Stuck & unhappy but not doing anything about it

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This topic contains 47 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 8 months ago.

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    Hi everyone, I think I need help. However, I am having extreme difficulty typing out what is on my mind. I think the main theme is being unable to fulfill the expectations of people (usually imagined by myself) around me, leading to feelings of guilt and isolation and at the same time, feeling helpless and unmotivated to take any actions to improve my situation. As a way of escaping my problem, I procrastinate and turn to TV-bingeing and have resumed unhealthy habits so that I won’t have to think too much.

    I am married to a very understanding and supportive lady. She knows my past but is still willing to be with me. I used to be very honest with her, but lately I have been keeping some things to myself because there are things that I have done when I am by myself which I feel extremely ashamed about – if she were to know about it, I wonder what might happen. Also, I’ve not been very proactive in planning for our wedding or our house – I do know that it’s not easy on her to be doing this alone, but it’s either I procrastinate on doing anything at all, or I distract myself with work woes.

    I am currently employed, but the nature of the work makes me stressed easily, especially when there are performance indicators to judge my work or when I am being asked to do things I do not like. A friend once told me off, saying that “I want a chicken that lays golden eggs, but I do not want to clean up the shit”. It seems like what he said is true – I always envy people who are doing very well but I don’t seem to put in put in the effort to find out how to do it or have no motivation to get there. When I’m at work, I try to think about what I wish my life to be.

    It seems there is a pattern – I am in a certain place where I do not want to be, and instead of facing the problem, I distract myself with other problems in my life and in the end, nothing gets solved.

    I do not want to just be able to identify the issues I am facing – I want to be able to have the independence to take action and better my life.

    Sometimes, I would look down from my office level and wonder – maybe my suffering will end when I jump down but nowadays i will shake out that mindset more easily than before, because I do not want my wife to be hurt. Back then when I thought I was alone, this dark period was more intense.

    I read a lot of self help online and people would always say, there’s always a way out of any situation. But, I just refuse to do anything. The effort required is just too overwhelming for me to handle. Am I just a whiner, a complaining adult? Is there a problem with me? I hate to be like this because I’ve stopped going for my favorite game ofweekly soccer, i’ve stopped exercising ( although me and wife are trying to do something now), i’ve stopped talking to my colleagues, family and friends – basically i’ve become a hermit. i use to have more energy than now and i was happier.

    though i could say that i’m always in a cycle of emotional high and low periods. low period would usually culminate in the above, and when i’m emptionally igh, i would feel very good, energetic and have a positive mindset.

    i ran away from work once and was uncontactable for a while by anyone because i could not take work stress – i came back, saw a psychiatrist and eased back into work, only to crumble when a task was assigned to me and i felt i couldnt handle it – this went on for a while until i resigned from that job. found a 2nd job, hated the environment and didn’t like the work given to me eventually i resigned again— now in my 3rd job, ut started okay but the cycle is repeating itself, and usually the next step is that i resign.

    but i want to put a stop to this – just that i feel i’ve put myself in this situation and i don’t deserve a 2nd chance. the easiest way out for me now is to quit my job again and quit on myself and everything in life – i do not want that to happen — i want to recover too but practcal concerns like money for my housing and expenses associated with a married life are scaring me and i do not dare to leave this job now. it’s not like i’m earning a lot now anyway, but at least it’s something. i just know that if i leave this job now, i will be worse off. or will i?

    what should i do?



    Dear daniel:

    These are, for me, key sentences in your share:

    “I read a lot of self help online and people would always say, there’s always a way out of any situation. But, I just refuse to do anything. The effort required is just too overwhelming for me to handle

    “I think the main theme is being unable to fulfill the expectations of people (usually imagined by myself) around me

    “Am I just a whiner, a complaining adult? Is there a problem with me?”

    This is my understanding of your situation, do let me know if you agree and to what part/s of it you agree, or not:

    Someplace along the way, at some time, maybe early on, you lost that knowing inside, that knowing of what you want and how to make it happen, for example: I want X and I will do Y to get it. At some point you lost you as the center of your life, and the center became other people, including self help books authors, and the people you are reaching out to in this forum (“what should I do?”, your last line).

    No wonder you lack motivation; no wonder you suffer; no wonder you try to distract; now wonder life is not working out well for you- you need YOU in the center of your mind, heart and life.

    There is a way to make it happen, and I will be glad to communicate about it further with you, after I read from you if I am indeed correct. As to your question: “Is there a problem with me?”- my answer: the problem is with part of you having buried that other child-part of you that at one point had no problem stating: I want this! And then, proceed to materialize that want.




    Hi anita,

    I think I’m better described in this manner:

    I want X, but I do not know what to do. I would usually start off being very excited and enthusiastic about something new, but that usually dies down after I realize it’s not as easy as it seems. I tend to give up easily, usually at the first signs of difficulty. I think I can summarize myself to be low in confidence (it probably got worse every single time I gave up without fully completing something) and I give up easily without a fight.

    But I vaguely recall telling myself that in order to make friends (when I was in secondary school), I need to behave in a manner that is accepted by them. I’m not sure how great an effect that had on me, but I believe I am a very self centered person all these while.

    Honestly, I cannot really recall many instances whereby I really want something and I materialize it. Probably when I was still in primary school, my parents told me that they would reward me with a game console if I did well in the examinations. I did well, but the reward never came. Other than that, my typical behavior would be to only do things that I am good at (I was good with numbers and Math) and adopt a so-called heck care or different in attitude towards things that I am not so good at.

    Not sure if I responded appropriately. Let me know?



    Dear daniel:

    I would like to understand better. Will you tell me more about that game console your parents promised you if you did well in the examinations, that was in Primary School:

    How old were you… were you excited about that console and did you study hard for the examinations with the console in mind?

    Why didn’t your parents follow through with the reward? And how did you feel when they didn’t?




    Hi anita,

    I think I was either 9 or 10 years old? Back then, I think I was “obsessed” with Super Nintendo or Sega. Should be the former. My parents said that if I did well in the exam, they would buy me a Super Nintendo. I think that got me really pumped up to work hard. I believe I did well, because I was expecting to get the reward. It did not happen though, and I think I was quite disappointed. But I do recall receiving a Sega Game Gear – it was like a portable version of the Sega console, where I could play some games like Sonic the Hedgehog – it wasn’t what I had in mind, and it didn’t feel like the console, but I guess I eventually figured that it’s probably better than nothing.

    I’m not sure why they didn’t follow through – I doubt I actually asked them because I am quite timid and fear getting scolded by them. I think I was very playful when I was young (youngest of 4 siblings), so I’m guessing they are afraid if they got me the console which I wanted, I would spend all my time playing and neglect my studies. My brother told me, or is it my father who did, that one of his aims in life is to make sure all of us siblings make it to university and graduate.

    I felt disappointed, but at that point in time, there was nothing I could do about it, so I had to move and be contented with the Game Gear.



    Dear Daniel:

    You were motivated to deliver your part of the deal, pass those examinations, and you worked hard, but they, your parents, didn’t keep their word and didn’t deliver their end of the deal. They didn’t even explain why they didn’t keep their end of the deal. Trust was broken and you did your best to settle for something less, “better than nothing.”

    Were you angry at them… but too scared to express that anger, afraid of their reaction?

    I wonder if such anger keeps you “stuck and unhappy”?




    Hi Anita,

    I think I was angry, but probably not for long, because I will forget after a while. Though I’m curious about the impact this “unfulfilled promise” has on me – if it didn’t affect me, why is it that I can still remember what happened after such a long time – it has been about 25 years already.

    In general, I do not express my emotions very well, especially if doing so creates conflict with another party and that makes me comfortable. I am scared to express my anger towards my parents because I do not want to be scolded in return. In a sense, I hide my true emotions to avoid an uncomfortable situation, perhaps being seen as disrespectful or unfilial or to avoid getting a scolding.

    Having said this, I think that may be how my coping mechanism has developed and refined itself over the years. I keep to myself when I feel uncomfortable and I avoid expressing myself for fear of landing myself in an uncomfortable situation. It could be my in-laws having doubts about my ability to take care of their daughter and thus pressuring me to buck up, it could be my family scolding me for not being strong or independent enough to take care of myself, it could be a loss of income should I explicitly say No to a task at work and I end up getting fired etc.

    I think I am “stuck and unhappy” now because I am afraid to share my situation to my family and friends, that I don’t want them to know I’m such a lousy person (soon to be 35 years old and still like that) and I probably made a choice to stay this way because of the potential of getting into uncomfortable scenarios should I become unstuck.

    I find myself repetitive at times and what I say also contradictory sometimes. Am i making sense?



    Dear Daniel:

    You are still afraid of your parents: you used present tense (“I am scared to express my anger towards my parents because I do not want to be scolded in return”). Fear is a very powerful emotion. It paralyzes, making one feel helpless, unmotivated.

    When you were a child and your parents betrayed you (this is what they did) that time most vividly, but there were other times… you were too young, to weak, too dependent on them to stand up to them, so you pushed down your anger, becoming submissive, agreeable.

    Fearful and with the anger shut down, deep down, you are isolated, helpless and unmotivated. Need to bring these feelings up, need to stand up to those parents, somehow. Time to get angry.

    You need that anger- it is a motivating emotion. You wrote that you don’t fight back- time to fight back, somehow.

    It is safe now.




    Hi Anita,

    I think you are right in pointing out that I am still afraid of my parents. However, the issue about the console has happened such a long time ago – I don’t think I need to bring that issue up to them again?

    The thing is, my parents do not stay in the same country as me. In order to see them, I would need to travel 4 to 6 hours (two-way), so the frequency of us meeting up is pretty. Even talking on the phone or messaging is occasional – I’m not sure how to describe my situation with my parents. Maybe it’s a reciprocal thing – I don’t call them, they don’t call me. Gotten used to it. Usually, when they need my help to do something, then the exchange would be more frequent and urgent – at least that’s how I feel.

    But, I don’t think it’s proper for me to be angry or stand up to them anyway. They have provided for me all the way until college and they don’t expect me to give them monthly allowance – they only need my help from time to time.

    Most of the anger is directed towards myself though –

    Why is it that my brother and sister seem to be okay growing up, and I am in this current state? Or anyone around me for example …



    Dear Daniel:

    I think that the submissive role you had and still have with your parents (when they need money from you, from time to time), is the same role you have with everyone else in your life. The role was established when you were a child and it operates in you as an adult. By standing up to your parents, I mean standing up to … everyone in your life.

    It is about being assertive; it is about you taking yourself seriously, making you your number one priority, taking what you need; what you want – very seriously. It is about no longer trying to please others, as your first priority.

    Regarding your siblings who seem to be okay growing up- they only “seem to be okay” most likely. Siblings are more different from each other than strangers are, and that is because when one sibling takes on the role of the rebel, the sibling observing that tends to take the opposite role- the obedient one. So you are more likely to find people resembling you outside your family than you are inside.

    Also, parents don’t treat their children the same. Sometimes they choose one to treat lower than the rest and the siblings join in treating the “chosen one” as lower than themselves.

    I would say you owe your parents nothing, so when they ask you for financial help, this may be one way to stand up to them- to not send them money.

    If standing up for yourself appeals to you, think of other ways to do that…?




    Hi Anita,

    Thought I should clarify that my parents are financially independent. As far as I know, none of my siblings have to give them a monthly allowance. For myself, they have only asked me formoney once in my whole life, to help out with rent during a period when they were having difficulty in their business because of a slump in the economy. Back then, I had no reservations about giving them the money because it was their money after all…

    The kind of help that they need is not related to money; in fact, it is straightforward just that I have the tendency to tell myself this: “why do they only contact me when they need my help?” Sometimes I would also self reflect: shouldn’t I behave in a manner that I would want my parents to behave, in this case to call them regularly and ask how they are doing etc, but of course without harboring the expectation that they would reciprocate.

    I kinda identify with the term “submissive role” – it brings to mind another term I associate to myself: “passive aggressiveness”. I think I have been to both extremes – submissive and assertive: I think being assertive is about setting boundaries and communicating this to people around me. Main issue I have is I either set very strict boundaries for myself and others to follow until I became very hard to work with, or I have no boundaries at all, and I just do whatever people ask me to do. I have difficulty achieving balance.

    My role in the family is pretty much a bystander and silent observer, often the one receiving instructions because I’m the youngest in the family. And I also wonder if the great difference in age between myself and my 3 other siblings may have contributed to me being more a loner or self centered person. Dunno if I’m making sense here, so I’ll just put a hold on this sub topic for now.

    At this point in time, standing up for myself feels very alien, and I picture a very aggressive me. I’m not sure how I can start doing that now, especially in a situation whereby it seems, for example, my boss is being very gracious to me for the past many months, as I’m not in the fullest mental capacity to work, he still keeps me in the company, gives me the space to sort myself out etc. At times, I feel I need to repay his kindness by doing everything I can to help him in any way I can – but a voice warns me against such all-out-for-others mentality, that I might be taken advantage of.

    At this point, I just feel undeserving of standing up for myself, because all these while, I have been a disappointment maybe half the time.



    Dear Daniel:

    If your boss has been kind to you, of course you should be kind in return, but being kind does not mean being passive or submissive.

    When we are used to being passive/ submissive (as I have been), we imagine that asserting ourselves means being aggressive- the other extreme of being passive. But not so, assertiveness does mean balance. It means respecting yourself and respecting others.

    I am glad your parents haven’t but once asked you for money. I wrote that you don’t owe them anything because I believe they didn’t do a good job with you, didn’t do you justice.

    The ways you ae; the ways about you that you don’t like- are most likely reactions to that injustice done to you by your parents. When they scolded you as often as they did and they did not reward you when they promised they will, they … trained you to be passive, submissive; unmotivated, etc.

    So what to do now? Realize, I hope, that the “disappointment” you mentioned in the last line was not something you were born with- you were not born defected, stuck and unhappy. Need to get back to your true nature with which you were born- free and as happy as can be. You do deserve standing up for yourself- this really is the only way for you to in-stuck yourself. Who you truly are, is not a disappointment. Your suffering is a result of disappointing treatment by your parents. Go back to who you truly are.



    Nina Sakura

    Dear Daniel,

    From whatever I have read so far, this lack of confidence may have been linked to your growing years – at home, the vast differences in age was a factor, at school being a certain way to fit in – all this became about just somehow fitting in but never quite being at ease with yourself.

    Even now, in a way you seem to be overwhelmed with the pressures you feel from the in-laws, the family, the work projects – the pressure just seems to be increasing as you get older. Now you can’t seem to put yourself on the auto-pilot mode so well like before to live up to everyone’s expectations. Slowly you are slipping into a more low, apathetic mood with bouts of anxiety when you are at work and the moment to perform comes.

    Now the struggle to live up to expectations has become both fear and your inbuilt mechanism. You have no confidence.

    The anxiety and confusion is endless. Your mind is tired, anxious, thinks often in black and white. You feel exhausted all the time, oddly worried too about something.

    TV is a good way to veg out and escape from the uncomfortable feelings.

    Doing the old stuff is getting harder and harder. You struggle with inherent motivation issues.

    Does this describe my understanding properly?

    I am wondering though –

    1) Do you actually like your job profile?
    2) Is it too high stress for you?
    3) Are you staying in the job to only pay the bills and appear a certain way to others and yourself?
    4) Can you consider that perhaps you are simply different from your siblings, not in a bad way or good way, just a different person with his own special set of traits?
    5) Could you write down 3 things you like about yourself as a person here?


    PS – sorry if I am asking too many questions 🙂 would be great if you could write back whatever you can think of.



    Hi Nina Sakura,

    What you have described about me seems just about right. Would like to add on a few points.

    This lack of confidence in myself may also be attributed to the fact that I shun away from challenges or give up easily
    when I encounter difficulty. From a difficult subject in school to a challenging work project, if I do not have a Ten-year series/model answer or if I have not witnessed someone execute the project successfully before, I would hesitate to dive into it and procrastinate until the last possible minute only to either submit a slip shod work or find an excuse to get myself out of doing it.

    This coping mechanism functioned well until I started working. Before that, I was happy-go-lucky; want to do then do / don’t want to do then “escape. But this method is not working well for me now. I always manage to escape but now that I have to be independent, as I continue to behave in the previous manner, I will always be miserable.

    In response to your questions,

    1) I find my job profile fuzzy now. It used to be very clear – I was supposed to come up with business plans to earn a targeted revenue/profit for my company but my profile became refined as I gradually showed signs of crumbling under pressure from my colleague in meeting performance targets. Right now, I think my colleague is also unsure of what role or tasks I can handle. I am also not communicating to them. I used to be more motivated when I didn’t have to think about the numbers and I just continued doing whatever worked for me in the past, but not necessarily translating into more revenue and profit.

    2) I believe so. I would constantly be bombarded with thoughts about screwing up an event or a client’s order until finally everything is over, then my mind can be peaceful again. My colleagues can sense my change in mood whenever I’m stressed.

    3) I am staying in the job because I can see a potential of me earning some money in this line still. Another reason is that if I resign now, and if I stay at home my in-laws may start questioning me about my job hunting process. Also, I’m not confident nor motivated to find a job outside, based on my current work performance. Honestly, this job I’m in now is not earning me much – it may earn just enough for me to survive and share some bills with my wife in future, but it will not provide me with a good living.

    4) I am different from them but my special set of traits isn’t going to earn me a salary or help me independent so far.

    5) 3 things I like about myself: One, my wife says I make her laugh and she enjoys her time with me. Two, I think I am responsible. Three, my wife says I’m good looking though I’ve not been keeping up with my personal grooming.



    Hi Anita,

    I’m not sure if I can fully attribute my suffering to disappointing treatment by my parents. At best, I could probably agree that maybe the environment was not conducive for me to realize my full potential, that maybe what my parents thought were good for me then was actually not the best for me?

    Actually, I am already 35 now. Physically old, but mentally still very young and perhaps naive. I hate to admit this, but I think I need someone to keep pushing me rather than myself. This “someone” was actually my boss, but instead of me accepting the push, I chose to distance myself from him. So, it seems that the hard method of pushing doesn’t really work for me.

    On the other hand, my wife is one who encourages me to take small steps and she has a really big heart, big enough to stomach all my flaws and still accept me for who I am. Yet, paired with such a peaceloving human as her, I have begun to take her kindness and graciousness for granted.

    Hard approach doesn’t work. Soft approach doesn’t work. I must really be self motivated to see any progress in my life. But, how to do so when I have subconsciously and consciously closed myself up and have zero confidence to do anything now?

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