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Unable to let myself feel happy | Overthinking past experiences

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  • #367850
    shikhar
    Participant

    Hi Everyone,

    I am facing challenges with maintaining my emotional balance. Whenever there is an altercation or an experience that impacts me emotionally, my brain goes into overdrive and starts overthinking about it after the experience has passed.

    My first reaction in an emotionally challenging situation is to be unemotional and take everything at face value. It takes me a lot of time for my emotions to change. For example, if I get in an argument, in most of the cases, I maintain calm if the argument is trivial and I know that it doesn’t matter and in the other important cases, I choose to be logical about the situation.

    However, after the incident has occurred, my brain keeps replaying those scenarios again and again, over and over. Assessing each and every details of the argument on things what I should have done and what I shouldn’t have done. This gets me emotionally charged up and most of the time angry. I forget to live in the present and obsess over it again and again.

    For example, an argument at work might leave me so worked up that I am unable to finish my work and keep overthinking about the situation, which leads to other arguments and then eventually my performance dips. It take me lot of time for my emotions to change but once they change, its hard to calm myself. So even though the argument/fight was for 2-3 minutes, my emotional turmoil would last for weeks!

    Secondly, I have begun to realise that I am a very egoistic person. I think and obsess about myself all the time and any attack on my ego would leave me seething. I also have trouble expressing my thoughts and emotions and most of the time I choose not to share them even during arguments. May be this is the reason behind overthinking? Not expressing myself at the time it matters the most?

    I am unable to let bygones be bygones. I have read that ‘thinking about revenge is like holding on to a hot coal’, however, it is so difficult to implement.

    About my childhood experience: I had been bullied throughout the school because of medical condition and I always had a very low-self esteem and lacked self-belief. My self defence against personal attacks was ‘not to engage’. My self-belief and confidence is easily shattered.

    Any advice on how to handle this?

    #367859
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Shikhar:

    First I will summarize what you shared in your previous threads because it can help understand your current, third thread better, and I will add what you shared in your current, third thread:

    On May 28, 2016, you were 30. You shared about “the most confusing relationship” of your life. You met a woman in the city where you lived at the time (and maybe still), a year before. She left the city two days after you met her, and a long-distance relationship ensued, the two of you met in person a few times during the relationship.

    At first, you found her very boring, but later you had fun in her company, even though you “didn’t have anything common to talk to her”. She was an only child and very attached to her family while your family moved to a different country, to the U.S., and you planned to move out of the country and join your family in the U.S. She didn’t plan to move out of her country, and you felt that you couldn’t fit with her family because of “opposite family values”.

    You liked it that she was “low emotional baggage”, career-oriented, ambitious, smart, trustworthy (“she never lies, I can blindly trust her”), and “supportive and optimistic”, and you knew that if you married her, “she will be there for me through thick and thin for the rest of my life”.

    You wanted to end that long- distance relationship within four months but did not because she was going through a rough patch and you didn’t want to “leave her when she needed emotional support”. During that time, she was convinced that you are “the one” and within 8 months she said that she wanted to marry you. You broke up with her in February 2016. Following that, you got back together, long-distance still, and broke up many times, so many times that you didn’t “remember why I am breaking up with her”.

    You wrote at the time: “The long distance was straining me and I couldn’t focus on what I wanted in life”, and that you were with her “because of the fear that I might not meet anyone like her”.

    In May 26, 2016, you broke up with her “for good”, and felt guilty for it, feeling “like I have wronged someone and left her behind and shattered. She had lot of hopes from me and I let her down”. You also felt that you “don’t have anyone or anything to look forward to”.

    Eleven months later, in your second thread, you shared on April 26, 2017, that you were at the time engaged to the same woman: “I have been in this relationship with my gf for about 2 years and it has been a long distance relationship”, spending time with her on Skype and the internet. You shared that “things were never smooth”, that you had lots of fights the year before because you weren’t sure about the relationship, that she chased you, you proposed and “now we are going to get  married”.

    After proposing to her you felt “a lot more emotionally distant from her”, maybe because “she had to chase me or maybe I feel that I have settled or maybe I don’t like compromising”.

    You added: “not compromising and not caring enough were the reasons none of my past relationships lasted”.

    You read an article at the time, “Signs your partner doesn’t care about you enough”, and you fit all the signs: disregarding her feelings, taking forever to respond to her texts, not making room for what is important to her, and being self-absorbed. You shared further that you are “being selfish.. cold and distant and I treat her like a headache at times”, “not there for her emotional needs, to listen to her”, and that “she is the only reason why this relationship is still alive… At times I have wished that she hadn’t chosen me and she would have been happier. Maybe, I have given up on myself”.

    May 25, 2016, she told you that she feels that you “treat her like crap and by chasing me to get married is a huge blow to her self-esteem and that my emotionally distant actions makes her feel like a loser”.

    You added: “Based on my past relationships, I do know that I have never put anyone before me (except once and it ended  really bad for me). I find it difficult to give up things that I like and do what matters to others for a change (that includes not just her but also my family/ friends)”.

    You closed that thread with your decision to marry her because if you don’t, and you meet another woman, you will be “emotionally distant for the next person as well”, and so, you wrote: “I am going to get married to her. I made that decision and I am going to go through it. Breaking up is not an option”.

    October 14, 2020, more than four years later, you are now 34 or 35, you shared that in emotionally challenging incidents, such as arguments, your first reaction is to be “unemotional.. maintain calm.. logical about the situation”. But later, after incidents occurred, your “brain keeps replaying those scenarios again and again, over and over. Assessing each and every details of the argument.. what I should have done and what I shouldn’t have done. This gets me emotionally charged up and most of the time angry.. obsess over it again and again.. so worked up that I am unable to finish my work and keep overthinking about the situation, which leads to other arguments… So even though the argument/ fight was for 2-3 minutes, my emotional turmoil would last for weeks!.. any attack on my ego would leave me seething. I also have trouble expressing my thoughts and emotions and most of the time I choose not to share them even during arguments. May be this is the reason behind overthinking? Not expressing myself at the time it matters the most?”, “I am unable to let bygones be bygones”.

    “About my childhood experience: I had been bullied throughout the school because of medical condition and I always had a very low-self esteem and lacked self-belief. My self defense against personal attacks was ‘not to engage’. My self-belief and confidence is easily shattered”.

    And now, my input: you’ve been angry for a long, long time. It is anger that is behind your boredom with the woman who may be your wife at this point (?). It is your anger that is behind having been very slow to answer her texts; it is behind the arguments with her, and behind breaking up with her so many times that you didn’t even remember why.. and it is behind your emotional coldness/ distance from her/ not caring enough, and it is behind not wanting to compromise yourself for her/ being selfish, not putting anyone before you- with her and with previous women in your life, as well as other people (“not compromising and not caring enough were the reasons none of my past relationships lasted…Based on my past relationships, I do know that I have never put anyone before me… that includes not just her but also my family/ friends”).

    Anger is behind your frequent arguments with people, and it is behind you obsessing over the arguments, “angry… seething.. ‘thinking about revenge.. holding on to a hot coal'”.

    Your anger originated either before you were first bullied at school (maybe you experienced “personal attacks” at home, by a parent, or an older family member at home before and after attending school), or it originated when you attended school and were “bullied throughout the school because of medical condition”.

    The reason I mention the possibility that you were somehow attacked at home is that you wrote: “I always had a very low-self esteem and lacked self-belief” (“always”). Another reason that leads me to think that you may have been attacked at home is that your family did not protect you from the bullying at school: they didn’t help you, they did not stop the bullying at school.

    If your adult family members were empathetic to you, if they paid attention and cared, I imagine they would have stopped the bullying, or removed you from that school and placed you in a safe learning environment. They didn’t. Parents who are that neglectful, over years and years, are often aggressive as well, in one way or another. (It is their aggression that keeps them deaf to their child’s screams for help).

    “any attack on  my ego would leave me seething”- any attack or any possible attack on your ego brings back to life your early-life, intense emotional experience of being attacked at home/ school. Because as children we feel intensely, you are seething for days over arguments that lasted a few minutes.

    “I also have trouble expressing my thoughts and emotions and  most of the time I choose not to share them even during arguments. Maybe this is the reason behind overthinking? Not expressing myself at the time it matters most?”- I imagine that when you were bullied at school, you expressed your thoughts and emotions to a parent/ adults at home, and they didn’t listen, or they did not protect you from that bullying(that’s why the bullying didn’t stop, and kept going “throughout the school”).

    Over time, unheard, unprotected.. you have up expressing your thoughts and emotions. When our words fall on deaf ears, we stop saying them.

    While the bullying at school was happening, over time, you learned to “not engage”, to be as unemotional as possible, emotionally removed from each and every bullying situation, you perfected that ability. But it is a short-term solution at best. It was/is impossible for you (and it is impossible for every human in your place) to keep that unemotionality going and going. Anger is a powerful emotional force and it can not be quieted by logic or will. Anger seethes until it is dealt with.

    “I am unable to let bygones be bygones”- anger needs to be dealt with, processed and resolved, especially anger that has been going on for years and decades. It will not be easy or fast to resolve your valid and understandable anger, but it is possible. When it is resolved, you will be able to reconnect to/ revive your own softer emotions (affection, love, hope, contentment), and to trust and connect affectionately to people who are worthy of your trust.

    I hope to read back from you.

    anita

    #369920
    Francesca
    Participant

    Shikhar,

    I just read your post and wanted to say I could relate to many things you mentioned.  You are aware of a lot of things about yourself and you are trying to figure it all out.  I overthink things a great deal and the only thing that has helped me to get out of my head and obsessing over something is to remind myself at those times to check in with how I am feeling in my body and to put my focus on sensations and trying to describe them to myself in detail….I come out of my head and start to feel calmer and balanced and then I find I can approach something using both my head and heart and not just one or the other.  I find I too think of “ME ME ME” a lot, just like you do and everyone else around us does….but, doing inner work is not selfish, and when you feel balanced you will have the energy to think of others more.  Just don’t beat yourself up cause that just creates a miserable ME!

    Blessings!

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