Learning to be myself

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

  1. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    I like the phrase from NMMNG: 'I am perfectly imperfect!'

    I can relate to this, but most of it is based of what I think others expect from me. Sometimes I think 'maybe that person wanted to chat longer', 'maybe I gave this and this impression' or 'I overstayed my welcome'. I can be feeling down for hours afterwards. But it is not about how otheds perceive such situation. It is about how I perceive it. About what I want. Whether I find the conversation interesting and how I perceive the other(s).

    Maybe I just projected my feelings on your post and I got totally wrong what you meant. Anyway, great post and awesome rebooting skills you have :cool:
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  2. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot @Gilgamesh

    Part of (if not most of) the social perfectionism is this as well for me. The way I see it, it's me projecting my own inner critic onto other's perspective of me. What I think they think of me. "He was weird" ; "He's so arrogant" ; "He thinks he's funny" ; "He's so weak" ; etc.

    Maybe I'm right sometimes but maybe I'm also off the mark. Because of nervousness. Judgment is affected. Impaired. Overexcited.

    It doesn't happen all the time but it will happen in interactions where I'm more nervous. Most of all if I'm talking, for example, to a girl I am attracted too.

    Or to people I would like to become friends with, and liked by.

    Come to think of it, all this is caused by the strong need to be liked, accepted. In my case I think.

    I think most people have to deal with this but it seems for some this mechanism is stronger or grew stronger. I think it's about learning to see it for what it is and slowly listening a little less to it. But it sure comes back in subtle secret ways very often.

    Those critical "voices" and projections will prolly still be around (at least for a while) so I just kind of have to hold the stick less tightly, while socializing, in spite of them. To sort of let it be, let it flow. And keep going. Learning how to accept not being perfect and keep coming back for a new try, instead of letting these feelings make me stop trying.

    I read a good book where I got most of these concepts and it really seemed to help me it's called "How to be yourself : quiet your inner critic and rise above social anxiety" by Ellen Hendrickson. It's pretty modern on the research and has a good middle ground between scientific data behind it and also easy to understand practical advice. I learned a lot about my own inner critic because of this book.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
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  3. Ereignis

    Ereignis Active Member

    I was close to relapsing a number of times this evening but remembering the person on here that said I was resilient kept me motivated to avoid the worst. Another clean day.

    You're very introverted, aren't you? I don't really deal with social anxiety as much as I once did, but this is the best thing I've done to handle those feelings in the moment:

    You know how if you see someone diving into a pool of cold water, they'll submerge themselves immediately, then sort of waddle around in one place until they feel comfortable enough to do their actual swimming? I've done something similar with social situations. Get in there, sit down, and make sure your body position is as comfortable as possible. Monitor your body to try and get rid of any muscle tension or ticks that correspond with your social anxiety. Don't be talkative during this period, just chill. If someone asks you a question or something, you could respond, but be as subdued as you can. After you've "forced" yourself to be relaxed for 10-20 minutes, proceed to socializing more comfortably than you usually do, but try and keep this more relaxed bearing.
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  4. occams_razor

    occams_razor Well-Known Member

    I disagree. I know from experience that things like extreme mood swings can be quite devastating, scary, depressing etc. On the other hand I kind of get what you're saying, everyone feels bad sometimes and so on. It's complicated.

    I tried to read The Happiness Trap once but found it smug lol.
  5. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    It's great advice. For me, this is a difficult practice. It seems like 65% of me is using this new observation skill to notice I'm seeking validations from others or projecting on them. 15% is actually involved in the conversation and interaction. The last 20% is trying to figure out how to react to what I observed about myself (projection or desperate to be liked and being a people pleaser). So I like the idea of letting go of the stick, maybe being in the now.

    I find myself in a loop often-- My self critic tells me that you won't like my post in your journal. I'm projecting my own insecurities and dislike of myself onto you. Okay, I see that. I should stop that. It's stupid and I am stupid for doing it when I know better (Oh, hello self-critic, AGAIN.)

    A strategy I have not really polished is simply remembering that the self-critic evolved to protect me. In this case, it's going overboard trying to protect me from pain that I may feel if I am rejected. So, I try to thank myself for the effort of trying to protect me, but I'll be just fine if you don't like my post. It's all such a mindful practice that it is not something I can do when the stress levels are up, and when are we not stressed?
  6. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Haha well there we go I can confirm to you your inner critic is off the mark here ! I'm always glad when someone takes the time to leave a comment in my journal.

    I see from your post we seem to deal with similar issues, at least in regards to the inner critic.

    I'm with you on the idea that we must remember it's not something to hate in us, it's just a faulty defense mechanism that's gone awol (he is very strong). It wants to help but isn't very good at it ... We have to tame it indeed. Easier said then done, I've noticed that in my own explorations.

    Indeed in the field, emotions run high, fast - the inner critic is so ingrained we don't even know he shows up, in such subtle ways. Especially in stressful situations where we really want something. Sure he'll be there way more if I'm trying to chat with an attractive girl then with an old lady at the groceries who's asking me where the bread is.

    It's hard to see the inner critic in field, let alone to neutralize it's unhelpful results right then and there - but at least we can start, I think, to counter it afterwards, when we are a lil more calm. From a book I read on it, there was a method that was saying this :
    1 - Ask yourself what exactly are you regretting ? (ex : X thinks this of me now). - be as precise as possible on identifying your fear.
    2 - Ask yourself how likely that actually is ? What if there is another explanation ? Is that possible ? What are the odds here ?
    3 - Even if it is true - can you live with that ? Would this really be the end ? (this one helps a lot I find).

    With number 3 I often realize this stings a bit now, and in a few days it won't as much.

    And letting lose of that stick ... yeah ... I'm really trying to work on that but it's hard. Hopefully if I keep working on this, observing, thinking about it, at first calmly at home, slowly I'll learn to hold the stick less tight and show myself how, ironically, I'm getting better results that way...
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  7. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Yeah I agree as well with @Living in the sense that having an unrealistic image of how happy we should be is a problem. I guess many people with addictions have trouble accepting the harder parts of life and have learned to numb it with certain methods. So in a way recovery is accepting and gradually learning how to navigate the natural ups and downs of life without using those methods which create even more difficulties (although they can help very short term).

    But the spikes of ups and downs (mood swings) I was describing in that post are indeed I think exaggerated mood swings. They can happen very closely one next to the other, like a roller coaster. I think it's possible to not have that since I've felt myself what being more grounded means. I'm not sure those are the normal ups and downs everyone feels.

    This makes me think of an issue I've been observing lately that I seem to have : when things go well I become a little too cocky too soon whereas when things go bad I let that affect me strongly and go quite down psychologically. Maybe everyone is like this ? I don't know.
  8. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    This is very interesting I will try it next time I'm in a social situation that makes me nervous.

    It's weird because some people say the trick is to face your fears, to force yourself to be more social. That if you will withdraw it will make it worst. I can see how in a sense, depending on the situation, this could be true. Often by forcing ourselves out of our comfort zone we gain in confidence. On the other hand I think overdoing this, forcing it too much can be unhelpful. I've felt how at times I forced it too much and not only was it very exhausting but I didn't get results. Maybe the trick is to do this a lot until it's not exhausting anymore. But then I've herd accounts of people who found they're confidence once they stopped trying to be so desperate. When they accepted they're shyness or being quiet. It makes more sense than the forcing it all the time. Maybe the fine line is somewhere in between.

    I feel ideally one should know how much to push himself in a social situation he is nervous in. To know when to take a challenge, when to step back and relax. Then he is successfully shy. You're method of mindful relaxation is interesting in this regards and I'll give it a shot. I've tried variations of it before but not in this way you've put it which is simple and clear. It'll be my mission and strategy next time.
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  9. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Awesome conversations here....

    Actually I dont think you should start a discussion at this level with your inner critic. It is his/her battle ground and you will loose it. Ignoring it, being mindful, may be better. What about trying to become aware of your body (try to relax) and breathing (breath deeply) when the inner critic shows up. The inner critic may get bored and leave you alone......

    Same here :)

    Like the cold pool analogy as well. I think that exposing yourself/ getting out of your comfort zone is important. The idea is that yoy learn that theres no actual danger in such situation. That it is unrealistic fear. But if exposing yourself leads to uncomfortable situations you will only get more anxious. It thus needs a good strategy. Building up slowly.
  10. TheScriabin

    TheScriabin Well-Known Member

    That’s great advice @Gilgamesh
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  11. occams_razor

    occams_razor Well-Known Member

    Yeah I might take a look at it again. I'll try and skim past the smug bits and concentrate on the practical stuff.

    As for the inner critic, sometimes recently my inner critic will remind me of, for example, a time when I didn't stand up for myself. So I immediately think of a couple of times when I DID stand up for myself. Then I might add something like, "So yeah, shut up." lol
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  12. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Well-Known Member

    Yeah. There’s some gold in this thread. Bashing this out on my phone so there might be some typos (Hi Inner Critic)

    I used to be savagely self critical. My old hand written journals are full of me berating myself for not being better.

    What I liked about happinesses trap was the idea of cognitive fusion. Changing you thinking from...
    “I am a piece of crap” to “I’m having the thought that I am a piece of crap”

    Just that extra distance allows a little gap where we can ‘see’ our thoughts and how wrong we are. Judgements that we pass on ourself are so harsh.

    Through many years of meditation and having a supportive partner i’ve realized how broken some of my thinking had been.

    As a Buddhist I have learnt that when you calm your restless mind that there is s wonderful sense of peace and love sitting just bellow the surface. You just have to tell that fault finding brain of yours to be quiet and be here. Then when you really dial in to feeling alive and being present, you realize it’s all going to be ok.

    To me, P is just another vice and a way people try to get away from where they are. When you stop and feel your aliveness you feel a deep sense of joy and excitement. We are actually afraid of that feeling so we grab different things to fill the hole.

    Hope that wasn’t too much of a sermon.

    Professor Chaos’ Inner Critic.
  13. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    @Gilgamesh, I agree that the mindfulness approach is perhaps the best tool. When it works there's probably no need for anything else. The idea of just being present and feeling what ever you are feeling, giving it room to be. Especially during the event mindfulness must be a better approach then "discussing with the inner critic". That tool I mentioned, I mean more for dealing with some frustration that doesn't wanna leave after something went wrong. For example when I'm home after a party and I'm obsessing over what someone is thinking of this one thing I did. It did help me (sometimes not always) to pin point exactly what bothers me and to face that itch or fear by realizing it's not the end of me even if it were to be true (then I could let go of it more). It's a more "CBT" traditional psychology type of approach but I think it can be combined well with mindfulness as well.

    @Professor Chaos, this is really nice stuff. I've experienced this kind of peace as well sometimes. It's not always easy to reach, but perhaps the more we practice dealing with uncomfortable feelings and thoughts naturally (by being present and kind to ourselves) instead of hitting the escape method of choice, the more we forge a path to that inner sanctuary. When we reach that place of contentment we really see we don't need anything else.


    53 days free of PMO/MO

    I've been struggling the past few days with fantasy. I've been very close to acting out a few times. There are some specific scenarios that are obsessing me almost constantly. Somehow managed to keep going but if I dont' find a way to re-commit internally I think the snowball effect will be too much. I don't know exactly if current stress is causing this or it's more chemical and biological (like a cycle that comes every now and then). I hope to be able to recommit internally as mentioned (instead of acting out internally and negotiating with myself if I should or not act out) and as a result of that regain the right type of motivation. Surely if I get there I will be happy I didn't relapse. But right now I'm feeling pretty deprived when I say no to the urges.

    Socially, my baseline level of confidence seems to be better overall. This may be because of the self esteem, respect, pride I am feeling as a result of trying to deal with my issues. I imagine that if I relapse I will take a hit in my social confidence. This kind of self respect and healthy pride seems to be important in talking to the opposite sex. Even though I'm shy even now there is a level of self respect underneath it which I imagine could grow more. If I relapse and go back to using PMO regularly I abandon this kind of self respect and put myself in a less likely position to achieve things I want, such as improving my capacity to connect with the opposite sex. In being a healthy confident guy, who isn't cocky yet understands and accepts himself.

    I've been noting that I seem to recall my dreams more lately. I've been having complex and interesting dreams at night and I remember them pretty well. I don't know if this is connected to some changes due to no PMO. In any case, I like it. Also, I still haven't had a WD in this streak (unless it happened without me realizing which isn't necessarily impossible). I think it's the longest I've gone without O'ing since I started O'ing. Before I started MO'ing as a teen I use to have WD almost weekly. Sometimes a few times a week. Then I learned the ways of the hand...
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  14. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    It is definitely good to do that, as it means that you're resisting your inner-critic. One of the problems is that the way you feel after such event (I know all about it) is not based on only thoughts, but comes with mental images and a certain body posture as well (more based on your past than the actual recent event). You can't really counter that with thoughts alone. I recently read 'psychocybernetics' by Maxwell Maltz. It is about using imaginations to change yourself. The idea behind it is that the brain doesnt differentiate between fantasy and reality. For the brain all images are reality. If you can imagine yourself in (a certain sitaution in) a certain way including a change of body posture, your braim will accept it as reality and you will change. The author is a plastic surgeon and developed it after seeing that people still found themselves ugly, even after he operated them, and that their negative self image was only in their heads. Worth a read.

    Hope you can resist the fantasies. They are a paved road to PMO. For me it is always a difficulty as well. I notice I can resist them quite well, untill something happens which I then use as an excuse to fantasize. E.g. trouble at work, drinking, fight with wife.

    Anyway, 50+ days. Awesome. Show me the way, I am behind you!

    That makes MO sound like quite a cool thing to learn actually :DLol
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  15. LetsReclaimLife

    LetsReclaimLife New Member

    Its great to know about your confidence level and pride with in .. 53 days is really a good number / days for PMO free .. i am struggling on my 2nd day .

    Keep sharing your journey details .. its motivation to others ... success ...
  16. -Luke-

    -Luke- Well-Known Member

    I hear you on the "recommit internally" part. That's something I struggle with a lot when I'm on longer streaks (like right now). It's easy to commit to this goal after a relapse but we need to find a way to get back on track without a relapse. That's something you'll read constantly. "Shit, I've relapsed. But I don't want that old life back. Time to get back on the horse and work on my goals". But why do some many people (me included) need a relapse to establish such a mindset again? I guess we should use times like this (where we fantasize more, aren't that commited anymore, lose sight of our goals,...) as an early warning system. It's time to change something.

    Stay strong bro. It'll be worth it in the end.
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  17. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks @Gilgamesh ! Let's keep moving forward, even on the tough days ! I will check out Maxwell Malt'z book, I've herd of it and even had it in my hands once but never read it. Next one for me is the 6 pillars of self esteem but I'll put Malt'z book on my list!

    I totally agree with you that the more organic and "let it flow" approach of simple mindfulness, presence, acceptance is more effective then getting in "talks" with the inner critic.

    Lol, well let's be honest, it wasn't all bad ! Just kinda went off the rails at some point and served as too much of a crutch. A counter productive habit lol.

    Thanks a lot @-Luke- appreciate it man, good to hear from you ! I agree 200% on what you write here and can totally relate to it. Even on streaks we sometimes lose the right approach and at that point we are purely abstaining. Unless we find a way to recommit without the relapse, to find that perspective and fire again, this pure abstinence doesn't last long.

    Learning how to internally recommit without the relapse must be an essential element to learn for those who achieve long term sobriety.

    Thank you so much @LetsReclaimLife. I'm glad if what I wrote can serve as a source of motivation (which is turn is a source for me as well). I've been trying to do this since 2014 and it's very much a work in process. It's a gradual process of learning that I can handle life without P. And a process of showing myself that most of the things I want are more likely to happen without the short lived pleasures of numbing addictions. If we don't give up, come back after setbacks (and forgive ourselves), we keep showing ourselves this other possibility. And perhaps sooner or later we let go of the other one.

    Best of luck forward on your own journey!
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  18. Ereignis

    Ereignis Active Member

    I didn't realize you were so far into a streak ATM. What I did when I was dealing with the most intense sexual fantasies that I couldn't get out of my head last weekend was just to remember that the point at which you choose to indulge in/look at your triggers is the point where you fail. If you have all these fantasies you can't get out of your head, but you choose not to take that tiny step and look at what you know you're not supposed to, you won't relapse. It's that simple. That's the moment of truth, the moment of decision.

    The worst piece of advice I ever tried to overcome PMO is some guy on r/NoFap who said to never look at any woman or image of a woman under any circumstance. Whenever I was in public, I was obsessed with averting my eyes, being anal about where I looked, avoid billboards and crowds of people and shopfronts...It was a disaster and I ended up relapsing every single day when I tried it.

    You don't have to be a monk. The moment of decision is all that matters. Godspeed
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  19. MissingSelfCompassion

    MissingSelfCompassion Active Member

    Seeing a lot of talk about goals here. This is a problem for me at times. My inner critic grabs the goal and says, "Oh, we're trying to be more social? Got it. Oh, hey, you suck at this." I often call it the loop. The inner critic has become part of my recovery. That's not fair. I'm not saying you're self-sabotaging @Thelongwayhome27 just warning you about a trap I often fall into. I read 6 Pillars. The exercises are helpful. I wish the author had more stories of actual patients, but maybe I wasn't in a good space to be reading it.

    I never remember dreams, but lately I have been having some sex dreams. Sure, I'm not using PMO, so that makes sense. You're onto something here because I am now remembering other dreams as well. Maybe because I spent so much of my time awake in a fantasy P world, I didn't need dreams. A few months ago, before relapse, I told my psychiatrist about a dream. She eluded that maybe my dream was my mind trying to make sense of the actual rewiring happening with my neurons. That's a cool way to look at it.

    Not to motivate you with outside pressure, but I agree with @Gilgamesh 53 days is awesome! We're eager for you to light the way! Congrats!
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  20. Ereignis

    Ereignis Active Member

    Funny you mention this. I just had the first dream I remembered in detail in a long time the other day. I've read a few others make similar claims.
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