Learning to be myself

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by Thelongwayhome27, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    Acceptance is a complicated thing and accepting yourself might not be as easy it sounds. I don't want to sound like an ACT posterboy, but I really believe that the focus on values is a great way to work on acceptance. Furthermore I fully agree with what you said about not being able to change over night. That doesn't only apply to confidence, but also to acceptance. I have been fighting myself for over thirty years, accepting myself is hardly a natural thing to me. And I think you have to be aware of that when after weeks of things going well things go not so well. Don't blame yourself, don't blame your approach, don't think things are going the wrong way, this is just how things go. This kind of reminds me of a chart that hung in one my therapists office:

  2. occams_razor

    occams_razor Well-Known Member

    I've mentioned the "healing code" a few times and how it helped with my feelings of shame. I think you've helped me understand why it helped me, and occasionally still helps me when I need it. Basically, it helps me to "own" my shame to the point where I'm almost proud of my feelings of shame.

    Society tries to use extreme shaming and criticising of flaws in the erroneous belief that this will eliminate or control unwanted behaviour. This takes place at a largely subconscious level. Of course it just makes things much worse.

    It's like someone is very thirsty and needs a glass of water, and society pours tonnes of water on him instead. Well, he's not thirsty any more, but he's dead! lol
  3. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I have become more busy in the last 2 weeks and the stress level is making itself felt. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to explore/develop some interests and passions as I had talked about in previous entries. Hopefully if I manage to handle my current schedule better I'll be able to get to that. I still think it would be a great thing to do. I'm still keeping up with my healthy daily routine pretty well. Relaxation though I don't always have the time to do as much as I would like. I sometimes wonder if I need to cut out parts of the "healthy daily routine" stuff in order to leave more place for good relaxation (a movie for example) - at times recovery itself feels like a full time job. With the stress going up, I have felt more on edge lately, with a constant underlying tension and worrying. Part of me has been procrastinating at times, as a way to cope (of course this makes things worst). I have went out with a pretty good friend last Friday and had a decent time. I stuck with my decision to stay off alcohol (which I'm happy I'm doing) ; at one point when there was interaction with more people I felt social anxiety but I handled it. I was really glad when I hit the bed to be totally sober and know I will have a good night of sleep and that the next day I will be able to have a normal decent day and not be hungover. Unfortunately, I had a big argument with my dad over the weekend. I visited my parents, despite my stress with my curent deadlines, for an evening and I ended up having (what I see as) a codependent toxic argument that lasted for hours and which ended up involving my mom too, kind of like a mediator. I fell in the trap of trying to get validation from my dad once again, to show him my version and to fight with logic his version. These debates rarely work and feel pretty unhealthy. I was very angry at myself for having been triggered and also for losing my temper a few times. I slept very bad that night (dramatic argument lasted until 1h AM) and felt totally down the next day (yesterday). These discussions provoke in me such feelings of doubt of unbearable uncertainty. I can recall clearly how a few times after such argument/fights I went on binges. Maybe I was using it as an excuse to binge or maybe also they provoke extremely painful emotions. This time though I have not resorted to going on a porn binge or other kind of acting out. Today I feel better. But yesterday I felt really bad. I guess these are the problems I need to work with that are under the bandage of porn, excessive drinking, smoking weed. In my very first post on this journal I had identified my "negative family dynamics" as a problem. If there is a clear lesson for what happened is not to go visit my parents when I'm stressed out, because I won't be able to not fall into the trap of unhealthy discussion or have the skill to navigate them. I think they only hurt me. Anyways. I'm still managing to stay off the porn. Hopefully I'll deal with my work load and deadlines. Hopefully I'll not forget what self kindness and acceptance means. I haven't MOed either lately. I have noticed though how there are more intrusive fantasies and flashbacks of acting out, probably because of stress and pressure. I've also had some pretty vivid sexual dreams, about 1 week ago. Speaking of dreams, I have been recalling quite a few lately, which is nice. I'll conclude with how I'll do my best to tackle my to do's in order for them not to accumulate out of control ; I'll follow the good enough not perfect moto ; and I'll try to remember I'm a worthy person and I deserve to take care of myself.

    Thanks for the reminder @Living. I think you are very correct when you say that this is good to keep in mind especially when things get tougher and life gets challenging. It's easy to forget the importance (and meaning!) of self acceptance and self worth when stress is thrown at us and we seem to fall back in a more negative mind frame (at least this seems the case with me). Thanks for pointing out also how even acceptance is not something we learn over night. That would explain why I regress back to older default ways of being (self critical) quite often when faced with stress.

    I think a high level of toxic shame is at the core of many of my problems. I have to find a way to chip some of it away gradually. Sometimes I seem to briefly fall into the other end of the spectrum when all of a sudden I become "proud of my shame" as you call it so well. But then it becomes, in my case, a kind of vanity, of ego, that becomes another wall between me and others. As if I'm so special (which is probably not true). I have to find the middle ground between strong shame and avoidance and excessive pride moments. Both shame and pride are barriers to healthy connection.

    I had tried the healing code when you told me about it. It had a minimal effect that time but maybe it's because I had only tried it once and didn't read up to much on it (or my mind was too skeptical). I have stumbled on EFT tapping since and been exploring with it lately and it seems to be helping me. It calms me down and it feels like I'm releasing excessive tension.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  4. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Yeah, I really like this entry. Have you always been this open? It's been a while since I read your journal from the start. ;) Good to see whatever the case!

    So I think it's a great idea to incorporate some more relaxation in your routine. As my old trainer used to say: "regeneration is an activity," in other words, your rest should be taken seriously.

    Not surprised to see anger come to the surface. I can relate strongly to toxic parent relations. Very well done in keeping it together afterwards. That's no mean feat.

    Great job TLH. I see that you're really taking that self kindness to heart even in the most difficult of circumstances.
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  5. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thank you ! How do you mean ? Open towards my parents or in my journal ?

    Yes I think you are right. One problem is I procrastinate on my "active" hours and then I can't relax properly. If I would make the most of my work hours then I can relax better I would suppose (satisfied conscience). Procrastination is a central element in my woes it seems. Hell, I'm procrastinating right now in a way :oops:

    Thank you very much ! Yes they are extremely consuming. Some of the hardest sensations I've had to deal with I think. I could see from your own journal that you had some problems like this too. Whether my dad is right or I am, these "toxic arguments" seem to me to be very unhealthy and consume me like crazy. I feel like they are an addiction almost, my need to get approval and validation from my dad. And he doesn't give it because he sees things very differently. Problem is his version, feels to me, extremely disempowering. It sends me into an extreme depression and apathy and part of me feels like this type of conditioning of his is at the essence of why I underperformed in my life so far (hello Kafka's Letter to father). But then .... I also have regret and I care greatly about him. I have both extreme anger and resentment and deeply caring. And I also can't shake the doubt that maybe he is right in his version. It's all very confusing.

    Anyhow, I am glad I did not resort to unhealthy self destruction Sunday. Part of me wanted to. But I knew that was the wrong call.

    Thanks again. Yeah I'm trying but it's not easy. I was angry at my dad. But I was also very angry at myself for having fallen back into the trap of such toxic discussions. I was extremely angry at myself actually. I didn't care about anything anymore. Thankfully it passed since then a bit :)

    I guess I should take 2 lessons/notices here :
    1- Not go see my parents when I'm already under personal stress. Better play it safe.
    2 - The fact that I did not resort to self destructive habits after the fight is a sign I'm doing something good right now. No matter the other failures.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  6. Living

    Living Well-Known Member

    My girlfriend made me promise not to have arguments with my dad ever again:) Especially now he's getting older and is becoming a caricature of his all annoying characteristics. Characteristics that I have inherited by the way...
  7. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Open in your journal! But I might misremember ;) I do think openness in general (within reasonable limits) can be very helpful for recovery, so I think it's very good.

    This is tricky. I think procrastination is a form of relaxation but as you say not a very complete one. So on the one hand I wouldn't worry too much about procrastination but on the other hand it could be helpful to add a more dedicated form of rest. For me taking a long walk works wonders though sometimes I'll just lay on my bed and doze off a bit when I'm really exhausted.

    I have had the same exact thing. I love my father but I would hate him at the same time. And always that horrible doubt that I'm the one that's insane. This all appears to have been connected to a traumatic experience when I was four years old. I'm very curious if the EMDR therapy I talk about in my journal might've taken away these issues.

    Right now I'm wondering why I even go to my parents! I know what they're going to pull so why put myself through it? I think it's very wise to avoid your parents when you're already dealing with other stuff.

    The fact that you resisted acting out is the most important thing of all. Next to that, everything else shrinks to insignificance. To be honest with you I've avoided visiting my parents ever since I started getting clean because I was afraid of what you just went through. I'm very impressed with how you dealt with it.
  8. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Well-Known Member

    I have a difficult relationship with my parents as well. It was crucial for me and my early recovery to minimize contact with them for a while. Very often, I would go home after having a discussion or argument with them, get drunk and watch p. Kudos, for not letting such things happen after your last argument with them. I didn't block contact with my parents but earlier this year, I didn't visit or call them for 2-3 months and it helped a lot. Also our relationship benefited from it.
  9. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Living @Bezoechow @Pete McVries

    Thanks so much for the support guys.

    I'm going through some pretty strong turbulences in terms of challenges and stress right now but I am pretty determined to do what is in my power to handle them without falling back down in what I know can only make things worst : self destructive behavior, addictions, checking out.

    Regarding my parents (in particular my father) and the yet again argument I fell in (a relapse of it's own kind I would say), I really appreciate what you guys wrote. Although it sucks, glad to now I'm not the only one ... I'm gonna try to set some distance for now and really look out for my needs and my priorities. In the end, even my critical dad, wants good for me - and I'm the one that can make that happen.

    When I went to they're place, last weekend, I forgot how important the deadlines I was facing are important. I put that second to spending some time with my parents and in a way pleasing them as well. Karma hit back at me, maybe to teach me a lesson, with that emotionally exhausting argument we all got sucked in.

    I also had a clear moment tonight, in the shower, when again I saw how I put a lot of non essential stuff (what people think of me, what to answer to that text message, how to say no to that invitation, etc) to in front of important essential priorities for me. So much letting the social worries take a completely unnecessary place. When I get this clarity it doesn't even matter whether I reply so some random messenger message. I always put a lot of worries in the wrong places and then have nothing left to work on my priorities. Nice guy !!! It's too bad I only see this clearly when I'm in crisis situations.

    No matter what happens to me if I don't go back to acting out sexually and drinking or doing weed, well hell that's already not that bad. All I can do is try my best everyday, try to stay calm and find some inner grace, and stay away from the vices which can only hurt me. Maybe if I do this I'll have the courage to face the challenges and the anxiety. The calm in the heart, the courage in the eyes. A basic level of clarity. In the storm. Rest is up to the Universe.

    I just have to remember not to take society's pressure so seriously. I'm the typical guy who takes on way too much on his shoulders. Again... to prove that I belong. Which ... I already do. I just always forget. Keep going.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  10. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    I can relate to this so much. I just walked out of daycare after bringing the kids and realized that I was thinking about random stuff I had just said there and how I came across to the teachers and other parents there. I am constantly (also at work) very self conscious and instantly correcting myself if I think that I am expected to behave otherwise. This is so tiring. Some days I am able to just be myself. Those are awesome days and actually I think those are the days when I already in the morning picture myself nog to give a damn. Is that what we should do? Consrantly keep telling ourselves not to give a damn and take care of our own needs? Well, rambling now, haha.
  11. occams_razor

    occams_razor Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Maybe I sometimes think I'm special because others seem to have very little empathy and imagination, as it sometimes appears to me. It's like they can sympathise with really obvious suffering, such as bereavement or physical illness or whatever, but anything remotely tricky to understand just gets judged and dismissed in some way. Of course maybe I come across as lacking empathy and imagination sometimes as well.

    Oh yeah, I've tried EFT a little and it seems to work in a very similar way to the healing code. It's probably a matter of personal preference which technique works better for a particular person.
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  12. Rengaw

    Rengaw Will log on every other week from 13/10/2016

    I have to admit this is a very striking message you get across Gil, as I am very self-aware too. It is indeed very tiring, but I have learned to let go, and that people have various behaviours. If one is of, you'll get feedback. In my case I have taken up addiction therapy and PMT (psychomotor therapy) particularly made me reflect on my thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Turns out you and I are people that think more than we feel. I've tried tapping too actually, but I think meditation does more wonders for me.
    Same goes for thelongwayhome; taking too much on your shoulders is a choice by head and not by heart. Thinking, but later feeling. Feeling bad. Remember, you belong because you are. That's it.
    It's not too late to see these symptoms and accept them as they are. Only then things will get better.

    Take care, keep your eyes on the prize!
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  13. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Just a quick update I had a pretty intense and hectic week. Been able to navigate it without slipping though which is good. Been having trouble finding the right balance between work load, healthy habits and routine and relaxation (E.g. - should I be relaxing right now or updating my journal on here ? o_O). Finished Kafka's Letter to Father though. Very interesting and relatable in some aspects (many?). I'm probably gonna read The Castle soon. Although, I have that (realistic) teen romance book I still wanna read and I think it's next. Hoping it'll put me into a more (realistic) romantic mood ;)

    @Gil79 - Yeah I think this is our "nice guy people pleasing" behavior and it probably takes a long time to change. It seems to be related to the constant need to get the approval of other people, especially (at least in my case) when they have some authority over me. I also have some random days when I seem to have some natural assertiveness in me and I am able to clearly see myself in a more equal position, I don't dominate but I don't summit myself either. It's days when I have some kind of clarity. Regarding seing the essential important stuff from all the petty less essential one (self put pressure, excessive social worrying, perfectionism) it seems to happen to me when I create a situation of chaos and crisis and then, because I'm pushed against the wall so to speak I'm forced to surrender all the BS I carry for no reason usually. From that point, every single decision seems much clearer. Unfortunately it seems once I get out of the crises situation I go back to the more default way of being. Hopefully in time the better way of functioning, assertiveness, will stick around more. I don't wanna become an asshole but just be able to see my rights and boundaries clearer. As they say, porn is the band aid, so now at least we can say we're working on whats underneath it. Lack of assertiveness is clearly, for me, a problem that is under my addictions. Something painful that I numb away usually. Surely though the numbing only serves to make me even less assertive in time. Instead of working on reclaiming, slowly, my personal power.

    @occams_razor - Yeah it's hard to find that balance where I respect my uniqueness, like myself, but don't go too far into thinking I'm more special then others (it can become a wall of communication sometimes). I sometimes go in the extremes of shame or feeling a bit too special (isolation does that apparently though). Also to be a bit self compassionate I seem to be cocky or arrogant (inside) often as a kind of defense mechanism when I'm stressed out. But yeah ideally I'd like to get more to the balance middle point where I work on being myself and accept others for who they are.

    For the EFT tapping what I personally liked about it is how you actually touch the parts of the body with the tip of the fingers. The contact. It's interesting how the tapping points in EFT tapping seem to be at similar places then where you place your finger tips in the healing code.

    @Rengaw - Hey thanks for your comment and the support ! It seems you may deal with some similar problems then me. It's true that when I take on stuff I do it with my "mind" in a way. It's my need to prove my worth or be accepted or find validation, sometimes at all costs. To be "perfect". As an end in itself. I'm almost kind of conditioned this way, I can see it when I observe myself. That's why it's good I try not to numb myself anymore. So I can (1) observe how this is not good and (2) find solutions. When I let go of the ego a bit, the thinking, and start feeling my emotions, what I feel in me, pay attention to it, instead of the mind, I can see how I take on too much and that I'm worrying so much for stuff that isn't that important. How I forget to find acceptance and support and validation first and foremost in myself (which is what I need to learn, to build up). I'm gonna be checking out your journal when I have some time. I liked what you wrote about the "kindergarten of self care" stuff. I've been working a lot on that also for a while now. Just taking care of myself at a basic level, sleep enough, eating decent, exercise. This is the beginning of restoring health. I try to stick to this healthy stuff even if I stumble off the PMO. But the more I stay off PMO and the more I work on making healthy living a normal habit, the less I wanna PMO or do unhealthy things which disrupt it, such as binge drinking. But it seems to be a process and it takes time. Just gotta keep working at it. Just gotta keep showing myself how healthy simple life brings more happiness and inner peace then the good ol' crazy living.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  14. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    :DGreat job!:D

    This makes me want to read again. I've been stuck on the Iliad too long. It's a great story but like the bible it's so stuffed full with symbolism that it's hard to get through.

    Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese writer of the Art of War, advised strongly against keeping lines of retreat open. He said that troops fight the hardest when they have no way of retreat, when they have their back against the wall. Seemingly counter intuitive, because why would you pen yourself in and consign yourself to a fight to the death? But I only found clarity when I accepted that there was no going back. While you can leave, your mind is free to make excuses. When the only way out is onwards is when you can convince yourself to fight.

    I was like this for most of my life. Completely living through my brain, super rational and sort of emotionless. Years ago I visualised it as my emotional self living in a tower in a huge castle and never allowed out, while my rational self was patrolling the perimeter. The trick was however that it was my emotional self that had the key. It was a voluntary jailing! I realised this years ago but only recently I've been able to reconnect, to leave that jail for a longer period of time. I think developing my self acceptance was a necessary component to make that step.

    Keep up the good work TLH! You're doing better than you think. I've said it before but I'm seeing much more clarity in your recent posts.
  15. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    A lot of stress these days. Trying to cope. Like an "adult". Not easy but I dont' see another solution. I notice a lot of negativity in my thinking as a result of the pressure and stress. The negativity is hard to disengage from at times. It's mixed with anger. There is also regrets about choices that led me here. And all those good ol' what if's. Ideally, though, it's better to deal with the present and be solution oriented. Worrying, regretting, being negative doesn't help much. Best I can do is take it one day at a time, try to manage my life best I can as it is right now, and if I fail I fail. But at least I don't quit.

    Still managing to handle life without the P. Been a while I have not gone to it. I think my longest. Am also about 1 month without any MO at all, although I am allowing myself to MO. I may MO soon. Have had no wet dreams. And I'm one month off without a drop of alcohol. This last decision is great. My life is a roller coaster, why would I make it even harder to handle with alcohol, drugs and compulsive sexual acting out ? Why not try to deal with it as it is. Give myself a chance. This in itself is already a win.

    It's all about taking it slowly and learning how to manage my life without the addictions. To address what is problematic under the addictions. Like a detective, to investigate, and apply solutions. This is best done with a clear lucid mind. And the investigation will take some time, for the crime scene is complex.

    Problems under the band-aid of addictions and pain numbing so far (detective work) : Toxic shame, Strong anxiety (social and general), Crippling perfectionism, fear of failure, strong uncertainty about my career choice, toxic codependent relationship with parents, constant return to external validation thinking mode. Difficulty to identify my needs and to communicate my needs. Much of my compulsive perfectionism comes, I think, especially with work, in order to overcompensate the fear of being criticized (and not being able to handle it) or worst being humiliated (which comes from social anxiety). Solution is to decrease the perfectionism and take chances where I slowly learn to be criticized perhaps. Instead of burning myself out to do "perfect work", to do enough and learn, rather, how to take criticism. To show myself I can take it. That I am strong enough. All of this is linked with self acceptance. When I self accept I can be more compassionate towards myself if I maye mistakes or (think that I) make a fool of myself and when I'm in that mindset other people have less of an effect on me. Self love, self acceptance is the essence behind courage. Fear and shame is the essence behind perfectionism.

    Took a break from the stress last night and started that romance novel. I hope it won't depress me. Maybe it will be nice. A part of me wanted to grab Catcher in the Rye and read it again. I was feeling isolated and angry and thought maybe if I read the story of a brother of mine in isolation, Holden Caulfield, I'll feel good. I really liked the Catcher in the Rye when I was younger and I read it two or three times. But I decided to stay with my decision of giving that youth teen romance novel my attention. I also keep thinking about Hearts in Atlantis since @-Luke- talked about it. I saw it at the library and it's a bit expensive. But I may buy it as a reward to myself if I do something good. It would be a good way to get into Stephen King.

    @Bezoechow - Thanks for the kind words and the support !
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  16. Bezoechow

    Bezoechow Member

    Seems like you're doing "the work". Really getting into the underlying causes of your addiction. Great stuff.
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  17. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    Holden Caulfield, a brother in isolation. I love that phrase. Even though I never thought about it that way I know what you mean here. I read The Catcher in the Rye a few times, too (but not in the last 7 or 8 years I think) and I could always empathize with Holden. Like him I had problems with growing up and I didn't really wanted to be an adult. But despite all the trouble Holden is a good and intelligent kid. I think you would like Hearts in Atlantis. I always could empathize with the main character there, too.

    I really liked this part of your post:
    Well said and thank you for the reminder.
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  18. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Both of you are spot on with me. I also read Catcher a number of times. Shame, anxiety, perfectionism and external validation are my drugs. Self-acceptance is a real tough thing to find. Honestly, I'm finding it in a few places in my life, but there are other areas where I cannot help but fall into the old patterns. That well-worn neural pathway is frustrating. The psychiatrists and others have called them patterns, but to me patterns are never-ending, like the designs on our clothes and furniture. I am trying to think of them as cycles. I can see that there's a path out of a cycle. I'm just working on drawing that new line to escape. Thanks for sharing @Thelongwayhome27
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  19. Ereignis

    Ereignis Active Member

    Long time no talk. You haven't posted here for a few days. That could either be a good sign, or a bad sign. Hoping for the best.

    This is going to be a little controversial, but this is something that has been very important for my own life. When I was younger, I believed fervently in the idea of improving my life by sharing my problems. It seemed every influence in my life seemed to be pushing me in that direction. What I found is that the more I talked about my problems, the more I dwelled in negativity and the longer every issue would take to be resolved. I was conditioning myself to feel bad. When I eventually changed my attitude towards a more stoic one (don't think about how it sucks, or how it could be shared with anyone else, just think about the way forward in every situation), everything started to be a little brighter. My negative thought patterns plummeted to an extraordinary degree, and my life started moving forward. I changed from a rapid downward spiral to a gradual upward spiral.

    Then there's my journal. I realize that it might seem hypocritical in light of the above paragraph to share my progress every day. I see it differently, though; to me, my journal is a record of how far I've come, and what issues I need to examine more closely in order to move forward. If someone can relate to the things I say and joins in the conversation, that's great, but if no one can really understand where I am, which I believe is the case with many of my concerns, I quietly accept it as mine to silently sort out. I don't see this as a negative attitude at all; in fact, I think less about negative vs. positive as a whole. Just forward, always looking for the way forward.

    Just something to think about. I don't think what I wrote is adequate for what I'm trying to express. But if that could even plant a seed, maybe it was worth mentioning.
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  20. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    I think sharing is very important. I think the stoic ideal, while noble, is an ideal. No man can keep it all inside for too long.

    Actually when I was younger I would keep everything inside. I would never share my woes neither with friend nor with parents. Nor with myself. I would just push away any unpleasant thing that happened to me and try to ignore it. I don't think this helped and I think this was part of what made me release a lot of my tension in addictions.

    I do agree that we can fall into the extreme of just complaining and "whining" and feeling like a victim. Sure that's not gonna help us move forward. But it's a better place then to keep everything inside.

    Sharing is a tool. It can be used well or not so well. Sometimes sharing helps us find some peace then we can find the solutions to the task or problem at hand.

    Self reliance is great but it has it's limits.

    Also sharing is an emotional management tool like any other. It can become an addiction. When you become too dependent on other people to listen to you, you're becoming codependent. So yes it's good to be aware of this. Also consider that for an addict, maybe it's better to call a buddy and whine then to relapse to his addictions.

    So it's not black or white.

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