Self-esteem Challenge: Day 15

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 15:
Why do you think people are attracted to you, either friend-wise or romantically?
Do you like your personal appearance? If so why? If not what are some ways you could view yourself differently?

war with myself

I honestly have no idea. Because I’m nice perhaps? I am often surprised by the way people feel about me. It isn’t often that people tell you what they think of you point blank. I usually assume people think of me the way I think of myself, but when they think better of me, I am quite surprised and find it hard to believe…especially when it’s people who don’t know me very well.

You know who is really attracted to me? Solicitors and homeless people…basically anyone asking for money, signatures or some sort of charity. I don’t know how they pick me out of the crowd, but they all make a beeline toward me when they see me. I try to avoid eye contact. I get stopped by at least 3 or 4 times a day when I go to work. It’s like I have a sticker on my forehead that says “I’m too nice to say no”. I have stopped carrying cash so I can honestly say, that I don’t have any money on me. Knowing my luck, they’ll start carrying those portable debit machines pretty soon.

I do not like my personal appearance. Some days I don’t think about the way I look. I am grateful for those days. Other days, I hate it so much I feel like I can’t go out. I don’t want to be seen by people and it doesn’t matter if they are people I know or not or if I’ll see them again or not. I let being ashamed of the way I look stop me from going to work, seeing family or just going out for a run. I’m angry with myself for letting my appearance matter so much.

 

Self-Esteem Challenge: Day 14

SECDay 14

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 14:
What do you think of your laugh?
Is there someone in your life who makes you feel good about yourself? If so how/why?

My laugh? I’m neutral. There is nothing characteristic about the way I laugh. I guess that’s why I have no complaints, it completely blends in. I’m noticing a bit of a pattern here. I want to blend in when it comes to my physical appearance and be the best when it comes to my skills. I’ve never noticed that before. I wonder why that is…..You’d think I’d want it all one way….either to blend in completely or best the best looking AND most skilled…

This question is difficult. There are people in my life that try to make me feel good about myself. I don’t know how successful they are though. I always seem to be able to use logic to prove them wrong or make myself think they are just being kind. This includes hubby, most of my family and my friends. I don’t think I could pick one person over another anyway.

Do you have someone who always makes you feel good? What do they do differently that makes you believe them?

Self-esteem Challenge: Day 7

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 7:
When do you feel best about yourself?
Do you think you care too much about what others think? If so how can you change that?

I feel best about myself after having been exercising and eating right for several weeks. I just feel lighter on my feet and my muscles feel tight and strong which somehow makes my reflection look better (even though I know it takes more than a couple weeks to see real changes). Lately, it has taken a tremendous amount of effort to exercise once or to eat right for a day. If I’m not exercising and eating right, no wonder I’m not feeling great. You want comfort when you feel bad and there is just nothing comforting about eating vegetables or getting out of breath. I actually find both quite uncomfortable. I don’t have the patience to focus more on the long term rewards of exercise and eating healthy. I think I’m too preoccupied with the immediate rewards I get from eating cake or lying on the couch in my sweats.

I definitely care too much about what people think of me. I want everyone to think highly of me. I’m sure I’m not the only one wholove yourself feels this way. When you really think about it, it’s a waste of time to worry about what people think. Most of the time you’ll never know what they are thinking. You can assume, but you’re probably wrong most of the time. Besides, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. It’s pointless to try. Some of you are probably judging me right now and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Some of you will like me, some of you wont. Some of you will respect me for sharing my experiences with depression and some of you will think I’m whining and attention-seeking. I could drive myself crazy agonizing over this and sometimes I do, but it’s not worth it. Why? It’s kind of depressing, but I’m not that special. To put it in perspective, the world is vast and I am small, most people don’t care or don’t know that I exist. In comparison to that, why should a few people who don’t like me matter? It’s not like anything actually happens when people don’t like you. Most of the time, you don’t even know when someone doesn’t like you.

How can I change my worrying about it? If I knew the answer, then I wouldn’t be doing a self-esteem challenge now, would I? I think I need to build my self-esteem and remind myself of what I said above. I am working on it, but it wont happen overnight. It takes a long time to change thought patterns that come to you naturally. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.

When CBT Fails

warning!!

I like cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). It makes sense. It helps a lot with my anxiety and perfectionist tendencies. The idea is to change false automatic thoughts (cognitive distortions) and make them more realistic, constructive and positive. My favourite method of combating cognitive distortions is looking at reality. What are the facts? What information sustains my conclusion? What is the proof? For example, during the fall, I had my comprehensive exams for my Ph.D. I had to defend my research proposal among other things. I was being really hard on myself and feeling miserable. I was thinking that I was never going to be able to think of all the angles, the experts would find holes in my proposal and think I’m an idiot. The cognitive distortion here is mind reading. I’m assuming I know what the others are thinking and thus being hard on myself and making myself anxious. In reality, I can’t really know what they are thinking. The purpose of these exams is to solve any major problems in my theory before I get started. No one person can think of everything, that’s why there are four different experts coming to evaluate my idea. They probably wont think I’m an idiot either, I’m a student, my purpose is to learn. Besides, I can’t be the worst Ph.D. candidate there ever was. Here, I relied on logic to talk myself down from a situation that I was making myself sick over.

Circle chart colour

Sometimes though, logic isn’t enough, I wish it were.. Something can make all the sense in the world, but when you are depressed it doesn’t matter, logic is not enough to change the way you feel. When I try to apply CBT strategies to depression, it feels empty, like I am lying to myself. I know a lot of my problems come from low self-esteem. Is low self-esteem interchangeable with hating yourself? Right now I really hate myself. I hate myself so much I don’t know how to continue existing. I am overwhelmed with anger towards myself. My skin is crawling with hatred. I can’t bare to look in the mirror or hear my own voice. I hate the things I say and the thoughts I have. I’m too ashamed to go out in public and be seen by strangers, never mind people I actually know.

I know this hatred toward myself is irrational. I am not a bad person, most people say I am kind. I’m not on People magazine’s most beautiful people, but no one calls me ugly, except for myself. I’m not too fat or too thin, I wear the clothes that are right for me. I have friends and people who love me. I have the right number of achievements for someone my age. There is no reason for me to despise myself so, yet I do.

I don’t always hate myself. Sometimes I’m fine and I don’t think about how I feel about myself at all. Other times, this wave of loathing washes over me and all I can do is be angry and/or cry. My logical self knows the way I feel is irrational, so I don’t act on it. I know it will pass and I’ll go back to not thinking about it. I try to use CBT to undo my distorted view of myself, but it feels fake and is not changing the way I feel.Why isn’t the logic enough to make me feel differently?

I don’t know what to do with myself when this happens. I usually try to distract myself somehow. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Eventually, the day ends and I climb in to bed and hope that sleep takes me away from myself.

Do you ever feel this way? What do you do?

V is for Visceral Voices

When I say visceral voices, I mean thoughts, your inner monologue or self-talk. The thought processes that occur so naturally that you often over look them. Often in anxiety and depression these visceral voices lean towards the negative. You have to take the time to learn to recognize when you are having a negative thought and challenge it.

When I think of negative self-talk, I imagine the angel and the devil on my shoulders battling it out. But what if it was more complex than that? According to Edmund Bourne’s Anxiety and Phobia workbook, there are four main types of negative-self talk; the victim, the worrier, the critic and the perfectionist. I can see components of all 4 personas in my internal monologue. No wonder the angel is often overwhelmed, the odds are 4 to 1!

The Angel and The Devil

The Angel and The Devil

 

The Victim. Characterized by feelings of hopelessness, the victim usually contributes to both anxiety and depression. I give myself anxiety by telling myself that I’m not making enough progress, that I’m not smart enough to complete the task at hand. Depression comes from the sense of being unworthy. I will never achieve my goals, nor do I deserve to. It’s the everything sucks and will never get better attitude. I don’t intend to have this attitude, in fact, I don’t want it. It’s just so subtle and innate that I don’t realize I’m doing it until I reflect on the situation.

The Worrier. Anxiety is created by imagining the worst-case scenario and anticipating embarrassment and/or failure. The worrier is always apprehensive and on the lookout for trouble. I know I do this. My reasoning is that I want to be prepared and able to handle the worst-case scenario, but in doing this I create dread, so I’m not really doing myself any favours.

The Critic. This voice promotes low self-esteem. I am constantly comparing myself to others, evaluating my behaviour and magnifying my mistakes. This makes me feel like a failure most of the time.

The Perfectionist. A state of chronic stress is created by thinking nothing is ever good enough, I should be working harder, I should always have everything under control. I am only worth the sum of my external achievements.

4 to 1

To combat these attitudes, I’ve been told to give myself positive counter-statements. Sounds easy, logical. The problem is getting myself to believe the positive talk. I’m hoping an open mind and some repetition will do it.

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