Archive | Random Thought RSS for this section

It’s ok to put Ourselves First (Codependency and Self-validation)

‘Nobody thinks what I think’
– Kitchen Sink by Twenty One Pilots.

For most of my life I’ve felt unseen. Others see me as the person they want me to be and not for who I really am; Despite knowing this it can cause me to doubt myself. It’s frustrating and can feel like a fight getting others to listen. I attempted to seek understanding and comfort for this, but discovered that no matter how much I tried to explain my feelings noone was able to quite grasp them. These people have had different upbringings to me. Their minds don’t work like mine. Our beliefs and perceptions don’t match. Some experiences are hard to understand unless you’ve been through them yourself. I’ve found that it’s easy to jump to wrong conclusions based on how you think you’d feel if you went through the same thing.

My own experiences have taught me that what I feel is less important than everybody else and that my thoughts need to be validated to feel real. This mindset is risky as it relies on others to give you what you need. It’s setting you up for a lifetime of resentment. I have difficulties speaking up about what I want and it seemed selfish to me when others just took without asking or offering. They cannot understand my demons because they do not carry those same unhelpful beliefs. They might have been happy to have shared with me if I’d simply asked, but negative responses for doing so in the past have taught me that it’s safer to keep quiet. Unfortunately this is a common problem, and it’s not our fault that we have such difficulties. I also respect people that can go out and get what they want instead of just complaining about it.

Read More…

My Interpretation of a Few Well Known Quotes

We have these quotes that attempt to shine wisdom on different aspects of our lives, but I’ve found their helpfulness to be varied depending on where and how they’ve been applied. My interpretation of these quotes are based on the ways in which I’ve observed them being used.

‘Life is tough’ and ‘sometimes you have to do things you don’t like.’
It’s easier to endure suffering if we can accept it as an unavoidable part of life that everybody experiences sometimes. Fighting everything that we don’t like will lead to frustration and it can be far better to practice patience and perseverance. I also think of this in terms of working towards long term goals, instead of falling to the temptation of short term rewards. If we focus too much on this statement however, we can feel guilty during the times when life isn’t tough and also resentful towards anybody that appears to be breezing through it. I’ve also found there to be two different approaches to the statement; If something isn’t working out I try to seek solutions to improve my situation, but others have used it for acceptance and a reason not to act. Our feelings are there to inform us when something is wrong and to be assessed to see if we can do something about it. For example, we might be really unhappy in a job that just isn’t going anywhere and this could be an indicator that it’s time to take a new direction in our life. On the other hand exercising patience and going through all of the tasks we don’t like could eventually lead to greater opportunities later on. Only we can know what feels right to us, even if others treat us like we’re shirking our responsibility in taking some of life’s hardships. It’s not worth worrying about the things that we have absolutely no control over, but otherwise why shouldn’t we seek solutions to help us to escape some of life’s hardships?

‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’
This statement has been used to comfort me. I do believe that hardship can make us stronger; It can teach us how to overcome obstacles and to solve problems in our lives. If everything always came easy to us we’d become complacent. I do believe my experiences have shaped my values, built my empathy and taught me what to avoid. If others mistreat us it can motivate us to work harder so as to prove ourselves. However, psychological wounds can be some of the hardest to heal from and I certainty don’t feel strong right now. My experiences have left me with learned helplessness, a difficulty to trust and a lot of self doubt, all of which pose challenges when striving towards my goals. Perhaps I’m strong in the sense that I keep getting up despite having such obstacles in my life, but I’d much rather not have the obstacles there in the first place. There have been times when hearing this has felt more like a justification to those that have treated me unfairly. We can’t change the past however and fighting it will only make us feel worse – blaming others never helps. As such the only thing we can do is to try and find the silver linings. My experiences opened my eyes to other problem areas in my life and I’m learning how to protect myself. It has also led me to seek spirituality to help me to live my life in a more positive way. In that sense I guess my experiences have made me stronger.

‘Time can heal all wounds’
It can be reassuring to us that with time we will be able to experience joy once more. I’ve found this to be true when experiencing loss. In the moment it’s very painful, but after a while it becomes easier to accept. Having been through this process a few times now I know for sure that it can pass and that I’m strong enough to get to the other side. As such I can be kind to myself while going through the process. Some problems are also very small when we put them into perspective. I might feel embarrassed about a social mishap, but will anybody still be thinking about this years from now? However, I do think it depends on the type of wound we are addressing. Some wounds require us to tend to them to allow them to heal. If we don’t they can continue to bubble back up the the surface years later. I made the mistake of trying to move on too quickly, and then because a lot of time had passed I felt ashamed to admit that the same issues were still causing me problems. The cause of the wound might not be directly influencing us anymore, but it might have changed us in some way that continues to impact our lives. For example, the anxiety, confusion, distrust and lack of self-esteem that arose from what happened. These types of wounds need more than just time to recover from. Some issues are also cyclical in nature, so they’ll keep aggravating themselves until addressed. For example, anxiety can affect how we behave in a situation, which in turn increases the anxiety.

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’
I use to hold onto this saying to remind myself to keep an open mind, and also to comfort myself when others were judging me based on factors such as my appearance. I think we’re all guilty of making judgements though. It’s a part of what makes us human. We have to be able to make judgements about things to protect ourselves from harm. If something looks dangerous, then we should avoid it – better to be safe than sorry. Too many of us ignore our gut instincts when they inform us that another doesn’t have our well being in mind. Unfortunately, our judgements can also be off due to our own interpretations of the world around us. For example, I’ve had bad experiences with certain sub-cultures, so when I see people dressed a certain way I feel wary. If I give some of them a chance I might find that I have misinterpreted the sub-culture and that they don’t all intend me harm. I see others judging Goth culture in this same way, as if it’s scary and unapproachable. This seems strange to me because Goth festivals have been some of the friendliest and safest places I’ve ever been to. In fact, the idea of not judging others based on their appearance is often emphasized at these events. It’s better to interpret this statement not as we should feel bad for judging, but that we need to think carefully about how we choose to act based on those judgements. We might be missing out on a chance to widen our minds if we allow our judgements to take full control. On the other hand, if we ignore all of our judgements we could end up getting hurt.

The Source of my Creative Anxiety

Following a creative pursuit can require a lot of resilience. I love hearing the stories of other creative individuals regardless of their interests because creative anxiety is a common issue linked to many disciplines. There’s no easy way to deal with it, but neither is it an unusual problem. When we create something we are pouring much of ourselves into the project and it can be difficult to emotionally detach from the outcome. We might have been working on that same project for a long time and could have made sacrifices to bring it to completion. We risk leaving ourselves open to criticism as we attempt to share our ideas with others, hoping that they’ll understand what we are trying to accomplish.

Read More…

Consistent Practice Builds Skills

On the games programming course I did there was only myself and one other that had come from a creative background. Everybody else had taken maths and science courses prior to starting. This knocked my confidence as I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to fit in. However, there were definitely some areas where my different mindset was a benefit. Some of our classes required us to create animations. I got a fair bit of attention for my work as only a few of us had the skills to give it a good go. Something that I heard a lot of was, ‘I could never draw like you do. I’m not creative at all.’ I appreciate the compliment, but it’s a bit of an odd thing to say when you think about it, considering that it was coming from people that hadn’t even tried to draw. If you don’t try to draw, well of course you’re never going to be good at it.

Read More…

Seeing Life From Another Perspective

I picked up a cheap book a while ago called ‘The Art Of Happiness‘ by Howard C. Cutter and HH Dalai Lama. I had developed an interest in mindfulness and was keen to learn more. I only got around to reading it last week, and it’s been far more interesting than I expected. The book explores several topics such as compassion, suffering and anxiety, and compares Eastern and Western viewpoints. We can discover new values by exposing ourselves to ideas from outside the place we grew up. Where we live can have a stronger impact on our minds than we realize. I was discussing this idea with a lecturer who also claimed that they had to use different approaches for students from other countries because the Western way of doing things was very different to what they were use to.

Read More…

What Compassion Means To Me

A while ago I read an article that claimed that we’ll regularly discuss moral values, but when we actually come across a person in need we won’t act upon them. These words have re-entered my mind on several occasions. It’s easier to discuss right and wrong in theory than it is to put into practice because life isn’t that black and white. When we introduce emotions into the mix we’ll often struggle to practice what we preach. In many cases we’re influenced by self-preservation; I’ve had my trust misused on a number of occasions and that can cause you to become wary of giving so much of yourself. It’s a shame that a trusting nature can be turned so easily against someone, and upon realizing the truth it can fill you with shame. There are so many scams using people’s good nature against them that it can be difficult to know which cases are genuine. I don’t feel comfortable being approached in the street for that reason, because the doubt about my own safety will come into play. I then feel guilty for not being more helpful.

Different moral values can clash, but can all be equally valid from our own stand point. It’s fun to discuss different scenarios and we can learn a lot from each other, but real life is rarely so simple. Our values might come about through how we wish to be treated ourselves; If we’ve had a tough life then holding onto them can bring comfort, even if we’re not always able to uphold them. For example, I am very anti-bullying because of what I went through at school. For a long time this seemed like an obvious stance to take, but then some would oppose my views by seeing things from the perspective of the bullies, like perhaps they’re having difficulty at home and are lashing out as a result. This can feel like adding further insult to injury, but I do understand that sometimes victims can become abusive themselves. Many will also feel regret afterwards. It’s challenging to accept hearing the other side when their behaviour has left such a negative impact on my own life. Sometimes we say things because we’re angry, but it doesn’t always correspond to what we actually believe.

I’ve since come to believe that to be a compassionate person we need to be able to understand why a person has acted a certain way even if we don’t agree with it. To be compassionate isn’t to tell people how to behave. If we take a moral high ground on someone then we can’t truly empathise with them because we’re putting ourselves above them. I’ve learnt that it’s better not to be too rigid in my values so that I can act flexibly within each situation that comes. If we never intend to cause harm then we’ll probably make the best choice we can in the moment. We all make mistakes too, but that doesn’t make us bad people. It’s easy with hindsight to consider how we should act, but when emotions are running high we don’t always think clearly. As such I think it takes a lot of strength to be able to act with compassion on all occasions. When we’re surrounded by a lot of negativity we can lose faith, but if we try to understand the world from other perspectives we might find that most people are well intentioned and just want to live a happy life like we do.

Accidentally Taking Others For Granted

To not take others for granted is obvious advice, it’s unpleasant to feel like it’s happening to us and something we know we shouldn’t do to others. The chaos of life can make it difficult for us to make time for others however, and this can result in sending out the wrong impression. Often it is those closest to us that we treat the worst as we feel safe that they’ll continue to stick by us. We can feel insecure when it comes to new acquaintances and so will tread more carefully. This can make it appear as if a loved one is happier in the company of others than they are in our own, but rather oddly this can actually mean that they feel more at ease around us. They don’t feel the need to put on a front and pretend; What we get is the real them, for better or for worse.

Read More…

Let’s Change The Way We Think About Psychological Illness

I like watching mystery diagnosis shows. It’s really interesting to see what unusual conditions others are living with and the conclusions they come to. Unfortunately they don’t always manage to find the answers they seek, either because what they have isn’t curable or just that no doctor seems to be able to give a satisfactory answer despite running test after test. I saw one recently in which the doctors kept ruling out physical explanations in favour of a psychological one. On hearing this suggestion they were instantly dismayed and shut themselves off to anything else the doctor had to say. To them the problems they are dealing with feel very real and so there had to be something physically wrong with them. I’ve seen this type of reaction before, where as soon as a psychological cause is suggested they feel like they’re being told that it’s all in their head and so therefore they are to blame for their condition. In some cases they might even feel like they’re being accused of putting it on for attention. It might be that they’re right in wanting to continue pursuing further explanations. Doctors can get it wrong, or sometimes it feels like they throw the psychological explanation at you as an easy option when they’re not sure what else to consider. It’s therefore important to take your own health into your hands and push for answers if you deem it necessary. Try not to close off any potential options just in case.

Read More…

Why Self-Esteem Alone Isn’t Enough

I mentioned in my last post “You’re Too Sensitive” that while I was at school my teachers had encouraged me to take courses for self-esteem. I went to a really bad school, but I believe that in this case they had the best intentions. It was interesting to look back now with what I know. It was popular for a while to focus on self-esteem, but it never worked for me. I tried courses and read books about it, and even though the advice was sound I never noticed any changes as a result of following it. Last year I learnt about another option called Mindfulness and for the first time my attempts resulted in a noticeable benefit. I felt happier and was finding it easier to motivate myself. I still struggle with bad anxiety, but I’m dealing with it better than I use to.

Read More…

“You’re Too Sensitive”

I was bullied badly at school, but when I approached my teachers about the situation I was told that it was just me being too sensitive. It’s true that I was incredibly shy at that age, but my teachers used that as a reason to treat me like I was made out of delicate china. On one occasion some boys came over for an arm wrestle and the teacher broke it up, asking me if I was ok afterwards as if I couldn’t handle it myself. Another time some kids came up to ask me about horror movies at which point the teacher answered for me that someone like me would never be into something so dark – couldn’t be further from the truth ;). There were admittedly times when I used their perception of me to my advantage, whenever others tried to tell on me – much to their frustration – the teacher would respond with something like, ‘I doubt that, she’s not capable of something like that.’

Read More…