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How do I stop caring what others think?

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This topic contains 157 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 days ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 121 through 135 (of 158 total)
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  • #318501

    David
    Participant

    I think you should love yourself as you are! Be thankful and go to your goal  no matter what.

    #318567

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    taking walks outside always make me feel better too! Especially going to the forest for many hours. It’s so calming and relaxing! Especially now i autumn everything looks beautiful. I hope you felt better after your walk.

    That my professor ignored me made me feel not so good. I almost cried and hope nobody noticed. I kept on painting and put on a fake smile to calm myself down. At the end of the class I felt more normal again.

    But then I was thinking more about it and worried if I had done something wrong, of course. I was kind of confused, tense and uncomfortable when talking to him last week. I think I didn’t listen well enough to his suggestions. But it is not because I don’t care about his opinion, but because I was nervous and too hectic trying to show too many things at once. But maybe he thinks that I am arrogant… Often people who don’t know me well don’t understand me.

    Then I felt ashamed of myself and like a crazy person. I don’t want to draw attention to myself…

    Was my behaviour rude? Here are more details about what happened:

    The conversation we had, I showed lots of things at once. And I felt confused myself. I wanted to share everything, but it was maybe too much. He made a suggestion of an artist one of my drawings reminded him of. I wrote down the name and said I will google it later. But he said you can google it now. Maybe I should have searched for the artist then, but somehow I didn’t.

    Then we talked about the PC and I didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded and said “uh-huh” several times. Maybe I didn’t even look at him, but at the Computer, I can’t remember. I am the worst at communication… Maybe it could have seemed like I am not interested in what he has to say?

    In the afternoon class he talked for a while. But because my work was kind of stressful, I hadn’t slept the night before and I had to yawn lots of times. Then my phone rang (only vibration) and I turned it off. I guess I must have made a bad impression.

    Later there was group work, which I am not good at. But I tried to say some things. But I made one suggestion and they said it was unrealistic. Then I said, “well we are just collecting ideas”. And they responded “oh yeah, so lets invite famous celebrity x….” (they were making fun of me) and so on (by the way, this week the same person suggested the thing I had said, but maybe she expressed herself better. Maybe I expressed my idea unclearly).

    So when the professor came to our group later (maybe after listening to our conversation), he said, naming a few ideas, “this are the kind of ideas we are looking for”. And so I thought to myself, better say nothing anymore, before making more stupid suggestions. But this probably also made a bad impression.

    Someday one assistant also said this professor is a “diva”. So maybe that’s why. I don’t know. Of course you are right, it is my automatic assumption that I made a mistake. My plan is to go to class next week and see what happens. If he ignores me again, I will ask him if he has time to take a look at my drawings. If he acts weirdly, I will ask if everything is o.K. If that doesn’t work, I will work on my project alone.

    Anita, I will answer the rest of your post later. Last night I didn’t sleep well again and so I feel very tired at the moment. Maybe after sleeping I will feel calmer again.

    #318569

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear David,

    thank you for your reply. It is my goal to learn to love myself more. But there is a lot of self-hate inside me. It will take a lot of time and effort to get to the point of accepting myself.

    But recently I thought to myself: “why did I think I was so unlovable?” And felt like I could be lovable indeed. Maybe it is some progress at least.

    #318581

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    What is happening is that you are aware of every thought that occurs to you and every feeling and you assume that these show and other people are noticing that what you thought or felt is weird. But they can’t read your mind or heart and they are busy with their own thoughts and feelings.

    “I felt confused myself. I wanted to share everything, but it was maybe too much”- other people can’t see your confusion, or hear it, they can’t read your mind and know that you wanted to share everything.

    You have your own (figurative) magnifying glass through which you see and hear yourself,  magnifying every possibly.. weird thought and feeling and every sound and word you make (“I just nodded and said ‘uh-huh’ several times”).

    Other people don’t see you under a figurative magnifying glass, paying attention to every facial expression you make, every “uh-huh”.

    What do people pay attention to? Remember the co worker who used the word “mouse” to describe you? She paid attention that you don’t speak up, that you are shy, or guarded, and quiet. Others may notice the same, but they don’t see this in the magnified way you do, and most of the time they are not observing you but are busy with other things and other people.

    “How do I stop caring what others think?” (the title of your thread) is much easier to answer once you realize they are not thinking about you all the time, only for very shot moments here and there and when they do, they are not thinking about you in the magnified, alarming way that you think about yourself.

    I do hope you consider my input here in a more thorough way than you have before, so that it sinks in and helps. I hope you sleep better tonight.

    anita

     

    #318799

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    sometimes I need to remind myself, that others don’t think so much about me.So thank you for the reminder. I feel this intense shame and a feeling of being inappropriate, and if then somebody looks at me in a weird way, I feel even worse. But likely they don’t think so much about me. I myself don’t think so much about others mistakes (as you know I am too busy thinking about my own). Maybe something they say will annoy me, but I don’t think about it for too long. For example, this one colleague sometimes makes ignorant comments, that can make me feel angry. But he can also be very kind and friendly. And overall I like him, even though I don’t always agree with him.

    I wish I could also forgive myself in that way and tell myself that it is o.K. to make mistakes. But somehow I think about possible mistakes for days, feeling very embarrassed of myself. On Thursday I got to spent time with my best friend, but I still couldn’t let go. Or yesterday I met my sister and I while in the train, I was drawing and I was happy with my drawings. And the day with my sister was also good, we went to the botanical garden and ate at an Indian restaurant. Everything was o.K. but my thoughts drag me down.

    When these thoughts come up, I need to stop myself. Do something else, do sports, listen to music. My sister said that in her therapy they ate a chili at such an occasion… as some sort of distraction I think? If nothing else works, maybe I can try something like that.

    I know you have told me before that others are not thinking so much about me. And it is true. It is not like I don’t value your input. Somehow I am too obsessed with others reactions. And this is very deeply rooted inside of me. I want to work on overcoming this way of thinking.

    #318843

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    What you wrote in your first paragraph makes a lot of sense. And I would like to help you “overcome this way of thinking” that causes you unecessary suffering. I didn’t read all of your recent post because I am not focused enough this afternoon. I will therefore reread and reply to you when I am back to the computer in the morning, in about 16 hours from now.

    anita

    #318933

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    Like you wrote, other people “don’t think so much about others’ mistakes”. And a lot of what you consider to be your mistakes are not mistakes at all!

    It is “this intense shame and a feeling of being inappropriate” that leads you to think that any noise you make or any expression on your face, any hesitation and so forth.. is a mistake.

    “if then somebody looks at me in a weird way, I feel even worse”- you probably interpret a lot of people’s facial expressions as them thinking about you, when in reality they just don’t happen to have the…perfectly smiling reassuring faces. Like I wrote to you posts ago, a person may think of someone else while looking at your direction, looking displeased, but you think it is you who is displeasing them. Or a person may be physically uncomfortable and it shows on their face and you think they are uncomfortable with you.

    Just like you wrote, if someone annoys you, you don’t think about it for too long. Same with others. But again, you interpret a whole lot about people’s looks and behaviors as them being annoyed and disapproving of who you are when this is not the case.

    Plus, no  one is perfect, that is, no one is thought of as perfect by anyone and everyone (except for parents by their young children and celebrities perhaps by their fans).

    “Everything was O.K. but my thoughts drag me down”- I suggest you start a list on a paper that you carry with you (or on your phone) of your thoughts that are fueled by that “intense shame and a feeling of being inappropriate”. You don’t have to elaborate on each thought, list it in a short sentence, for example: Monday 10 am X passed me by in class I thought: it is because I looked/said “hi” in a high pitched voice.

    After listing the thought (situation+ thought, as in my example), then distract. If it is difficult for you to distract, say to yourself: I will think about the situation+ thought later, I have it on my list, so I can attend to it later.

    I don’t know if you already tried such a listing. If you didn’t, will you try this exercise and let me know how it works for you?

    anita

    #319115

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    today the same thing happened again in class. My professor talked to my neighbour to my left extensively, to my neighbour to my right, but didn’t come to me. He talked to both of them for about half an hour and also talked to different people.

    And I forced myself to go to the afternoon class, but then he was late for half an hour and I decided to go home. I also didn’t sleep well tonight. It was maybe not the most mature decision to leave, but the class just makes me feel depressed. From the start I felt unsure if I should take it, because I want to work on some topics I don’t feel super comfortable to discuss (about the inner critic, sexual consent)

    I don’t know. Maybe I am taking myself too seriously. But to be honest, sometimes I also feel angry at you or my therapist for not believing me. I can see the strange looks… But I don’t know.

    Of course I can see that I am often taking it too far. Maybe my professor just was too busy with the others… Maybe he just didn’t know what to say to me. Maybe he has other problems.

    But I also feel like something in my behaviour is wrong and maybe I haven’t explained it well enough and you think better of  me than I actually am? I feel like something in my behaviour triggers people. I get the feeling like they think I am arrogant or I don’t know what they may be thinking????

    As for your exercise, I find it hard to distract myself from these thoughts.

    These thoughts come up:

    1) I said “hello” to a woman from my class, she replied but had a weird look on her face.

    My thoughts: what if they talked badly about me?

    Counter – thoughts: Maybe I was feeling insecure, so I had a strange facial expression and so her expression was also weird in reply. Maybe she has other things on her mind. Maybe she just finds it weird to say hello to a person she barely knows.

    2) Another woman in class looked at me in a weird way.

    My thoughts: what if they find my behaviour weird? What if they talked about me? What if they all hate me?

    Counter-thoughts: Maybe I had a weird expression myself. Maybe she has her own problems.

    3) I entered the classroom and someone said “bad luck”.

    My thoughts: What if they meant “bad luck that she has come to class”?

    Counter thoughts: they likely talked about something else, they could have been talking about anything. Why would they talk about me? I am not that important, they are not constantly thinking about me.

    If I write these, I can see better that my thinking in these situations was really unreasonable. Most likely it didn’t mean anything. But with the situation with my professor or at the dormitory, I feel more like I was not wrong. But clearly, my way of thinking causes problems. Otherwise, I would just mind my own business, maybe ask the professor if he could take a look at my drawings and then the situation would be resolved. I would not feel bad about myself, I would not feel insecure. I think when i think like that it shows and it makes others uncomfortable??

     

     

    #319119

    Lily
    Participant

    I guess I sound selfish when complaining that he didn’t talk to me. When I read it, it sounds childish. I should be above this! I should not care… I should be cooler, not so dramatic. I wish it wouldn’t get to me so much! If only I stayed cool and didn’t almost cry last week. If only I was better at communication. I don’t like myself when I am like that…

    #319137

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “I also feel like something in my behaviour is wrong and maybe I haven’t explained it well enough and you think better of me than I actually am? I feel like something in my behaviour triggers people”-

    -I will take this opportunity to come up with how I view you in my mind’s eye, how I view your behavior with people and you can tell me if I am correct, or partially correct. This is what I see when I imagine you: often quiet, not forming eye contact with people or not keeping eye contact for long, eyes darting, moving around when someone talks to you, maybe blushing and appearing visibly uncomfortable, maybe your breathing changes when someone talks to you, you sort of panic and it is visible.

    Now, if I was your professor or roommate and when I talk to you, it is such an uncomfortable experience for you, sure I wouldn’t want to talk to you. I  would feel as if I was hurting you and that would make me feel  quite crappy. I would even think that you would prefer that I don’t talk to you, and I would accommodate that (perceived) preference.

    “I can see the strange looks”-  suppose you do appear very uncomfortable in social interactions, visibly uncomfortable, face anxious, eyes moving rapidly, maybe you look down, at the floor. Maybe when someone talks to you, your voice sounds very high pitched. So people may think: what is wrong with her? Why is she so very uncomfortable, all I did was say good-morning. Better I don’t say good morning to her again!

    It could very well be a combination of you looking very uncomfortable during social interactions (even before speaking, just walking by where there are people) and people really do look at you strangely, puzzled as to why you appear so uncomfortable and you magnifying their responses, incorrectly believing they are paying attention to every single detail about you, being overly focused on you for long periods of time.

    What do you think?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  anita.
    #319559

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    yes, I think that I seem very anxious and with a strange facial expression. My therapists both also noticed my way of breathing. And my current one also mentions often that I am very tense. So yes, I guess it is visible to people. And when talking to my professor, I was also feeling uncomfortable, because I felt like my ideas were stupid or ridiculous. Maybe I made him feel uncomfortable… It is possible what you say, that people don’t know how to respond, that they might not want to hurt me.

    But often I also get the feeling that they are angry at me. For example, before the second floor meeting was about to happen, some people that greeted me normally before stopped. And they had angry or cold looks on their faces. Then, after one of the roommates had asked me to sign up for the meeting and also asked why I didn’t come to cook in the kitchen anymore, and I replied “I just felt that I wanted to spend some time on my own”, people seemed to be friendlier again. Or maybe I am interpreting too much into it.

    But I know that at my work people were definitely angry at me. They made some jokes and comments, but I didn’t get what it was about. Only months later I did understand better (I think).

    I think one of my main problems is, that I am bad at communication. And people don’t understand me. I guess the only way is to face the problem and talk to people. Because, if I don’t I just end up torturing myself with endless thoughts of “what did I do wrong?”. And I have a lot of fantasy. Whereas I think I can take direct criticism better.

    What I don’t want is another situation like in the dormitory. I wish I could have resolved it. Well, I tried… But I could also not think clearly back then and felt more like I was losing my mind. But I wish I knew what really happened. Did my mind just go crazy with wild fantasies? Did they not know how to respond to my anxious demeanor (and my anxiety was very heightened during that time – I kind of wanted to be invisible, not be seen by anybody)? Or did they think that I was a thief or bad person??

    But I can try to do better with my professor. Maybe I can really ask him next time if he can have a look at my drawings, then see how he reacts.

    #319567

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I think that your facial expressions, body language, breathing rhythm and voice quality as well as your caution regarding the words you choose when talking to people, all those probably communicate your fear and the physical and emotional discomfort that accompany fear (anxiety is fear that keeps getting activated repeatedly during any one hour or day).

    I don’t think people tend to get angry at a person who appears fearful, like I imagine you appear. I think that you tend to see anger at you in people around you because you saw it in your parents’ faces and behaviors toward you and you keep seeing the same in other people. (We all do that, project our parent or parents into other people, often we humans do so for the rest of your days!)

    I trust you communicating fear and some people feeling uncomfortable, not encouraged to talk to you further. I don’t trust that people react angrily to your timid behavior. There might be an exception here and there, but a rare exception I think.

    You can discuss this further with your therapist or a friend who sees you in person and hopefully, can give you a reliable feedback on what your face, body, and voice communicate..

    anita

    #319829

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I am sorry that I am always pressing this issue. It is not so easy for me to understand or overcome.

    Yesterday there was a dinner of the company I work with. And I felt very uncomfortable. Group gatherings, especially if you are sitting together and are expected to talk or group work, where you should discuss ideas, make me feel very anxious. I would really like to avoid such events… It would be easier for me if there was an activity involved, like board games or bowling, karaoke or whatever…

    In such a situation I just would like to go away as soon as possible and hope for it to be over. And I hope that nobody talks to me and just that I appear not too strange…

    It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the people there, infact I like my coworkers overall. But often I don’t know what to say and how to say it in front of everyone… Or I feel very embarrassed.

    There is this one colleague that always makes some awkward jokes or comments (like, that he saw two of my coworkers “getting close” -or something- in the office of one of them) that I sometimes find a little inappropriate. He is probably not a bad person, but to be honest I find him a little creepy. He made some comments to me yesterday and I just didn’t know how to respond and didn’t understand everything he said either. So maybe I laughed awkwardly or had some other awkward reaction.

    Then, the person who sat next to me went out for a smoke. And then this coworker was the one next to me. I went to the bathroom, but it was not because of this colleague, but because I had to go to the bathroom and also the situation overall made me feel nervous.

    As the person who sat next to me went out for a second smoke he tried to start a conversation between me and the colleague who likes to joke. And this colleague then said “Lily always leaves for the bathroom when you go for a smoke” and something of the nature that I don’t want to talk to him. Then I talked some time with him and when the smoking colleague came back, he said “see, it wasn’t so bad, was it?”.

    So this example shows that I make people uncomfortable or feel that I reject them. And I think something similar happened with my professor. I also felt uncomfortable when talking to him, because I was embarrassed of some of my drawings and didn’t know what to say. And some part of me also didn’t want to show my drawings or be in this class, because I feel more free if I just work by myself. Then I feel like I can experiment more, be less afraid. I even started to censor my sketchbooks when I started my studies, because eventually my professors would see them.

    On the other hand, if I get feedback, I will likely improve more and this professor has a lot of knowledge. In his case, I truly had no awkward feelings towards him. I think that he really cares about his students and has a lot to teach.

    I know I definitely worry too much about these things. My colleagues maybe have not even have thought too much about it. Maybe it truly is because of my parents, who were always critical of my behaviour. They had a strong idea of who I should be, and there was little room for my own wishes or mistakes. Plus, in school I also received negative feedback from my peers or not so good grades.

    Maybe I should try to stop overanalyzing everything… But my mind is very hard to distract. Worries about my mistakes come up every day. And the thoughts I wrote down a few days ago when some people looked weirdly at me – it really made me realize that I don’t like this way of thinking. This is not the person I want to be.I don’t want to have so many distrustful thoughts and think more positively…

    Yesterday some positive things also happened. One of the chefs who is now retiring said to me that they want to keep me and that she is happy that I am becoming more brave when working at the reception.So it was not all bad… And overall people were nice and I got to try some food I had never eaten before.

    Also, thanks for your suggestion. I can ask my friends or therapist for the ways I come off, to understand things better.

     

     

    #319835

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    The best way to go about you becoming comfortable in social settings was (if it was available to you), be in a group setting directed by a counselor or therapist, a group therapy context. In addition to the counselor there is a camera person who is filming the whole thing (or taping, whatever the current technology). So within the group setting, everyone is sitting around a table, similar to the work group gathering that you described in your recent post, and the counselor is guiding you and others how to interact for the comfort of all. You and others will be shown films and improve over the filmed version with practice.

    This kind of in-person guidance will be best. Not having that available for you, sit in front of a mirror, alone in a room when you have this opportunity and practice how to sit, how to hold your body, what to do with your hands, how your face looks, then talk in this tone, that tone, practice and see what seems right to you. If you trust someone else to be in the room with you while you sit in front of the mirror, your therapist perhaps, a friend- that can help as you figure out these things.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  anita.
    #319839

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    it seems a good idea. I have thought about group therapy before, but it is very terrifying. And even more so, with a camera.I once recorded myself talking and found it embarrassing and then deleted it. It was hard to watch. My voice was high pitched and I didn’t like what I saw.

    When I see my therapist again, I can ask her about it.

    Next week, there is also another family gathering. I tried to avoid it and haven’t even bought the train ticket. At least my siblings will be there.

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