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In Need of Advice.. Everything Has Fallen Apart

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  • #374312
    John
    Participant

    Hello Everyone,

    This is my first post here. I’m a 23-year-old male and in the last two years, everything in my life has fallen apart and I am looking for some advice, encouragement, or whatever you have to offer 🙂

     

    This time three years ago, it felt like I had it all. I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I was a straight-A student with high hopes of getting accepted to a good graduate program in Canada, I had a beautiful girlfriend who I cared deeply about, I had a group of close friends, and I just generally felt good mentally and physically. Fast forward to now, I lost my partner due to my own insecurity and fear that the relationship would end, I have developed insomnia, I am addicted to weed and fast food, my friend group has completely fallen apart, my motivation is incredibly low, I’m in terrible shape, I’m lonely, I have no self-esteem and I’m absolutely terrified of the future. I’m petrified that I’ll never get it together again, and that I’ll end up just like my father: poor employment, no self-esteem, no self-care, few friends and little purpose in life.

    To a large extent, much of what drove me in the past was neurotic. I was afraid of failure and ending up like my father, so I overcompensated in many areas of my life. It worked really well for a while. Like I said, I was an excellent student, friend, partner and a productive person generally. But since things started to go south in my relationship it’s just all collapsed, and ironically I’ve never looked or felt more like my father. We both have ADHD and are very similar in some fundamental ways.

    I really want to make a comeback. I want to fulfill my dream of getting into a good graduate school, of finding a job I like, and of living a worthy life that I feel I deserve. But at the same time I’ve never been this low, I feel like the spitting image of my father, and I lack direction.

    This was a bit scrambled, I’m sorry for that. I just have a hard time even putting sensible thoughts together at the moment because of my mental health. If anyone has been in a similar situation and or has any advice to offer, I would really appreciate it. Either way, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post.

     

    Thanks everyone.

    #374317
    anita
    Participant

    Dear John:

    “I was afraid of failure and ending up like my father… I’ve never looked or felt more like my father. We both have ADHD and are very similar in some fundamental ways.. I feel like the spitting image of my father”.

    “I really want to make a comeback. I want to fulfill my dream of getting into a good graduate school, of finding a job I like, and of living a worthy life that I feel I deserve“-

    – All young children feel empathy for their parents, more for one of the two than for the other. It may be that you felt greater empathy for your father, and feeling that way, you didn’t and don’t feel that you deserve a better life than his.

    When a child grows up with an unhappy parent, the child may feel that he can’t be happy unless his parent is happy first. Can this be true in your case?

    anita

    #375062
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear John,

    Your words show that you have a lot of self-awareness and insight, which is great! I think you’ve even defined the crux of the problem: your fear of becoming like your father, which sort of became a self-fulfilling prophecy for you. As you said it yourself, that fear drove you to do your best and excel at so many areas of your life.

    What I’ve learned recently is that there are two types of motivation: one is to move <i>away</i> from something, and the other is to move <i>towards</i> something. It appears you were driven by the first kind, wanting to move away from the destiny that has befallen your father. But this kind of motivation can only take you so far, because it’s exhausting to be constantly running away from something. It’s much easier to run towards something that you want and desire. To be motivated by love, by an open heart, by expansiveness, rather than by fear and constriction.

    Another important thing that I believe can help you is to stop judging yourself so harshly. You haven’t explicitly said it (and I am sorry if I am rushing with this assumption), but I have a feeling you’ve been pretty harsh on yourself, pushing yourself to be great at many things and to keep a high standard: to be a great boyfriend, friend, take care of yourself, eat healthy… simply, to be at the top your game. You’ve managed to do that for a while, but when you and your girlfriend broke up (for which you’re blaming yourself), I guess this inner critic started a full-blown attack on you, and it all collapsed, so to speak. You’ve collapsed. That’s when things started to go south for you, in all areas.

    In order to pick yourself up, you’d need to learn to counter the voice of the inner critic and develop more compassion for yourself. To be like a good parent to yourself, have compassion if you make mistakes, don’t expect perfection from yourself. Because we’re human, we’re allowed to make mistakes.

    So you go slowly, one step at the time, and if you make a mistake and fall, you get up and shake off the dust. And try again. Like a child learning to walk. You don’t have to be Superman, you don’t have to excel at all things at all times. Small steps, lots of compassion. At least that’s how I see a possible path ahead.

    Let me know what you think…

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