The Inner Anguish

This post is about the voice in my head.

I’ve come to know this as my inner anguish or struggle, and it encapsulates so many important aspects of my personality that it will be hard to summarise here, but I’m going to give it a try as I’m struggling to figure this out.

I have a lot of self-doubt, and I have a lot of anger. Not nasty anger, but just a feeling that I am always unhappy with the actions of others and am quick to judge them and be annoyed with them. I am very critical of everyone and everything, including myself. Despite an outer confidence, I lack a true inner self-confidence.

One way this manifests itself is in a permanent worry about everything I do and how it could be perceived by others. I analyse everything and if I can think of any way that what I did could be perceived negatively, I immediately assume that anyone who witnessed that action will be the type of person to take this negative opinion. I start to play over in my head endless variations of a potential confrontation about the thing I just did. I seem to immediately assume that everyone around me is out to get me and that I’m always a single mistake away from an argument with a stranger.

The reality is that all these things I worry about never come true. Never have I ended up in an argument with someone who I was playing through in my mind. I have no reason to assume the worst of everyone yet I continue to do so.

One root cause of this is this lack of self-belief. If I doubt myself, and am not confident in who I am, then it makes sense that I would always be worrying about my actions and how others may interpret them. I am also a perfectionist, and I may be applying a standard of perfection to my actions, and therefore constantly be disappointed with myself when I don’t act perfectly. I lack true self-confidence and conviction in my own actions, so I doubt them, question them and worry about them, instead of just accepting that what will be will be.

I guess perhaps that because I immediately jump to conclusions and judgements about others, I assume that others are immediately jumping to (negative) conclusions and judgements about me. We project our own view of the world onto others as that is the easiest way of making sense of the world – by assuming everyone sees it the same way we do. The problem is they don’t, and I’m doing others a disservice by assuming the worst of them.

So I need to learn acceptance, both of myself and others. Probably if I learn to accept myself, accepting others will become easier. The problem is, addictions thrive on a lack of self-belief, so I need to try hard to re-instil a feeling of self-worth.

For example, I have long found it impossible to understand how a future child of mine could look up to me, or like me. I don’t like me, so how could someone else? One of the fellow SAA people I spoke to at my weekly SAA meeting tonight talked to me about his experience as a father, and he said that even though he doubts himself in so many ways, he is constantly amazed by his daughter’s proclamations that he’s the best dad ever.

I can learn to love myself. I can accept that others love me, and I can accept that I have worth. The addict in me tells me the opposite, as this helps to fuel the addiction, but now I have to stop beating myself up and start loving the world.

If I can do that, I hope I can stop playing out endless negative theoretical scenarios in my head, and learn to be at peace with the world. If something bad happens that bothers me, I need to assess it, understand it, deal with it if appropriate then move on. What I must not do is to take it with me for the rest of the day, stress about it and play it out again and again in my head (“if only I had dealt with it like …”). It is not all about me – someone who steps out in front of me on the bike is not doing it specifically at me – I just happened to be there when they did it. They will move on, I need to as well.

Apologies that this is probably a bit rambly. It is a topic that is new to me and also quite wide-reaching and is going to take some time for me to get my head around and start to resolve.

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2 comments

  1. I’ve been aware of this trait in myself for years. Such a perfectionist and it does spoil my view on things, people and scenarios. It’s like when I was reading this I was just saying to myself ‘this is me’. Back when I first attempted self recovery from porn addiction and had my first big streak I did find a new love of the world and became more accepting and less judgemental. Unfortunately I lost that at relapse and never ever gained it back. I hope to regain it soon as I saw myself in a different light and did learn to accept what I couldn’t control, not be judgemental and to have confidence in myself.

    1. Yeah I think it is really important to learn to be positive and improve self-esteem. I’m trying various things to achieve this, one of which, which I’m actually starting tonight, is to list 5 things each day that I am either grateful for or that I have achieved. This is to remind myself that I’m always doing worthwhile things – to force myself to stop just thinking of the negative.

      Another thing I do is that whenever I’m thinking negatively or reacting negatively to a situation, I ask myself “what would an empathic person, who puts other people first by default, do in this situation?”. Then I try and do what they would do.

      I am also making sure I always accept how I handle situations and to accept that I will handle future situations fine. I spend so much time in my head worrying about how I handled a past situation or conflict, and also hypothesising about how I would handle future theoretical situations. I am trying to learn to accept the way I am and stop being so critical of myself. Not easy that’s for sure!

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