Afraid Of Ruining Relationships - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-01-2020, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Afraid Of Ruining Relationships


I have this fear that I developed a few years ago. About 5 years ago. It's basically where I fear that I am going to sabotage every friendship that I have some way or the other. That I might behave in the wrong way or say something that will upset the other person.

As a result, I cannot be myself or let myself go. I'm always analyzing my own behavior when I'm interacting with someone. It's like I'm interacting with them with just my analytical brain and its not coming from the heart.

Social interactions are supposed to be fun and pleasurable. If you get along with a person, it feels fun. This is how it was for me before anxiety came into the picture and ruined it.

Whenever I interact with anyone now, all I can hear is a summation of previous '' advice '' I've been given as well as guidelines I've read online on places like pickup forums and what not (the pickup forum advice comes into the picture whenever I'm interacting with a girl.)

I now approach every social interaction with caution. Whereas before this fear, I used to wear my heart on my sleeve and just be open with people. I remember once I made a friend (girl) and within just one week I openly said '' I miss you! '' without any hesitation or second thoughts, to her in a text when she went out of a town for some time. I would never do that today......being the fearful, over analytical person I am. Even if I had the urge to say that to anyone, all of the PUA advice I've heard would kick into gear and say '' DON'T SAY THAT! It makes you look weak and clingy! That's not attractive! '' and I'd just hold it in.

I know what might have caused this fear though. Years ago I had a very unpleasant experience with a friend of mine which ended up in her telling me that she didn't like me and never did after we had a fight. And I could feel it. It started off really good (we had a few good laughs), but after months passed, I felt like she was getting tired of me and bored of me and I was irritating her. Ever since this, I have not been the same. My self esteem has gone for a toss and I can't help but think - Maybe this is how a lot of people feel about me? Maybe I just get on everyone's nerves? Ever since I felt that way, it seems like I've been naturally repelling people. I know your own self image will project onto other people. If you hate yourself, then other people might too.

And then there's the advice my counselor gave me. She hinted that maybe I was '' going too fast '' and I need to '' take it easy '' when it comes to relationships. She did not say this directly, but I got the feeling like she was telling me that this might have been the reason why I ruined my previous friendship. Because I was '' too intense ''? Maybe she's right. I have a serious anxiety disorder and OCD, so maybe my anxiety and OCD is leaking into relationships and causing me to act a certain way? Like being too clingy? Or being offended easily? Or asking for validation?

But if I do in fact have this problem, then how can I truly be myself and let myself go?.....Knowing that I have a capacity to let anxiety ruin my relationships.

I am so damn sick of all this! I cannot be myself anymore and just be comfortable with people. How do I get it back? How do I un-see all of this useless stuff that I have seen over the years!? To some degree, I resent what my counselor told me (about going too fast, etc.). Before she told me that I didn't think of it that much and it was more natural.

It's become so bad now, that whenever I meet anyone new or talk to anyone, I actually expect them to dislike me.

And I also calculate the '' safeness '' of everything I say. Like if I was going to bring up a topic with them, I would ask myself how safe is it to say that? Will they misinterpret it? And I have this with pretty much any topic. So I only say the most basic and safest things. Nothing I say sounds original anymore. I am just a template. Recycling old lines. Always keeping it casual and formal. I have turned into a robot.

How do I escape this loop?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-02-2020, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-03-2020, 12:05 PM
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If you try to make every person like you, you are going to fail in the vast majority of the cases. That's because most people are not compatible enough to be friends. If you try to make a friend out of everyone who is nice to you (which many will be, out of politeness) then what you will experience is a repeated series of failures; and in most of these cases, you will be able to draw a line of causality from your clinginess to their departure. But the clinginess isn't really the problem most of the time; the real problem is that most people simply have no real interest in being your friend. That's true for almost everyone on the planet. But most people do not try to make every relationship work; that's something that insecure people do.

There are two basic strategies here:

1. Just be yourself when you talk to people and let the chips fall where they may.
2. Try to turn every person who is nice to you into your friend.

Strategy 1 is how most people operate. They don't really give much thought to who may or may not turn out to be their friend. They just live their lives, talk to people, and eventually run into people who like them enough to want to hang out with them. It's an organic, mostly unconscious process. These people do not have more friends than you because they hyperanalyze their every action and have figured out secret tricks to make people like them. They have more friends because they have never learned to be afraid of talking to people and over time have met the right people. These people are no more intrinsically interesting or likable than you are.

Strategy 2 is how insecure people operate. They try to contort themselves into whatever shape they think the other person will find pleasing and chase the other person around until they finally figure out what secret, special shape will finally make the other person want to be their friend. Now, ofc, it's possible to figure out what other people like and don't like and to emulate those traits to some degree, but it's extremely hard, most people aren't that talented, and most traits aren't that easy to emulate. Some are impossible. And because the vast majority of people are simply not fit to be friends with the vast majority of other people, strategy 2 is simply going to fail in the vast majority of cases. You can blame that on your clinginess, but the fact is that they probably wouldn't have been your friend anyway, so all being clingy does is accelerate the process.

The crucial difference between the two strategies is that people who use the first strategy don't blame themselves if any particular person doesn't like them. They're not really thinking about it at all. People who use the second strategy do blame themselves if another person doesn't like them because they are trying to get them to like them and it isn't working.

1: Not trying, can't fail, can't blame themselves.
2: Trying, can fail, can blame themselves.

Neither strategy is more effective at making people like you because you can't control other people's feelings. People like what they like, don't like what they don't like, and no amount of persuasion is going to make them like things they don't like. You can't force people to fall in love with you, and you can't force people to like you as a friend. Either they do, or they don't. All strategy 2 accomplishes is a lot of wasted effort and heartache as you try to make one incompatible person after another like you, fail, and accumulate more and more evidence that "I'm just not a likable person", "I sabotage all my relationships", etc.

Speaking in general (because I know others will read this) the problem here is not that you are less likable or interesting than other people (since most people are no more likable or interesting than most other people) but that you believe that you are. And because you believe that, you have adopted a strategy which repeatedly confirms your belief. And because you are repeatedly "failing", and failing is painful, you learn avoidance. And that avoidance makes your potential friend pool smaller and smaller and smaller. It also makes you less and less interesting to other people, because you're willing to do less and less (maybe to the point of never leaving your house). But the problem is your belief and the strategy that you've adopted to compensate for it, not an actual deficiency in your character that makes you intrinsically less interesting or likable than other people. If you lost the belief, and dropped the strategy, you would be just as interesting and likable as anyone else.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-04-2020, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by truant View Post
If you try to make every person like you, you are going to fail in the vast majority of the cases. That's because most people are not compatible enough to be friends.
Yes for sure. Also I know that deliberately trying to get people to like you can make one look fake or even creepy.

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Originally Posted by truant View Post
If you try to make a friend out of everyone who is nice to you (which many will be, out of politeness) then what you will experience is a repeated series of failures; and in most of these cases, you will be able to draw a line of causality from your clinginess to their departure. But the clinginess isn't really the problem most of the time; the real problem is that most people simply have no real interest in being your friend.
Hmm I partly disagree with this. There are people who have a higher value on the '' friendship marketplace ''. Isn't that what popular means? I can't remember where but I think you said this on a previous post - People will want to be your friend only if you make them feel good. And some people do have that charisma, and that's what attracts people. People like feeling good and so gravitate towards people who'll satisfy that.

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Originally Posted by truant View Post
That's true for almost everyone on the planet. But most people do not try to make every relationship work; that's something that insecure people do.

There are two basic strategies here:

1. Just be yourself when you talk to people and let the chips fall where they may.
2. Try to turn every person who is nice to you into your friend.

Strategy 1 is how most people operate. They don't really give much thought to who may or may not turn out to be their friend. They just live their lives, talk to people, and eventually run into people who like them enough to want to hang out with them. It's an organic, mostly unconscious process. These people do not have more friends than you because they hyperanalyze their every action and have figured out secret tricks to make people like them. They have more friends because they have never learned to be afraid of talking to people and over time have met the right people. These people are no more intrinsically interesting or likable than you are.
Right now I feel like my anxiety is preventing me from being who I actually am. I don't want to put on a fake personality in an attempt to get people to like me. I just want the anxiety, sadness, resentment, negative feelings to all disappear and just be who I am on the inside. I did have this trait in me for some time (I think lol), it now feels like the older I get, the further away I am getting from the fun version of me.

I used to operate via strategy 1. I never thought about things much, and was natural. I did make friends that way. Although one weird thing about me was that I always preferred making friends younger than me than making friends my own age. I don't know why.

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Originally Posted by truant View Post
Strategy 2 is how insecure people operate. They try to contort themselves into whatever shape they think the other person will find pleasing and chase the other person around until they finally figure out what secret, special shape will finally make the other person want to be their friend. Now, ofc, it's possible to figure out what other people like and don't like and to emulate those traits to some degree, but it's extremely hard, most people aren't that talented, and most traits aren't that easy to emulate. Some are impossible. And because the vast majority of people are simply not fit to be friends with the vast majority of other people, strategy 2 is simply going to fail in the vast majority of cases. You can blame that on your clinginess, but the fact is that they probably wouldn't have been your friend anyway, so all being clingy does is accelerate the process.

The crucial difference between the two strategies is that people who use the first strategy don't blame themselves if any particular person doesn't like them. They're not really thinking about it at all. People who use the second strategy do blame themselves if another person doesn't like them because they are trying to get them to like them and it isn't working.

1: Not trying, can't fail, can't blame themselves.
2: Trying, can fail, can blame themselves.

Neither strategy is more effective at making people like you because you can't control other people's feelings. People like what they like, don't like what they don't like, and no amount of persuasion is going to make them like things they don't like. You can't force people to fall in love with you, and you can't force people to like you as a friend. Either they do, or they don't. All strategy 2 accomplishes is a lot of wasted effort and heartache as you try to make one incompatible person after another like you, fail, and accumulate more and more evidence that "I'm just not a likable person", "I sabotage all my relationships", etc.

Speaking in general (because I know others will read this) the problem here is not that you are less likable or interesting than other people (since most people are no more likable or interesting than most other people) but that you believe that you are. And because you believe that, you have adopted a strategy which repeatedly confirms your belief. And because you are repeatedly "failing", and failing is painful, you learn avoidance. And that avoidance makes your potential friend pool smaller and smaller and smaller. It also makes you less and less interesting to other people, because you're willing to do less and less (maybe to the point of never leaving your house). But the problem is your belief and the strategy that you've adopted to compensate for it, not an actual deficiency in your character that makes you intrinsically less interesting or likable than other people. If you lost the belief, and dropped the strategy, you would be just as interesting and likable as anyone else.
Well in my case, my speech is a big issue. If I had the ability to speak with ease, trust me I would yapping 24/7 and talking to people whenever I could no matter what I felt like inside. It's complicated for me because my speech is dependent on my mental state. People who don't have speech impediments can still operate and talk despite feeling awful inside. But I have to fix my mental state to talk to people....but the problem is that I have to talk to people to fix my mental state.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2020, 03:14 AM
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Hmm I partly disagree with this. There are people who have a higher value on the '' friendship marketplace ''. Isn't that what popular means? I can't remember where but I think you said this on a previous post - People will want to be your friend only if you make them feel good. And some people do have that charisma, and that's what attracts people. People like feeling good and so gravitate towards people who'll satisfy that.
Well, yes, some people are clearly more "attractive" (magnetic) than others. Like everything else, there's a bell curve. But the vast majority of people are not charismatic. Yet they still have friends. If your objective is to make friends and not lose them, you don't need to be charismatic, you just have to find people who like your particular traits. In any case, it seems to me that being yourself is a precondition of charisma.

It sometimes seems that some people attempt to become charismatic artificially by improving social skills as a way to avoid overcoming their shame, which is what is actually holding them back 9 times out of 10. "If I were charismatic, people would like me, I would have friends and a relationship, and I would no longer be ashamed of myself." This is putting the cart before the horse. It isn't a way of overcoming shame, which is what people generally need to do; it's an attempt to defend oneself from ever experiencing it.

People are basically just fancy amoebas, as, you're right, I've said before. They move toward pleasure, and they move away from pain. They want to feel alive, right now, and they want to feel assured that they will continue to feel that way in the future. Knowing that is important for understanding why people like or dislike one another and why your relationships might not be working.

People want positive and exciting experiences (though, ofc, that's subjective). The problem with inhibition -- trying to avoid rejection or giving offense -- is that it eliminates all the positive, exciting experiences along with all the negative experiences. The end result of perfect niceness is perfect boredom. It flatlines a relationship. If you inflict pain on other people, they'll avoid you, and that's what you're afraid of; but if you provide no stimulation at all, no one has any reason to spend any time with you. They might as well watch TV. People would rather spend time with people who sometimes give them pain, if they more often give them pleasure, than with someone who gives them nothing at all. That's basic math.

Ofc, you have to take risks to create that positive excitement in other people, and your actions are as likely to make people dislike you as like you because everyone has different tastes. Expressing yourself makes you both friends and enemies. But there's really no way around it. They nailed Jesus to a cross, despite his charisma. Improving your social skills doesn't really help you much, because social skills generally only allow you to avoid faux pas; they don't make you funnier or more interesting or better looking. You may very well already be funny and interesting and just afraid to show it. Which is why overcoming inhibition is almost always more important than improving social skills.

Quote:
Right now I feel like my anxiety is preventing me from being who I actually am. I don't want to put on a fake personality in an attempt to get people to like me. I just want the anxiety, sadness, resentment, negative feelings to all disappear and just be who I am on the inside. I did have this trait in me for some time (I think lol), it now feels like the older I get, the further away I am getting from the fun version of me.

I used to operate via strategy 1. I never thought about things much, and was natural. I did make friends that way. Although one weird thing about me was that I always preferred making friends younger than me than making friends my own age. I don't know why.
So what's creating those negative emotions? The particular thoughts are important.

Quote:
Well in my case, my speech is a big issue. If I had the ability to speak with ease, trust me I would yapping 24/7 and talking to people whenever I could no matter what I felt like inside. It's complicated for me because my speech is dependent on my mental state. People who don't have speech impediments can still operate and talk despite feeling awful inside. But I have to fix my mental state to talk to people....but the problem is that I have to talk to people to fix my mental state.
I can relate, to some extent. To be happy, I must express myself authentically. But in order to do that, I have to overcome my fear of eliciting a hostile response through my gender expressions. This is something that cis people don't have to worry about, just as people who don't have speech impediments (like myself) don't have to fix their mental state in order to speak. I have to fix my mental state in a different way, so that I don't succumb to the temptation to pretend to be cis just because it's easier and less painful than being myself. A cis person doesn't confront that choice every single time they open their mouth or move their body or get dressed in the morning. If people were completely indifferent to my gender expressions, as they are to the expressions of other cis people, I'd probably be talking to everyone too. To fix my mental state, I have to confront the possibility of hostility directly, by interacting with people in person, because I can't spend the rest of my life in hiding.

Idk anything about stuttering, or if it's possible to correct, but you have to be able to live with your differences. I'm never going to pass as a cis woman, so I have to find some way to be okay with my difference being part of every social interaction I have. There's a way to do it, because other people have done it, and I just have to discover it for myself through trial and error. It mostly boils down to achieving an interpretive frame that gives you resilience.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-05-2020, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by truant View Post
Well, yes, some people are clearly more "attractive" (magnetic) than others. Like everything else, there's a bell curve. But the vast majority of people are not charismatic. Yet they still have friends. If your objective is to make friends and not lose them, you don't need to be charismatic, you just have to find people who like your particular traits. In any case, it seems to me that being yourself is a precondition of charisma.


It sometimes seems that some people attempt to become charismatic artificially by improving social skills as a way to avoid overcoming their shame, which is what is actually holding them back 9 times out of 10. "If I were charismatic, people would like me, I would have friends and a relationship, and I would no longer be ashamed of myself." This is putting the cart before the horse. It isn't a way of overcoming shame, which is what people generally need to do; it's an attempt to defend oneself from ever experiencing it.

People are basically just fancy amoebas, as, you're right, I've said before. They move toward pleasure, and they move away from pain. They want to feel alive, right now, and they want to feel assured that they will continue to feel that way in the future. Knowing that is important for understanding why people like or dislike one another and why your relationships might not be working.

People want positive and exciting experiences (though, ofc, that's subjective). The problem with inhibition -- trying to avoid rejection or giving offense -- is that it eliminates all the positive, exciting experiences along with all the negative experiences. The end result of perfect niceness is perfect boredom. It flatlines a relationship. If you inflict pain on other people, they'll avoid you, and that's what you're afraid of; but if you provide no stimulation at all, no one has any reason to spend any time with you. They might as well watch TV. People would rather spend time with people who sometimes give them pain, if they more often give them pleasure, than with someone who gives them nothing at all. That's basic math.

Ofc, you have to take risks to create that positive excitement in other people, and your actions are as likely to make people dislike you as like you because everyone has different tastes. Expressing yourself makes you both friends and enemies. But there's really no way around it. They nailed Jesus to a cross, despite his charisma. Improving your social skills doesn't really help you much, because social skills generally only allow you to avoid faux pas; they don't make you funnier or more interesting or better looking. You may very well already be funny and interesting and just afraid to show it. Which is why overcoming inhibition is almost always more important than improving social skills.

Of course. But sometimes its hard to really know when to watch yourself and when to let yourself go......or maybe we should all just let ourselves go, I dunno. Maybe some amount of inhibition is a good thing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by truant View Post
So what's creating those negative emotions? The particular thoughts are important.
Self loathing, trauma from pervious social rejections, feelings of inferiority, lack of partners (I've only had one girlfriend so far), and most notably - Feeling like a '' creep '' (which I've discussed a lot of times on here).....that's probably a summation of all the previous feelings.

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Originally Posted by truant View Post
I can relate, to some extent. To be happy, I must express myself authentically. But in order to do that, I have to overcome my fear of eliciting a hostile response through my gender expressions. This is something that cis people don't have to worry about, just as people who don't have speech impediments (like myself) don't have to fix their mental state in order to speak. I have to fix my mental state in a different way, so that I don't succumb to the temptation to pretend to be cis just because it's easier and less painful than being myself. A cis person doesn't confront that choice every single time they open their mouth or move their body or get dressed in the morning. If people were completely indifferent to my gender expressions, as they are to the expressions of other cis people, I'd probably be talking to everyone too. To fix my mental state, I have to confront the possibility of hostility directly, by interacting with people in person, because I can't spend the rest of my life in hiding.

Idk anything about stuttering, or if it's possible to correct, but you have to be able to live with your differences. I'm never going to pass as a cis woman, so I have to find some way to be okay with my difference being part of every social interaction I have. There's a way to do it, because other people have done it, and I just have to discover it for myself through trial and error. It mostly boils down to achieving an interpretive frame that gives you resilience.
I can understand that. In fact my speech impediment works in exactly the same way. I have to confront the possibility of alienation from others in order to gather the courage to talk. For a long time I just kept telling myself '' Don't stutter '' and was ashamed of it because I was just trying to blend in and wanted to sound like everyone else. That is exactly when my problems started, because I stopped talking entirely. Overcoming the fear of alienation helped me a lot. But I still struggle with it. It's a thing I have to constantly fight against.

I didn't really get the last part though. What do you mean by interpretive frame?
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-06-2020, 01:36 PM
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Of course. But sometimes its hard to really know when to watch yourself and when to let yourself go......or maybe we should all just let ourselves go, I dunno. Maybe some amount of inhibition is a good thing?
Well, this is really about respect. Don't violate people's boundaries, or make them feel bad about themselves. If you do so unintentionally, apologize. There's some value here in learning social etiquette if it eludes you. People generally frown on people who take their pants off in public.

You can let yourself go without groping people or insulting them (though I'm given to understand that kind of behavior is encouraged by PUAs). Beyond that, there's not much you can do. You can't not be who you are. All the hyperanalyzing over every word to eliminate any possibility of objection or rejection is taking things too far; that's not about protecting them, but protecting yourself from rejection. If they don't like your sense of humor, or share your interests, or share your opinions, there's not much you can do about that and it's not really your fault. That's where compatibility comes in. You're not infringing on anyone by asking them if they want to see a movie with you, or go hiking, or do whatever it is you enjoy doing. If they say no, just don't take it personally.

Quote:
Self loathing, trauma from pervious social rejections, feelings of inferiority, lack of partners (I've only had one girlfriend so far), and most notably - Feeling like a '' creep '' (which I've discussed a lot of times on here).....that's probably a summation of all the previous feelings.
I'd have to know the specific thoughts and associations you have about these things. This list is too general. But I'm obviously not going to ask you to share that here. That's the sort of thing you'd have to do in therapy.

Quote:
I can understand that. In fact my speech impediment works in exactly the same way. I have to confront the possibility of alienation from others in order to gather the courage to talk. For a long time I just kept telling myself '' Don't stutter '' and was ashamed of it because I was just trying to blend in and wanted to sound like everyone else. That is exactly when my problems started, because I stopped talking entirely. Overcoming the fear of alienation helped me a lot. But I still struggle with it. It's a thing I have to constantly fight against.
A lot of this stuff takes a long time to take root. It took me a long time to get from the intellectual understanding that I'm not inferior to others to the feeling that I'm not inferior to others. The logic of a proposition has to fill up with evidence, until the weight of that evidence is greater than the conflicting evidence. This is why you can hear something, agree with it, and it not have any effect on you. You have to apply the thought over and over again until it becomes your habitual thought. And that only really works if the thought has some truth to it. (Which is why affirmations like "everyone is going to like me" almost invariably fail.)

Ofc, there are different kinds of truth. There's "it's true because everyone believes it" (the old "the world is flat") and there's "it's true because it's actually true" ("the world is round"). Most people believe that some people are better, or worth more, than other people, and that kind of comparison is "true because everyone believes it". But it's more objectively true (so far as I can tell) that that kind of comparison is actually meaningless unless you're comparing specific traits, like who's better at math; assigning worth to a person as a whole is like assigning different values to colors ("blue is better than orange"). When people make claims about being inferior or superior to other people it just strikes me as being a sort of odd way to think now, even though I know it's the conventional way to think. But because so much of our culture and social convention depends on the assumption of relative worth, and on social hierarchies, even I can get sucked into comparative thinking on occasion.

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I didn't really get the last part though. What do you mean by interpretive frame?
An interpretive frame is the specific way you view a situation. For example, if you have tried numerous times to achieve X, but so far you have failed, you could interpret this to mean that you are a failure, or you could interpret it to mean that you are determined. They can both be true, but one frame is disempowering and the other is empowering. If you stop trying to achieve X, does this mean that you've given up, or that you've come to accept your situation? Different people can have different opinions about it.

You can have different opinions about the same situation by changing which aspects you emphasize. That's how reframing works. When you change your perspective, your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors change. The goal of therapy is generally to build an interpretive framework that is empowering instead of disempowering. It goes without saying, ofc, that you should not be trying to delude yourself. You can't just say whatever you like about your experiences. "I'm a genius" doesn't work if you're not a genius. But maybe you don't really know how smart you are and you'll surprise yourself if you push yourself. That could be true, and it's much more empowering than writing yourself off by deciding that you're nothing special.

Mental health depends on a good correspondence between reality and your understanding of reality, but some frames are more useful than other frames. A lot of what passes for "wisdom" is actually specious pessimism or optimism and can be toxic if you internalize it uncritically.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-06-2020, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by truant View Post
Well, this is really about respect. Don't violate people's boundaries, or make them feel bad about themselves. If you do so unintentionally, apologize. There's some value here in learning social etiquette if it eludes you. People generally frown on people who take their pants off in public.

You can let yourself go without groping people or insulting them (though I'm given to understand that kind of behavior is encouraged by PUAs). Beyond that, there's not much you can do. You can't not be who you are. All the hyperanalyzing over every word to eliminate any possibility of objection or rejection is taking things too far; that's not about protecting them, but protecting yourself from rejection. If they don't like your sense of humor, or share your interests, or share your opinions, there's not much you can do about that and it's not really your fault. That's where compatibility comes in. You're not infringing on anyone by asking them if they want to see a movie with you, or go hiking, or do whatever it is you enjoy doing. If they say no, just don't take it personally.
Oh no I didn't mean anything extreme like that! What I mean is holding yourself back from potentially hurting or offending people on a more subtler level. Like for example: If you dislike a certain politician, but are talking to someone who supports that politician......should you openly say '' I think that guy stinks! '' or should you just pretend that you support him for the sake of not heating up the conversation with whoever you're talking to?

Examples like that don't involve insulting or hurting another person. It's about you being upfront with your views.

Or it could be just talking about things which would otherwise make a '' normie '' uncomfortable. I once talked about my anxiety issues in to a friend in front of another person (who I didn't know), and that other person looked at me weird and I could tell she was uncomfortable by the conversation.



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I'd have to know the specific thoughts and associations you have about these things. This list is too general. But I'm obviously not going to ask you to share that here. That's the sort of thing you'd have to do in therapy.
Well the self loathing comes from how people treat me. If someone shows me affection and friendship, then it builds my self esteem. If someone does the opposite, my self esteem lowers.

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A lot of this stuff takes a long time to take root. It took me a long time to get from the intellectual understanding that I'm not inferior to others to the feeling that I'm not inferior to others. The logic of a proposition has to fill up with evidence, until the weight of that evidence is greater than the conflicting evidence. This is why you can hear something, agree with it, and it not have any effect on you. You have to apply the thought over and over again until it becomes your habitual thought. And that only really works if the thought has some truth to it. (Which is why affirmations like "everyone is going to like me" almost invariably fail.)

Ofc, there are different kinds of truth. There's "it's true because everyone believes it" (the old "the world is flat") and there's "it's true because it's actually true" ("the world is round"). Most people believe that some people are better, or worth more, than other people, and that kind of comparison is "true because everyone believes it". But it's more objectively true (so far as I can tell) that that kind of comparison is actually meaningless unless you're comparing specific traits, like who's better at math; assigning worth to a person as a whole is like assigning different values to colors ("blue is better than orange"). When people make claims about being inferior or superior to other people it just strikes me as being a sort of odd way to think now, even though I know it's the conventional way to think. But because so much of our culture and social convention depends on the assumption of relative worth, and on social hierarchies, even I can get sucked into comparative thinking on occasion.
I think when it comes to feeling good about yourself, you have to be fulfilled in some way. And it involves work from the person. A person who doesn't do much with their life is not going to feel good about themselves. And I don't think that comes from knowing how society views you and your achievements. It comes from the person themselves. The more they create, the better they feel about themselves.

Assigning values to people is a bit like assigning values to colors...…...but people are more complicated than colors. lol. Plus there's no such thing as a bad color or a good color. But there are bad people and good people.

I'm curious, but are you against the idea of competition? I'm not talking about comparing people and assigning worth to them, but focusing in on one area and creative a competitive environment for people to take part in. I don't think competition always breeds negative emotions. Maybe it does in some people (like bullies)......but it can also bring positive emotions like friendship.


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An interpretive frame is the specific way you view a situation. For example, if you have tried numerous times to achieve X, but so far you have failed, you could interpret this to mean that you are a failure, or you could interpret it to mean that you are determined. They can both be true, but one frame is disempowering and the other is empowering. If you stop trying to achieve X, does this mean that you've given up, or that you've come to accept your situation? Different people can have different opinions about it.

You can have different opinions about the same situation by changing which aspects you emphasize. That's how reframing works. When you change your perspective, your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors change. The goal of therapy is generally to build an interpretive framework that is empowering instead of disempowering. It goes without saying, ofc, that you should not be trying to delude yourself. You can't just say whatever you like about your experiences. "I'm a genius" doesn't work if you're not a genius. But maybe you don't really know how smart you are and you'll surprise yourself if you push yourself. That could be true, and it's much more empowering than writing yourself off by deciding that you're nothing special.

Mental health depends on a good correspondence between reality and your understanding of reality, but some frames are more useful than other frames. A lot of what passes for "wisdom" is actually specious pessimism or optimism and can be toxic if you internalize it uncritically.
Ah. Yes I am a big fan of this
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 01:52 AM
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Oh no I didn't mean anything extreme like that! What I mean is holding yourself back from potentially hurting or offending people on a more subtler level. Like for example: If you dislike a certain politician, but are talking to someone who supports that politician......should you openly say '' I think that guy stinks! '' or should you just pretend that you support him for the sake of not heating up the conversation with whoever you're talking to?

Examples like that don't involve insulting or hurting another person. It's about you being upfront with your views.

Or it could be just talking about things which would otherwise make a '' normie '' uncomfortable. I once talked about my anxiety issues in to a friend in front of another person (who I didn't know), and that other person looked at me weird and I could tell she was uncomfortable by the conversation.
Well, I didn't think you were doing those things, but you asked about "letting go" and I wanted to illustrate what would be going too far. The principle is "do no harm", but that includes harm to both you and the other person, since you both have feelings equally deserving of respect.

If you don't like the politician and you say "That guy stinks!" you run the risk of hurting the other person's feelings, or making them feel stupid. But if you pretend to like the politician you're lying to them, which isn't very respectful and disrespects your own feelings. You have to be diplomatic and talk about the subject in a way that doesn't demean anyone's feelings or intelligence. You really don't know what the basis for their support is and it's always possible they're better-informed. There's a big difference between "I hate X" and "I didn't like what X did about Y". You want to keep discussions civil, on the level of behaviors, and avoid descending to character assassination. Or say "I don't really like talking about politics" if you'd rather not get into a big discussion.

But the larger point is that you really can't avoid having differences of opinion with people. Having a different opinion is not a form of harm; mocking another person's opinion is. If you're trying to be friends with someone who disagrees with you on all kinds of things that are important to you you're trying to turn an incompatible person into your friend and it's just never going to work (unless you ruthlessly suppress yourself, ofc, which is incredibly toxic). But you're also never going to find a person who agrees with you about everything.

Most people aren't monitoring everything they say in a hypervigilant attempt to avoid giving anyone any offense, ever. That's perfectionism applied to interpersonal relationships and it will just kill your motivation to talk to people. A difference of opinion is not going to kill anybody. People argue all the time but remain friends. What kills relationships are boredom (they have to have a reason to talk to you) and too many differences of opinion (ie. incompatibility).

Certain subjects are generally considered off-limits unless you know someone very well, or you're in an environment that supports it (like a support group). Sex and mental illness are two of the things most people don't like to talk about with people they don't know. Being aware that those subjects make many people uncomfortable is just taking other people's feelings into consideration before you talk.

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Well the self loathing comes from how people treat me. If someone shows me affection and friendship, then it builds my self esteem. If someone does the opposite, my self esteem lowers.
If someone treats you poorly, or ignores you, does that mean you should feel worse about yourself? If someone treats me poorly, I'm liable to feel angry about their treatment until I have a chance to cool down. If they ignore me, and I want their attention, I'm liable to feel disappointment and frustration. But neither situation affects my self-esteem or makes me feel self-loathing. The fact that I'm not to someone's taste does not imply that there is anything wrong with me. Otoh, if I've hurt someone (unintentionally or otherwise) I'm liable to feel guilty about it until I've had a chance to apologize.

Aside: I know what it's like to hate a particular trait and to want to change it, but that hate shouldn't extend to hating yourself as a person and punishing yourself. If you're punishing yourself for having the trait, something's gone wrong somewhere. Punishing yourself helps absolutely no one, least of all yourself; only making amends for any harm you may have done helps.

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I think when it comes to feeling good about yourself, you have to be fulfilled in some way. And it involves work from the person. A person who doesn't do much with their life is not going to feel good about themselves. And I don't think that comes from knowing how society views you and your achievements. It comes from the person themselves. The more they create, the better they feel about themselves.
What about people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to achieve any of their goals?

Accomplishing something certainly feels good, but there has to be a way for people who fail at lots of things to feel good about themselves, too. You can't make self-love conditional on a person's ability to succeed. That's the whole problem with the way our culture views self-esteem and self-worth. Half the people in our culture are below average; that's just a fact.

Self-esteem, in a healthy person, flows freely, just like blood circulates freely through the body. It stops flowing freely the moment you impose conditions on it. "When I achieve X, then I can feel good about myself" is a sick thought, not a healthy one. Why wait? Why not just feel good about youself now? Not in the sense of superior, which is always wrong, because no one is really superior to anyone else, but good in the sense of self-caring and self-supporting. Every person, without exception, should be, and has the ability to be, self-caring and self-supporting, regardless of what they've achieved; the alternative is some degree of illness. The more conditions you impose on your self-love, the less healthy you are. Our culture actively cultivates sickness in this area, which is why most people are so messed up.

I don't impose conditions on my self-love. I am always self-caring and self-supporting. Achieving something isn't going to make me love myself more, because there's nothing beyond "healthy" to achieve. What it will do is give me the satisfaction of accomplishing an objective, and the satisfaction of helping or entertaining other people. These are separate things. If your self-esteem depends on achievement, then, in addition to that kind of satisfaction, you will ALSO feel an increase in self-love. But there was never anything stopping you from feeling self-love in the first place except your own belief that feeling that way was conditional on your achievement.

A person who is apathetic (who isn't "doing much with their lives") is probably a person with unhealthy self-esteem. A person with healthy self-esteem just does what they want because they enjoy doing it. They're not doing things to feel better about themselves, so they're not afraid of failing at it. People become apathetic or self-destructive when they don't believe they can achieve their goals or don't believe achieving them will give them any satisfaction. If failing is painful, because your self-esteem is tied to success, you're going to be afraid to try anything. And that often leads to apathy.

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Assigning values to people is a bit like assigning values to colors...…...but people are more complicated than colors. lol. Plus there's no such thing as a bad color or a good color. But there are bad people and good people.
If people are more complicated, that's all the more reason not to assign value to them. Who's in a position to judge another person's value? People have hundreds (or thousands) of different traits. They're all confronting countless different conditions, the vast majority of which you know nothing about. How do you know what they've been through? How their parents treated them? What their dreams are? You have no idea. I'm not in a position to judge anyone, and no one is in a position to judge me. That's not an attempt to avoid responsibility, it's just a fact. There is no one on this planet in a position to judge other people. We do, ofc, because it's so deeply ingrained we can't really help it, but our judgments are based on nothing but assumptions and prejudice and are usually motivated by a desire to feel superior because our own self-esteem is so shoddy.

There are, ofc, dangerous people. People we have to protect other people from because we have an obligation to avoid harm. We're probably always going to need laws and police and prisons of some sort. But that's a judgment about the kind of harm a person has done and is likely to do again. That a person is dangerous doesn't make them inferior. There's simply no way to make a judgment like that. If you'd been born that person, with their genetics and their life experiences, you would have been exactly like them. Most of the people in prison justify their actions by adopting a position of superiority toward the people they've harmed. "I deserve it more than they do", "they had it coming". That's how most violence and harm is justified. If you want to inflict harm on someone, you make them seem like an inferior sort of person.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-08-2020, 02:05 AM
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I'm curious, but are you against the idea of competition? I'm not talking about comparing people and assigning worth to them, but focusing in on one area and creative a competitive environment for people to take part in. I don't think competition always breeds negative emotions. Maybe it does in some people (like bullies)......but it can also bring positive emotions like friendship.
There's nothing wrong with competition. Competition can be fun. It can push people to greater achievements and it can be a good way to bond with others. The harm comes in when a person's self-esteem is tied up with their performance. If there are 8 people running in the 100-yard dash, one of those people is going to come in last. That person might be disappointed, but that doesn't have to turn into anger toward oneself or one's competitors. These are two different things, like I said above. The satisfaction of winning is not the same as the boost a person with conditional self-esteem gets. That person gets both at the same time, so it seems like the same pleasure, but it's a mix of two pleasures. Our culture so habitually combines the two that most people can't separate them.

Considering how much time and effort I've put into writing my stories, I've done pretty abysmally. People have actually ridiculed my writing in YT videos, BuzzFeed articles, and in their own stories. For all intents and purposes, I am a failure as a writer. I am certainly disappointed and frustrated about not being able to pay my bills, but I don't mind the mocking. Not because I'm not trying, because I would like to be a good writer, but because someone has to be in my position. So why not me? Not everyone is equally talented or has equal appeal. I get my satisfaction from writing the stories themselves and enjoy the little money I do get from them. If people think they're terrible stories, well, that's just how they feel. I like all kinds of things hardly anyone else likes, and I don't like all kinds of things that lots of other people like. All it means is that I have unusual tastes.

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Heya it's a hard balance to master for sure! On the one hand, I don't think completely letting yourself go is the best idea (e.g. when someone says something to you like you're going too fast, considering that and reflecting on it). Having said that, I also think it's not a great idea to objectively analyse yourself and every interaction, because that only increases your sensitivity and anxiety to both doing these things, as well as peoples' reactions to you as well. What people tend to do is start off 'safe' as you say - if you get to know them better, you can open up a little more and be yourself; if you don't see them again, then you haven't scared them off straight up! It's not a blanket solution of course, but perhaps start with this and see if that helps?x

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-09-2020, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I didn't think you were doing those things, but you asked about "letting go" and I wanted to illustrate what would be going too far. The principle is "do no harm", but that includes harm to both you and the other person, since you both have feelings equally deserving of respect.

If you don't like the politician and you say "That guy stinks!" you run the risk of hurting the other person's feelings, or making them feel stupid. But if you pretend to like the politician you're lying to them, which isn't very respectful and disrespects your own feelings. You have to be diplomatic and talk about the subject in a way that doesn't demean anyone's feelings or intelligence. You really don't know what the basis for their support is and it's always possible they're better-informed. There's a big difference between "I hate X" and "I didn't like what X did about Y". You want to keep discussions civil, on the level of behaviors, and avoid descending to character assassination. Or say "I don't really like talking about politics" if you'd rather not get into a big discussion.

But the larger point is that you really can't avoid having differences of opinion with people. Having a different opinion is not a form of harm; mocking another person's opinion is. If you're trying to be friends with someone who disagrees with you on all kinds of things that are important to you you're trying to turn an incompatible person into your friend and it's just never going to work (unless you ruthlessly suppress yourself, ofc, which is incredibly toxic). But you're also never going to find a person who agrees with you about everything.
Now we're getting close to the line where I struggle with. I know being diplomatic is the best thing......but I question the basis for being diplomatic. To me it seems that a lot of the times, we choose to be diplomatic because we value the prospect of the other person liking us more than we value our own views....and that's why we choose to keep our views to ourselves.....and that makes me feel like we can never really truly be ourselves 100%. Which is why I struggle with the concept of '' be yourself ''. How much of myself do I have to be, and how much do I have to leave out?

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Most people aren't monitoring everything they say in a hypervigilant attempt to avoid giving anyone any offense, ever. That's perfectionism applied to interpersonal relationships and it will just kill your motivation to talk to people. A difference of opinion is not going to kill anybody. People argue all the time but remain friends. What kills relationships are boredom (they have to have a reason to talk to you) and too many differences of opinion (ie. incompatibility).

Certain subjects are generally considered off-limits unless you know someone very well, or you're in an environment that supports it (like a support group). Sex and mental illness are two of the things most people don't like to talk about with people they don't know. Being aware that those subjects make many people uncomfortable is just taking other people's feelings into consideration before you talk.
True its best to leave out personal topics like that. But why is it weird to talk about mental issues, but perfectly fine to talk about physical ailments? Seems like a double standard to me. Nobody ever cringes about talking about the rash on their chest. But talk about your anxiety, and you're suddenly the weirdo who everyone has to stay away from.

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If someone treats you poorly, or ignores you, does that mean you should feel worse about yourself? If someone treats me poorly, I'm liable to feel angry about their treatment until I have a chance to cool down. If they ignore me, and I want their attention, I'm liable to feel disappointment and frustration. But neither situation affects my self-esteem or makes me feel self-loathing. The fact that I'm not to someone's taste does not imply that there is anything wrong with me. Otoh, if I've hurt someone (unintentionally or otherwise) I'm liable to feel guilty about it until I've had a chance to apologize.

Aside: I know what it's like to hate a particular trait and to want to change it, but that hate shouldn't extend to hating yourself as a person and punishing yourself. If you're punishing yourself for having the trait, something's gone wrong somewhere. Punishing yourself helps absolutely no one, least of all yourself; only making amends for any harm you may have done helps.
Well I'm not as logical and direct as you are lol. To me, if someone complements me or supports me, then my brain registers it as '' Hey this person likes me, so I must be a cool person. ''. And if the opposite happens, then my brain registers '' Oh no this person dislikes me. I wonder what's wrong with me!? I must not be a nice person. '' And like you said earlier, my brain works according to an evidence based system. Relying on feedback from other people.

And I know that's not a helpful way of thinking, but to explain it, let me use an example. Let's say you're a musician and you've recorded some songs. Now the question comes - Are your songs good? So you play them in front of other people, and observe their reactions. If you get good reactions, then it reinforces the idea in your head '' You are good at this ''. Whereas if you get unpleasant reactions, it reinforces the opposite message. And the more reactions you get for each side, the more it reinforces each idea.


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What about people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to achieve any of their goals?

Accomplishing something certainly feels good, but there has to be a way for people who fail at lots of things to feel good about themselves, too. You can't make self-love conditional on a person's ability to succeed. That's the whole problem with the way our culture views self-esteem and self-worth. Half the people in our culture are below average; that's just a fact.
It would depend on what those goals are. Remember I said '' create ''. It doesn't matter how big or how small, but the person needs to feel like their creativity/work is coming out of them and manifesting into something real. And in the end they have to feel tired. The good kind of tired - Where you know that you've expended yourself and done your best. That's a human thing. We humans need to create to give our existence meaning.

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Self-esteem, in a healthy person, flows freely, just like blood circulates freely through the body. It stops flowing freely the moment you impose conditions on it. "When I achieve X, then I can feel good about myself" is a sick thought, not a healthy one. Why wait? Why not just feel good about youself now? Not in the sense of superior, which is always wrong, because no one is really superior to anyone else, but good in the sense of self-caring and self-supporting. Every person, without exception, should be, and has the ability to be, self-caring and self-supporting, regardless of what they've achieved; the alternative is some degree of illness. The more conditions you impose on your self-love, the less healthy you are. Our culture actively cultivates sickness in this area, which is why most people are so messed up.

I don't impose conditions on my self-love. I am always self-caring and self-supporting. Achieving something isn't going to make me love myself more, because there's nothing beyond "healthy" to achieve. What it will do is give me the satisfaction of accomplishing an objective, and the satisfaction of helping or entertaining other people. These are separate things. If your self-esteem depends on achievement, then, in addition to that kind of satisfaction, you will ALSO feel an increase in self-love. But there was never anything stopping you from feeling self-love in the first place except your own belief that feeling that way was conditional on your achievement.

A person who is apathetic (who isn't "doing much with their lives") is probably a person with unhealthy self-esteem. A person with healthy self-esteem just does what they want because they enjoy doing it. They're not doing things to feel better about themselves, so they're not afraid of failing at it. People become apathetic or self-destructive when they don't believe they can achieve their goals or don't believe achieving them will give them any satisfaction. If failing is painful, because your self-esteem is tied to success, you're going to be afraid to try anything. And that often leads to apathy.
Now I'm really confused. Didn't you say in a old post that a common reason why we all reach a state of self loathing is because we blame ourselves for not achieving the things we wanted to achieve so the best thing we can do is work on achieving those things to alleviate the self loathing?

From what I understood, self-hatred was a state that we reached....and to fix it, we need to backtrack and find out where we went wrong. So it serves as an indicator for another problem. Self-love can be achieved again after '' fixing '' that problem. And I put fixing in quotes because fixing can mean many things.

I'm having a hard time grappling this idea because often in the case of self-hatred, most people know exactly what they hate about themselves. So isn't it logical that in the case of self-love, people would need something they love about themselves in order to feel good?
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-09-2020, 07:11 PM
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Now we're getting close to the line where I struggle with. I know being diplomatic is the best thing......but I question the basis for being diplomatic. To me it seems that a lot of the times, we choose to be diplomatic because we value the prospect of the other person liking us more than we value our own views....and that's why we choose to keep our views to ourselves.....and that makes me feel like we can never really truly be ourselves 100%. Which is why I struggle with the concept of '' be yourself ''. How much of myself do I have to be, and how much do I have to leave out?
If we know our views are not well supported it's not always wrong to value them lightly. I have plenty of opinions about things that I know are superficial because I've never really looked into them. I don't promote and defend opinions like that. But let's say it's an opinion you do feel strongly about.

It depends on what you mean by "value the prospect of the other person liking us". People do things for different, and typically, multiple reasons. When I'm being diplomatic, I'm doing several things: I'm attempting to preserve the other person's self-esteem by not ridiculing their opinions (even if I strongly disagree with them); attempting to persuade the other person to see things my way if I feel their opinions are harmful to themselves and others; attempting to avoid damaging conflict (attempts on their part to limit my freedom or engage in acts of physical violence); and attempting to get my own needs met in satisfactory ways (by having positive interactions with service providers and other people I depend on materially). Because I don't really have time to make friends, I'm not doing it because I want the other person to like me in a "spend time with me" way because I can't really reciprocate that kind of attention.

There are multiple reasons why you may misrepresent yourself to get someone to like you. You may do it because you're lonely. That's why I misrepresented myself in my relationships with my partners. I didn't want to be alone, so I pretended to be the kind of person they could love so that I would have someone to spend time with. I acted that way because I predicted I wouldn't be able to find anyone who would love me the way I am (and I was probably right, all things considered). I'm not in a position to criticize a person's decisions, because they're always strategic decisions and people are just trying to be as happy as they can be. But you have to understand the kind of tradeoff you're making. The more you misrepresent yourself, the less real your relationship will be, the less satisfying it will be, the more anxiety you will experience over being "discovered", and the more guilt you will feel about your dishonesty. You have to decide if it's the best strategy for you.

A main reason why people misrepresent themselves is because they're ashamed of themselves and they want to avoid judgment. But this is a particular reason, not "the" reason or the most important reason. You can misrepresent yourself because you're lonely AND because you're ashamed of yourself, or for one reason or the other. It's important to resist the temptation to reduce social phenomena to single causes. A person can both like you AND want to use you, for example. One does not preclude the other. A person can misrepresent themselves both to avoid violence AND to preserve their self-esteem. Most people are doing multiple things at the same time. (One of the main ways projection works is by collapsing another person's motivations to your own, which they rarely are.)

So to solve this problem of "how much should I reveal?" you have to understand these different reasons. If you're concealing stuff because the other person's judgment makes you feel ashamed of yourself, then you have a self-esteem issue. Resolving that issue will make it easier for you to be yourself in social interactions. Similarly, a person who is in a satisfying relationship does not conceal the same things that a person who is looking for companionship conceals because they aren't trying to solve the "I'm lonely and want a partner" issue. Women are more likely to be trying to avoid violence than men in social interactions (an important difference that can make it hard for men to understand the behavior of women).

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True its best to leave out personal topics like that. But why is it weird to talk about mental issues, but perfectly fine to talk about physical ailments? Seems like a double standard to me. Nobody ever cringes about talking about the rash on their chest. But talk about your anxiety, and you're suddenly the weirdo who everyone has to stay away from.
Well, it's not weird for me to talk about MH issues. I grew up with them. So I'm not bothered when other people bring it up. It's just statistically weird. I'm not saying the stigma is right, or that you need to reinforce the stigma, only that that happens to be the way it is, ime, and you have to be aware of it. Just pick your battles.

You can use those expectations to your advantage, too. If you don't want to talk about politics or religion, you can always say, "I'd rather not talk about politics/religion" and many people will back off because most people are aware that it's a sensitive subject. Is that right? Shouldn't everyone be free to talk about politics and religion if they want to? I don't really concern myself about shoulds like that. I just try to respect people's feelings, no matter what they're sensitive about. Just because I think it's fine to talk about MH doesn't mean I expect other people to conform to my preferences. If they don't want to talk about it, I'll respect their feelings and not talk about it. Unless, ofc, not doing so would be bad for me, since I have as much right to health and happiness as everyone else.

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Well I'm not as logical and direct as you are lol. To me, if someone complements me or supports me, then my brain registers it as '' Hey this person likes me, so I must be a cool person. ''. And if the opposite happens, then my brain registers '' Oh no this person dislikes me. I wonder what's wrong with me!? I must not be a nice person. '' And like you said earlier, my brain works according to an evidence based system. Relying on feedback from other people.
The kind of evidence you accumulate depends on what you already believe, not the other way around. Beliefs are self-reinforcing systems. If you believe that you're worthless, all the evidence you gather will confirm that belief. That's why it's so hard for people to change. It takes a very contradictory experience, one that simply can't be explained away, to change that, and those kinds of experiences are rare. That or such an intense degree of pain that you decide you must find a new way of looking at things.

And again, you want to avoid single-cause explanations. It feels good if someone likes me, too. What I feel is that person's positive emotion; I mirror it, and experience pleasure myself. But that's because the feeling of their happiness feels good, not because it makes me feel like a more worthwhile person. I am always a worthwhile person, regardless of what other people think of me. And the same happens the opposite direction: if someone dislikes me, what I experience is their disgust or anger, and that doesn't feel good. It doesn't make me feel any worse about myself, because I don't feel obligated to agree with their opinion. It's just an unpleasant emotion, like a bad taste or a bad odor. It's in this way -- transitively -- that I can still feel humiliation or embarrassment or shame; by picking up on the way other people respond to me. Sometimes, that can be very unpleasant. But when I leave the situation, and their feelings, I feel fine again. I don't sit around ruminating about how stupid I am and about how I should have said this or that. Because their reaction hasn't altered my self-worth. I haven't internalized their opinions and value judgments. They're almost certainly wrong, imo, so why would I adopt them?

When I say that I have healthy self-esteem I don't mean I never feel any kind of negative emotion whatsoever, no matter how people respond to me; I have all kinds of painful, negative emotions during social interactions. It's just that all those feelings are rooted in the other person's response to me (primarily the threat they might pose to my well-being) and I don't "bring their opinions home with me". I know that my self-worth is inalienable. No one is likely to convince me otherwise at this point. Even if all 7 billion people on Earth told me I was worthless, I wouldn't agree with them, and they wouldn't be able to convince me, because I can see why it's wrong the same way I can see 2 + 2 = 4. If it's possible for me to achieve this perspective, it's possible for other people to achieve it. But I think it's very uncommon because our culture is so unhealthy and there aren't many people out there modeling healthy self-esteem. It makes my perspective seem strange and improbable. Partly because people tend to think that good self-esteem equates to unbridled freedom and happiness, which isn't remotely true. It just solves one particular kind of problem.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-09-2020, 07:21 PM
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And I know that's not a helpful way of thinking, but to explain it, let me use an example. Let's say you're a musician and you've recorded some songs. Now the question comes - Are your songs good? So you play them in front of other people, and observe their reactions. If you get good reactions, then it reinforces the idea in your head '' You are good at this ''. Whereas if you get unpleasant reactions, it reinforces the opposite message. And the more reactions you get for each side, the more it reinforces each idea.
Right. Other people can reinforce the idea that you're a good or bad musician. (Or at least, that your music is popular or not popular.) And their positive emotion feels good by way of empathy (mirror neurons) even to me. But it doesn't logically follow that this information should make you feel good or bad about yourself. These are separate things: the quality (or popularity) of my music; my worth as a person. If you need your music to be liked to feel good about yourself, you have a self-esteem issue. "If people like my music, then I will like myself." This is conditional self-worth. There's nothing stopping you from liking yourself right now, no matter how bad a musician you are, except your belief that you must be a good musician to have permission to do so.

My writing is anything but popular. It doesn't really sell, and a lot of people have made fun of it. This tells me that my writing doesn't appeal to many people. It may be that I'm a bad writer (and I know that I have a long way to go technically). It also tells me that my preferences are very different from the preferences of most people. But the lack of positive attention doesn't mean that I should feel bad about myself. The low sales push me to work harder at my craft so that I can hopefully make a little more money, and because there's intrinsic satisfaction in getting better at anything. I don't need anyone's approval to make me feel better about myself, but I do need their approval to pay my bills.

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It would depend on what those goals are. Remember I said '' create ''. It doesn't matter how big or how small, but the person needs to feel like their creativity/work is coming out of them and manifesting into something real. And in the end they have to feel tired. The good kind of tired - Where you know that you've expended yourself and done your best. That's a human thing. We humans need to create to give our existence meaning.
Well, I just consider that a natural outcome of living authentically. There's something satisfying in following your actual preferences instead of conforming to the preferences of others. The more you conform, the deader you feel. But authentic living doesn't require any kind of success in the sense of being a successful musician or having a good job. Anyone can live authentically (at least, to the point where they may be putting their own lives in danger). So that feeling of aliveness, which depends on healthy self-esteem, is available to anyone, regardless of what they have or haven't accomplished. I have failed at basically everything I've ever tried (school, jobs, relationships). But this doesn't make me feel like a failure. It simply reflects my limitations and the kinds of obstacles I have. "Failure" is just a label that our culture uses to define people like me, like trans is a label used to define people with my sexual identity.

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Now I'm really confused. Didn't you say in a old post that a common reason why we all reach a state of self loathing is because we blame ourselves for not achieving the things we wanted to achieve so the best thing we can do is work on achieving those things to alleviate the self loathing?
It is a common reason. That's how conventional culture works. Our self-esteem is supposed to be based on whether or not we achieve certain objectives. Those objectives may be external (we let other people define our objectives and measure our worth in their terms) or internal (we define our own objectives and measure our worth in those terms). But both of those are forms of conditional worth. Even if your goals are self-determined, as opposed to imposed, if your self-worth depends on achieving them, you are still engaged in conditional self-worth. You're still denying yourself something you could have at any time (feeling good about yourself) because you've convinced yourself that you don't deserve to feel good unless you do X or Y. It's the way that our culture teaches us to motivate ourselves. It's the "stick". What I'm saying is that the stick is entirely unnecessary. You can be fully self-supporting ("carrot" only) and still be highly motivated, because there are reasons for doing things other than avoiding beating yourself up for being a failure. Imo, conditional self-worth is toxic and impairs a person's ability to achieve their goals in the long run, even if it seems to help in the short run.

But, ofc, conditional self-esteem "works" in its own way. If being a popular musician allows you to feel good about yourself, then you can feel better about yourself by becoming a better musician. So you can always go along with culture and push yourself to be X and Y to feel better about yourself, and it's probably better to do that than to do nothing at all and stew over your lack of worth. Most self-help advice about self-esteem will encourage you to act this way, and I encourage people to do it, too, because I know it helps people who are still stuck in that way of thinking. But the ultimate goal is to transcend that idea entirely. To see that nothing you do or don't do can take away your worth or deny your right to be a self-loving person.

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From what I understood, self-hatred was a state that we reached...….and to fix it, we need to backtrack and find out where we went wrong. So it serves as an indicator for another problem. Self-love can be achieved again after '' fixing '' that problem. And I put fixing in quotes because fixing can mean many things.
Most of us learn false, destructive things about ourselves at some point, usually early in childhood. Once we learn these things, they become the filter through which we understand all of our experiences. They shape our perceptions in ways that confirm the belief, so that over time we accumulate vast amounts of evidence that the belief is true. If we "learn" that we are unlovable (because our parents ignore us) then we will spend the rest of our lives proving this to ourselves unless something extraordinary happens to challenge it. To fix the faulty concept that we are unlovable, we have to understand how we learned the idea in the first place and how that learning has shaped us. It's only when we see that it isn't true that we can start accumulating evidence supporting a different (healthy) way of seeing ourselves.

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I'm having a hard time grappling this idea because often in the case of self-hatred, most people know exactly what they hate about themselves. So isn't it logical that in the case of self-love, people would need something they love about themselves in order to feel good?
No, it isn't logical. That's confusing a trait with your self as a whole. I can hate my appearance without hating myself. And lots of people like certain traits but still hate themselves.

Self-love is not about trying to find traits to love, or a way to like all the traits that you don't like. Our culture has framed self-esteem in a way that confuses these things. It says, basically, "you can feel good about yourself if you have positive traits, but you should feel bad about yourself if you have negative traits". The more positive traits you have, the better you can feel about yourself. And also, that people with more positive traits than other people are better than those other people.

This is our culture's primary motivational strategy. The stick we use to drive people to perform. Without the "stick" of self-hatred and envy, everything will go to hell, supposedly. But this is only a particular way of framing what a person is and how they should be.

When I talk about healthy self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth I'm not talking about finding things to like about yourself. You don't need to do that. I'm talking about adopting a perspective toward yourself that is unconditionally caring, supportive, and compassionate. "I love you no matter what. I will always be there for you. I will always fight for your happiness, because you are my responsibility." Good self-parenting, iow, as a corrective to the ****ty parenting culture gives us. This kind of self-worth doesn't depend on any positive trait or success whatsoever. On the unreliable gambit of finding things you can do better than other people. It just doesn't put the focus on that sort of thing.

I'm old, ugly, non-passing, poor, mentally ill, friendless, single, a failure academically and professionally, etc. From a cultural perspective, I don't really have any reason to feel good about myself. Or rather, the number of things people think I should feel bad about vastly exceed, and are vastly more important than, the things I should feel good about. By conventional standards, I should feel pretty rotten. But I don't. I don't punish myself. I don't call myself names (except to clarify my position, as in posts like these). I don't hate myself. This lack of self-hatred/self-punishment has not in any way diminished my motivation to improve my situation (ie. unconditional self-worth does not make me complacent about traits I don't like) and it does not make me "selfish" in the sense of "forgiving" the harm I cause others (ie. it does not make me feel entitled or superior). There are no downsides to feeling this way, so far as I can tell.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2020, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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Heya it's a hard balance to master for sure! On the one hand, I don't think completely letting yourself go is the best idea (e.g. when someone says something to you like you're going too fast, considering that and reflecting on it). Having said that, I also think it's not a great idea to objectively analyse yourself and every interaction, because that only increases your sensitivity and anxiety to both doing these things, as well as peoples' reactions to you as well. What people tend to do is start off 'safe' as you say - if you get to know them better, you can open up a little more and be yourself; if you don't see them again, then you haven't scared them off straight up! It's not a blanket solution of course, but perhaps start with this and see if that helps?x
Well I'd rather be myself right from the very start lol. But it is important to take advice into account. Nobody is perfect after all. I have a problem knowing what advice is helpful and what is not.
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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2020, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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If we know our views are not well supported it's not always wrong to value them lightly. I have plenty of opinions about things that I know are superficial because I've never really looked into them. I don't promote and defend opinions like that. But let's say it's an opinion you do feel strongly about.

It depends on what you mean by "value the prospect of the other person liking us". People do things for different, and typically, multiple reasons. When I'm being diplomatic, I'm doing several things: I'm attempting to preserve the other person's self-esteem by not ridiculing their opinions (even if I strongly disagree with them); attempting to persuade the other person to see things my way if I feel their opinions are harmful to themselves and others; attempting to avoid damaging conflict (attempts on their part to limit my freedom or engage in acts of physical violence); and attempting to get my own needs met in satisfactory ways (by having positive interactions with service providers and other people I depend on materially). Because I don't really have time to make friends, I'm not doing it because I want the other person to like me in a "spend time with me" way because I can't really reciprocate that kind of attention.

There are multiple reasons why you may misrepresent yourself to get someone to like you. You may do it because you're lonely. That's why I misrepresented myself in my relationships with my partners. I didn't want to be alone, so I pretended to be the kind of person they could love so that I would have someone to spend time with. I acted that way because I predicted I wouldn't be able to find anyone who would love me the way I am (and I was probably right, all things considered). I'm not in a position to criticize a person's decisions, because they're always strategic decisions and people are just trying to be as happy as they can be. But you have to understand the kind of tradeoff you're making. The more you misrepresent yourself, the less real your relationship will be, the less satisfying it will be, the more anxiety you will experience over being "discovered", and the more guilt you will feel about your dishonesty. You have to decide if it's the best strategy for you.

A main reason why people misrepresent themselves is because they're ashamed of themselves and they want to avoid judgment. But this is a particular reason, not "the" reason or the most important reason. You can misrepresent yourself because you're lonely AND because you're ashamed of yourself, or for one reason or the other. It's important to resist the temptation to reduce social phenomena to single causes. A person can both like you AND want to use you, for example. One does not preclude the other. A person can misrepresent themselves both to avoid violence AND to preserve their self-esteem. Most people are doing multiple things at the same time. (One of the main ways projection works is by collapsing another person's motivations to your own, which they rarely are.)

So to solve this problem of "how much should I reveal?" you have to understand these different reasons. If you're concealing stuff because the other person's judgment makes you feel ashamed of yourself, then you have a self-esteem issue. Resolving that issue will make it easier for you to be yourself in social interactions. Similarly, a person who is in a satisfying relationship does not conceal the same things that a person who is looking for companionship conceals because they aren't trying to solve the "I'm lonely and want a partner" issue. Women are more likely to be trying to avoid violence than men in social interactions (an important difference that can make it hard for men to understand the behavior of women).
Ah yes this does make sense. I guess its a form of bargaining? When people want something, they will change or make accommodations in order to get it. I think that's how peer pressure works.

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The kind of evidence you accumulate depends on what you already believe, not the other way around. Beliefs are self-reinforcing systems. If you believe that you're worthless, all the evidence you gather will confirm that belief. That's why it's so hard for people to change. It takes a very contradictory experience, one that simply can't be explained away, to change that, and those kinds of experiences are rare. That or such an intense degree of pain that you decide you must find a new way of looking at things.

And again, you want to avoid single-cause explanations. It feels good if someone likes me, too. What I feel is that person's positive emotion; I mirror it, and experience pleasure myself. But that's because the feeling of their happiness feels good, not because it makes me feel like a more worthwhile person. I am always a worthwhile person, regardless of what other people think of me. And the same happens the opposite direction: if someone dislikes me, what I experience is their disgust or anger, and that doesn't feel good. It doesn't make me feel any worse about myself, because I don't feel obligated to agree with their opinion. It's just an unpleasant emotion, like a bad taste or a bad odor. It's in this way -- transitively -- that I can still feel humiliation or embarrassment or shame; by picking up on the way other people respond to me. Sometimes, that can be very unpleasant. But when I leave the situation, and their feelings, I feel fine again. I don't sit around ruminating about how stupid I am and about how I should have said this or that. Because their reaction hasn't altered my self-worth. I haven't internalized their opinions and value judgments. They're almost certainly wrong, imo, so why would I adopt them?
I sort of get where you're coming from. I think I was like that at one point, but something changed. Back when I was younger, I didn't have self esteem issues. I was just a happy kid, observing the world around me and I barely even thinking about myself. Something changed during the teenage years and......I think a lot of people undergo that change but very few manage to retain this state I talked about. I did once go back to this state some time back and I remember feeling this overwhelming confidence in me.

In fact now that I say this, what you said before is now ringing true. I didn't have that much to be proud of when I was a kid either.....no sports trophies or medals or competitions won....so by my logic, I should have had self-hatred....but I didn't. I didn't have anything. And that was a nice state. To have neither self-hatred or pride. But I don't know.....is that the right way to look at it?


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When I say that I have healthy self-esteem I don't mean I never feel any kind of negative emotion whatsoever, no matter how people respond to me; I have all kinds of painful, negative emotions during social interactions. It's just that all those feelings are rooted in the other person's response to me (primarily the threat they might pose to my well-being) and I don't "bring their opinions home with me". I know that my self-worth is inalienable. No one is likely to convince me otherwise at this point. Even if all 7 billion people on Earth told me I was worthless, I wouldn't agree with them, and they wouldn't be able to convince me, because I can see why it's wrong the same way I can see 2 + 2 = 4. If it's possible for me to achieve this perspective, it's possible for other people to achieve it. But I think it's very uncommon because our culture is so unhealthy and there aren't many people out there modeling healthy self-esteem. It makes my perspective seem strange and improbable. Partly because people tend to think that good self-esteem equates to unbridled freedom and happiness, which isn't remotely true. It just solves one particular kind of problem.
Oh boy this para has really confused me.....the whole concept of '' self-worth '' is so subjective. How do you equate it to 2+2? Saying 2+2=4 is something that can be logically proven. It's a fact. But you can't logically prove that someone has self-worth? Because what scale are you using to measure it......and what are you even measuring?
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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2020, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Right. Other people can reinforce the idea that you're a good or bad musician. (Or at least, that your music is popular or not popular.) And their positive emotion feels good by way of empathy (mirror neurons) even to me. But it doesn't logically follow that this information should make you feel good or bad about yourself. These are separate things: the quality (or popularity) of my music; my worth as a person. If you need your music to be liked to feel good about yourself, you have a self-esteem issue. "If people like my music, then I will like myself." This is conditional self-worth. There's nothing stopping you from liking yourself right now, no matter how bad a musician you are, except your belief that you must be a good musician to have permission to do so.

My writing is anything but popular. It doesn't really sell, and a lot of people have made fun of it. This tells me that my writing doesn't appeal to many people. It may be that I'm a bad writer (and I know that I have a long way to go technically). It also tells me that my preferences are very different from the preferences of most people. But the lack of positive attention doesn't mean that I should feel bad about myself. The low sales push me to work harder at my craft so that I can hopefully make a little more money, and because there's intrinsic satisfaction in getting better at anything. I don't need anyone's approval to make me feel better about myself, but I do need their approval to pay my bills.
Hmm I need some time to think about this. Right now I'm have trouble grasping it. My main doubt now is, why does a person's self-love have to be unconditional......especially when their love to someone else has to be conditional? You said earlier in this thread that most people don't bother with other people unless they have a reason to find them interesting. So their interest in the other person is conditional.

I know a person doesn't treat themselves the same way they treat strangers, but why should there be such a difference between how people view other people and how they view themselves? I mean we're all people ultimately. Shouldn't we treat others how we treat ourselves?


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Well, I just consider that a natural outcome of living authentically. There's something satisfying in following your actual preferences instead of conforming to the preferences of others. The more you conform, the deader you feel. But authentic living doesn't require any kind of success in the sense of being a successful musician or having a good job. Anyone can live authentically (at least, to the point where they may be putting their own lives in danger). So that feeling of aliveness, which depends on healthy self-esteem, is available to anyone, regardless of what they have or haven't accomplished. I have failed at basically everything I've ever tried (school, jobs, relationships). But this doesn't make me feel like a failure. It simply reflects my limitations and the kinds of obstacles I have. "Failure" is just a label that our culture uses to define people like me, like trans is a label used to define people with my sexual identity.
This part is so true! I've also felt more alive when I've stopped conforming to other people's expectations and lived to my own standards.

Well what I meant by success earlier was success to yourself. Feeling satisfied with yourself.


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Most of us learn false, destructive things about ourselves at some point, usually early in childhood. Once we learn these things, they become the filter through which we understand all of our experiences. They shape our perceptions in ways that confirm the belief, so that over time we accumulate vast amounts of evidence that the belief is true. If we "learn" that we are unlovable (because our parents ignore us) then we will spend the rest of our lives proving this to ourselves unless something extraordinary happens to challenge it. To fix the faulty concept that we are unlovable, we have to understand how we learned the idea in the first place and how that learning has shaped us. It's only when we see that it isn't true that we can start accumulating evidence supporting a different (healthy) way of seeing ourselves.
I whole heartedly agree. Deeply ingrained beliefs in childhood are so hard to uproot but with enough reflecting it can be done.

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No, it isn't logical. That's confusing a trait with your self as a whole. I can hate my appearance without hating myself. And lots of people like certain traits but still hate themselves.

Self-love is not about trying to find traits to love, or a way to like all the traits that you don't like. Our culture has framed self-esteem in a way that confuses these things. It says, basically, "you can feel good about yourself if you have positive traits, but you should feel bad about yourself if you have negative traits". The more positive traits you have, the better you can feel about yourself. And also, that people with more positive traits than other people are better than those other people.

This is our culture's primary motivational strategy. The stick we use to drive people to perform. Without the "stick" of self-hatred and envy, everything will go to hell, supposedly. But this is only a particular way of framing what a person is and how they should be.

When I talk about healthy self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth I'm not talking about finding things to like about yourself. You don't need to do that. I'm talking about adopting a perspective toward yourself that is unconditionally caring, supportive, and compassionate. "I love you no matter what. I will always be there for you. I will always fight for your happiness, because you are my responsibility." Good self-parenting, iow, as a corrective to the ****ty parenting culture gives us. This kind of self-worth doesn't depend on any positive trait or success whatsoever. On the unreliable gambit of finding things you can do better than other people. It just doesn't put the focus on that sort of thing.

I'm old, ugly, non-passing, poor, mentally ill, friendless, single, a failure academically and professionally, etc. From a cultural perspective, I don't really have any reason to feel good about myself. Or rather, the number of things people think I should feel bad about vastly exceed, and are vastly more important than, the things I should feel good about. By conventional standards, I should feel pretty rotten. But I don't. I don't punish myself. I don't call myself names (except to clarify my position, as in posts like these). I don't hate myself. This lack of self-hatred/self-punishment has not in any way diminished my motivation to improve my situation (ie. unconditional self-worth does not make me complacent about traits I don't like) and it does not make me "selfish" in the sense of "forgiving" the harm I cause others (ie. it does not make me feel entitled or superior). There are no downsides to feeling this way, so far as I can tell.
Yeah people are strange. Sometimes they feel bad about themselves after achieving accomplishments.....but they didn't feel bad before they went down that route. Maybe a large part of self esteem is just an illusion created by the culture.....maybe its just confused people.
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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 01:54 AM
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I think I was like that at one point, but something changed. Back when I was younger, I didn't have self esteem issues. I was just a happy kid, observing the world around me and I barely even thinking about myself. Something changed during the teenage years and......I think a lot of people undergo that change but very few manage to retain this state I talked about. I did once go back to this state some time back and I remember feeling this overwhelming confidence in me.
It takes time for people to learn all the various ways that they're "wrong". I think that peaks for most people during adolescence. Maturity involves unlearning a lot of that -- learning how to be your own person even if other people don't approve. Children do what they want/act on impulse. Then they learn what they're supposed to do/not do. Then they learn to think for themselves (hopefully).

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In fact now that I say this, what you said before is now ringing true. I didn't have that much to be proud of when I was a kid either.....no sports trophies or medals or competitions won....so by my logic, I should have had self-hatred....but I didn't. I didn't have anything. And that was a nice state. To have neither self-hatred or pride. But I don't know.....is that the right way to look at it?
There isn't really a lot of need for that -- trophies, etc. -- when you're living authentically, doing what you want to do, because you're enjoying what you're doing. But our interests get attached to long-term goals and we start to worry about how we compare to other people because we need to be better at those things if we want to make a career out of them, etc. When you fail to outperform other people, you get mad at yourself and punish yourself. You blame yourself for not working hard enough.

But self-punishment doesn't work very well. If you're simply unable to outperform other people (as most people are, in most areas of their lives) what happens is you end up blaming and punishing yourself all the time for your failures (you're too fat, too poor, too ugly, etc.). But someone has to be below average. Even if everyone tries their hardest and does their best all the time, half the population is going to be failing compared to the other half. That's an awful lot of people to condemn to a self-perpetuating cycle of self-hatred. And no matter what traits anyone has, no matter how hard anyone works, someone has to be last. Imagine being that person.

So success isn't really about how hard anyone is working, because nothing can change the fact that someone will be first and someone will be last; it's a logical and inevitable property of hierarchies. If you use self-hate to whip yourself into action, you might outperform other people, but only at the expense of those people. If A outperforms B, B feels worse about themselves; if B outperforms A, A feels worse. There's no way to avoid toxic outcomes in a culture of hierarchical worth. The only way to avoid the toxicity is to not make your self-worth depend on outcomes.

Whether or not this is the right way to look at it is up to you. I'm just showing you how I think about it.

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Oh boy this para has really confused me.....the whole concept of '' self-worth '' is so subjective. How do you equate it to 2+2? Saying 2+2=4 is something that can be logically proven. It's a fact. But you can't logically prove that someone has self-worth? Because what scale are you using to measure it......and what are you even measuring?
You're right. It's so subjective that ranking people is impossible. When I say it's like 2 + 2 = 4, what I mean it that it's that obvious to me that feeling superior or inferior to other people is just a wrong way to think. If I want to convince you, I have to use logic, but I don't need logic to see that it's wrong myself. It's self-evident to me. Just like I don't need logic to see that it's wrong to say "blue is better than orange". A statement like that is meaningless as anything but an expression of preference.

People certainly prefer some people to other people, and a person who is more preferred ("popular") is in an objectively better position than a person who is less preferred, but there's no actual way to prove that that person is objectively better than anyone else. What are you measuring? People are made up of hundreds, thousands of traits. All of those traits have been conditioned by things nobody had any control over (genetics, family of birth, country of birth, etc.), and even the degree of that trait is subjective. Is A actually smarter than B? How do you know? Is C actually prettier than D? In whose opinion? Even those are subjective questions.

You can be more objective about things like who's better at math, or who's better at playing guitar, but most of the traits that we're using to judge each other's worth are largely subjective. Is it better to be a rich and successful sellout or a poor but authentic artist? How do you know the sellout isn't living authentically? How do you know the starving artist isn't adopting a pose? How do you rank things like that? All anyone ever does is express their subjective opinion based on the traits they happen to value.

Statistically, ofc, you will find some agreement -- more people think A is better than B -- and that's mostly what we mean by this kind of comparison. We use what we think we know about aggregate preferences to judge ourselves and other people. But there's no reason for you to agree with those preferences. If I simply don't agree with how other people think about things, then my self-worth can be radically different from the worth that most people assign to me and my opinion can be just as valid. If 99 people prefer blue and 1 person prefers orange, it doesn't mean that one person is wrong. It's just a preference.

What does anyone gain by trying to rank people like this? People mostly look down on other people because it makes them feel better than themselves. "Poor people are lazy; not like me, I worked hard for my money." "Rich people are corrupt and greedy; not like me, I'm not materialistic." These are just ways of rationalizing our experiences to preserve our self-esteem. And that's only necessary when your self-esteem is conditional. It doesn't do me any good to look down on anyone because my self-esteem isn't conditional. (Which is not to say that particular behaviors don't bother me.)

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Originally Posted by DukeDuck View Post
My main doubt now is, why does a person's self-love have to be unconditional......especially when their love to someone else has to be conditional? You said earlier in this thread that most people don't bother with other people unless they have a reason to find them interesting. So their interest in the other person is conditional.

I know a person doesn't treat themselves the same way they treat strangers, but why should there be such a difference between how people view other people and how they view themselves? I mean we're all people ultimately. Shouldn't we treat others how we treat ourselves?
I never said that you should love other people conditionally. Love is wanting what is best for a person, whether that person is yourself or someone else. Granted it's hard, but ideally, everyone would feel that way. Most of the time, now, I want what's best for other people, even if I don't like them. Ofc, because I'm responsible for my life, I have to make decisions to protect and nurture that life. No one else can do that for me, so that has to take precedence. I don't sacrifice my own well-being for the well-being of others unless I can prevent more harm than I'll suffer because that would be treating myself differently from the way I treat everyone else. I have to respect my own feelings and wants and needs as much as I respect other people's feelings and wants and needs. That's what justifies my setting boundaries, demanding fair treatment, etc.

Wanting what's best for everyone does not mean that I have to like everyone (or myself, all the time, for that matter). I have no control over who I like and who I don't like. I'm better off spending time with people I like, though, because that will be a better environment for my own growth. Ofc, if someone is in a really bad way, I'll do what I can to help them. I let a guy I can't stand live in my garage for 17 months because he would have been homeless otherwise. But I'm not in a position to go around looking for homeless people to shelter.

Unconditional self-love does not mean you affirm all of your traits and behaviors; it means you want what's best for yourself, which often means eliminating bad traits and behaviors. Good parenting does not mean you let your children play in the street. The difference between conditional and unconditional is that there's no self-punishment involved in unconditional self-love. And denying yourself love is a form of punishment/abuse. Just like a parent denying their child love would be a form of abuse. "I'll let you feel good about yourself if you do X" is the definition of an abusive relationship. What if you can't do X? What if you can't get a gf? What if you can't get a good job? Are you just going to deny yourself love for years and years and years? It's incredibly unhealthy. And yet many people do exactly that.

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Maybe a large part of self esteem is just an illusion created by the culture.....maybe its just confused people.
Lots of the things we consider "facts of life" are not facts at all. They're particular ways of framing experiences. If the frame changes, they stop being facts. For a long time, going to hell for being a sinner was a fact that most people took for granted. I never grew up with that fact, so I have never worried about going to hell. "I'm better/worse than you" is the same kind of fact, imo.

The only thing better than money is more money.
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