Trying not to succumb to poisonous thoughts

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    So this summer I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection. For the past year or so, I’ve been very very depressed, but the thing was, I didn’t know why. My depression was a total mystery to me. After a while I learned to deal with it, I kind of ignored it and acted like it wasn’t there, but it was.

    I think now the reason why I was depressed was because I didn’t love myself. I despised myself. I was deeply ashamed almost all of the time, all of my short comings stuck out to me like a sore thumb. And because of that, I perceived that people saw me in the exact same light as I saw myself. That people hated me as much as I hated myself. And because of that, I acted with malice and was cold to people. I never allowed people close to me, and I never went out and sought to be with people. I was angry all of the time and my grades were sub-par. Eventually I met this girl, I took her to prom and I grew emotionally attached to her very quickly, the reason for this was because she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, she looked up to me, and because of that, I grew confidant in myself for the first time in a long time. But I grew too reliant on that boost from her, the relationship eventually ended and that sent me into spiraling depression again, a deeper depression than before. This depression, unlike the one before, completely consumed me and I spent the first month of my summer inside, not doing anything at all. I then stumbled upon a lecture by the philosopher Alan Watts on youtube called “Life is a Hoax” (look it up, I recommend it). This caused me to see life in a completely different light. I started seeing a counselor and I sorted through a lot of the problems I had been having and over the course of the summer, the depression lifted and I managed to become happier than I was before even the first depression set in.

    But this leads me to my question, as I start to feel better, how do I learn to love and forgive myself? How do I stop being paranoid of other people’s thoughts of me?


    I guess my biggest question is, how can I support myself and and not rely other people to retain confidence in myself?


    Dear Casey

    I can rely very much to your issues. I used to be like this a lot of the time.

    First and foremost: please do not rely on other people to bring you happiness. They can bring you more happiness, but not all the happiness and feeling content with your life, that has to come from within you.

    You will soon start so realize that if you are content with yourself, you will be nicer to people around you, which will come back to you in positive ways. Try this: even when you’re having a hard day, try and be nice and friendly, open your heart up and be warm with people. They will notice (at least the right ones will) and you will soon have more fulfilling friendships.

    I applaud you for seeing a counselor, maybe you could even consider seeing a therapist. There is nothing bad or crazy about that, it is a sign that you are aware of your depressed state and that you strive for a life with more light and happiness.

    Be who you are, cause there is only one like you. Please realize this. Don’t rely on other people to give you confidence. If you exude confidence, people will see you in a very different light. Try and find a passion of yours, maybe something creative that makes you feel good and confident?

    I am sure you will get better and you will find a girl that likes you and you like her back, without you relying on her for your happiness. Because people can feel that pressure of knowing they are the sole reason you are happy, and it’s a burden too heavy to carry for a longer period of time.

    I wish you all the best, Casey. Be happy and thankful – for this life is so short and so beautiful, with all it’s pain, sadness and dark times. It’s worth it!




    In addition to Helen’s thoughtful words, perhaps you can transfer your confidence from results to intentions. We cannot control the results of our actions, but we can recognize the noble intentions behind them. For instance, if you have the intention of giving unconditional love to your neighbor, but they don’t see it or still think of you as a doofus, its ok. Your intention was there. As we keep at our noble intentions, we gain what my teacher called “authentic confidence”.

    The nice thing about authentic confidence is that it is rooted in our intention, and as we become more skillful at acting on our intentions, we know it because it feels different as we do it. Then the results, such as others perceptions, do not challenge our confidence, because it remains about them. On our side, we get to know ourselves, our intentions, our skillfulness.

    Right now the paranoia arises because you still have roots of confidence in others’ perceptions of you. This is slippery and unhelpful because other people’s views are influenced by things out of our control. For instance if someone has a fear attachment to the color red, and you are wearing a red shirt and lovingly say hi, they may startle and act afraid. With confidence drawing from their reaction, you doubt the genuine nature of your “hi” and the intention behind it. We have no way of knowing others’ triggers, so we just try our best and let the laws of cause and effect do their thing. Were we to have authentic confidence, when we see their reactions, we are able to stay alert and ask “what’s wrong?” or send them love in whatever way seems appropriate.

    Over time, the paranoia will fade, and the authentic confidence will grow. Consider you spent a long time in the pride/shame cycle of confidence (feeling unworthy, or feeling cocky). The paranoia is just left over baggage. Just fear.

    Congratulations on moving past a pretty big hump. Keep seeking, keep asking, keep listening, keep growing. Teachers are such a blessing, and the love and kindness they help us develop is an incredible gift to ourselves and others. Namaste!

    With warmth,

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