Posted by fxckfeelings on June 1, 2015Share This Post
The only thing people are worse at accurately evaluating than “family values” politicians and Marvel movies is their own character. That’s the drawback of judging something using your emotions and expectations, not facts and fairness; it makes us as apt to judge ourselves too harshly as to excuse ourselves too readily. In any case, don’t trust your self-judging instincts until you’ve examined the facts, reviewed your standards, and decided how you would judge a friend under similar circumstances. Then, however you feel, stand by your verdict/review of Ant Man and act accordingly.
I’ve lost a few really close friends over the years, one after the other, and it’s got me wondering whether I’m really a jerk (or “Asshole™”?) but don’t know it. Most recently, my best friend froze me out when he accused me of hating his boyfriend; I swear I kept my thoughts about him to myself, and besides, I didn’t think the guy was so terrible, but either way, I was shocked when my friend dropped me and I had to hear from someone else that he was married. Before that was the friend who was always mad at me but then went nuclear when I suggested spending less time together, then a handful of ex-boyfriends who think I’m the devil, a job or two I was awkwardly let go from without warning…when everything was happening, I thought I was doing the right thing, but with a such a long enemies list, I have trouble trusting my judgment. My goal is to figure out whether I’m just bad at choosing friends or bad at seeing myself for the jerk/Asshole™ I really am.
Since the first rule of Asshole™ club is never wondering if you’re an Asshole™, you probably aren’t one. On the other hand, the first warning sign that someone’s an Asshole™ is learning that they’ve got a list of people who’ve wronged them that’s longer than the list of ingredients on a can of Pringles, so your concern is understandable.
Of course, everyone can act like an asshole sometimes, but that doesn’t an Asshole™ make, especially since you probably regret that behavior while an Asshole™ would expect a trophy for it. What you need then is a reliable, objective way of examining the moral value of your actions (and the value of those friendships, as well).
What you don’t want, of course, is to let your sadness and frustration over losing friends turn into self-criticism and self-blame. You may be bad at choosing and making good friends, but that doesn’t mean you treat your friends badly. So, instead of trusting self-critical feelings, gather facts and compare them to your standards and values.
In your case, different relationships require different standards. You didn’t like your best friend’s boyfriend, but you didn’t make sarcastic remarks about him or refuse to see him; you were just unenthusiastic, which doesn’t seem like a shun-worthy offense. You asked for more breathing room from another friend, seemingly without blaming him or her for bad behavior or betraying a promise. You lost some jobs, but not because you knew you were no-showing or doing less than your best work.
Keep your standards simple, as you would if you were judging a friend, or ask someone you trust to review the facts and tell you whether you’ve ignored any important moral principle, or forgotten to mention any incriminating evidence (offensive comments, confrontational behavior, “justified wrath,” etc.). Then you’re ready to render judgment.
You may well have a tendency to choose the wrong people for friends, but that’s not a crime to anyone but yourself. If you feel you did wrong to someone else, apologize and do better.
If you didn’t, then assure yourself that you haven’t acted like an Asshole™, regardless of sadness and compulsive self-recrimination. Acquit yourself of crimes you haven’t committed, and maybe you’ll get better at making friends who aren’t possibly Assholes™ themselves.
“I feel like other people think I’m a jerk, but I know how I’ve behaved, I have good principles, and I can tell whether I deserve blame. Regardless of how I feel, I’ll decide whether I’ve really done wrong, and stand by my judgment.”
Other people say I’m depressed, but I don’t really feel bad. I think people confuse my honesty with negativity, because I’m pretty open about my shortcomings (I am literally short, girls don’t find me to be good looking, and I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to be with me unless they have four legs). My parents and my roommate say I’m being too mean to myself, but the facts speak for themselves—I’m not tall, I’ve never had a serious girlfriend, and people react to my appearance with indifference at best. Would they prefer that I lie to myself and believe I’m an awesome stud? My goal is to get them to see that I’m really feeling OK and seeing clearly so they’ll stop trying to push me to get help.
We’re all aware that depression makes us think negatively about ourselves and our futures, and reason just goes along, pushing the mind to take subjective observations and repackage them as objective fact. When we’re down, we’re sure we’ve fucked up and that things are going from bad to worse. We can’t appreciate good efforts, limit self-responsibility, and imagine how things could possibly eventually turn out OK.
In your case, you would never assume a short, unattractive person (other than yourself) would automatically be doomed to a life without a meaningful relationship. You might not get dates as easily as the tall, dark and handsome, but you’re aware of other forces that draw people together, like common interests and an ability to enjoy one another’s company, that are more powerful in the long run.
If people know and care enough about you to tell you you’re hard on yourself and you already have meaningful relationships. Logic tells you that you have the basic ingredients, but that you’ll have to be patient while finding ways to let people get to know you and being careful not to hide your strengths. It’s hard to hear when depression is telling you that you’re worthless, but opposing voices are there.
Depression is also very good at using logic to camouflage itself, convincing you that these ideas are coming from your own mind, which is why those people around you may have a point. You’re certainly creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, and a self-lacerating persona, that will keep dates away by convincing them that they should stay away.
Check to see if you have other symptoms of depression, like low energy, irritability, and isolation. In any case, reexamine the harsh way you’re judging your likelihood of finding a relationship and reconsider whether you are, indeed, being mean and self-defeating. You sound like you need a good coach/cognitive therapist to get your thoughts to jibe better with your values and reality and help you find suitable medication if you feel you need it.
It’s hard to tell, sometimes, whether negative thinking causes depression or vice versa. Whichever comes first, however, you’ll feel better if you think about your future more realistically and get more objective about your pain then you think you’re being about your appearance.
“I can’t believe anyone will ever find me attractive, but I know I can find myself attracted to people for reasons other than looks, so I assume I’ll have my chances. I will also determine whether my negative self-thoughts are the result of depression, while learning better and more reasonable ways to judge my strengths and weaknesses.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname