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What is this mess I got myself into? (self-worth issues?)

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  • #370958
    Inquisitive Soul
    Participant

    Hello dear people,

    I’m not sure what is happening with me but it might have something to do with self-worth issues I guess? So let me elaborate… 

    In the past, when I was a kid, I had little to no skills almost everything was handed to me and done for me, in fact, I had an overprotective family and no father figure + other issues were happening at home but whatever. Nevertheless, I was happy and kept myself doing “my thing” whether it was drawing stuff or playing with things. I was creative and had fun even with other kids in the neighborhood.

    Then the schooling years came in, I managed to learn many things but there was stuff I wasn’t good at like playing ball. I was always picked last when playing team games. I remember one time after the game I cried because for the whole basketball match I haven’t touched a ball. Sometimes I was made fun of and kids picked on me. You know, stupid stuff unaware kids do to their peers.

    Although some kids (and teachers) admired my skills when it came to my art skills and that gave me a sense of acceptance and approval I was looking for back then.

    I remember my mom asked me if I want to be signed up for art school. I remember that I said “no” because I was afraid of other people I think, or simply anxious. Even though I knew I would enjoy the learning of news skills there. When I look back it was one of the worst decisions of my life.

    Somewhere in between, I stopped doing the thing I liked not sure why but I was often discomfited by my grandma’s comments about stuff I do (I didn’t felt this way before, don’t know why). It might have something to do with the fact she had a somewhat controlling personality and I wanted to be a “good boy” just to live calmly and not being commentated. Some way, somehow I stopped doing my thing MAINLY because of the discomfit feelings, I guess I had some traumas here and there also so maybe that’s why this happened?

    I found some escape in video games but it wasn’t as extreme until I discovered online video gaming and indulged myself in this thing for years upon years. I think what I’ve found there was the feeling of showing how good I am? However stupid it might sound…

    The competitiveness aspect hooked me like nothing else there. I believe I was filling my void, insecurities, and bad experiences from the past where I was made fun of.

    When I decided to stop wasting my life away with vidya I was in a situation where I had money troubles and the need for large spendings because of my health problems. I became very mad at my family and many things that I regretted have happened.

    So I got myself together and decided to start working at a job as soon as I finished school.
    At work, I was a competitive person as well, wanted to prove myself worthy. In some of the workplaces, I advanced to higher positions. I was always aiming to climb the ladder up to the top.

    Important note to mention: I feel “endangered” when in the presence of other more knowledgeable people but at the same time I respect them and want to learn from them… I think this feeling is variable.

    Some time in between I’ve found interest in making money, some speculation stuff you know. A similar pattern occurred here – I derived my worth from how much money I was able to make or how knowledgeable I was.

    And at one particular time when I had so much money, I never had in my life and all my needs and spendings were covered a small euphoria stage happened but then… I was really unhappy. It was comfortable for a while, I decided I don’t have to do anything and went only down from there. A vicious cycle of self-hatred and destruction has begun there – not only I hated myself there but also others to a certain extend.

    When the “bad” episode has ended and I got myself together, moved out, live on good terms with my family, got rid of people with bad energy and influence on me. In my view, I’m in a really good spot right now.

    But still, I based my worth upon how “smart” I was and despised other people because of their inability to get their lives together or simply not respecting them (although sometimes I think I had a good reason to think like this). I also have (to this day) a strange habit to pick on others’ undoings or simply stupid stuff they do, like “Why you don’t do X instead of Y? It is so simple, you must not do this” etc. I can only imagine how horrible a parent I could be (that’s one of the reasons I’m avoiding any relationships because I’m afraid it could be toxic – read it as “I’m not good enough just yet”).

    In all this mess that was happening, from time to time I tried to get back to my passion for creating stuff. I did a few pieces here and there throughout the years. The last few months were good to me because I really got occupied in the process and felt genuinely happy. That feeling was so wonderful I was going throughout the weeks happy and content with myself. I also believe that I was a better and more understanding person.

    So, I’m getting rid of things I don’t need in life and try to stick to those that are essential to me, meaning no more money or career chasing (I don’t want to starve my soul anymore and feel drained).

    I lack in fundamentals but I began to learn things anew.

    But I don’t feel like I’ve healed. Most of the time I’m alone but I believe I’m on the right path like never before.

    I don’t share my endeavors with closer people in my life maybe because I’m afraid of being criticized or made fun of? I don’t know I guess it has something to do with the wounds of the past.

    I guess I became too egoistic perhaps (although I believe I need to take care of myself in order to help or give something to the world), and can’t really connect with others + afraid of sharing my deeper thoughts?
    Thank you for reading and sticking by.

    #370987
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Inquisitive Soul:

    I will read and reply to you in about 10 hours from now.

    anita

    #370992
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Inquisitive Soul:

    You shared that when you were a kid, everything was handed to you and done for you by an overprotective family and no father figure. You were happy drawing and playing, being creative and having fun with other kids in the neighborhood.

    When school started you learned many things but you were not good at some things, like playing ball, “always picked last when playing team games”. You remember crying after a basketball match because you didn’t touch the ball the whole game. Sometimes other kids made fun of you and picked on you. Some kids and teachers admired your art skills and that gave you a sense of acceptance and approval.

    At one point your mother asked you if you wanted to be signed up for art school and you said “no” even though you knew you would enjoy it. You said “no” because you were afraid of what other people will think about your art, afraid of not being good enough at it.

    Your grandmother “had a somewhat controlling personality” and discomfited you (made you feel uneasy and embarrassed), and you tried to be a “good boy” so to avoid her comments. Somewhere along the way you stopped doing your thing (drawing/ art, playing, being creative) “because of the discomfit feelings”.

    You found “some escape” (from the discomfit feelings of unease and embarrassment) in video games, and when you discovered online gaming, you indulged yourself in it “for years upon years”, hooked by the competitiveness aspect of it. You believe that online gaming filled your void, made up perhaps for your “insecurities, and bad experiences from the pat where (you) were made fun of”.

    At one point you had money troubles because of expensive health problems and you decided to stop “wasting (your) life away”. You got a job as soon as you finished school. At work you were competitive, wanting to “prove (yourself) worthy.. always aiming to climb the ladder up to the top”, feeling “‘endangered’ when in the presence of other more knowledgeable people”.

    “when I had so much money.. and all  my needs and spending were covered a small euphoria stage happened but then.. I was really unhappy.. A vicious cycle of self-hatred and destruction has begun there- not  only I hated myself there but also others to a certain extent”.

    You then got yourself together, moved out (of your family’s home?), living in good terms with your family, and “got rid of people with bad energy and influence”. In your view, you are “in a really good spot right now”, but you “despised other people because of their inability to get their lives together.. not respecting them”, and to this day you have “a strange habit to pick on others’ undoings or simply stupid stuff they do, like ‘Why you don’t do X instead of Y? It is so simple, you must not do this’ etc.”.

    You imagine that you would be a horrible parent because of being so critical of others, afraid you will be critical of your own children, and “that’s one of the reasons I’m avoiding any relationships… afraid it could be toxic”. At times, when you got back to your “passion for creating stuff”, you felt genuinely happy, and as a result, you were “a better and more understanding person”.

    You want to stop chasing, stop the “more money or career chasing”, and you have begun “to learn things anew”, but… “I don’t feel like I’ve healed. Most of the time I’m alone but I believe I’m on the right path like never before. I don’t share my endeavors with closer people in my life maybe because I’m afraid of being criticized or made fun of?.. something to do with the wounds of the past.. can’t really connect with others + afraid of sharing my deeper thoughts?”

    My input: you are safe here, in communication with me: I will not criticize your thoughts or your feelings, and if I mention your behaviors, I will not mention those behaviors with a critical tone.

    More of my understandings: you received some admiration for your art skills by teachers and kids, and you enjoyed being creative- during those experiences, you felt a positive excitement, a joy, and you felt motivated to create more and explore life. In between the excitations, you felt calm and content.

    When you were picked last last for sport team games, when other kids picked on you and made fun of you, and when your grandmother criticized you- during those experiences, you felt a negative excitement, an unease, fear and shame and/ or anger,  and you felt demotivated, you withdrew and were not inclined to create and to explore life. The unease of those experiences, the negative excitation spilled to an ongoing anxiety- a slow, enduring unease.

    Humans, like other animals, are more reactive to negative experiences than to positive experiences- if a deer is resting calmly, and a lion approaches, the deer will immediately feel great fear and escape the lion fast. On the other hand, once it escapes, it will take the deer a long, long time to return to calm. If the deer is approached by a lion ten times a day, the deer will not have enough time to relax in between the near-attacks, and anxiety will take hold.

    Another topic: when your mother asked you if you wanted her to sign you up to an art school and you told her No, she accepted your No. She wasn’t aware that you were afraid to be criticized for your art. She also didn’t realize and/ or  didn’t stop your grandmother from criticizing you. This means that she was not close-enough to you. If she was close-enough to you, she would have noticed your fear. If you felt her closeness, you would have told her that you were afraid.

    You weren’t close with your grandmother, trying to escape her criticism by being a “good boy”- you put quotation marks there because you were faking being good just so to escape her criticism. You were not your authentic self with her.

    You wrote: “I don’t share my endeavors with closer people in my life”- meaning your mother, grandmother, I assume.. thing is, they are not close-enough to you, haven’t been for much of your childhood.

    There was no real connection between you and the adults in your young life; fast forward to adulthood- you “can’t really connect with others”.

    “I don’t share… because I’m afraid of being criticized or made fun of?”- yes, because it happened in the past, and we are all afraid to experience more of what already happened.

    You mentioned the “wounds of the past”- as all humans, starting as children, you too needed to feel valuable to other people- to the adults in your household, and later, to teachers and kids in school. Feeling valuable to others is a necessary requirement for mental health. When you felt invaluable, picked last, made fun of- an emotional injury has taken place.

    You then tried to heal that injury (of losing the sports competitions in school, for one) by successfully competing/ winning in the context of online gaming, and later, in the contexts of the work place and making more and more money. A temporary euphoria followed some of these wins, but the wounds of childhood kept bleeding into your life-experience, cutting that euphoria short, and replacing it with a “vicious cycle of self-hatred and destruction”.

    Your “strange habit” of criticizing others for their choices is not that strange at all. Think of it as a coin: one side of the coin is your experience of being criticized by others;  on the other side of the coin is your experience criticizing others. Your grandmother who criticized you- she too was criticized by others. It is very common for people who were criticized a lot- to criticize others.

    “I began to learn things anew. But I don’t feel like I’ve healed. Most of the time I’m alone but I believe I’m on the right path like never before”- it reads to me that you are indeed on the right path, the path of healing from those wounds from the past, the path of better understanding and learning, the path of freeing yourself from much of the fear that held you back so far.

    anita

     

    #371008
    Inquisitive Soul
    Participant

    Thank you for understanding my problem anita, and some useful insights.

    Another topic: when your mother asked you if you wanted her to sign you up to an art school and you told her No, she accepted your No. She wasn’t aware that you were afraid to be criticized for your art. She also didn’t realize and/ or didn’t stop your grandmother from criticizing you. This means that she was not close-enough to you. If she was close-enough to you, she would have noticed your fear. If you felt her closeness, you would have told her that you were afraid.s

    Yeah, you’re right I suppose. Also, that was happening during the hard and stressful period in my family. They tried really hard to keep me away from the “bad stuff”. I noticed that, as far as I can remember, and wanted to not cause any trouble and just have some quiet time.

    You weren’t close with your grandmother, trying to escape her criticism by being a “good boy”- you put quotation marks there because you were faking being good just so to escape her criticism. You were not your authentic self with her.

    Yes, and still to this day, I feel the same. I live on good terms, the times of quarreling and blaming each other are long gone.
    I feel a similar way about my mom but she seems to understand more I think. But I’m not quite authentic with her too.
    I just can’t break the ice. This feeling (fear?) is so strong I can’t fathom it, whenever they ask me how was the day going, what’s up etc. I sometimes tend to lie and say everything’s ok. Although I’m more open to conversation with my mom maybe.

    Besides that, in situations where some “romantic” opportunity was emerging and things were getting more intimate or close, I quickly caved in. I was falling back, making excuses that “it’s not the time for this” or “I shouldn’t be doing this” – several times.

    It’s like it was a fear of being close to someone, it seems – like you mentioned – I never really been close with anyone. That’s a huge issue for me. I have no idea how to break this ice either.

    Your grandmother who criticized you- she too was criticized by others. It is very common for people who were criticized a lot- to criticize others.

    Good point, I was reading some psychology book that touched the subject of “passing mental illnesses” through generations. It’s a pattern that repeats, I can see similar behaviors in other family members that I see very rarely. I feel like it needs to be severed that’s why, until I won’t figure it out myself, I don’t want to pass it onto others.

    I don’t know how to put this but in order to build myself anew, I must be aware of various distractions and keep myself on guard from them…

    That’s why not so long ago I decided to cut ties with some people that I used to know for long periods of time. I know that probably in the upcoming months I will start to feel lonely (and it’s Christmas coming along with New Year’s Eve) and try to find ways to cope. But I’ve had periods of time of loneliness in my life before so maybe that’s why I managed to make that tough choice. Still, it happened so suddenly never expected it to be this way.

    But I’m well aware that I need to make sacrifices in order to take care of myself. At least that’s what I believe is right, am I wrong?

    What I’m sure of is… I just can’t afford to starve my soul as I did in the past.

    #371010
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Inquisitive Soul:

    You are welcome.

    You wrote regarding your mother: “I’m not quite authentic with her too”, and you added “I just can’t break the ice. This feeling (fear?) is so strong I can’t fathom it, whenever they ask me how was the day going, what’s up etc. I sometimes tend to lie and say everything’s ok”-

    – whenever they ask you how did your day go, you tend to lie and say that everything is ok- who is “they”? And do you tell them that everything is ok because you don’t want to trouble them, to cause them to worry?

    You mentioned a “hard and stressful period in my family. They tried really hard to keep me away from the ‘bad stuff'”- I wonder if you have been trying all along to keep them (your family members, I assume) from the bad stuff being how badly you feel when you feel badly??

    anita

    #371030
    Inquisitive Soul
    Participant

    – whenever they ask you how did your day go, you tend to lie and say that everything is ok- who is “they”? And do you tell them that everything is ok because you don’t want to trouble them, to cause them to worry?

    I was talking about my family. And yes, I think that’s the case that I don’t want to make anyone worry.

    Other than that yes, you’re correct I probably kept them away all this time from my feelings of unhappiness.

    And when I was to show anything it was with anger, I remember. Most likely because I was vulnerable then and afraid to be criticized or something along those lines.

    #371033
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Inquisitive Soul:

    I admire you for the following (in your second post): “I was reading some psychology book that touched (on) the subject of ‘passing mental illnesses’ through generations… it needs to be severed that’s why, until I.. figure it out myself, I don’t want to pass it onto others”- I wish that this kind of awareness and personal and social responsibility was more common than it is. If more people were as responsible as you are- there would be way less suffering and destruction in our world.

    I re-read your posts this morning and will be developing my understanding as I type, and that means that it will be a long post, I hope you bear with me, and take your time reading and considering the following:

    There was a certain time in your family that you did not talk about but which was very powerful in your life, a hard and stressful time of issues and bad stuff: “other issues were happening at home but whatever… the hard and stressful period in my family.. Thy tried really hard to keep me away from the ‘bad stuff’. I noticed that, as far as I can remember, and wanted to not cause any trouble and just have some quiet time”-

    Your family members, your mother, your grandmother, others perhaps (?) tried really hard to keep you away from the bad stuff, but they failed. You noticed the bad stuff.

    This bad stuff was very difficult for you, even though your role in the family was easy: “almost everything was handed to me and done for me… I was happy and kept myself doing ‘my thing’ whether it was drawing stuff or playing with things. I was creative and had fun”-

    It was a very difficult time for you because you were kept out of the most important issues that were happening. If you were given some role in addressing those issues, and solving those issues- you would have felt useful, a valuable member of the family, a valuable part of the team. It didn’t have to be a major role, given your age, but if you were asked for your opinions, if you were listened to when you offered your opinions, and if some changes made because of your input- then you would have felt being a valuable member of your family, working together as a team to solve team problems.

    But instead, you were ignored, protected from what you needed most, to feel valued as a team member. When your family was “overprotective” of you, by keeping you away from the problems, they sent you the message that you don’t have what it takes to address team problems and come up with solutions together with the team.

    “Then the schooling years came in” and you were kept out of other teams: sports teams (“I was always picked last when playing team games”), and popular/ accepted-kids teams (“I was made fun of and kids picked on me”). By this point you were kept away from your original team (your family) and secondary teams (peers).

    At home you worked/ played Alone: “I.. kept myself doing ‘my thing‘.. drawing stuff or playing with things“-

    – playing/ interactive with things, not with people.

    At school, you were accepted, admired for work (art) that you did Alone: “some kids (and teachers) admired my skills when it came to my art skills and that gave me a sense of acceptance and approval”.

    So far, you received approval for keeping to yourself Alone, apart from any team. And then, you discovered online video gaming and played a lot of those, “for years upon years”. If those games included virtual team work: one team of players playing against another team- then for the first time in your life, you experienced being a valuable part of a team, playing/ working as a team.

    “Important note to mention: I feel ‘endangered’ when in the presence of other more knowledgeable people but at the same time I respect them”- your efforts to work together with your family members (adults who were supposed to be more knowledgeable than you), and your efforts to work together with peers who were better than you in sports, or more accepted otherwise)- failed. You were rejected by the original and secondary teams. To be rejected feels dangerous, for humans and for other social animals. It is an instinctive fear that all animals who live in groups share: the fear of being rejected by the group.

    When you wrote: “I just can’t break the ice. This feeling (fear?) is so strong I can’t fathom it”- you may be referring to the instinctive, animalistic fear of every social animal, the fear of being rejected by the group. Alone, a social animal is not likely to survive.

    “A vicious cycle of self-hatred and destruction has begun there- not only I hated myself there but also others”- hating yourself for not being valuable enough to belong to a team, and hating others for sending you the message that you are not valuable enough to belong to their team.

    “I also have (to this day) a strange habit to pick on others’ undoings or simply stupid stuff they do, like ‘Why don’t you do X instead of Y? It is so simple, you must not do this’ etc.”-

    -I imagine that when the hard and stressful period of time was happening in your family, and/ or afterwards, when there were stresses in the family- you (as a preteen or a teenager) volunteered your solution to the problems. Let’s say your mother did Y and Y wasn’t working. You knew that doing X made more sense. So, you told her something like: ‘Mom, why don’t you do X instead of Y?, but she didn’t listen to you (and maybe criticized your input), and she kept doing Y. Angry that she kept doing Y, you angrily said: ‘Mom, it is  so simple: you must not do Y. Do X instead!

    “in situations where some ‘romantic’ opportunity was emerging.. I quickly caved in.. it was a fear of being close to someone”- afraid of being rejected by a romantic partner, rejected by another kind of a team.. a romantic team of two (?)

    anita

    #371043
    Inquisitive Soul
    Participant

    Dear anita, thank you for taking a deep dive into my posts.

    You elaborated greatly on the part about the feel of being useful, how I was kept away from problems in the bubble. That indeed seems to be a root cause.
    That’s why I always felt a strong need to prove myself to others.

    So it seems to me that’s a fear of rejection.
    Now that I think about it I might have cut some friendships before or never dived deep into any because of this fear…

    I think I’d need to nose around this theme some more in the near future.

    #371044
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Inquisitive Soul:

    You are welcome. Yes, that’s why you always felt a strong need to prove yourself to others, to prove that you are useful/ of value to others. For a human/ social animal, the individual and the group (the others) are two sides of the same coin- one side does not exist independently of the other. No matter how much you (or I) may want to not care about what others think/ feel about you – you can’t help caring, to one extent or another, because.. you are a social animals.

    You have the term “self-worth” in the title of your thread. An individual human being cannot feel self-worth unless the individual is truly and thoroughly valued by at least one other human being.

    Please do nose around this theme and post again anytime.

    anita

     

    #372047
    Inquisitive Soul
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I write after some long time again.

    Just wanted to show appreciation of the effort you put into this matter. I took some time for myself, made a break, and finally made a deeper analysis of my life I would say.

    My mind feels clearer than before, I know what I must take care of, where my attention should go and so many different things. I might be writing here sometime in the future, but for now, just wanted to say Thank You and letting y’all know that I’m fine!

    Wish you all the best!

    #372050
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Inquisitive Soul:

    It is so kind of you to send me this message of appreciation and good wishes. Thank you! I feel good to read that your mind feels clearer than before, and indeed your message is clear and focused. I wish you the best as well, and please post any time you want to post, or need to post. I will be glad to read from you and reply anytime you post.

    anita

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