What if you are the toxic person?

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This topic contains 275 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 day, 11 hours ago.

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    Dear Lily:

    I am fine, thank you.

    You didn’t do anything wrong, keep saying this to yourself.

    Take back those items that you have owned for a few months, you didn’t steal them so don’t act as if you stole them.

    Reads like the flatmate who asked you about your ikea knife thought that you may have stolen it from the other flatmate, but is not sure that you did, she suspected-

    – but so what? What do you think she is going to do next?

    Thoughts are not dangerous, so her thoughts are not dangerous. She expressed those thoughts/ suspicion in words that distressed you, understandably, but her words are not dangerous to your life or physical well-being.

    If she physically attacked you, that would be dangerous (but also to her, as she may be kicked out of the dormitories or go to jail, so she is not likely to do that). If she called the police or the prison authorities asking for you to be arrested and spend time in prison- that would be dangerous to you but it highly, unlikely to happen because many people own this kind of knife and there is no proof that you stole it.

    So there is no danger to your physical body, to your life or freedom.

    Her words, just like her thoughts, have dissipated into the air long time ago and are gone. I suppose looking for someplace else to live, so that you live with fewer people is a good idea, something you have been considering for some time now.

    But no matter where you go and where you live, someone will look at you in a way that feels wrong to you, someone will say something distressing to you, and you will have to repeat to yourself: his/ her thoughts are not dangerous. His/ her words are not dangerous when aggressive action doesn’t follow or is very unlikely to follow.


    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by  anita.


    Dear anita,

    thank you for advice. I took back those things. Last friday I just was in a very bad mood. One of my Co-workers made passive aggressive jokes again that made me feel so worthless. I almost started to cry at work and had suicidal thoughts on friday and saturday.

    Then I had to think again about the question with the knife. And it got to me and I went a little bit crazy.

    Next week is also a floor meeting again and I do not want to go. I don’t want more stress… That’s also why I avoided going into the community rooms the last days. I just don’t want my peace of mind to be disturbed again. But it will probably make me look more suspicious. Sadly my answers to her questions must have made me look already very suspicious.

    Somehow I always seem to have issues in social situations. Maybe because I am socially awkward and don’t talk much. So people don’t understand. Maybe also because I don’t like myself much and put myself down, so others also don’t respect me.

    You are right, thoughts can’t harm me. But I get very afraid of them. Even in my childhood I was very afraid of being judged. Probably because I heard a lot of mean comments at home and at school. But I am grown up now and people usually don’t dare to make such comments to adults (how sad that some would then think it is okay to treat kids in this way? Or to hit them? When they would never do this to an adult!).

    I think I will read more positive books and such to fill my head with positive, inspirational thoughts. This will leave less room to the fearful thoughts. And I should also work on my drawings and my career, so then I will also feel better about myself. I now got into this mentoring programm and am thinking to show my future mentor some of my artwork when I first meet them. And I also want to tell them my plans on what I want to work on next and ask them for tips on how I can improve professionally.

    On sunday I went out for a walk and then painted. It really helped to just go and do something despite not feeling good! I have to remind myself of this. And be a little bit more stricter with myself.

    Last night I had an  idea for a graphic novel that I could use for my bachelor thesis. I could go into the library and start researching once a week, so then I can present my idea to my professor next autumn or in late summer. I think I have the artistic and intellectual abilities to make a good book. Just need to work on my discipline!




    Dear Lily:

    “I don’t like myself much and put myself down, so others also don’t respect me”- it will take a long time for you to like yourself, but it takes no time, if you pay attention, to not tell other people that you don’t like yourself. “Just need to work on my discipline!”, you wrote regarding the graphic novel project. Not putting yourself down verbally also takes discipline, and you can do it!

    “I am grown up now and people usually don’t dare to make such comments to adults (how sad that some would then think it is okay to treat kids in this way? Or to hit them? When they would never do this to an adult)!”-

    Problem is when parents say mean comments to their children, the brain remembers those comments, and those comments are glued to the brain with the feeling of shame and guilt, and then, as adults, the brain replays those comments, just as is happening to you. And so, when a person doesn’t say hi to you in the hallway, or tells passive aggressive jokes at work, you get very distressed.

    Without those “mean comments” you heard as a child, a person not saying hi in the hallway would not be this distressing, not even close, and you’d forget about it quickly. And the passive aggressive jokes at work would be distressing but not so distressing that you “almost started to cry at work and had suicidal thoughts on Friday and Saturday”.

    If you had the opportunity to examine those early life comments and your feelings that are attached to those comments, in the context of quality psychotherapy, that will be the beginning of decreasing the frequency and extent of your distress in social situations and otherwise.


    • This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by  anita.


    Dear anita,

    it is true that I put myself down in front of others. For example I criticized my own artwork when presenting it to my professor and the class. Not only criticized it, but said about some of it that it is bad. It is a very bad habit of mine, that I need to stop doing. If I see the amazing artwork of others, I often get insecure about my own. But I actually know that I have some talent. And even my professors often say good things about my stuff. I need to stop comparing myself to others. But it’s easier said than done.

    I was able to resolve the problem with the Co-worker. We talked and now everything is o.K. again.

    Maybe I can also resolve the situation at the dormitory. My friend said, I should go to the floor meeting. To see what they talk about. So I won’t have to worry and stress about what it was about. And if they talk about the problem with the knife, maybe I can bring up the topic that I feel like they suspect me. And maybe it can all be resolved then…. But I am afraid that everyone will gang up on me. And I will get very distressed and nervous then most likely. And then I will look even more suspicious!!! I almost feel like I actually did something wrong already!

    I think it is a good idea to examine more why I get so distressed over small comments with my therapist. The best will be if I write those comments I can remember down beforehand. In my opinion, it is because I heard lots of negative things about myself as a child and got very little encouragement. Nobody was really on my side. But a closer examination could be helpful. Sometimes my therapist comes up with things that I didn’t even think of.



    Dear Lily:

    Because you resolved an issue with your co worker, you got encouraged about the possibility of resolving the issue with the flatmate (“Maybe I can also resolve the situation at the dormitory”)- see, success breeds success, it builds confidence. Same with you not putting yourself down: the more you succeed, the more confident you will become about your ability to not put yourself down when talking to others in the future.

    You didn’t do anything wrong regarding the suspicion expressed by the flatmate, so remind that to yourself. The reason you feel that you “actually did something wrong already!” is that you have a core belief that you are wrong, that you do wrong things “because I heard lots of negative things about myself as a child”, just as you wrote.

    Attending the floor meeting can be a positive experience if you prepare for it well. It will be a good exercise and if you succeed, you will feel more confident in resolving future conflicts. If you want to prepare here, on your thread, come up with a few scenarios, one of which what you fear happens (“everyone will gang up on me”), and plan how you will respond.

    I will be away from the computer and back in about 14 hours.





    Dear anita,

    yes, I have to slowly work to build up the good habits that I want to establish in my life. Better start slowly and not go for huge projects like I have a tendency to do…

    I try to remind myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. But there is also a voice inside of me that says: what if the food you took from the food sharing shelf wasn’t for you to take (I didn’t take so much)? What if you misunderstood everything and stole the food without knowing.

    But I guess this is my irrational voice. I try to tell myself, that if someone puts something inside this shelf, they have to expect that someone will take it. They even made a poster saying “food sharing shelf”. And if there was a problem, they should make it clear to everyone and talk about it. Or put up another poster explaining the rules better… What do I know.

    Anyways! I’m not touching anything from these people anymore!! I don’t even go to the community rooms very often and stopped cooking there.

    But maybe I should go to the meeting. If they bring up the topic of stealing, should I then say that I have the feeling that they suspect me and that it makes me feel very uncomfortable? Or should I just listen and wait to hear what they will have to say?

    Maybe they will say that I behave weirdly. That I seem to avoid the others and that I often prepare my food in my room (it just makes me feel more comfortable and relaxed when there is noone around….)

    Then I could maybe say: I was not feeling so well during the last months and needed more time for myself. And that I am just a more private person. Also, I always prepared (cut vegetables etc.) my food in my room (I know it must seem very weird! But in the first dormitory I lived, I didn’t cook (and I love to cook!) at all, because of my fear of people… So this was a small progress…)

    They could say that I seem nervous. And then I could answer: “I am just a more nervous and insecure person. That is my nature.”

    They could say that I have an ikea knife, while the other person’s knife is missing. My answer could be: “I have lots of items from ikea, including a knife. I even borrowed it to one flatmate for her pumpkin soup. I am sorry that the flatmate lost her knife, but I don’t know where it is. I even searched my whole cupboard after the other flatmate asked me about it, to see if I had accidently taken it. But it wasn’t there.”

    I think I will be already nervous just going to the meeting! And it will make me look more suspicious. But that is, of course, because I assume that they have been talking about me and because people asked weird questions and acted weirdly.

    In the past months I think I got even more nervous, because of what happened with K. Before that, I wasn’t even so aware of my nervousness… But during those times my anxiety rose! I had my heart racing, which I had never experienced or noticed before… And of course others will have noticed that too… But I am starting to feel calmer again. And starting to be able to say no a little bit better, I feel.

    Hopefully I can resolve the problem. Like I did with the Co Worker. But at work, people also know me a little bit better. And some also like me and appreciate my work (they even asked me to come back after a period where the company didn’t do so well, when it was doing better again). I don’t feel like I have allies at the dormitory… There are some people I sometimes talked to and that I like, but I was just too busy with my own problems in the past months and not ready to meet new people…

    In any case, it will be best to find a new place to live and start over.



    • This reply was modified 6 days, 14 hours ago by  Lily.


    Dear Lily:

    When there is a sign by a shelf, reading: “food sharing shelf” and you eat some of that food, you are not stealing.

    If someone puts that sign there, or allows it to remain there but secretly expects  others to not eat that food, they are being dishonest or inattentive and definitely unclear. It is not other people’s responsibility to read someone’s mind so to make sure that at any moment they are okay with the sign. We can read signs, not other people’s brains

    If you take anything that belongs to someone else, not knowing that it belongs to someone else, or otherwise having no awareness that you shouldn’t take something because it doesn’t belong to you, then you are not stealing.

    “Maybe they will say that I behave weirdly. That I seem to avoid the others and that I often prepare my food in my room”- there is nothing wrong with preparing your food in your room, there is no law against it and there is no harm in it to anyone. It is not a crime and it is not unethical. It is your legal and ethical right to prepare your food in your room.

    If anyone complains about you eating in your room, you can say: I am not aware of a dormitory rule stating it is wrong to eat in one’s room. Are you aware of such a rule? (instead of saying: “I was not feeling so well.. and needed more time for myself”).

    “They could say that I seem nervous”- there is no law against seeming nervous. It is not a crime, neither is it unethical, nor is it a matter of choice. Therefore, no reason to explain/ defend yourself (“And then I could answer: “I am just a more nervous and insecure person”). Insread, you can say: everyone seems nervous sometimes, including ever person in this meeting.

    Your answer regarding the ikea knife reads okay to me.

    Post more in preparation for this meeting, if you want, coming up with scenarios, just like you did in your recent post.







    Dear anita,

    thank you for your help and support.

    I don’t know so much of what else they could say. Sometimes I worry that they will accuse me of other things. For example, last summer, while living at the other place because of renovations, a lot of things were stolen. K. told me that his sister’s computer was stolen. Apparrently she didn’t lock her room and someone took it.

    Will they also accuse me of this? And if they do, on the phone K. said that he doesn’t want her to know about us. And all this time I thought that she knew, and even worried that she didn’t like me. So I was probably more nervous around her, because I was reminded of him…

    I also don’t want to talk about my experience with him, as this is noones business. Should I admit to seeing him, when the topic comes up? Somehow I am always close to those things that got stolen? But I really did not take anything away from anyone! I was in her room, because K. invited me there. But didn’t even think of taking anything away! And didn’t. It all makes me very uncomfortable.

    It all must sound very weird and suspicious. Why do these strange things always happen to me? Sometimes I wonder, if you will even still believe me with all the craziness that is happening to me. I don’t know if I believe myself.

    I also don’t know if there were more stolen things.

    And I am still asking myself, if I should say something, if the topic of stealing comes up. If I should then say that I feel uncomfortable, because I feel like they are suspecting me? Or should I say nothing?

    And I am also thinking: why should I subject myself to all this stress of the meeting, when i didn’t do anything wrong? But it will also be more stressful, if I don’t know what is going on there….




    Dear Lily:

    I will be away from the computer for a few hours, will read and reply to you when I am back.




    Dear Lily:

    It is the Guilty Core Belief and you and I have it in common. It is a very distressing core belief.

    I suggest the following:

    -pay attention to do right and not wrong, in all things, small and big.

    -do not expect perfection, as in doing always what is right and never what is wrong. At times everyone does something that is wrong, often because of inattentiveness and impatient or being in a rush, for example crossing the street not on a pedestrian crosswalk.

    -when you feel that you did something wrong, think: did I do anything wrong. If you did- correct it. If it is not possible to correct it, make a mental note to not repeat this particular thing.

    -when someone accuses you of doing something wrong, think: did I do anything wrong? If you didn’t, do not respond as if you did something wrong, as if you are guilty. Do not submit to a person simply because he or she accuses you of something.



    • This reply was modified 6 days, 9 hours ago by  anita.


    Dear anita,

    I cannot think of anything wrong or bad, that I did to these people. Except for maybe being clumsy in social situations. But I am always polite, I don’t disturb anyone. And I certainly didn’t take anything away from anyone.

    But I can understand, that I might seem suspicious and I am an outsider to their group.

    My feelings of guilt and shame increased in the past months, because of the thing with K. And people might have noticed. But also, with him, is there really something to ashamed of? It is something that I tried and that didn’t work out. Of course, I didn’t always make the best decisions, but I am still learning.

    The situation with this knife stressed me out a lot. And then I have a tendency to think crazy thoughts and to overreact completely. I wish I could stop feeling guilty for everything that goes wrong around me!

    I don’t know if I can find the strength to go to this meeting.. I just want to have calmer times, where I can focus on my true problems.



    Dear Lily:

    Then don’t attend that meeting. You are very distressed about it and the guilty-core-belief is acting up a lot these days, so stay away from the meeting.

    If you still see your therapist, this guilty-core-belief, needs to be looked at more.

    You mentioned K twice recently (believing yet again, that you are guilty in regard to him), are you thinking of contacting him, or have you?





    Dear anita,

    maybe I can go to yoga class, instead of the meeting. But I am still not fully decided.

    Today I talked to my therapist about it. And no matter what I do, some people will not approve. If I go there, I will probably be nervous and seem suspicious. If I don’t go, people will also find it suspicious. So what do I want? I never liked those meetings and now I feel even less enthusiastic about going there.

    Yes, K. has contacted me. It seems like I cannot hide anything from you. I thought you wouldn’t like it, so I didn’t mention it. But I think I also handled it allright this time.

    When I told my parents that I lost my phone via Email, my father wanted to get a new SIM card (with the same number) for me immediately. But I said that I want to maybe take care of it myself. But after I hadn’t done it after a week or so, my mother got worried and sent a used phone and the card to me.

    Well, I told my mother that I had wanted to take care of it myself, she was resistant at first. But later my parents asked about our phone calls and how to handle it in the future. When to call and so on. See, my parents are not bad people and our relationship has improved during the last years. Even when I was I child, I guess they wanted the best, but they were overwhelmed it seems to me.

    Anyways. K. called from the phone of one of his friends. And I listened. I was confused. He told me he missed me and such things. But I said to him that I want to think about everything and call him again the next day. I was still confused, thinking about him and the hopes I had had for a relationship with him. So on the phone I told him that I want to meet him for a personal talk at a Cafe or to go for a walk together. I also told him, that I don’t want to sleep with him for a while and also we should not spend the night together for some time. He accepted everything at first. Said, that I could sleep at his place when I come visit him, while he sleeps at his cousin’s.

    For a while I was considering if we could try it again. I was thinking to suggest to him, that we could go to the museum together, cook together or go for walks together and such and get to know each other better. But not have sex or sleepovers for some months. I also wanted to insist, that we don’t keep it a secret from his sister and that she has to see us together.

    He wanted to come for a visit last weekend. But then he canceled it because he had to take care of the keys from his work place ( I don’t really understand what he meant and why he couldn’t return them in time if he just drove home a bit earlier?). It seemed like he wanted to change his plans again though if he could sleep over. I also suggested that I could come to see him at his city for a few hours and for the talk. But he didn’t want that apparently (“I wanted you to calmly wait at home” he said?). And he wanted to go swimming and such things. But if the talk with me was truly so important to him (like he said), then why couldn’t he just go swimming a little bit later, after I was gone home?

    Then I asked if we could meet each other this weekend. And said that I just wasn’t able to see him on Saturday evening, because I was going to a concert. So he wanted to come along, then walk home to my place together and talk. I asked: and then you want to sleep over? And that was what he wanted. But I told him that he can sleep at his sisters place and we can meet on Sunday. I also first wanted to talk to him, before I go out with him again…

    Well, I got the feeling that he just wanted to go back to how things were before? And I also noticed that I did not trust him very much. So after a few days I wrote him a long message explaining my feelings to him. That I don’t feel like I am ready for a relationship now. That I rather want to work on myself at the moment. That I lost my trust in him. That I feel our communication didn’t work out. That I often didn’t tell him what I wanted. But that I also felt that he didn’t told me what bothers him and such. And that I wish him well.

    It felt good for me to write this message. I had wanted to tell him those things for so long. And maybe it was a bit much, but it was the truth and therefore it was o.K. I think.

    Today he responded with a message with three crying emojis. Saying that he doesn’t know what to say. That he really tried to do his best to make it work this time. But that it is o.K. It is my decision.

    I think it will be the best not to respond anymore. But I have to say, that a part of me still feels vulnerable to his advances.

    I feel I am more able to say no to him now, because I don’t feel like he is this perfect person anymore. And maybe I am not that unworthy.



    Dear Lily:

    I remembered a moment ago that you shared long ago that your father accused you of things, like for crying with the intent to manipulate him somehow. He suggested to you that you had dishonest intents when reality is, you had no dishonest intents. I figure your father’s accusations confused you and planted the core belief that you do have dishonest intents when you don’t!

    I share this core belief with you, unfortunately. My mother accused me repeatedly for doing things on purpose, with the intent to hurt her. I didn’t have such intent, but she insisted that I did, so I believed her. A core belief was established: that when I make a mistake or when I just say or do anything at all, I have the intent to hurt another person. This has led to decades of torture, that really bad feeling of an evil intent I .. didn’t have.

    Regarding K- I have disliked him for a long, long time, in the context of your thread, nd I still don’t like him. I think he is dishonest, and self serving, after you to serve him. I think he is selfish. I don’t see a possibility for a loving, healthy relationship with him. He is one place where you will not find love.

    Congratulations for asserting yourself and not having a physical relation with him!





    Dear anita,

    I went to the meeting and nobody accused me. I was very nervous and probably made the others uncomfortable. They were talking about missing objects, two missing knives. And I said that I had felt like they had suspected me and that it had made me feel uncomfortable (I don’t know, it’s maybe not the smartest thing to ask? It probably also made everyone uncomfortable…). But the one woman said that she asked everyone, the other also said that she had suspected everyone. Everything was o.K. and I relaxed a little.

    People were friendly and even invited me or everyone to join their board game night… But if I were to go there, I would only make everyone uncomfortable I think.

    Maybe I completely overreacted? But it was weird that I got asked twice about it. I still think that they must have talked about me. First there were weird looks and someone ignored me, then they were super-nice all of the sudden. But it’s probably understandable that they wonder about me, as I have isolated myself quite a bit.But it just makes me feel more uncomfortable… I don’t want to be noticed or be seen as different… Sometimes I wish I could just be invisible or non-existent!

    After the renovations a lot of new people moved in and everything changed. People became more close and do more things together. I am not part of this, which is of course my fault. In the past months I was so overwhelmed with feelings of shame and guilt and wanted to be alone more. And so I became an outsider. I am not good with groups anyways! Never was I accepted in one… In school people called me “freak” and threw paper balls at me. Some boy told me what an ugly face I had, things like that… Or at the church choir and everywhere people disliked me.

    It bis always the feeling of not being respected, not being good enough. But maybe a lot of it is in my own head! Why do I care what these strangers care anyways??? I wish I could stop thinking about it and just do my own thing.

    In therapy we talked about something similar, like the thing with the manipulative crying. I think me expressing my feelings wasn’t encouraged. My parents wanted me to be a certain way and I should follow that. There was not much room for me finding my own voice. When I resisted, I was punished.

    In my opinion , you could also deal differently with a child that sees the world differently than you. You could talk to it, ask questions, try to understand. But there was only judgement and I could not truly be myself around them.That is probably why I like to be alone so much. I can relax. I can be myself. I can be not perfect.

    Maybe I feel responsible for everything that goes wrong because I was some sort of scapegoat in my family. I had this feeling that I was responsible for the problems in my family. Because I was different and difficult, because I didn’t accept my parents path, I was the problem.

    But I don’t remember so many things where a dishonest intent of mine was assumed. But somehow there was the feeling that I was not o.K. the way I was. That I was somehow difficult, spoiled etc.

    And I still feel like I am the problem everywhere. At work or at the dormitory.

    Yes you are right, it feels like torture and I wished that I could become more o.K. with myself. I am sorry you had to go through this. It is not o.K. to make a child feel guilty like that for small mistakes. A grown up should truly know better! I too, feel very afraid to make mistakes and am far too perfectionistic.

    I think it takes a lot of strength and willpower to face and overcome such bad beliefs about yourself. So you must be a very strong person.

    About K. The things I wrote to him were my true feelings. That I should concentrate on my healing process at the moment and that I am not ready for a relationship right now. And that I lost my trust in him. On these grounds a healthy relationship cannot be established. So the reasonable thing is to let it be.

    It is just, that I secretly want to be in a relationship and sometimes he showed me his affection. It is something that I miss. When we slept embracing each other closely, or when he was just laying his head on my knees and I was caressing his face, it is things like this that I am missing. I would have liked to be there for him. But I was too afraid to be truly myself, I was always nervous and feeling unworthy. He also kept his problems to himself.

    Sometimes I worry that I have painted him in a too negative light in this thread? On the phone he said that he wanted to be in a true relationship now. And that he didn’t want to hide his problems away from me any longer. That he thought that true love would have never be possible for him again… And I don’t know if someone could lie so shamelessly??

    But then, he told lies or some things just didn’t quite make sense. And that he doesn’t want his sister to know is also very weird (even though I would have been embarrassed and uncomfortable too to meet his friends and family. I am not good at such things. But to make it a secret?).

    Hm, the best will be to let it be.Sometimes I get very sad and think that love will just not be possible for me. But then again, I have my best friend, that is truly there for me. My parents also try their best now to be supportive and understanding. There are the small things in life that truly make me happy… There is art and nature… Maybe I should just be more thankful for those things.




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