how to help myself?

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    Dear Lily:

    You will be able to focus more on the present when you resolve the issues from the past.

    I agree with you that a parent should not inflict physical or other violence on a child, doesn’t matter that it doesn’t draw blood if he hits you not that hard… it is wrong nonetheless. Verbal insults is also wrong, and so is disrespect of any kind.

    Reads to me that what happened was that you were mistreated by your father/ others as a child. You naturally felt hurt and naturally, you felt angry. Problem is, the people who mistreated you (ex. your father slapping your face, insulting you,  taking your sister’s side when she was wrong to you), he didn’t correct himself: he didn’t approach you after any of his mistreatments of you, telling you he was wrong and that he will correct his behavior in the future.

    Instead, he acted like nothing had happened.

    So your anger, still there, naturally and understandably, confused you: made you think that you are the bad person. As in: why am I feeling angry at a person who didn’t do me any wrong?

    But he did do you wrong. He just didn’t acknowledge that he did.

    Children feel guilty when they feel angry at a parent. Unless the parent tells the child something like: I understand that you feel angry at me. I understand because I hit you, and I shouldn’t have. I am so sorry. I hurt you and I don’t want to hurt you again. I will do everything to not hurt you again.

    But he didn’t say that. The man in the other dormitory situation, he mistreated you too, but he acted as if nothing happened. So, you figured nothing happened, no harm done.

    Only that harm was done.

    I hope that over time, sooner than later, you will be able to determine when wrong is done to you, when harm is done or about to  be done to you even when the person acts like there was no wrong on his or her part. A time when you will not need the other person to agree that he is mistreating you before you believe it is happening.

    “how to help myself?”- I hope you do find ways and please, do post anytime.




    Good insight Lily!  I always think it is better to focus on the Present and look toward the Future for where you want to be/go.

    Your childhood and Past is an old story.  We have the gift of the Present to write our own story.

    It is good to know how you became the way you are from examining the Past.  You can apply that knowledge for the Present to heal those wounds and address those beliefs that do not serve you any longer.



    Hi Lily,

    I’m with Anita on this one – she has a really good explanation of how children feel guilty for their anger towards a parent, even when that parent is mistreating them.

    I would not characterize slapping a child in the face as “light” punishment like you did, using a term to minimize the abusive treatment. There’s never any reason to slap a child in the face. It is not at all surprising you hit your sister. Children copy what they see their parents do. You’re carrying a lot of guilt that belongs to other people. By all means, acknowledge hitting her was wrong, but then feel free to let it go. You were a kid. It’s over.

    As far as your therapist disappearing on you, sometimes it helps me to take things out of the personal context and put them into a different context so I can see them clearer. For example, what if we were discussing your mechanic, not your therapist?

    The mechanic says you probably need a different mechanic for your car’s problem, then he is unavailable to you because he has a health problem, then he never sets up another time to look at your car again for months.

    Would you be worried about the mechanic rejecting your car? Would you think, “I guess my car is too broken to be fixed”? Or would you think: “Well, this isn’t really working out with this mechanic, he seems to be too busy or preoccupied to help me with my problem. I’m going to need a different mechanic.”

    As an outsider, based on what you’ve said, I’d guess the abuse you suffered in your home and school has given you a lot of hesitancy to judge other people’s treatment of you (not knowing how to handle a small interaction with a flatmate, ie). I have had trouble with this, too.

    So I do this mental exercise when I feel too close to a problem: either put the issue into an impersonal setting, like the mechanic. Or I try to think about what I would tell a friend who is in my position, because for some reason it’s a lot easier to think about how to help other people.

    I hope you can find a new therapist that actually helps you, if that is what you want. The shame cycle of being unmotivated/wasting time is a pretty hard one to break out of, but it’s definitely attainable and it does get easier. I still go through cycles but they are shorter and shorter these days.

    It comes from adjusting my goals. If your “two hours of work at a time” system was not working, did your therapist help you set a smaller goal? That is the key to making progress.

    If I can’t do two hours, maybe I can do fifteen minutes.

    When I commit to fifteen minutes of something, I often end up doing the whole two hours. But if I keep trying to do two hours and failing, I just feel bad and procrastinate all the time. I will even sometimes set a timer for fifteen minutes. If I know I am “free” at the end of fifteen minutes, then I am not so averse to sitting down and trying.



    Hello anita, Mark and princevaliant,

    I’m sorry that I never replied back. I was visiting my parents and then I had a deadline for uni-work. But I still wanted to say thank you for your help.I feel like the exchange with you helped me to come to terms with that failed therapy (or at least I realized that not all of it was my fault).

    As for changing my life, I’m still struggling. To be honest, I haven’t made much progress.

    I think all of your advice is good. Looking at my past has helped me to see things clearer. But I still don’t understand myself completely. Maybe I should seek another therapist, like my former therapist suggested (I’m still unsure).

    But I also need to focus on the present. Too often I distract myself online to not have to face reality. I’m disappointed in myself, but I also often feel like nothing matters to me. At least I try to at least not go online in the mornings and it has worked in the last days. Maybe I should start more slowly like princevaliant suggested.

    I hope I can change someday. But thank you for your help again. It’s so nice of you that you took the time to read and reply!



    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome.

    You wrote that too often you go online to distract yourself, “to not have to face reality”- including here, on this thread?



    Dear anita,

    I mainly meant that I do spend too much time watching the news or browsing social media.

    I don’t know if this includes this thread. Maybe I’m talking or thinking too much about my problems instead of actually changing something. Is that what you meant? It’s possible that this is what happened in therapy. I was talking about the same things over and over again instead of making progress.

    Today I came here because I felt bad that I hadn’t replied after you wrote such lengthy comments and I had wanted to say thank you for a while. Also because I felt kind of hopeless today.




    Dear Lily:

    I will be away from the computer for about fifteen hours. If you would like to post about what changes you would like to make specifically, what would be progress look like for you, what it means specifically, please do and I will reply when I am back.

    Take care and I hope you feel better soon.



    hi Lily
    You are not alone.

    There is a time for all things including feeling hopeless. The danger is in attaching the sense of self to the emotion allowing the feeling of hopelessness to define you as being hopeless. Such a attachment tends to end in stuckness.  A mindfulness practice could help with that.

    What kind of therapy were you trying?

    Getting a handle on how the past may be influencing your present can be very helpful. Such work is a life long process that everyone should spend time on – Know thyself.  That said it is possible to, at the same time work on the smaller doable tasks. For example, putting things off is an issue you can work on without having to attach it to how you feel about yourself. In fact, one of the steps is learning how not to attach judgments about the self to the tasks you set for yourself. One small step at a time.  In that regard working with a life coach could be helpful – such a coach would help you focus on your goals.

    The Power of Acceptance: Stop Resisting and Find the Lesson


    Hello anita,

    there are a lot of things I would like to change about myself, but the most important thing is being financially independent. It really affects my confidence that I don’t have a job and career at my age. Becoming more confident is also a goal. All is connected to failing at my career…

    Some things I would like to change:

    – becoming financially independent

    – becoming more confident

    – exercising more

    – instead of wasting my time online, go outside more, meet with friends, have some memorable experiences

    – one day I would also like to be in a relationship, but this one seems just impossible for me and I have basically given up on that. So I should better focus on my “career” and the small things in life

    To become financially independent, the first step would be to find a part time job. I have problems with writing the application. I think I can write a decent one, but most of the time I feel unqualified. In the past, I got jobs through friends or I wrote the application under pressure of the employment bureau. Once I have a job, I usually do a good or okay job (of course I don’t apply for complicated jobs).

    I’m studying illustration and it’s hard to make money with that. I think I have enough talent, but I lack self-discipline and entrepreneurship. I should build a website, publish a book, visit fairs and so on… So far I haven’t taken it serious enough, haven’t taken myself serious enough. But there are definately things I could do. For example, I always wanted to start a blog and I already have some ideas for it. Then that maybe could also help me with my career.

    To exercise more, I could sign up for the sports classes at uni, as they are pretty cheap. One friend also wants to do courses this semester, maybe we could do that together. In the past I went running with another friend regularly and it helped to have an appointment with someone, as of course I didn’t want to let her down.

    I think if I had a job and went outside more I would automatically feel more confident and better about myself.

    But there is also one part in me that just doesn’t care, that wants to destroy myself. And then I think: “if only I didn’t wake up tomorrow” or “nothing matters” or “I want to destroy all my sketchbooks (especially the nicest one, that I worked so hard for)”. I think I have to change my attitude. maybe I should write a gratitude journal or journal in general to release my thoughts. In theory I have a lot of ideas, but putting them into practice is the big problem. And sticking with it. I guess I have to try again and again…


    Hello Peter,

    thank you too for your reply. The article you linked was definitely interesting. I think I have to accept my past and let it be. Instead of endlessly feeling ashamed about it. It doesn’t help at all to do that. I know I should focus on the now, and the things I can change now.

    The therapy I was in was behaviour therapy (I’m not sure if it is the right word in English). At the beginning of therapy you figure out the problems together with the therapist. Then you set goals you want to work on. Then you implement the things you discussed in therapy in your daily life. For example, if you have social anxiety your therapist could give you the task to speak out more in class instead of always holding back. And then you discuss the results at the next therapy session.

    But I felt like it wasn’t like a real behaviour therapy. We were discussing my past and then got a little lost there a lot of times (especially towards the end).

    A life coach is surely helpful, but I can’t afford it at the moment (it’s not covered by health insurance I think). I think I need to set small tasks for myself and not do too much at once.

    Anyways, thank you both a lot for your help!



    Dear Lily:

    It is my understanding that you  want to greatly improve your life but not longer look at your past. Focus instead on the now and make your life happen the way you want it to happen. Correct?

    Notice your objectives- it takes only a few moments to think all those things you want to make happen. It takes ten minutes or so to type these objectives. This is the problem so many of us have: we think so fast, imagine so fast and easily, get excited… but the doing of those things, oh, that takes so much time. There is so much to do and so much waiting in between the doings and then… when nothing much changes, we give up.

    There are different rules to doing that to thinking and imagining. One big rule is patience, a different concept of time. It is about focusing on the moment and not thinking about getting to the finish line. It is about removing the multitude of objectives from your vision and focusing on just one, or two.

    And it takes dealing with that part of you that gives up, that wants to stop trying when the going gets tough.

    What do you think about my reply so far?



    Hi Lily

    Its sounds like you have a good idea of what you need to work on and what you need to do.

    With regards with working on understanding your past and how its impacting your present finding a new therapist with that specific goal in mind might be helpful.  I found David Richo books a helpful guide – ‘When the Past Is Present’ and ‘The Five Things We Cannot Change’

    For the issue of what you can do now I like what you said, “I think I need to set small tasks for myself and not do too much at once.”

    From the list I would start with – exercising more while practicing non-judgment. “Just do it” no thinking required

    I challenge you to go for a walk at lunch or after supper everyday for the next two weeks. Doesn’t have to be far.

    While your walking,  notice your thoughts. Notice what happens if you label yourself based on the thoughts you have. There is no right or wrong way to take a step,  no right or wrong thoughts.  Each step is only a step each thought only a thought. Feel the wind and the sun or the rain… notice that the thoughts quite and change if you set your attention on the light in the trees…  notice that thoughts flow, they can be observed without attaching ‘yourself’ to them…. Without having to follow them down the rabbit hole…


    Hello anita,

    I thought that I’m more or less okay with my past. The things that happened back then, don’t really hurt any more. And I also get along a lot better with my parents now. But maybe it could be worth exploring this more. It just felt that I already talked endlessly about it with my former therapist and other people. But maybe I don’t really understand what it all means yet.

    And I also meant that I don’t want to beat myself up over past mistakes and rather focus on the now. Because sometimes I obsess about things I have done or said, even tiny little things and have a hard time moving on.

    And you are right, it takes time. Changing your life is not so easy… I often want too much at once and I’m sometimes a perfectionist and then I don’t even get started. Or I start a huge project that I can’t finish.

    It seems I can’t get past a certain point, I feel stuck. Why do I give up when things get tougher? I worry that I’m too lazy. Of course it’s easier to avoid problems, than to face them. I also self-sabotage and overreact (like wanting to destroy my work when things don’t work out). And I’m not very ambitious. When I was a child or teenager I used to think “one day I will die anyways, so why even bother?”. I guess I still have that attitude. And it could also be, that I don’t really like myself very much. Often I try harder when other people are involved.

    Hello Peter,

    yes, I think I know pretty well what I need to change, but it’s hard to put in practice.

    I looked up the author you suggested and they even have one of the books at the library. But right now it is borrowed by someone else. Thank you for the suggestion, I might read it when it is back!

    Today I went for a short walk. I think I might take your challenge. I also did yoga for the past four days. Hopefully I can keep it up!

    Thank you both for your advice!






    I would not beat myself up for not being able to change ingrained habits.  Our evolutionary biology keeps us from easily doing so.

    Gretchen Rubin identifies 4 different personality types which helps to know how best approach in ending or starting a new habit.


    Take care,



    Dear Lily:

    The fact that “The things that happened back then, don’t really hurt any more” does not mean that you are “more or less okay with (your) past”- I think it means you are numb to your past, to your past experience with your parents. I believe so for two reasons:

    1. On the first page of your thread you wrote about the past: “I felt like they (your parents) only saw the bad in me, like I was the evil child”, and about the present you wrote: “I want to hurt myself, destroy myself”. This means that because of the input by your parents in the past, a core belief was formed in you, when you were a child, that you are a bad person. This core belief exists now, in the present, and is motivating to destroy that perceived bad person.

    2.Your therapist did not help you, she wasn’t good at what she did. When she shrugged her shoulders following you asking her if the therapy should continue- well, the shrugging of the shoulders means I don’t care. Not caring, the therapy was not … therapeutic at all, damaging, not healing.

    I don’t think the problem is that you are lazy or not ambitious. I think you are hard working and ambitious. The problem is, how do you stop beating yourself when you believe that you are a bad person, how do you forgive yourself for making mistakes when every mistake means to you, that indeed you are a bad person…

    It is that core belief that makes life so very difficult. It has made my life very difficult. It is like carrying a ton of unnecessary, figurative weight. Everything is more difficult, every step is difficult. Having accomplished what you have accomplished so far, carrying this figurative weight, is evidence to how hard working and ambitious you really are.

    To make your life better, it is not that you need to correct lazy ways and become ambitious, it is that you need to challenge that core belief and if you determine that it is untrue, change it. It takes a lot of time and work to do this. But over time, that figurative weight will lessen and lessen and moving farther will be possible.



    Hello Mark,

    thanks for the link. Out of that list, I think I’m most likely an obliger. I have a hard time sticking to my own goals, but if there is another person involved I try harder. But I have also failed to meet a deadline before. If another person depends on me, I will try my best to reach the goal. But if I’m the only one who will have to face consequences, it doesn’t matter as much.

    But I also wouldn’t follow a rule that I find immoral or useless, so I might be a bit of a questioner as well?

    Maybe accountability could help me in forming new habits… But with my therapist it didn’t always work out when I told her “I will do X until next time”. So I guess I have to do something to make me take it more seriously. Maybe tell a friend that I will do something until a certain date and if I don’t I have to do something I don’t like doing?

    Hello anita,

    thank you for your advice. Maybe you are right and I still have to work on overcoming my past. I looked up therapists online, but I’m still unsure if I want to try another therapy. After the last therapy failed I had a lot of doubts. You tell a stranger so many secrets about your life and maybe they just find you ridiculous or they don’t even believe you. And they are only human as well. And what if the next therapist does make it even worse? But I guess that’s life, you have to take risks.

    About my last therapist, I think she might have the same problem as me: not knowing how to say what you want? She gave a lot of hints, that she wanted to end therapy, but never said it directly, even when I asked. Or I don’t know. Maybe it’s useless analysing what others might think.

    I only know how I felt, I was a bit confused about the status of the therapy (is it over or not?) and also disappointed in myself. Also like she gave up on me and I was angry at her as well

    I think you are right that I have a deep-seated belief about myself that I’m not good enough. Sometimes I say to myself “I’m useless/horrible/a bad person/worthless” like a mantra. I need to stop that, but something bad happens, or if I suspect that I behaved inappropriate I go into that state of self-bashing that I know is completely pointless and damaging.

    How did you overcome your negative beliefs about yourself? Through therapy? Or did you do more than that?



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