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  • #374185
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “I will still have to think of a name for the new thread… the accountability thread seems to work so far”- that’s one name (the italicized).

    anita

    #374386
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    In your new thread, today on Feb 9, 2021, you wrote that without your new thread, “my own thoughts would have just tortured me nonstop. I still am feeling anxious, especially at night”-

    – it just so happens that this morning, I re-read and studied important parts of what you shared since January 2016. Maybe my understanding today is better than it was before, and maybe it can help you. So, here it is, stated as simply as I can, and not at great length:

    There is no doubt in my mind that you are not a bad person, Lily. I am sure that you are a good person.

    You are a good person who often believes that she is a bad person who hurts people. When you see a person who is uncomfortable or distressed, you tend to automatically think that you caused that person’s discomfort: something you said, something you didn’t say, the expression on your face.. maybe your anxiety or awkwardness itself showed and made someone uncomfortable… – the torture.

    So, you try very hard to be very careful and to not hurt anyone (which is exhausting!). Problem is that whenever you are around people, someone will be uncomfortable at one time or another: maybe the person slept poorly the night before, or his/ her stomach hurts, maybe that person has a financial worry. Therefore, it is impossible for you to be in a social situation where everyone is always comfortable, calm and content.

    And so, whenever you are in a social situation, it is inevitable that someone will be uncomfortable and that you will worry about what you did/ say wrong to have hurt that person.. it is a torture, and a no-win situation.

    This is how this torture came about: figuratively, a parent holds a mirror to a child and the child sees who she is in that mirror. The mirror is the parent’s facial expressions, tone of voice, words said and actions taken.

    Your father, perhaps the dominant parent in your home of origin,  has been a man who “always sees a lot of flaws in other people… angry or irritated, his voice sounded emotional… judging others” (Feb 2019)- that was your mirror, a man who saw a lot of flaws in everyone, including in you. You heard his angry tone of voice, you heard his words (ex. “You are a disgusting person”), and you felt his hand hitting you, so you naturally believed that you were a disgusting, bad person deserving his judgment and anger.

    In Dec 2020, you wrote: “the thought still comes up, when spending time with people. Am I getting on their nerves? Am I annoying them? Hurting them? The thought becomes so horrifying, that I often preferred to avoid social contacts and stuck to myself”- this is your childhood experience (your father being annoyed with you, your father seeming hurt and angry), being re-experienced again and again.

    But Lily, in the context of your father and you, there was something wrong with him, not with you. He saw a lot of flaws in everyone, including in your sister whom he favored, this is why she’s been upset with him (“Why is my sister more upset at my parents than me”, Jan 2019), and this is why your father had no friends (“he has no friends”, Nov 2018).

    In summary: the mirror was distorted and it still is. In reality, you are not inclined to hurt other people. You are a good person. Oh, how I wish you believe me!

    anita

     

    #374489
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for taking the time to read through my old threads and always trying to help me.

    When I am calm, I can see that I am an o.K. person.  Today I am feeling much much calmer. The extreme anxiety feeling is almost gone. Worries about mistakes still come up though. And then I am still feeling fear. But not like in the past two weeks. My body feels far more relaxed.

    I can see myself as a good person, overall. Just sometimes certain things trigger extreme self-deprecating thoughts, where I am seriously starting to question myself. Then I ask myself if I am this horrible, manipulative person and I mistrust myself. I am starting to look for signs in my behavior that I am bad and I look at articles about covert narcissism and looking for symptoms for that in myself. Or I am imagining in my head how I hurt myself. It is hard to get out of this when I am in this mindset. But certain tools like going for a walk or talking to someone can help.

    Rationally I can see that what you say is true. The extreme criticism from my parents made me extremely critical of myself. But when I am in this negative state of mind, it is still hard to get out of.

     

    #374498
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome. I am glad to read that you are feeling calmer today.

    “When I am calm, I can see that I am an o.K. person… Just sometimes certain things trigger extreme self-deprecating thoughts”-

    – I hope that you (1) continue to improve your ability to calm down and keep yourself calm as much and as often as possible, (2) become more and more aware of what triggers you, (3) once triggered, you are able to calm down and disengage from those self deprecating thoughts.

    anita

    #374500
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you. I hope I can do it. Maybe I should make lists of what to do in each of the three scenarios.

    Tomorrow could be a challenging day at work, so maybe it is a good occasion to practice and not fall into negative thinking patterns again…

    #374502
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome.  “Tomorrow .. is a good occasion to practice and not fall into negative thinking patterns again”-

    – you will fall into negative thinking again and again: it is your mental habit. The practice is about what to do the next time you fall into negative thinking.. and the time after that etc.

    The practice of what to do every time you fall into negative thinking will become your new mental habit.

    anita

     

    #375069
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I wanted to write today and ask for your input. My anxious feelings come up again and again. I have obsessive thoughts about the past and about what I did say or did not say, all that I did wrong and I cannot win against my own thoughts. I worry a lot about having hurt people. Mainly by my own social awkwardness, the assumptions I made about others and then ghosting people, when I did not know how to handle the situation.

    There is this overwhelming shame. I feel ashamed for even small things. For example, a few weeks ago a craftsman came by to fix the refrigerator. He was late and it was around noon and I did not know when he would arrive, so I started cooking. Then when he came and started working, I still cooked and felt awkward, I even hid the cookbook. What is there to be ashamed about? Why do I feel the constant need to hide myself?

    I wish that I had not hidden myself in the dormitory. Maybe I could have even found a friend. I exclude myself, punish myself. There is this fear of making mistakes, of not being accepted. It would be better to face the fears, because if I don’t, they will grow bigger and bigger.

    My question is, how do I overcome this overwhelming shame? How do I let go of the past? The shame feeling is not helpful at all. It makes everything worse. I only become more afraid and obsessive.

     

     

    #375075
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I am glad you posted in this thread, while keeping the other focused on holding yourself Accountable. This will be a long reply, so please take your time reading it at your pace, as patiently as you can. Please keep in mind that in the following, I will not be judging you whatsoever as wrong or bad or anything like that, there is and will be no anger toward you. I am aware of the significant progress that you’ve made over time and I think highly of you. I am letting you know of these things in advance because I know only too well that your inner critic is (1) overly-active and overly emotional, (2) harsh and cruel, judgmental and shaming, (3) rigid, inflexible, closed to input, and resistant to change.

    I want you to read the following without the unwelcomed interruptions and interpretations of that monstrous inner critic. And.. before (and if) you judge yourself as a monster for having this monstrous inner critic, I want to put that worry to rest by explaining the following, based on my communication with you, and my re-reading and re-studying of your posts over the years:

    Your inner critic is almost an exact copy of your father. You were not born with this inner critic, it is not authentically who you are. This inner critic is your father imposed on you.  I will quote what you shared about your father and comment on it, part by part, ten items overall:

    (1) “He is very critical of everything.. critical of me (Jan 2016)- your inner critic is very critical of everything about you.

    (2) “He always punished me” (Jan 2016)- your inner critic very often punishes you.

    (3) “I felt like (he) only saw the bad in me, like I was the evil child” (February 2018)- your inner critic sees only the bad in you, it sees you like an evil person.

    (4) “He also goes crazy when stressed… My father is indeed a very stubborn and emotional person… He also was angry or irritated, his voice sounded emotional… He is worrying all the time and he can drive you really crazy… He is the kind of person that would tell you everything that can go wrong” (February 2018, November 2018)- your inner critic is often angry or irritated, it goes crazy, it is very stubborn,  it is very emotional, it worries a lot, it can drive you really crazy, and it tells you everything that can go wrong.

    (5) “My father was especially cruel to me. He seemed to dislike me (Nov 2018)- your inner critic is especially cruel to you, it dislikes you.

    (6) “Conversations with him are  more like a speech, where he doesn’t react so much to what the other person has to say” (Nov 2018)- your inner critic gives you speeches: it does not listen to you, it does not respond to you or converse with you. It does not listen to or respond to opposing views, it does not compromise and it does not change its positions: it is very stubborn.

    (7) “My father is scared of everything and expects something bad to happen always and everywhere” (February 2019)- your inner critic is scared of everything and expects something bad to happen always and everywhere, and it tells you about how something bad is just about to happen here, there and everywhere, anytime, almost always.

    (8) “My father is.. judging others harshly for their misbehaviour… When there was conflict, there was very little understanding and negotiating. It was more of ‘his way or the highway'” (Feb 2019)- your inner critic judges you harshly for any of your behaviors: it judges any and every one of your behaviors as misbehaviors, at one time or another. When you experience a conflict, it does not show you understanding or empathy, it does not negotiate with the part of you that needs help. It is harsh, strict, rigid and inflexible inner critic: it is its way or the highway.

    (9) “He was just too unfair and unkind to me. He hit me and said terrible things to me” (Feb 2019)- your inner critic is just too unfair to you, too unkind, and it hits you (sometimes directing your hands to hit yourself), and it says terrible things to you.

    (10) “he disliked me so much.. he was so aggressive towards me” (Feb 2020)- your inner critic dislikes you so much, it is so aggressive towards you. It is an aggressive inner critic.

    And now, for the rest of my post: in your most recent post today, February 22, 2021, you shared that you have “obsessive thoughts about.. all that I did wrong and I cannot win against my thoughts. I worry a lot about having hurt people. Mainly by my own social awkwardness… There is this overwhelming shame”. You gave an example: a few weeks ago, a craftsman came to fix the refrigerator in your apartment while you were cooking: you felt ashamed for cooking and “even hid the cookbook”-

    – all this is what always was, it was this way when you were a child living with your harshly critical father, your real-life critic, and it has been this way ever since your father’s harshly critical mental representative has been living rent-free in your brain, as this inner critic.

    “My question is, how do I overcome this overwhelming shame? How do I let go of the past? The shame feeling is not helpful at all. It makes everything worse. I only become more afraid and obsessive”-

    – my answers today: you know that the shame is not helpful, that it makes everything worse, but this knowing is not enough to stop the shame because your inner critic is overly active, harsh, stubborn, uncompromising, and shaming!

    The way to stop the shame is to address and expel that inner critic, to do away with it. It is possible to do if you are 100% willing to kick that cruel inner critic out!

    (1) Understand, thoroughly understand: that your father and his mental representative aka the inner critic are illogical, unreasonable and frankly, insane. Here are two examples of their insanity:

    a. In January 2016 and on January 2020, you wrote about the dormitory man, a man who clearly mistreated and raped you, a selfish, self-serving, bad and guilty man, a man with no concern for your well-being: “I feel like a very terrible person.. it’s me who is the abusive one.. I feel sorry for him… I must have really hurt him!.. this is all my own fault… Am I abusing him by letting him abuse me?.. Did I abuse him? I think I did. I was not able to say no, I was not able to protect myself”-

    – it is only an insane inner critic who blames the victim of a crime for not protecting herself successfully. You did not let him abuse you, he has let himself abuse you. You (the victim) are not guilty, he (the victimizer) is guilty.

    b. In September- November 2018, regarding another man, you blamed yourself for abusing him, and the reason: not because you said or did something abusive, but because you felt insecure: “With that new person, I wonder if I was abusive… Maybe I made him feel insecure, because I was insecure myself”-

    – it is an insane inner critic to accuse you of abusing another person by feeling insecure; it is a painful experience for you, to feel insecure: it is not abusive to another person.

    Regarding that same man, Sept-Nov 2018, your inner critic told you that you are a toxic, horrible person who will hurt this man… not because you said or did something abusive, but because you were not able to show your true self: “I fear that I hurt him because I.. don’t show enough of my true self… it’s hard for me to just be myself with most people.. I am very toxic. I’m a horrible person and will only hurt him”-

    – not being able to experience and show your true self (something most people are unable to do to one extent or another) is unpleasant for you, but it is not abusive to another person.

    (2) Understand, thoroughly understand, that your father has been a very negative force in your life, who has caused you massive emotional pain,  and reject him thoroughly. You already rejected his religion, now- reject his illogic, reject his insanity and most importantly, reject him in each and every way as the authority figure in your mind and life.

    (3) Expel the old inner critic and create your own,  chosen reasonable and sane inner critic: one who unlike the former, will be calm (not emotional, irritated and angry, worried and expecting the worst), gentle (not harsh), kind (not cruel), flexible (not rigid), understanding and empathetic (not judgmental and shaming), open to your input (not closed).. and one who is way less active.

    * In regard to you feeling ashamed most recently for cooking while the refrigerator craftsman came in, it’s the doing of (you guessed it)- the inner critic who is (a) “very critical of everything” (everything includes you cooking while the service man came in), and who is (b) “scared of everything and expects something bad to happen always and everywhere” (the inner critic is afraid of everything and everyone, including the refrigerator craftsman, expecting something bad to happen, ex. the craftsman getting angry that you were cooking and punishing you somehow).

    anita

    #375096
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for your long reply.

    You are right, that a lot of the shameful and self-hating feelings come from my childhood. My parent’s behaviour did have a negative impact on me. I wish that they would have sat down with me to explain my mistakes, instead of making me feel inadequate. I wish that they would have told me quietly what about my behaviour was wrong, but that they still had shown me that I am a worthy person. I am afraid that they were not capable of doing this, they had their own problems.

    My parents however are not bad people. A lot of the quotes were from 2018 / 2019 when my therapy had just started. A lot of the old wounds were opened and I remember feeling agitated towards them. Some of the words I wrote back then seem harsh to me today. Now I can have more compassion for them. Our relationship has improved since my childhood. They no longer are that mean and critical towards me and have more patience for me now. We don’t have that close relationship like other families, but I kind of like my parents.

    My father can be difficult. But he is a good person, who is living with a harsh inner critic like me. I know that his words have impacted me and hurt me deeply. I realize that. I wish that we could have had a different relationship, but he was not capable of that. When he said to me “you are a disgusting person who hates herself”, I believe he was talking to himself. I know how he must feel and he has nobody to talk to about this.

    I feel sorry for him because he is very lonely. We almost never talk about personal things. Often we talk about politics (of which I have no clue), sometimes he talks and talks about a technical subject I do not understand. Then I sometimes lose patience with him and my mind begins to wander… It must be difficult for him too. I don’t think he can behave differently. I think he tried his best in life. His sermons are trying to give people hope. He has this strange sense of humour that nobody understands, but it makes him likeable. He tries to do a good job. He supports his family in the best way he knows. I like that he stands up for his beliefs.

    No longer do I want to see the world in a black and white way. My parents had this very black and white way of thinking, and I do not want to continue with it. I would like to become a person who accepts people as they are. This is the person I want to become and I am not there yet.

    Of course, if people overstep your boundaries, you have to stop them. You have to tell them that what they are doing is not o.K. and distance yourself or even cut contact if they don’t change. That’s how I would like to operate in the future.

    When it comes to my inner critic, you are right that it can become insane. I want to self-reflect, without beating myself up. So I want to acknowledge the truth that I have made a lot of mistakes, but it does still not mean that I am a bad person. I know I had good intentions! I know I tried. But I was also deeply insecure, yet I just wanted to find somebody to love and be loved.

    My worry to hurt my ex was indeed insane and blown out of proportion. I drove myself crazy with this worry (and probably stressed him too 🙁 ). I could not make it right! The things that I told myself that I am toxic and such were not helpful at all. The worst is that I mistrust myself so much that I even suggest to myself I had bad intentions when there were none. Then I also did not trust him and made assumptions about him. I was looking for the guilty one, but in reality, we just did not match, we did not understand each other and the circumstances were difficult.

    I agree wholeheartedly with point Nr. 3: I need to expel this old unforgiving inner critic: I have to forgive myself for making mistakes. It is normal to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. Also, bad behavior is not the same as a bad person. There is a difference and I need to stop seeing things so black and white! I have to cut myself some slack: I am only human.

    About the craftsman: I was not worried that I would hurt him, or that he would hurt me. I just felt embarrassed about the cookbook, about the recipe? I was wondering why do I feel embarrassed over a cookbook?? What is there to be embarrassed about? Why did I have to hide the cookbook?? There was nothing bad or weird about it. It was a cookbook. I would like to be a person who does not feel ashamed of who she is. I would like to be just me, unapologetically me. Even if others find the things I like odd, don’t like me, or judge me. And I think if I will be more confident in myself, there will be more people that will accept me. But first I have to accept myself.

    Hopefully, I have addressed everything from your input. I think I will read again later when I feel more concentrated.

     

    #375101
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are very welcome.

    “I wish that they would have sat down with me to explain my mistakes.. told me quietly what about my behaviour was wrong”-

    – putting together all that you shared about your parents, particularly about your father, this is my comment: your father did not have the mental ability to make the determination regarding which of your behaviors were right and which were wrong. After all, his behaviors as a parent were most often wrong and he wasn’t able to evaluate his own behavior as wrong.

    “My parents however are not bad people… My father.. he is a good person”-  your father may be a good person in the context of church where he gives his sermons and in other contexts, but throughout your childhood and beyond,  he has not been a good person in the context of his relationship with you. To you and for you, he has been a bad person, responsible for a lot of your unnecessary suffering.

    “I would like to be a person who does not feel ashamed of who she is”- it will take you thoroughly understanding that your father was not qualified to determine if your behaviors as a child were right or wrong, and that in the context of his parenting of you, he was a bad parent/ a bad person.

    For as long as you see him as a good person in this context, you will continue to have the tendency to see yourself as a bad/ shameful person who is doing wrong anytime, anywhere and everywhere, in almost each and every context, including in the simple context of cooking for yourself, using a cookbook.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by anita.
    #375109
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thanks for your input!

    My father’s behaviors have impacted my self-esteem. But I still would like to not see things in a very black and white way of good person and bad person. I know that he was not the best at parenting…

    Yes, his words and punishments hurt my feelings. Yes, he was not qualified to determine if my behaviors were right or wrong. I agree with you there.

    I wish that I had not grown up to be such a confused person and would have become more assertive. At the moment I am thinking of challenging myself more to step out of my comfort zone, to train my social competencies more. But with Corona, the possibilities are limited.

    It would be nice to meet new people and learn to be in a group. Maybe find some friends. But when it comes to romantic relationships, I think I still have to work on myself more.

    Today I did not get much done when it comes to accountability. Tomorrow I will have to try again.

    #375111
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome. “I still would like to not see things in a very black and white way of good person and bad person”- I was clear in suggesting that your father is not a bad person in each and every context. In the context of parenting/ abusing you, he was a bad  person. He inflicted on you decades of suffering so far. A person who inflicts so much suffering on an innocent girl is a bad person, in that specific context.

    “I know that he was not the best at parenting”- why use such euphemism, “not the best”- when he was close to being the worst to you.

    At this point, I have shared with you all of my understanding of your childhood, the parenting/ abuse that you received, and how it affected you. There is nothing for me to add, and there is no benefit for me, or for you, that I repeat what I already expressed to you time and time again. You are welcome to go back to our communication in this thread, and in previous threads at any time, and re-read my posts to you. Otherwise, I will no longer address your childhood and your past and present relationships with your parents.

    I am looking forward to your next Accountability post!

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by anita.
    #375168
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    you are right, you did specify that in some contexts he was a good person and as a parent, he was a bad person. I am just worried that I will fall into thinking in black and white terms again, which I would like to overcome. The words “good person” / “bad person” worry me somehow (I realize that I used them myself). It is too much of a dichotomy and it worries me.

    I am trying to learn to see the world in more complex terms, trying to be more open and compassionate. Maybe I just worry that I will also be put in the category of “bad person”… So these words scare me.

    It worries me to talk about the past, to talk badly about others. Once my old therapist asked me: “are you trying to be a saint”? Maybe I should accept the negative sides of myself, my flaws, my weaknesses. And then the shame will stop. Or become a healthy shame. Feeling shameful for behaving badly, but also forgiving myself for my mistakes and then move on. I don’t want to carry it around and then give it to others.

    You are right that the shame started in my childhood. I remember feeling that I would never amount to anything in life. That no man could ever love me or like me. That must have come from somewhere. And I remember some of the words my father used, how he looked at me with a hard face and sometimes hit me. That there was very little understanding for me. And it is sad.

    I understand and accept that you no longer want to talk about my childhood. You of course also don’t have to address anything about my parents that I wrote above. But it helped me to write it out for myself, to understand better. I am watching videos about toxic shame at the moment and it helps to understand. I think it is the root of my problems. The shame, the feeling of being nothing, worthless. The feeling of being bad. These problems are deeply rooted in me and I need a lot of time to understand.

    Thank you that you went through my threads again yesterday and put together your post. It must have taken a long time!

    #375172
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome. Yes, I did take a long time going through and studying your threads, many times; this is why I recommend that you take your time to re-read my posts to you in your various threads, and take as long a time to do so, in the pace you are comfortable with.

    “I am just worried that I will fall into thinkin in black and white terms.. The words ‘good person’/ ‘bad person’ worry me”-

    – for the purpose of you no longer believing that you are a bad person (“the feeling of being bad”, as you referred to it today), you need to go back to the time when this false core belief was formed/ when it started. It started when you were a young child who really was all good, black-and-white good: no evil intents, no dishonesty, eager to please, etc.

    Black and white thinking is often distorted thinking, but not always. In some contexts, black-and-white thinking is accurate, true to reality thinking and without it, we get confused and remain confused, repeatedly doubting everything.

    “I am trying to see the world in more complex terms”- some things are simple, better see them as they are: simple.

    anita

    #375210
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for all your efforts! I know that you really give your all to help people! I have read your post from Monday again and am thinking about it. You are right that my inner critic resembles a lot of how I was treated in my past. I have to think more about it.

    About black and white thinking: you are right, sometimes it is better to see things in black and white terms. It surely would have saved me from a lot of trouble, if I had not desperately tried to understand others instead of setting clear boundaries. The constant doubt makes me more confused and weakens me. I am trying to stop overanalyzing and accepting things as they are.

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