I came across the Uncommon Knowledge web-sites a few months ago, and I’ve read many of the articles and attempted the free ‘Self-Confidence Course’. I found it helpful, but also found it difficult to put it all into practice. I was tempted by the ‘Self-Confidence CD Trainer’ but have doubts as to whether or not it can solve my particular problems. I feel that my problems go far deeper than just a lack of self-confidence.
Firstly, I can’t help feeling that my problems are more to do with my poor self-esteem – lack of self-worth, self-appreciation, faith in myself, etc. When I think about what my lack of confidence feels like, it’s feeling nervous, anxious, worried, uncertain, uncomfortable, self-conscious, etc. I’m worried about what others might be thinking about me, what I won’t be able to do, how I’ll screw up and look stupid, incompetent, feel embarrassed, humiliated, etc. I feel that rather than learning self-confidence, I should be trying to eliminate all those negative thoughts, feelings and reactions, and feel better about myself, then maybe I’ll automatically feel more confident. Maybe I need to address the issue of self-esteem rather than self-confidence?
Secondly, as I pondered more, I realised that most of my issues with self-confidence and self-esteem stem from a lack of experience. I read about ‘social anxiety’ or ‘social phobia’ in some of the articles – well, that’s me. I have a total lack of social skills, social experience. I’m embarrassed (ashamed) to say that I’m 45 and have done virtually nothing in my life. I had a few friends when at school (nobody really close) but they drifted away when I started work. I’ve spent the last 27 years in a dead end job that I initially enjoyed but over the years have come to hate (I won’t bore you with the details) where I get on with the few people I work with but not socially outside of work.
Over the last year I’ve done a lot of thinking and reading and have realised that I’ve just been drifting aimlessly through life waiting for something wonderful to happen – love, money, happiness... anything! I now realise that it won’t happen unless I actually DO something, but I now find it impossible to actually do anything differently. The best I can do is wishing, hoping, and the odd spell of positive, optimistic thinking. That isn’t enough but it’s the best I can do. So when the next inevitable setback comes along I resent having tried to feel more positive, and end up feeling even more unhappy (depressed?) as a sort of protest against life’s unfairness and unreasonableness.
I’ve never been a great socialiser (neither were my parents) so I have no great need or desire to go out socially – you don’t tend to miss what you’ve never had or done. So I’ve no motivation to force myself to go out and do those things. I don’t want to do them on my own, and I certainly don’t want to show my incompetence when with somebody else. Things like going out for a drink, a meal (even something simple like McDonalds), days out, travelling, hotels, holidays, etc don’t really appeal so I’ve not done them. But I now realise that it’s not so much the event that worries me, rather all the little social interactions associated with it – knowing what to do, where to go, what to say, how to act and react, how to look and sound as if I know what I’m doing. It’s all the little subtleties that you learn when young, that you should just automatically ‘know’ at my age – but I don’t.
Instead I would feel totally lost, incompetent, out of my depth – I shouldn’t be there, and I’d feel that that’s what everyone else must be thinking too. I’d feel useless, hopeless, incapable, as I imagine an adult who can’t read or write must feel – it’s better to avoid those situations than show just how useless I really am. But at least they can learn to read and write if they wish – it’s only one specific thing to master. With me it’s a lifetime of subtle, subconscious, not very specific experiences.
And it’s those lacking social experiences that make me feel so unconfident in all sorts of other areas in my life. I find it difficult interacting with other people, starting conversations. I feel uncomfortable asking questions and there’s not much of interest to say about myself. I’m afraid of getting into a conversation or (worse still) drawn or invited into a situation that will reveal my lack of ordinary everyday experiences. That has lead to me never having a girlfriend, never finding true love and happiness, never getting a better job, never taking opportunities and chances to get on in life, never making money, etc. I know that money won’t buy love and happiness but it might provide a distraction from my lack of it. Wasn’t it Spike Milligan who said; “Money can’t buy you happiness... but it can buy a better quality of misery!”
I’ve seen a few things on TV where people have suffered and been cured of various fears and phobias, but in those cases they’ve been living a fairly normal life until something happened to trigger their problems. Having dealt with that issue they’ve been able to get back to where they were before. But with me, if I try to address my problems with self-confidence and self-esteem, there isn’t really anything to revert back to. I just can’t see how trying to feel more confident, better about myself, more positive and optimistic, any of the various hypnosis sessions and courses, can give me that learning and experience that I’ve never gained. And even if they could, there is now such an enormous gap between where I should be age-wise and where I am experience-wise. I can’t go back to being 20 and re-experience all that I’ve missed, and it’s inappropriate and impractical to do a lot of those things in that way at my age.
I don’t know whether any of what I’ve said makes much sense – it’s difficult to put it all into not too many words. I guess what I’m trying to ask is – has anyone else managed to screw up their life in this way or am I the first? Will the Self-Confidence CD’s be of any use or am I beyond help? I can’t help feeling that I’ve totally screwed up this life altogether. Perhaps I should just give up and try to do better with the next one!
Any suggestions would be welcome.