Posted by fxckfeelings on January 5, 2016
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When you lose someone you really care about, the despair can also cause you to lose your confidence; you sometimes feel you should be stronger, or should have cared less, or that you now lack the independence to recover. In reality, we have as much control over how we feel about or experience loss as we do over our loved ones. Some people wind up with much more pain than others, and much more than they deserve. What you can always do, however, is find meaning and value in the relationships you’ve cared about, and, in doing so, find reasons to believe in yourself and carry on.
In the past three years I have lost my father, my husband, my son, and had a bad breakup. I also am responsible for the care of my handicapped mother. The loss of my son and the breakup have both happened in the last three months. I feel overwhelmed and cannot pull myself out of it. It’s too much to go through all at once, and I can’t see any relief in sight. My goal is just to survive the excruciating period of my life.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 22, 2015
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As hard as it often is to take no for an answer from someone you’re attracted to, it can be even harder to accept no answer at all; that’s when you find yourself talking to friends and therapists so that they can translate the silence into “no” and help you get the strength to and move on. While we’re all vulnerable to such one-sided, intense attachments, many people don’t realize that mental illness, like OCD and bipolar disorder, can interfere with your ability to let go and protect yourself from such relationships. Knowing what symptoms to look for can help you decide whether pursuing treatment and managing symptoms will also strengthen your relationship self-control, so you can tell yourself “no” without having to hear it from anyone else.
My problem is that I’m in love with a man who doesn’t feel as strongly about me as I do about him, and I can’t just do the smart thing and give up. He’s not subtle about it— he takes forever to text me back, and I know I write too much and push too far, but I can’t help myself, and I can’t just take his silent response as a clear hint that he’s not interested and let it go. I have OCD and I’m bipolar, which I know is perpetuating this situation, because I always believe that a “new” text message will maybe change things, or change his mind, and, again, I just can’t stop myself. My goal is to figure out how to leave him alone, because even I know this is so ridiculous and needs to end.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 17, 2015
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Part of what makes depression so powerful is that it doesn’t just wipe out your will to live internally, but pushes you to drive away the friends and partners that would help you fight back. If, like our reader from earlier this week, you feel like your depression is causing you to lose loved ones, here are five ways to keep your safety net intact and prevent a depressive period from damaging close relationships.
1) Nix the Needy
Select friends who aren’t overly sensitive or reactive, because somebody who always takes your random bad moods personally isn’t someone who’s going to stick around for very long (and will make you nuts with guilt in the process). Instead of straining your face (and brain) with a fake happy face, find friends who are comfortable with depressive symptoms and know how to roll with it.
2) Fly Your Sad Flag
Educate friends and family about depressive symptoms, particularly social withdrawal, sadness, and irritability, so they’ll know that what you’re going through is due to your disease and not their actions. Your message to them is, I’m not angry with you, I haven’t stopped caring, and I haven’t lost my appreciation for your jokes. What I have done is get stuck with this disease that occasionally makes me miserable and unpleasant.
3) Help them Help you
After outing yourself as a depressive, tell your loved ones what they can do to help when you feel down, so they don’t try too hard to cheer you up, get you to share your feelings, and generally make things worse (with the best of intentions). For instance, let them know not to take it personally when you cancel during dark times, but also that it’s helpful if they push you a little harder to get out of the house, despite your grouchiness.
4) Enforced Fun
Make it easier for your friends by preparing a list of those social activities that you believe are healthy and good for you to try doing when you’re depressed, even if you won’t feel at all like doing them and might not be at your most fun self while they’re happening. Then share it with your friends and ask them to help you create a social schedule when you’re down and hold you to it.
5) Emphasize Effort
Resist the depressive urge to find fault in yourself by comparing your social interactions while you’re depressed with what they are normally. Instead of noting how badly you’ve shut down, focus on the many steps you’ve taken to manage your depressive symptoms, including social withdrawal. Then give yourself credit for all the extra work they require and respect yourself and your friends for the value they place on your relationship, even when it’s no fun. You can’t control your dark moods, but with the right friends and approach, you can survive them intact.
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 5, 2015
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If, as discussed earlier this week, you’re a shy person struggling to get by in a socially-driven world, there is hope. Sure, you may never feel comfortable as a party animal (without employing some unwise methods that will lead to a very uncomfortable trip to rehab), but you can find ways to feel less like a trapped animal at parties. Here are five techniques that anti-social people can use to survive social situations.
1. Accept Your Social Impairment
Respect your anti-social nature and don’t apologize for appearing anxious, feeling a lack of social enthusiasm, or dreading the event in the first place. Instead, develop your own criteria for considering social events necessary and worthwhile. For example, it’s worth pushing yourself to go to a beloved cousin’s wedding or your boss’ birthday party, but you can feel OK about skipping your creepy neighbor’s Pig Roast.
2. Try Fear Management
Research all available anti-anxiety and anti-shyness techniques and treatments, then sample those that seem reasonable for your specific issues and budget. There are plenty of non-medical treatments out there, from books to therapy to breathing techniques, that will make parties less painful. If they are helping, however, be willing to try medication if necessary, understanding that effectiveness is often no more than partial and requires tolerance of side effects.
3. Own Your Awkwardness
Once you accept your own social shortcomings, it’s easier to learn to tell people that you occasionally suffer from anxiety; you shouldn’t feel obliged to share this information with everyone—after all, you’re part of a group least likely to throw a parade in their own honor—but not to hide it from those important to you. Imply that you’re comfortable with this fact of life and are not sensitive to their reaction; even if you aren’t so comfortable, fudging it puts them at ease and can reduce your anxiety about your making them anxious.
4. Forecast Your Fears
Since social gatherings feel like risky stunts, it’s important to have several escape and emergency plans in place. Prepare plans A, B and C for managing that anxiety in a way that will reduce symptoms, save face, and allow you to emerge unscathed. Just knowing that you have plans in place will have a relaxing effect and it make it easier to relax (slightly).
5. Take setbacks in stride
No matter how solid your management plan or how long your panic-free streak, there’s always the possibility that things will go wrong and you’ll be struck with an outburst of social anxiety, shyness, or self-criticism. If and when that happens, don’t take it as a crushing defeat or failure. Instead, take pride in your persistence and willingness to tolerate these painful feelings for a good cause. You’ll never conquer your shyness entirely, but, as we always say, you can keep it from conquering you.
Posted by fxckfeelings on September 13, 2015
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Earlier this week, we gave a reader advice about how to decide what to do about his broken marriage. Given the disconnect between the way you feel about a marriage and its true potential for benefit or harm in your life, it’s not an easy choice, so here’s a list of questions that will help you find its true value, regardless of your current feelings.
- Can I keep putting up with [habit that makes you nuts]?
Ask yourself whether there’s something specific about your partner you can’t tolerate—from the way he never replaces an empty roll of toilet paper to the way she never replenishes your shared bank account after spending too much money on booze—and whether it’s ever likely to change. Remember, people don’t change unless they decide they want to, for their own reasons, and, even then, trying hard is no guarantee. If it isn’t likely to change, consider whether it’s something you can put up with or not.
- Can s/he keep putting up with my [habit that makes your partner nuts]?
Ask yourself whether there’s something about you that your partner can’t stand—again, anything from just leaving your dishes in the sink to leaving for days on end without warning—and whether it’s in your power to change. If it is, decide whether you’re willing to change if changing might make the marriage work.
- Can I stop overreacting?
Ask yourself whether, under pressure from marital conflict, you’ve done things you think are wrong, passive-aggressive, or generally petty and destructive to your union. If so, consider whether you can clean up your act. Otherwise, you won’t know whether your bad behavior is responsible for ruining your marriage.
- Can I figure out the point of marriage in general?
Ask yourself, in a business-like way, what your goals are for a marriage, like companionship, acceptance, support during hard times, strengthened family ties, lower taxes, etc. Then rate your marriage according to these goals, and assess how your ability to reach those goals will be better/worse if your marriage ends, i.e., he might be a good companion and listener, but he’s not around when I really need him, so it might be better to find someone more reliable who’s less chatty and talk to a cat.
- Can I see through my rage?
Ask yourself whether your perspective is tainted by anger; a good partner may be infuriating, but also worth sticking it out with, while a bad partner may just make you sad. Instead, pay attention to your rating system, based on all the objective assessments above, which will tell you whether your marriage is good for your life, or whether you should start a new life as a single person.
Posted by fxckfeelings on July 20, 2015
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While a large percentage of the population enjoys live-Tweeting every thought, Instagramming every cloud, and updating their Facebook status with every fart, there are still some people who prefer to keep their lives fairly private and don’t care what you think about “Scandal.” For whatever reason, some people need to be understood by everyone they know, while others would rather be known only by those they specially trust. In any case, don’t let a frustrated need, whether to be understood or ignored, get you to doubt yourself. Judge your behavior by what you know, rather than by how isolated or crowded you feel, and you’ll find the perfect privacy level.
I knew that intravenous antibiotics might not help my Lyme disease, but I appreciated the fact that my internist was willing to try an experimental treatment. Now that it’s clearly not helping, however, she continues to act as if I’m basically pretty well and that I should continue my physical therapy for the muscle pain and be glad it isn’t worse. All that tells me is that she really doesn’t understand how debilitated I feel and how much the disease has affected my life; her lack of understanding makes me feel worse than when I came to her for treatment. My goal is to find someone who hears what I’m saying and can comprehend what I’m going through.
We all want understanding from doctors when illness makes us feel helpless, forces us to reduce our expectations or change our lifestyles. If they don’t understand the depth of our pain—especially when illness has pushed us so far down—then it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to find the treatment that will pull us up.
It’s a lot like wanting a comforting parent when you’re hurting and your life is a mess; without that comfort, everything feels much worse and it’s harder to figure out what to do. You want understanding and nurturing, which is hard to find from somebody who wears a lab coat for a living. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on July 9, 2015
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People often have simple, easy expectations about complicated, difficult feelings; grief should resolve itself with time, and overwhelming guilt should be resolved by redeeming actions. Of course, grief doesn’t always disappear on schedule, if ever, and guilt shouldn’t become overwhelming unless you’ve actually done something wrong. So don’t grieve for persistent grieving and do feel guilty for over-reacting to guilt. Adjust your expectations, hold on to your values, and get used to the simple fact that painful feelings have a logic of their own.
I lost my son ten years ago when he was hit by a drunk driver, but I still think about him every day, and sadness comes back periodically. I’ve always liked to stick with the things I liked—I’ve had the same job for many years, the same friends and hobbies, and I’m often reasonably happy—but he was my only kid, I never remarried after his father left us, and I just sometimes wonder whether I should still be thinking about him and feeling sad so frequently, even after all these years. My goal is to learn to accept his death in a healthy way so I don’t grieve forever.
Like rage and exhaustion, grieving is one of those feelings that you’re only “allowed” to experience for a limited amount of time; otherwise, everyone around you wants to kill you, and that’s only if your emotional-overdose doesn’t kill you first.
While rage and exhaustion really can burn you out, grieving over a death, even for ten years, isn’t necessarily unhealthy or unusual, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed to hasten your own demise.
In reality, people differ in the depth of their attachments and life doesn’t always offer second chances. So your experience with prolonged grief after losing your only son may be unavoidable, if uncomfortable, and, of course, sad.
After all, you’re the type of person who experiences strong, lasting attachments, so your relationship with your son would probably have been central to your life if he were still alive. Based on your long history with the same job and friends, it seems that you’re also the sort of person who values continuity and relationships over adventure, change, and new experience.
The pain of prolonged grieving could have become destructive if it caused you to lose interest in relationships or the values that shaped your life, but that isn’t the case. You’re living the life you want to lead; you just miss your son.
It’s hard to live with grief, so don’t make it worse by wondering why you can’t make it stop. Certain kinds of grief never end, but that’s what comes of loving, having children, and being fully committed to them. You wouldn’t want to be a different person; you’d just want life to less cruel to people like you.
So don’t question lasting sorrow. It’s a reflection of the loving relationship you had with your son, it hasn’t stopped you from leading a meaningful life, and it’s a key part of that meaning and of who you are. You have moved on in so many ways, even if your heart hasn’t.
Don’t feel bad about feeling bad; feel good about having a good relationship with your kid, even if he isn’t here anymore.
“When I find myself still grieving for my son after many years, I wonder if I’ve really moved on. I know, however, that I’ve made the most of what life has offered me even when it’s been unbearably painful, and grief hasn’t changed what I care about or have tried to achieve.”
I can’t stop feeling like I screwed up because an executive I hired a year ago feels I hired him under false pretenses. It’s true, his prospects changed recently when I relocated our company, but, when I hired him, I didn’t know that was going to happen. He doesn’t accept my explanation, however, and feels I’ve derailed his career, or at least uprooted his life. The situation reminds me of my mother, who always lamented how becoming a parent sidetracked her career, and I hate the idea of making anyone feel that way. My goal is to stop feeling guilty all the time.
As a manager, your job is to allocate responsibility fairly after considering a person’s job description and workload, and to avoid making anyone responsible simply because you need someone to blame. That might be emotionally satisfying, but it’s bad management. Especially if the person you’re mindlessly assigning blame to is yourself.
Don’t let yourself become responsible for an employee’s unhappiness, or even your mother’s unhappiness, without first stopping to examine the facts.
You suggest that you did nothing wrong, but you continue to blame yourself because he does. Forget about him then and consider your job description and what you could or couldn’t do about his career. Then ask yourself whether you treated him properly. If you met your own standards, then give yourself the right to disagree and to decline responsibility for ruining his life.
It’s hard to watch someone feel his life is ruined. Even though life sometimes takes a turn for the worse, however, it’s seldom helpful for anyone to see himself as a helpless victim who can do nothing to improve his situation but blame his problem on someone else. Taking on responsibility for other people’s problems doesn’t just hurt you; it also hurts them by giving them an excuse not to look for a solution.
So don’t take responsibility you don’t deserve and don’t listen to whining; you have a responsibility to protect yourself. Maybe you acquired the habit of feeling responsible for the sad lives of others as a child, but you’re an adult now, and a boss, and the blame stops with you.
“I feel terrible to hear someone say I’ve ruined their lives. I know, however, that I haven’t done anything wrong and that, if someone’s luck is bad, it’s their job to make the best of things without complaining. I will no longer accept undeserved blame or listen to unhealthy complaints.”
Posted by fxckfeelings on January 6, 2014
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We’ve said many times that high school isn’t just a place, but a feeling you never outgrow. That’s because you will get the same old helpless feelings into adulthood, either from being belittled by authority (then gym teacher, now boss), ditched by your best friend (then because you dated a jerk, now because she married one), or worse. That’s why, whether you’re a teen feeling lonely and isolated or a confident and in-control adult, breaking up hurts and can eat at your confidence. No matter your circumstances, however, you don’t have to let heartache undermine your belief in your ability to find lasting love and friendship. Remember, every broken relationship, like high school, has something to teach you, even if it’s just that life is hard and sometimes you’re unlucky and your gym teacher’s an asshole.
I’m in high school. I’m not very popular—most people would say I’m weird. A year ago I met the most amazing guy, I could actually be myself around him and I never thought I’d find that in a small town. I have a couple of other friends but they don’t get me like he does. For some reason a few months ago he started ignoring me, stopped taking my calls reading my messages. I don’t know how to fix it. I just want a friend I can talk to. Please help.
The toughest thing about growing up lonely and weird isn’t being lonely and weird or even having no friends, but the terrible feeling of losing your first close friend after you finally find one.
Your bleak world lights up just to go black, and it hurts much more to feel a connection and lose it than to only know being alone. The fact that this series of events is the subject of so many books, movies, and songs (dozens by Morrissey alone) should be of some comfort.
First, you should infer that you’re not alone in feeling alone, and second, that it’s a devastating experience that tests your strength and faith in the future. It has the potential to make you feel hopeless and hateful (think Carrie), but also, empowered and confident (also, in a way, Carrie). WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 31, 2013
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At a certain age, it becomes clear that high school ends, but the feeling is one you never outgrow; there will always be days when you want to dress like an idiot, be forced to eat food on a tray, or feel bullied, either by a group of alpha-males or by your own inner-Heather. No matter what the source of your browbeating, however, getting a bully to stop is often impossible, and fighting a bully may give him/her more power over your feelings and thoughts. So remember, standing up to a bully doesn’t require you to fight, win, or gain control over someone else. Instead, it requires you to know your own values and respect your own behavior, regardless of whatever mean, provocative statements get thrown your way, or how many Mean Girls/Women/Men you have to encounter throughout your life.
I’ve been sober 15 years and get a huge amount out of my AA meetings, but I still hate myself. It isn’t that I act like a jerk anymore—I’ve got a great husband and I do my job and make a living—but that doesn’t change how I feel. I don’t do anything bad, but I waste time, I don’t have the smarts to go back to school and do well, and I haven’t done anything particularly good or accomplished much. I envy people who are successful, which makes me feel that much smaller. I wonder what steps I need to work on to ever get to like myself.
For some people, hating yourself is an unavoidable bad habit, like mentally biting your nails, and if you’ve ever been a nail-biter, you know that it’s almost impossible to stop entirely, even if you’re destroying your fingertips and/or self-esteem.
As painful as self-hatred is to live with, it’s probably an unavoidable condition for many perfectionists and idealists especially, as well as those who were subject to severe criticism and abuse as kids. Expecting to be healed from it, then ,just adds to your sense of having an unacceptable defect and thus to your self-hatred, as you start hating yourself for hating yourself for hating yourself, etc.
For many years now, you’ve done nothing you should hate yourself for and you’ve got people in your life who don’t hate you. If you still hate yourself, in spite of these good things, then it’s probably a feeling you can’t change. Given that you’re a self-hater, however, you’ve done a remarkable job of changing or preventing self-hating behaviors, and remembering that is your best weapon against your brain’s urge to knock you down. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 24, 2013
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No matter how pretty, thin, and/or rich you are, or how hard this may be to believe if you are none of the above, finding a solid partner always carries a risk of heartache that can make the process of dating feel like a series of debilitating defeats. So instead of expecting that increasing your attractiveness will reduce the pain, toughen up and become more selective, using your experience of rejection and near-misses to improve your skills and dodge the heartbreakers. In the end, believe it or not, you’ll give yourself the match-making, if not the wealth and looks, you deserve.
I don’t see why I always seem to have the same problems with the guys I fall in love with. I’ve got a job I like in sales—I wouldn’t be good at it if I wasn’t reasonably self-confident and attractive—and I’m comfortable with my identity as a gay guy who would like a real relationship. The problem isn’t in meeting men, because I don’t have a lot of trouble attracting very nice, good-looking men who are really interested in me, and I fall for them. Then, after about three months, they seem to change their minds and pull back, and I’m left wondering what I did wrong. Which is why I’m writing you.
Being good-looking and attractive always feels like a gift, and it’s hard to convince the average-looking it has any real drawbacks beyond getting too many compliments and having a hard time finding clothes that aren’t flattering.
You’re attractive enough to elicit positive responses from attractive guys, which feels like they really, really like you, but they’re responding to your attractiveness, not to you. Unfortunately, being beautiful imposes real, ugly burdens, and this looks like one of them. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »