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How do I stop caring what others think?

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This topic contains 178 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #321375

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I will need to re-read your recent post more thoroughly tomorrow because I am not very focused now. But for now, you can bring back the topic of K anytime. Reading about your past interactions with him did distress me, again, because it is so  unfair to you, you deserve so much better than to be treated as less-than who you are.

    You believe you are hurting others while you are not! I don’t want you to do what I did myself earlier in my life, availing myself to be used, and then feeling guilty for not being pleasing enough to the person who is using me! (yes, that still makes me feel  angry!)

    I will read and reply more thoroughly to your recent post (and anything you may add to it) in about 15 hours from now.

    * I agree that you are indeed not insane. (Temporarily insane at times, in the past at least, like I was too).

    anita

    #321455

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “my comic about consensual sex will have a text how in my opinion consensual sex should be”- remember though that in your personal interactions with any man, your opinion on this matter is all that mattered. Imagine you tell a man: it is my opinion that the two of us should agree to have sex before proceeding, and the man says: I disagree. Now what do you say or do, go back on your opinion or compromise it? I hope not! (You can look up the legal definition of sexual consent where you live).

    You wrote: “It is not true that I would sleep with any man, so that he would not get hurt”- I hope not. But this is not what I wrote to you in my post before; what I wrote was: “a woman will easily get a lifetime, even a deadly STD if she is to have sex with any man who wants to have sex with her, so to  not hurt his feelings”-

    -I was making a general statement about “a woman”, not about Lily.

    “I had the hope to find love with K., … I need to get to know somebody very slowly and build trust”- excellent.

    anita

     

    #321579

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I just wrote a long text and then it was gone… But I want to thank you for your replies.

    And you told me before about your past experiences. I am sorry that you had to go through this and that my threads remind you of this. Sometimes I worry to bring up K., as it might be distressing to you.But I still have a hard time understanding what happened and sometimes I get a strong urge to talk about it.

    My resolution is to take better care of myself in the future. I also don’t want to drag another person into this mess.I want to establish good boundaries and say no, even if a man disagrees with my opinion. The price to pay would be too high.

    Maybe tomorrow I can write more again. But I am o.k. today. I was at uni all day and had a normal conversation with my professor again. My only worry was, that I took up too much of his time. But his comments were very helpful and I got some work done. Also I talked to two other students and went to eat with another one. I felt normal and comfortable with myself. I felt like I could be worthy of being liked. Sometimes I ask myself now why I thought that I was completely unlovable.

    Oh, I also want to apologize for the misunderstanding. I have a tendency to take everything personally.

     

     

    #321589

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    It is so good tor read this from you: “I am o.k. today… I felt normal and comfortable with myself”!

    I accept and appreciate your apology. Not much of an offense that you committed against me (who doesn’t take things personally from time to time, I do!) Regarding K- yes it activates my own unpleasant experience but do bring him up again when you need to, because my experience exists whether activated or not. Better for me to endure it and come to peace with it when it is activated.

    Till next time you post, I wish you more and  more of that normal and comfortable feeling with yourself.

    anita

     

    #322325

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I am sorry, that I didn’t reply sooner. This week was very busy, but it is also good for me, because there is less time to worry. It is not good for me to spend so much time alone and without a plan like I did last weekend. Better make plans next time and call a friend, have more structure in my days.

    Lately I have been feeling more o.K. with myself, unlike last year. There is still a lot to learn and often I make mistakes. But sometimes I get the feeling that I am o.K. at my core. And it is thanks to you and my therapist, that I am getting more able to have compassion for myself. Because you had compassion with me, instead of judging me. That really helped me!

    Lately I think that I have not really processed what happened with the man at the dormitory. Back then, I even talked about it to friends like it was not that serious, when in reality, it caused me lots of stress and despair. I remember telling a therapist about my experience, and she covered her face in shock, while I was somewhat acting like it wasn’t really that bad. I never understood what my former therapist meant when she said that I was trying to gain control over the situation by taking on responsibility. But maybe that is what has happened.

    My therapist suggested we could try EMDR, a technique used in trauma therapy, even though I am probably not traumatized. But it could help to prevent this from happening again.

    After the experience with K, I feel even more motivated to learn how to establish boundaries and to speak up for myself. My biggest regret with him is, that I did not stay true to myself. I did not hug him when I felt like hugging him, I did not talk to him about wanting to take it slower, when I felt like that. My way of thinking was very strange, I tried to please him, but I did not know what he wanted.

    I know that no matter what I would have done, it would not have worked out. We did not want the same things. And we both are bad at communication. Plus, we grew up in very different countries with different values. Plus, long distance relationships are hard, worse if you just met. I really don’t understand him and he did apparently not understand me.

    There is much I have to learn regarding relationships and life in general. Most people learn these things as teenagers, but back then I couldn’t even speak to men… Often I feel embarrassed about being so far behind. But I am trying and not giving up so easily…

    #322329

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    Thank you for your appreciation and kind words. Good thing- to have more structure in your days.

    You wrote regarding the man at the dormitory: “Back then, I even talked about it to friends like  it was not that serious… like it wasn’t really that bad”-

    – when you feel that you are worthless, something of no value, you allow people to treat you badly, feeling that.. it is okay to treat badly something that is worthless.

    “in reality, it caused me lots of stress and despair”-

    – when you feel that you are worthless, your feelings are worthless and you have no compassion for yourself. In other words, you figure it is okay for someone to treat you badly and it is okay for you to allow it.. because it somehow makes sense in your mind (as it had been in mine) to be treated badly, no big deal when it is done to a worthless thing.

    Fortunately, and as a result of your ongoing healing, you wrote: “sometimes I get the feeling that I am o.k. at my core… I am getting more able to have compassion for myself”-

    – you are believing more and more that you are worthy, and with this belief enters self compassion.

    “I never understood what my former therapist meant when she said that I was trying to gain control over the situation by taking responsibility”-

    -If the child believes that her parents are bad parents, she is really stuck with bad parents. But if she believes that she  is the one who is bad, then there is something she can do- try really hard to be good.

    In addition to this, there really is something a child can do living with hostile parents- submit to them, not complain, withdraw so to not get into trouble, be eager to please them, get on their good side and so forth. These are adjustment a child makes which do  help in the home of origin but hurts the grown child/ adult in other contexts.

    When parents treat their daughter badly,  the young girl  pretends best she can that it is not that bad. Later she  is a woman who does not complain or resist a man who treats her badly, pretending it is not that bad.

    anita

    #322509

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    somehow I get more enraged when others get mistreated. Yesterday or so I read about this rapper who took his daughter to the doctor to get her virginity checked. It made me feel so angry. And then I had to think of the man at the dormitory. How he said that he wants to marry a virgin and doesn’t want the “garbage” of another man. While also saying that he had a different woman each night before he met me.

    He said to me I was “pure”. I hate all of this! It makes me sick, this arrogance and this double standard. He doesn’t deserve to be with any woman. I know that I never want to be with such a man again.

    I made the mistake to comment on another person’s backward comment, then felt more hurt…

    But now I feel that I don’t want to waste my time with such people anymore. People with no empathy, who are arrogant and self-righteous! Never again!

    I do not want to be that worthless thing anymore. I do not want to give in to such people like the rapper, the man in the dormitory or the commenter. Better not give them more power by doing what they want!

    Sorry, I feel angry today and hurt.

    What you wrote made a lot of sense. I am starting to understand things better. And I want to unlearn these behaviours, no longer submit to everything and not accept that people don’t treat me well.

    #322523

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “now I feel that I don’t want to waste my time with such people anymore. People with no empathy, who are arrogant and self-righteous! Never again! I do not  want to be that worthless thing anymore… Better not give them more power by doing what they want!”-

    – as I read this and before I read your sentence after that, I thought to myself: Lily is making my day! Here is her much needed anger, anger has its positive use!

    And then I read your sentence after: “Sorry, I feel angry today and hurt”- no reason to apologize. Anger is natural and has its use in nature, to promote survival. Same with you, when you feel rightfully angry at people who do hurt people, it promotes your own survival by motivating you “to unlearn these behaviours, no longer submit to everything and not accept that people don’t treat me well”.

    Anger is just what you need to continue to heal and accomplish what you stated here!

    anita

    #323125

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    most of the time my anger gets directed towards myself. Only for a short moment I get angry at others, then I start to analyze my own behaviour again and worry about my own mistakes… And the closer the person is to me, the harder it seems to get angry at them. Sometimes I get angry at people I read about in a newspaper. Or I got angry at my roommate who ignored me, even though this was not really a big problem. The man at the dormitory did way worse things to me, but I wasn’t able to get angry at him for long. Now, with some distance, I can see clearer what happened.

    You are right that anger has a purpose. It can help to distance myself from people that hurt me, so that I don’t get hurt any further. My worrying so much about hurting others and dismissing my own feelings did not help me at all. It only created unhealthy relationships.

    Something else: today at work a client flirted with me. He asked me if I was married and first I just laughed awkwardly. Then he asked again and I said: “I am not interested”. And he said: “I was just asking”. Now I am worrying a little that I was too harsh, but I thought better be impolite and tell him straight that I am interested, than running into another disaster. Also, I don’t want to flirt with clients or colleagues. I like to help out the clients and be friendly, but hopefully I am not too friendly. But so far it only has happened two times that somebody wanted to flirt.

    Just talking to him, I felt a little stressed. He talked very loudly… Then he came back to the reception to say that there was a problem with the printer and I looked at it and there was no problem… And I had lots of other things to do!

    My other (male) colleague said, in twenty years time I would be happy to get that kind of attention and that I should see it as a compliment. But really, I don’t like flirting that much and never know how to respond. It makes me feel awkward and some men are also rude, some grope you, some say insinuating things. What I want is to get to know someone step by step and then have a true relationship.

    My colleagues comments made me doubt myself. I don’t really know how to respond in a professional way and of course, I do not want to hurt the other person’s feelings. But really, it would be far worse if the person would come back more often to flirt and then I wouldn’t know what to do. So better kill every thought of him flirting with me quickly.

    Not sure, I do not know how to find the balance between completely distancing myself from people and letting others walk all over me!

     

     

    #323129

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I think you responded very well to the client who flirted with you. “I am not interested” is a fine and dandy response, appropriate, said in a calm but serious tone of voice (not a rude way, yelling it or such). You definitely don’t want to accommodate flirting in the work place.

    Elsewhere, if the person doing the flirting is not rude and you want to entertain the thought of maybe, you can say: no, I am not married and see what he says  next. Let’s say the man responds with something like: so, you want to have coffee with me in my place, I live across the street. You say: no, because you do not want to be alone with a man you just met, and a decent man will not  offer a woman he just met to be alone with him at his (or her) place!

    If the man responds with: would you like to have coffee with me in the café across the street? That’s reasonable, to have coffee with a man you just met in a public café, at day time.

    Regarding anger:

    “Sometimes I get angry at people I read about in a newspaper”- probably because it is safe for you to get angry at someone who is not there in person, and does not know you are angry at him (or her), and therefore will not get angry back and hurt you!

    “the closer the person is to me, the harder it seems to get angry at them”- the closer they are, the more access they have to you, and so, they can hurt you if you express anger at them.

    “Only for a short moment I get angry at others, then I … worry about my own mistakes”- afraid, I figure, of people retaliating, punishing you for you being angry at them. Do you think this is it?

    anita

     

    #324259

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    when I spoke to the client I was feeling unsure of myself, awkwardly laughing. Maybe I should have said it in a bit more serious tone. He seemed a bit annoyed/angry, when he responded with “I was just asking”. Maybe next time I could say: “I don’t want to engage in flirting at the workplace”. But it was good to clearly express my boundaries and say no.

    Your suggestions regarding dating sound reasonable and how I would like to handle things myself in the future. But at the moment I don’t feel like I should be dating. People flirting with me also makes me feel very unsure and insecure. I am very inexperienced with dating/relationships. My therapist sometimes says that some people experience their puberty later in life. I hate to hear that, that I am still on that puberty level, but I guess it’s the sad and annoying truth.

    About me getting angry at others: I am not sure if I am afraid of people getting angry. I just feel confused about it all.

    I guess when reading about it in a newspaper, I am not involved in the situation and it cannot be my fault. It is easier to see what is happening.

    When I am involved myself, I get confused easier. Especially when the other person comes to me and criticizes me or accuses me. Somehow I often believe their accusation or start doubting myself.

    K. said to me “You never loved me” and “You only played with me.” And I started asking myself: is he right? Am I that horrible person who only uses others? I was not that open with him, but that was because I was afraid and ashamed and feeling unworthy… But I was not trying to deceive him. And I know that I wanted to love him, wanted to get to know him better… It takes me a long time to see things clearer… Now I think; I am not that horrible person, but I made mistakes. There is a lot that I have to learn.

    The topic is very confusing for me. Maybe with a person like the man in the dormitory, I tried too hard to understand him, tried to forgive him and wanted to fix the situation. And he also acted like he was the one wronged, or like nothing had happened. That confused me.I should have walked away from the situation way earlier!

    Maybe I did not get angry for long, because this relationship was so unhealthy for me.

    The two relationships (or interactions) with men I had were just very confusing for me. Everything happened too fast and I was not able to truly evaluate the situation, or understand the person. I have almost no experience with men. For many years I was too afraid to even talk to them. I felt that they could never like me and walked away from dates and compliments. It seemed impossible for me that someone would want to be in a relationship with me.

    In the relationships with men there is also another difference: physical intimacy. It made me more attached to them. I even missed the man from the dormitory for a while… I have not experienced much physical touch. Hugs and caresses are not common in my family. My father shakes my hand when welcoming me. My mother started to give hugs a few years ago, but it felt awkward for me. I miss that tenderness the most and K. gave a little of that…

    At some people that were close I got angry. There was that one friend and we were close for a while. But after some time, I became slowly annoyed by her. She made pointed remarks, was very demanding and once told in front of some people that I didn’t know well that I am afraid of men (which I had talked about to her in private). My anger grew slowly and over time. Then I let the relationship fade out. I got angry at myself for not talking to her and explaining my feelings. But now I think, the important thing is, that I ended the friendship. But next time I can do better.

    Sorry for the long text. As I am writing things out, it becomes a bit clearer to me, but I still don’t fully understand myself.

    On a positive note, I started the illustration about the inner critic and am very happy with it! I wish I could show you, but I am worried to post things on this website, so I lose my anonymity.

    Also, I want to use the end of the year to refresh myself. Handle things I have procrastinated on. Write to people I did not write to for long, work on some problems. Also exercise more and eat less sugar and journal more… Friday and Saturday I was doing well, but today not so well. It is still a work in progress!

     

    #324269

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I will read your recent post and reply when I am back to the computer in a few hours.

    anita

    #324281

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I want to be focused as I read your recent post (and anything you may add to it) and I am not focused enough this afternoon. I will therefore be back to your thread tomorrow morning, in about 14 hours from now.

    anita

    #324383

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “When I spoke to the client I was feeling unsure of myself, awkwardly laughing. Maybe I should have said it in a bit more serious tone”- you told the client the correct words: “I am not interested“. Better say it in a serious enough, confident tone, but you are learning to evaluate people and situations better and to act and react effectively and assertively.

    This kind of learning is slow by nature and requires a lot of patience. Try to look at your various life situations as learning experiences. Give yourself a good grade for saying the right words (the italicized), and on this imaginary graded exam paper, write a comment for future reference: need-to say these words in a confident voice. You can stand/ sit in front of a mirror in private and say these words, practice sounding and looking confident and sure of yourself.

    “He seemed a bit annoyed/ angry, when he responded with ‘I was just asking'”- people don’t like to be rejected. But a woman has to reject men if she doesn’t want to have sex with any and every man who approaches her, otherwise, it will be a horrible life for a woman, submitting to any and every man so to not hurt his feelings. Best you should do is reject the man respectfully: no, I-am-not-interested, said not in a rude way, not trying to humiliate the man in any way, but simply say No, confidently.

    “Maybe next time I could say: ‘I don’t want to engage in flirting at the workplace'”- if you said that, the client may have understood you to mean that you are okay flirting with him during lunch break (if it means having lunch outside the workplace) or after the work day. And he may wait for you right outside the door at the end of the work day. So better what you did say to him.

    I am re-writing what you wrote next: when you read in the newspaper (about person X  mistreating person Y), “It is easier to see what is happening” because you don’t know X or Y, you were not involved in the situation, so you can clearly see that X mistreated Y.

    But when you are person Y and X mistreats you, you get confused- you don’t know who mistreated whom and you tend to think and feel that it is you who mistreated the other person, especially if the other person criticizes and accuses you, or acts like nothing happened.

    K used you/ mistreated you, but he criticized you: “you never loved me”! “You only played with me”! and automatically you feel that he is right and you being wrong, and you asked yourself: “Am I that horrible person who only uses others?”.

    Next you ruminate, go back and think of  all the reasons it may have been your fault: “I was not that open with him”-

    – but it is not a good idea for a woman to be open with a man she doesn’t know and especially with a man who is using her.

    “Now I think: I am not that horrible person, but I made mistakes”- not being more open with K than you were, that was not a mistake. Your mistake was that you were open with him at all.

    The man in the dormitory, “he also acted like he was the one wronged, or like nothing had happened.  That confused me”-  you were the one wronged in that situation, he mistreated you, forcing himself on  you, raping you, or borderline- raping you (I am not a lawyer practicing where you live, so I don’t know if he legally raped you).

    Imagine if the only people going to jail for crimes they were guilty of were people who admitted their wrongs.  Imagine a group of murderers going to court, evidence is plenty. One by one each goes in front of the judge. The judge says to the first: these are pictures of you in a pool of blood holding a gun, and the accused says: no, it’s not me. There is probably something wrong with your glasses, Judge,  you need new glasses! And the judge says: maybe I do need new glasses:Not guilty! Next! The next guy tells the judge: “nothing happened!” and the judge thinks: oh, I thought something happened, but if you say nothing happened, I guess nothing happened… Not guilty! Next!

    “Everything happened too fast and I was not able to truly evaluate the situation, or understand the person”- if you want, you can list behaviors/situations you encountered with any one of these two men, one line per behavior/ situation: 1,2,3 etc., and I will help you evaluate each behavior/ situation right here  on your thread.

    Regarding the physical intimacy with those men- yes, we do need to be touched, it is a physical need. I remember long ago reading about babies living in an institution kind of setting, unable to develop not because of lack of food, or blankets to keep them warm when it’s cold, but simply because of not being touched enough. My neighbors’ dog Hunter, when visiting me, every once in a while I see him anxious, and he reaches out to me, wanting to be touched. Once I pet him, he relaxes.

    The female friend you mentioned, the one who disclosed in public something personal that you told her in private, that was wrong of her, and I understand why you felt anger at her. But then, you got angry at yourself “for not talking to her and explaining my feelings”. It is a mental habit, established over many years, that when you are involved in a situation, and something wrong happens, then it must be you who are at fault/ responsible for anything and everything that is wrong.

    Regarding your illustration about your inner critic, don’t post it here if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, but you can describe it to me if you want.

    Regarding your New Year goals, you may want to list them, make them specific and simple to understand and follow.

    anita

    #325673

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you that you took the time to write such a long and thoughtful response!

    When it comes to the man from work, I think I did the right thing too. Even though there is room for improvement, I am on the right path, I think. Best to say no, than to rush into anything. After K, I am a lot more cautious. I know know that I need a lot of time to get to know a person and feel comfortable with them. Otherwise, I will say yes to things I am not really ready for and could be easily used.

    When it comes to the two men, I am not so sure how to respond. Thank you for your offer to discuss their behaviours with me! You always take so much time to help me and others!

    The man from the dormitory, I can see a lot clearer now. And I know that his behaviour towards me was not o.K. and at least sexual assault, no matter what he thinks (he said he was so nice to me and that he respected me fully, but his actions told otherwise…). You are right that a guilty person doesn’t always admit when he is guilty. It was just very confusing to me, that he said those things with such confidence. I think he really believed it himself. But it is over now and I should forgive myself that I didn’t always respond in the best ways!

    When it comes to K., I feel differently, because in my heart I felt that he was a good person. He loves his family and I admired him for being so hardworking. He told me about always helping others. He was so cute, he showed me photos of him in his working gear and told me about his life. And he also told me about his future plans, if he only wanted to use me, why would he do it?

    At the same time I can also see that he was selfish at times and it feels like he wanted to dominate me and he changed his story about being in a relationship when he met me two times. And I am very confused, but can’t believe that he used me. Maybe he was just afraid? He said to me in the end that he didn’t want to tell me about his problems, because he did not want to lose me. We were not very open with each other. And I know that a lot of the problems also come from my side. My fears and shame grew very big, I was obsessing over being sick and when he moved I was also scared to contact him too much, because I didn’t want to be too needy and irritating.It is also partly my fault that there were no real dates, because I am very scared of those things. My thinking was very warped.

    In conclusion, it didn’t work out and I need to get over it! I just feel sad and guilty about the whole thing.

    Last week I also talked with my therapist about the topic and she seemed a bit over it (maybe I am wrong though). I know that I should be over it too. It has been a long time. Maybe I am wasting my and everyone’s time still talking about it. Maybe I am keeping the problem alive. Maybe I should focus on other things now. I know that I learned a lot from the experience with K. I am much more clear now in what I want in a relationship and what I don’t want. I have seen the consequences of what happens if you don’t stay true to yourself and try to always please others. I don’t want to let that happen again! And I think that I am starting to actually live it out, like telling the man from work straight that I am not interested.

    So I am not sure if I should take your offer of listing confusing behaviours. Maybe I should just focus on the present and keep my thoughts about those men to myself from now on? But I know that they will come up again. Maybe I should journal about it. Thank you very much though for your offer!

    Yes, I think you are right, humans and animals need physical touch. I am missing that a lot. But it is hard for me, I am not very open and have a hard time getting to know others. Lately I have become more isolated. But I also feel more calm when being alone.

    My parents were not completely cold by the way. Once I found a cassette with my mother singing songs to me as a baby. But later she became overwhelmed with parenting and maybe depressed. I think my parents are not bad people, but they were a little overwhelmed with their parenting role.

    About the illustration: maybe I can post a link or description when we are both online and edit it as soon as you see it. But there is not much time for editing here, is it?

    The new year goals: first I want to use the last month of the year to properly end this year. I want to take a little more time for myself to journal more, become clearer in what I want and do unfinished tasks. For example I finally got me some essential  furniture and my room looks a little better and less chaotic now! It immediately makes me feel better. Also I want to do some small things I procrastinated on. But I also want to think about my goals for the next year and what I want to improve.

    I am not finished in making the list of goals for next year, but the main thing will be to focus on uni. Also take good care of myself by eating healthy, exercising and going out for nature walks. Another thing, I should work on my friendships and relationships, because I have been spending too much time alone the past months. I will post the full list once I am finished. Do you also make new years goals?

    Until next time, please take care!

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