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Help Ė I need a new lifeÖ this oneís broken!


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Author Thread
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:10 pm

Help Ė I need a new lifeÖ this oneís broken!    Reply with quote  

Hi All,
I came across the Uncommon Knowledge web-sites a few months ago, and Iíve read many of the articles and attempted the free ĎSelf-Confidence Courseí. I found it helpful, but also found it difficult to put it all into practice. I was tempted by the ĎSelf-Confidence CD Trainerí 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 canít help feeling that my problems are more to do with my poor self-esteem Ė lack of self-worth, self-appreciation, faith in myself, etc. When I think about what my lack of confidence feels like, itís feeling nervous, anxious, worried, uncertain, uncomfortable, self-conscious, etc. Iím worried about what others might be thinking about me, what I wonít be able to do, how Iíll 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 Iíll 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 Ďsocial anxietyí or Ďsocial phobiaí in some of the articles Ė well, thatís me. I have a total lack of social skills, social experience. Iím embarrassed (ashamed) to say that Iím 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. Iíve spent the last 27 years in a dead end job that I initially enjoyed but over the years have come to hate (I wonít 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 Iíve done a lot of thinking and reading and have realised that Iíve just been drifting aimlessly through life waiting for something wonderful to happen Ė love, money, happiness... anything! I now realise that it wonít 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 isnít enough but itís 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 lifeís unfairness and unreasonableness.

Iíve never been a great socialiser (neither were my parents) so I have no great need or desire to go out socially Ė you donít tend to miss what youíve never had or done. So Iíve no motivation to force myself to go out and do those things. I donít want to do them on my own, and I certainly donít 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 donít really appeal so Iíve not done them. But I now realise that itís not so much the event that worries me, rather all the little social interactions associated with it Ė 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 Iím doing. Itís all the little subtleties that you learn when young, that you should just automatically Ďknowí at my age Ė but I donít.

Instead I would feel totally lost, incompetent, out of my depth Ė I shouldnít be there, and Iíd feel that thatís what everyone else must be thinking too. Iíd feel useless, hopeless, incapable, as I imagine an adult who canít read or write must feel Ė itís 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 Ė itís only one specific thing to master. With me itís a lifetime of subtle, subconscious, not very specific experiences.

And itís 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 thereís not much of interest to say about myself. Iím 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 wonít buy love and happiness but it might provide a distraction from my lack of it. Wasnít it Spike Milligan who said; ďMoney canít buy you happiness... but it can buy a better quality of misery!Ē

Iíve seen a few things on TV where people have suffered and been cured of various fears and phobias, but in those cases theyíve been living a fairly normal life until something happened to trigger their problems. Having dealt with that issue theyíve 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 isnít really anything to revert back to. I just canít 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 Iíve 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 canít go back to being 20 and re-experience all that Iíve missed, and itís inappropriate and impractical to do a lot of those things in that way at my age.

I donít know whether any of what Iíve said makes much sense Ė itís difficult to put it all into not too many words. I guess what Iím trying to ask is Ė has anyone else managed to screw up their life in this way or am I the first? Will the Self-Confidence CDís be of any use or am I beyond help? I canít help feeling that Iíve 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.

Nigel
  
kfedouloff
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 2521

Post Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:19 am

   Reply with quote  

Hi Nigel, welcome to the forum.

That was a brave post, and you gave a pretty full picture of what's going on for you.

You are certainly not the first to feel that they have "screwed up their life". The self-confidence CDs will help, but you are right to recognise that they won't solve all the problems. Your question is really about whether it is possible to learn all this stuff at this late stage in your life, and the answer is, yes it is. It's pretty challenging to do that on your own, however! With the help of a therapist, however, you could begin to tackle and fill in those gaps. This might also involve developing some socialising (shock! horror!) - because social skills really need to be learned in context. But taken gently, and one step at a time, you can get to feel more comfortable and relaxed with other people.

Kathleen
briary
Moderator
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Joined: 07 Jul 2004
Posts: 9280
Location: East Sussex

Post Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:12 pm

   Reply with quote  

Hi Nigel

I have to say I read your post last night and was going to write a reply but I was being too self-indulgent in my own feelings of depression and despair to think I had anything worth saying. I still don't really know if I do but I do identify with a lot of the things you have written.

I know you have read some of my post so you'll know I also have social phobia, depression, low self esteem and no self confidence. I too have run away from all of these problems all my life until I recently hit rock bottom and decided I had to try to do something about it.

I think Kathleen's suggestion of a therapist is a good one. I joined this forum when things were so bad I didn't think I could carry on living and the thought of getting professional help terrified me. But the support I've received here helped me to see that there is help available. I haven't been seeing my therapist long and there is a lot to work through but I have been making some progress. It is slow and sometimes I have setbacks but getting therapy had started me on the way to trying to solve my problems.

Maybe it would be helpful for you too. I know nothing can reclaim the years you feel you have lost (I also feel I've wasted a lot of time) but you can have a brighter future. My therapist said to me last time that I had been living in fear for 35 years and I could go on living the next 35 years in fear but taking the risk to ask for help is the first step in ensuring that the future can be better.

You may feel that you have 'screwed up your life altogether' but maybe you can take the steps you need to start living from now on.

Briary
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Thu Aug 19, 2004 12:55 am

   Reply with quote  

Hi Kathleen,
Thanks for the welcome. I donít know that it was a Ďbraveí post Ė more an act of desperation. And itís a lot easier than facing somebody in person. I didnít even enter it live online Ė I spent a couple of hours with my word processor, chopping it up until it sounded just right. You canít really have a live relaxed conversation in that way!
And a big HI! and thank you to Briary for your reply and words of encouragement.
You both suggested therapy Ė well I just couldnít do that for many reasons. (1) The obvious one regarding not having the confidence to actually do it. (2) You hear so much about bad therapists, people who just rip you off and screw you up even more. (3) Unlike you whoíve had the sad misfortune of having had a lot of this crap inflicted on you at an early age, all my problems are self-inflicted. Iíve unwittingly created this mess over many, many years Ė and without even doing anything! Thatís the really depressing thing about it. Iím sorry to say that Iím a bit mean with my money, and Iíd begrudge paying somebody to sort out something that Iíd caused myself. Nope, Iíve got to at least try to sort it out for myself. But I donít mind spending money on something that I can do myself. Iíve read a couple of books, and have considered the Self-Confidence CDís and some of the hypnosis downloads from this site. I just need to know that theyíll help. Iíve always being more of a Ďdoingí sort of person rather than paying somebody else to do it for me.
Briary, itís not so much a question of reclaiming lost years Ė rather reclaiming lost experiences. And Kathleen, I donít feel that itís a case of just learning social skills at my age. Sorry, I was a bit vague in some of what I said, but I was trying to keep it not too long.
Take relationships as an example. I had a girlfriend (nothing very serious) for about 6 months when I was 17, and that part of my life has stopped there. When I think Ďgirlfriendí my mind conjures up images of the sort of relationship youíd have at that age. I donít feel ready for an adult relationship Ė Iím missing such a large chunk of lifeís experiences between then and now. When I think of women of my own age, it conjures up images of more of a Ďmotherí figure Ė after all they probably are mothers. Itís unrealistic (though flattering) to expect to attract a girl of about 20, and I feel uncomfortable with the thought of somebody older. Just learning how to act and interact comfortably with other people wonít be enough to bridge that gap.
Another example Ė my job. I should have got out of it years ago. I now have 27 years experience (a valuable asset) but at something I no longer want to do. I could go to college, learn something new, but at the end of the day Iíd have no more to offer than the teenager whoíd been on the same course, and heíd probably get the job. Say I did get lucky Ė start as an apprentice all over again, 5 years at college (as in my current job), say another 5 years gaining practical experience (itís one thing learning about something but itís completely different actually doing it). My careerís just starting to get going and I can look forward to many years working my way up, earning good money, etc. But that would make me 55 already Ė itís all a bit late! Thatís where I shouldíve been at around 30.
These are just two example of many. Even I accomplish the seemingly impossible and learn all that I havenít to date, I canít pretend and live my life as if I was 20. So I still feel justified in thinking that Iíve totally screwed up my life.
Yours despondently...
Nigel
kfedouloff
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 2521

Post Fri Aug 20, 2004 7:11 am

   Reply with quote  

Agreed, you can't live your life as if you were 20. But why would you want to? Does not being 20 mean that a 45 year old cannot build a new life? If you keep focusing on what you've lost/missed, you will keep yourself stuck where you are. If you look to new possibilities in the future, you can have a great life. Which you deserve!

Kathleen

PS - Another helpful resource: Breaking the Bonds, by Dorothy Rowe. I recommened it!
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Fri Aug 20, 2004 10:07 pm

   Reply with quote  

Hi Kathleen,
Thanks a lot for your reply this morning. Yes, I know what you mean Ė I need to look forward to where I want to be, not backwards to where Iíve come from. Donít let the past screw up the future!
I think you misunderstand me (sorry, Iíve probably not said things very clearly) but I donít necessarily want to be living my life as a 20 year old all over again. 45 is fine. I donít tend to see myself as an Ďageí anyway Ė Iím just Ďmeí. But donít you agree that it would be foolish to, for example, expect to live an adult relationship through the experiences and expectations of a teenager? Another example; to get on in life itís necessary to take certain calculated financial risks, but Iíve never had the confidence Ė partly due to my lack of and fear of any social interactions. You take risks when youíre young, when youíve got time on your side to pick up the pieces and start again if things donít work out. As you grow older you become more conservative with your risks. Wishful thinking, but if (I guess I should be saying when) I overcome my problems, Iíll be facing a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand I should playing it safer (due to my age) whilst on the other I need to take bigger risks in order to get to where I should be by now. Itís no use having a kindly word with Ďfateí Ė explaining my predicament and expecting guaranteed success in view of it. And I canít afford to lose now and start all over again.
I donít know whether youíve heard the term ĎEmpty Nestersí (itís like the new Yuppies) Ė people in their 40ís and 50ís whoís kids have left home, the mortgage is paid up, theyíve reached where they want to be in their career, and lifeís just ticking along great. I should be approaching that stage in life now. If I try to carry on with my life from where it stopped, live it day by day and learn and do things gradually as I would have done, then Iíll be 70 or 80 before I catch up. Iíll be too old to enjoy any of it Ė love, money, good health, whatever... Iíll have put in all the hard work but have been cheated out of the rewards.
Iím sorry if Iím sounding selfish, materialistic, etc. I know there are a lot of people on here with far more distressing problems than mine. Iíve written a few words to one of your friends; Briary. I canít help feeling really sorry for all the things sheís having to cope with. I bet sheíd love to swap her life for mine any day.
A lot of this soul searching began when Dad died almost 2 years ago. He was only 68 and had suffered with a gradually deteriorating illness since he was 60. Heíd always been an active person, not one for sitting around doing nothing, but for the last 5 years he could do very little. He felt like doing things but as soon as he tried he became breathless and had to stop. Heíd worked hard all his life was really looking forward to what he and Mum would do when he retired. Nothing special Ė just pottering in the garden, days out, coach trips... simple pleasures. But it wasnít to be, and he spent his last years feeling deeply unhappy, even guilty for being such a burden on Mum and robbing her of a happy retirement. It got me thinking, and Iím afraid of running out of life before I have time to enjoy it.
Sorry, I seem to have wandered off track a bit. Iíll try to check out the book that you suggested. Iíll look on ĎAmazoní Ė they tend to have readersí reviews which can be useful, and the US site has extracts from some books. I know I said that Iíve been doing a lot of reading about this sort of stuff, but itís been mainly various articles scattered all over the Internet Ė many of them from Roger & Co. on your other sites. Iím not an avid reader Ė Iíve only bought 2 books on the subject over the past year. The last one was Paul McKennaís ĎChange Your Life in 7 DaysíÖ and that took me 6 weeks to read!
Thanks for your time.
Nigel
KatieP
New Member


Joined: 25 Aug 2004
Posts: 17

Post Wed Aug 25, 2004 3:55 pm

   Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by kfedouloff


PS - Another helpful resource: Breaking the Bonds, by Dorothy Rowe. I recommened it!


Some 'self-help' books are pretty good. Some are pretty awful. In my opinion Breaking the Bonds falls into the worse than awful category.
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Wed Aug 25, 2004 11:40 pm

   Reply with quote  

Hi Katie P,
Thanks for your message. Itís always good to get a second opinion. I havenít got around to checking this book out yet, so Iíll bear your advice in mind. I think with these self-help books, it really depends on what youíre trying to achieve and your frame of mind at the time. This sort of stuff is always very subjective.
Nigel
KatieP
New Member


Joined: 25 Aug 2004
Posts: 17

Post Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:47 pm

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Only to a certain extent in my view.

Wish you well with your endeavours though. You write very well and articulate your thoughts well also. Reading in between the lines, it doesn't seem to me that your challenges ahead are going to be reading more books or gaining more insights into the human condition - you come across as intelligent and well read already. You're already playing to your strengths.

The challenges ahead may be more in area of putting what you know into what you do or changing what you do or how you behave. Maybe the challenges ahead lie more in you focusing on the action/behaviour components of your life rather than the thought/reflection side? Perhaps doing something different from what you already do? Have you thought about stepping out of your comfort zone, bit by bit? Maybe joinging a evening class or learning a new hobby, sport, or language? Or even helping out at a local hospice or something that's behaviour focused? Something that presses your buttons but also gradually pushes back the boundaries of your comfort zone. I think that can help confidence because gradually you learn that you can do as well as think. Just my 2 cents Wink
vicki_animate
Junior Member


Joined: 26 Jun 2004
Posts: 66
Location: england

Post Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:46 pm

hiya    Reply with quote  

hiya, this post is mainly for nigel ,i read everything you wrote, i cant stay on the computer to long so just wanted to say i think you are soooo brave , and you know what,admiting you have a problem is brave,but deciding that your gonna do something about your problems on the other hand is just the begging of a new happy life for ya, full steam ahead,go for it!
coz a portion of your story was also a part of mine, which i can now put behind me, due to sheer determination i broke the mould and ventured to places id never been before, the land of self-worth, self-respect, and finally a social life Smile and now im where i wanna be, you will be too.
hope that kinda shone a bit of light on the subject. good luck mate!
vicki
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:06 pm

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Hi Katie,
Thanks for your comments and compliments Ė I think it was more than 2 cents worth! But writing is easy - you can write it down, read it, and rub it back out again if it sounds silly Ė itís a bit different in real life. I think deep down I already know that I have to do what you suggest Ė stop thinking and actually start ĎDOINGí, and thatís the scary bit. I know that if I just keep doing things as Iíve always been doing them, then Iíll just get more of the same in my life.

I agree that joining clubs, evening classes, etc would be a good way of getting out more but sadly Iíve no real motivation to drag myself along to those things Ė you don't tend to miss what you've never done. It would just be a means to an end, but that Ďendí would depend on an awful lot of luck. If I did those things theyíd be primarily just for the sake of meeting somebody, not for the learning or the activity, or whatever. Itís not likely to happen and Iíll feel that Iíve really tried but been let down by fate yet again. I can see what youíre getting at in that there could be a social aspect outside of the actual learning. But at the moment that would totally freak me out. My fears and anxieties would come across as being uninterested or boring, and anyway Iíd try to uninvited myself in some way so as not to reveal my lack of social experiences Ė a vicious circle really, isnít it?

Iíve got lots of casual hobbies - photography, computers, DIY, and others, but not in a big way. Say I joined a camera club. Youíd normally do that if you were a real enthusiast, all the latest gadgets and gizmos, etc, but I donít really want to get into it that heavily. Iíd feel a bit out of place going with my limited equipment and interest. Iíd feel pressured into devoting a lot of time and effort into a casual interest just because I felt that thatís what I should be doing, what was expected.

If youíve followed any of my saga then youíll know that I do have one real passion Ė music, and I can give you a really good example there of how my confidence issues affect me. A few years ago I bought myself a second hand keyboard (an old Prophet synthesiser if youíre musically interested). I canít really play it, but I can make a few pleasant sounds with it. If I were to go for piano lessons I donít think Iíd feel that bad because itís quite normal to not be able to play, whatever your age Ė itís not expected. I also play the guitar. I'm not bad at it, but I absolutely hate even the thought of playing in front of somebody. One of my neighbours heard me Ė he said he also played a bit, and would I like to get together one evening. I forced myself to say Ďyesí but I was absolutely utterly dreading it. My playing started out atrociously due to the way I felt, although Iím more comfortable with it now. The difference between these two experiences is that Iíve been playing the guitar for 30 years. I feel that my playing ability certainly doesnít reflect 30 years of experience. Thereís a vast gap between what I can do and what I feel I should be able to do.

Music is one thing, but if youíve followed what Iíve awkwardly tried to say in this thread, then youíll know how lacking I am in just about every social department. If you can try to apply that same analogy then you can see that thereís such a gap between whatís normal and expected at my age, and my very real limited experiences and abilities, and that's what really screws me up.

I think I ought to offer you a very big apology for being so negative about all your good suggestions. I do appreciate it and I know youíre right, but I just find it almost impossible to do. You said that Iím good at expressing my thoughts, well Iím not sure this time. I know what Iím trying to say, but I donít think Iím being very clear. If you want to try again with this hopeless case it would be nice to hear from you.
Thanks again
Nigel

ps Ė Thanks Vicki. Just seen youíre post Ė Iíll try to say something later.
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:00 pm

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Hi Vicki.
Thanks a lot for your words of encouragement Ė itís nice when people care. Was it brave admitting I have a problem or was it just desperation? Deciding to do something about it would be great so long as I could actually do some of what I know I should do. But as I tried to say in my earlier post to Katie, Iím hopeless in the Ďdoingí department.

Itís not so much the social life that I miss Ė you donít tend to miss what youíve never had after all these years. Iíve no real desire now to go out for a drink, a meal etc Ė certainly not on my own Ė so itís so difficult to Ďwantí to get out there and do it. The fear of not being able to cope and look silly is so much greater than the need to do it. But all through life those little social activities accompany other good opportunities, hence I avoid taking any of those opportunities, hence I must try to do something about it.

Which part of your life was like mine? Was it similar enough to be able to offer any words of wisdom? Iíll apologise in advance for probably finding reasons to not do any of it. Itís not that Iím ungrateful... itís just me being me, sorry.

Thanks again for your enthusiastic support.
Nigel
grovelli
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MVP


Joined: 15 Sep 2003
Posts: 247

Post Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:49 pm

Re: Help Ė I need a new lifeÖ this oneís broken!    Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by Nigel
I canít help feeling that my problems are more to do with my poor self-esteem

Hi Nigel,
Have you already taken a glance at the Top Ten Tips for Low Self Esteem and the 7 Ways to Boost Your Self Esteem Quickly?
Nigel
MVP
MVP


Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 823
Location: UK

Post Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:14 pm

   Reply with quote  

Hi Grovelli,
Thanks for the advice. Iíve have already read those articles and did find them very useful. They made me aware of a lot of things that I didnít realise about myself (I donít know whether that was a good or bad thing!). I have tried to make little changes to my life, but I find it very hard to make the big changes that are necessary to really make a difference. However, Iíll live in hope Ė maybe somebody will have the answer... someday.
Nigel
oochigeas
New Member


Joined: 08 Aug 2004
Posts: 13

Post Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:17 am

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Nigel, after re-reading your first post in this thread and your latest post, you should be proud of the changes you are making.

Try to dwell on the small changes day to day. As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day.

One great piece of advice that was given to me by friend, was for me to keep a journal of thoughts, especially when I'm feeling low. Be completely honest and don't edit what you're feeling. What you must also include in your writing, are 5 things for which are grateful for and 5 things for which you are proud of yourself.

It sounds easy, but if it's something you are not accustomed to, it can be daunting. Don't be discouraged if you can't list the 10 items at the beginning. It takes time to let yourself accept a new way of thinking. I may not be 100% yet, but I'm learning to accept, forgive and let go of things from my past.

Keep up the good work. Someday, the person who will have the answers is yourself.
  

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