of him, I am realizing that every day now. Since I got out of this friendship I feel less and less influenced by him, which also means feeling less afraid.

    On Saturday we had this meeting will all coworkers in pizzeria. We met at 1 PM. He texted our manager he would be 40 minutes late because… he will cycling around in the park at that time, the one he used to live nearby couple of years ago. We were all waiting for him almost an hour. He came 1:50 PM, two of coworkers got up to say hello, and then he said “no no, first I prefer to wash my hands” and left. He did not come back until 8-10 minutes later.  His behavior was so.. rude does not even describe it. I am still trying to process this. In case he wanted to talk to me or nag me I prepared a response that if he still does not understand or want me to explain further.. I will say I do not have anything more to say or offer to him. I got out of this and now I do not have to put up with this anymore. That is the point. But he did not want to talk, he did act “nice” to me sometimes though.

    I am trying to be more mindful of what I do, what I see, what is going on around me. I think I have freeze reaction for the most of the time during the day, even without the possible threat. I am not sure if this is even possible but I think it might. I noticed things happen and I do not .. recognize them happening. So I started to try to be mindful, see, hear, be aware. Sometimes things happen, people say things and I do not react, do not respond. Only after couple of hours later I recall what had happened and form my opinion on that.

    I want to work on not having the freeze response and not practicing the submissive- people-pleasing behaviors. To act like I am no less than others. I read some articles but mainly I am trying to be cautious of how I act in front of people, read more, listen to music more, go for long walks and be around nature. I believe I can change it. On Sunday I talked less, but I think I was more confident. I was thinking before responding, not talking fast like a child. It was weird because they do not know me that well and I could “pretend” I am some other person, not inferior to them. It is difficult. I do not want to pretend I am someone else but I cannot act like I always do. It so difficult and confusing, but I am trying everyday now.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #408324
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita, thank you for understanding. Take care.

     

    Tee,

    thank you for the message and kind words. So much new and useful information to me. I will respond to it once I give myself some time. It has been overwhelming but I am spending a lot of time (maybe too much) thinking about it. But I know I need to.

    #408322
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita, I am letting you know that I have read both your posts and I am giving myself time to think this through, as usual. I think it works for me better when I give myself time. I want to fully comprehend it and refer to what you wrote. I hope it’s Ok with you. Take care and have a great day/night.

    #408282
    Caroline
    Participant

    Thank you both for helping me, I think it really took a toll. It’s happiness and relief mixed with no hope for the future. But I will still try, I know that. I think I need to read more how to change myself.

    I see people who had happy, respectful families and you can see it in their eyes, in their behavior.  I will never have that. I’m ashamed of going to therapy. but recently I am thinking about it.

    I would like to thank both of you with a song, not sure if you enjoy it but I’m hoping you would.

    The song is Beth Orton – Arms Around a Memory.

    Take care 🙂

    #408281
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yes I can see the parallels: I was walking on eggshells around my coworker just like I did with my family who rejected me. I never thought of that this way, that this is behavior that started years ago, the pattern I did not invent last year with him, It is something I used to practice most of my life at family gatherings, but also with my mom on daily basis as well as I saw her behavior towards her partner later after my parent’s divorce. Lately when I told my mom about this coworker she told me it reminds her of her ex-partner.. I think I saw too much of fawn response in my life.  Thank you for making me see that this is not a success that he is “polite” to me now, even today when he was extremely polite I know he does not do it for me. He is a performer, a narcissist, he does this to feel superior, to make me feel that is he now acting superior by showing me how merciful and wonderful he is, being polite to me. I know he is a rude person and nothing will change that. I am okay with this and I am happy I walked away from him (His work behavior does not impact me – I work from home, when we do a project together we just send e-mails, I do not worry about this, but still thinking of changing job in the future)

     

    ” I think that being passive and people-pleasing is how you tried to survive and to change your extended family’s rejecting behavior: if you are passive, if you do nothing- there’s less to reject;  if you please them- maybe they’ll think better of you and treat you better (or at least, they won’t treat you even worse).” i re-read this time and time again and trying to fully comprehend this. This describes my life so well.

    “* As to his motivation, what did he get out of treating you this way? My guess is that it tickles him, he enjoys it.” – Now I understand it. He has been working at home for few months but came back to the office? Why? No one knows. Almost everyone work from home, except for those who do not have space for computer at home or have children, or live very nearby and appreciate morning walk. Except for those people no one wants to commute everyday. He does because he needs people, needs audience. He is friends with cleaning lady, 50ish lady who listens to him, is polite, does not argue with him and looks up to him because impresses her. Even when he has days off he calls her to talk. I now know he needs her, I know how this sounds but I am pretty sure this is one of the reasons.

    “* In regard to your work colleague:  if he acted politely toward you all the time, he wouldn’t enjoy himself, it wouldn’t be fun or interesting for him. As I see it, there is no emotional motivation on his part to be consistently nice and polite to you.” That’s all I needed really and now I know there is no way we can even be anything more than people who work together.

    “Resolve to only have nice people in the personal settings of your life” Thank you Anita, I will try my best to do that.

    As for my family I am aware it is not healthy. I see how my mom visits her mother and still plays this game and I don’t like that. I even told her recently that what happened to me is the result of the family dynamic. But she has her reasons, does not want to argue etc. But I think it still affects me, the fact that she is still doing this.

    “I still don’t quite understand your worry about being thought of as dishonest and a fraud.” Anita, thank you for trying to understand and I am sorry if I did not explain it properly. With two of my coworkers, a guy and a girl we sometimes talk, we like each other. They do not seem to like him. But they know he used to say we were friends etc, skipped the part that we did not see each other for couple years. (Sorry if I am repeating myself) One of the colleagues, M. asked me last week “could you make sure you don’t mention any of the jokes we make sometimes to G. (G. being my ex friend, the bully)”. We do not gossip about him but once or twice sometimes would make a joke. I felt like I was accused of being dishonest.  I was yet about to tell M. that we are no longer friends. But still I was concerned that he would doubt my honesty. So I texted him later that day that there is no friendship anymore between me and G. and I do not wish to be connected with him in any way besides work. there is no drama here, just end of friendship and I want it to stay that way. He replied Ok, good to know, thanks for clarifying. But I still worry he may think him and I will make up. Today I was obsessing about how little they spoke to me and I was afraid they do not like me or trust me anymore because I was his friend.

     

    Tee,

    Thank you for pointing out “the fawn response” I relate to this so much. Giving up your personal boundaries and limits in childhood may have helped minimize abuse, but this response tends to linger into adulthood, where it often drives codependency or people-pleasing tendencies. Unfortunately this is my life. I do not have boundaries and people walk over me. I show them I do not respect myself. Even when talking in a group I noticed everyone talks confidently, calmly and slowly and I speak fast, afraid someone will cut me off, I always try to say something fast like a kid who is not allowed to speak so it just says something, anything and immediately shuts up. I always try to remember to be more confident and speak like a normal person, but I can’t. I think people notice that and start to not respect me when they see I have no confidence. I don’t know how to change that. I know boundaries are important and to not freeze, to not fawn, but what is the point when I can’t even have the simple conversation. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling. degrading. I try to watch videos about how to speak, how to behave but when I talk to someone I suddenly forget how to do it.

    I’m afraid those who like me now will soon stop respecting me and it will be over.

    “Grieving also tends to unlock healthy anger about a life lived with such a diminished sense of self. This anger can then be worked into recovering a healthy fight-response that is the basis of the instinct of self-protection, of balanced assertiveness, and of the courage that will be needed in the journey of creating relationships based on equality and fairness.”

    “Yes, in your recovery from the fawn response you will need to set up boundaries so that other people cannot abuse you and disrespect you.”-

    I will really, really try hard  to accomplish that, thank you for this, Tee.

    And you, Anita.

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