“I feel as though I cannot communicate with anyone, it’s not that I do not want to…I can’t. I can’t think of anything to say to start a conversation, sometimes if I’m lucky ill get a conversation going but then random negative thoughts just come back into my head, I get flustered, and the conversation goes back to nothing and I am once again awkward. I mean the thoughts are negative don’t get me wrong but a lot of the time I spend trying to figure out what is wrong with me, evaluating myself. I know this is a main part of the problem but I can’t help it, I cant just stop the thoughts, they just happen. I was once the type of person who could talk to anyone, was friends with everyone, I had my main group of friends but if I wanted to could call up a random person I havn’t seen in a while and go hang out and just shoot the s**t I could, now if I tried to do that even with my close friends it is just awkward, I don’t know what the f**k is wrong with me, it kills me every day. All that I wish to do is have fun and be happy, but I can’t, something is restricting me completely. I cannot concentrate either, for example, the first couple of sentences I wrote, I wrote right away without thinking, now I keep spacing out and going into my thoughts.
I want to be who I was, funny, confident, charming, a bit of a troublemaker. Now I just feel unhappy, awkward, I always have this band around my head that makes me feel uncomfortable, I always have a headache, I get panic attacks now. No one can understand the pain and agony a person with whatever disorder I have goes through. I would not wish this on my worst enemy, I stay up til 5 am just thinking, I have the tv on but I’m not paying attention to that. I don’t want to tell my mom, my grandpa just got diagnosed with lung cancer and I don’t want to make her worry anymore than she already is. I know I feel emotions but I cannot express them, for instance, I am truly sad over my grandfather getting lung cancer and I know I should be there for him, he has always wanted to play the guitar with me and I know that would be a great thing to do but I can’t get myself to go. How pathetic is that!? It makes me feel like I’m the biggest douche in the world but I honestly just don’t know why I can’t. All I want is to be normal again. Is that so much to ask for?
I am not suicidal, maybe if I didn’t have a family or anything I would be suicidal. I think it would be very selfish if I were to kill myself and make my friends and family suffer.”
Growing up is in itself challenging when we have good support systems and naturally develop a Sense of Self. What about the times we lose our sense of who we are in the broader scheme of things and (specifically) while being around our friends and family?
As I was reading This Cry for Help (to read the counselor’s reply check out the full column) I was immediately touched by a couple of things. First of all by the great opportunity this blog by Dr. Randle offers to people in distress to reach out and anonymously ask for help—which initially may be the best they can do. Hopefully, advice is given that gives one courage to then get help. Emotional duress in isolation is only worse as one’s Self-experience.
Can you remember a time you felt not only alone but confused and unable to get unstuck?
I wish to give one or two tools to the person who asked for help, that he or she can use right away as a bridge to cross the gap from the obvious situation of distress to a more balanced and therefore healthier mode.
So many ailments and dysfunction can be rooted in an emptiness inside. This inner void naturally tends to fill itself in. Have you ever dug a hole in the sand close to the shoreline of the sea? The water from the incoming waves fills it right away again and again. It is like that with an inner emptiness: it fills itself as soon as there tends to be “nothing”. What it fills itself with is usually with what comes closest to what we are missing. Ideally, what should been there is that inner voice that is a sense of ourselves, of who we are, of what we mean to ourselves.
The absence of a SoS makes us anxious. It is like living without a backbone. To counter that unpleasant feeling we are committed to filling in that void in pursuit of what I call “Feeling-good-about-ourselves.” For that purpose we undertake many things in life, but when those things or activities are thwarted(by circumstances or by somebody), we get totally upset and depressed. It is my hunch that the author of this letter might be in dire need of restoring her Sense of Self, but isn’t aware of the Lack of Sense of Self she is experiencing.
Of course, clinicians understand that a deeper crisis of the Self might be at play, but have they developed a clear method to help people boost their Sense of Self?
Instead, they offer recommendations to go the long, long way of traditional counseling procedures, including visits to the doctor to rule out physical causes. While all this may be very worthwhile, it seems to me, as the Creator of the HEALTHYSENSEOFSELF Method, (HySoS), that we can help in a much more efficient way by giving people Step One of the 12 steps to work on restoring their Sense of Self. That way the person in distress has something to immediately take action with and improve their lives.
Step I is: rediscover your body, as if you were seeing and experiencing it for the first time. Too often we have forgotten that a large percentage of who we are is our body. Who would we be without our body? The way I see it, we wouldn’t be.
Many individuals depend on the appreciation or approval of others. Most of your life then is like a performance, but you are not aware of it.
How does this impact you over time?
Until a certain age we are able to function pretty well, while depending on our “performances” and managing our reactions to what others think of us. Then, we become more and more exhausted and our inner “energy battery” has a hard time getting recharged for various reasons (e.g. age, ill health, habitual circumstances, other people’s influence). It becomes easier to get into a negative spiral and especially when advice from counseling only aims at treating the symptoms, but not the true root cause.
Human beings are first and foremost bodies – then they are or have a mind. In our present society though, we rarely learn to honor our bodily presence in the world; it is all about what we do. “What do YOU do?” is maybe the most frequently asked question. “I see you! So glad you simply exist,” is a simple statement that is not so commonly expressed, but that ultimately is what we are about. Simply existing. Simply being. Then comes “doing.”
A Sense of Self is very much a bodily way of “knowing” that YOU ARE—in other words, “that you exist” regardless of what you do.
If you have forgotten how to sense your Self, you might become totally dependent on functioning to perform according to your role(s) and you will gain, what I call a Substitute Sense of Self, which you identify with. Or maybe you never even learned to sense that kind of awareness?
What is a Substitute Sense of Self ?
A psycho-emotional structure that develops as the backbone of the psyche of those children whose caregivers relate to them as an extension of themselves, and that leads to a compulsive drive for achievement-based approval.
Living a performance oriented life puts one in a vulnerable position, and at risk of being more easily undermined by the fear of failure. Where a person with a healthy Sense of Self could be happy and confident and able to communicate, a person with that inner void, that lack of SoS, feels stuck and confused and can’t put the finger on what is wrong with her. You can feel so alone, even in a big family or circle of friends? Have you ever felt you have so much potential yet you are unable to realize any of it (perhaps due to fear of failure)?
Where does this fear of failure come from? The fear of failure comes up when your action is not securely rooted in what is your own opinion or judgment. You may not even be invested in the outcome of the simplest actions (e.g. communicating with friends). But what matters most is to “Feel-good-about-Yourself”–because you take it for your Self-experience. This kind of Self-experience can leave you feeling miserable between fleeting moments of ease.
Living a life always on a constant quest to “Feel-good-about-Self” is exhausting.
Maybe any or all of these things are at play in the life of the person who asked for help from Dr. Randle. For certain, when you are not fully present to yourself, you become vulnerable to both emotional and physical dis-ease.
Sadly, many problems and ailments come forth from a lack of Sense of Self and from spending your life compensating for that. What is needed more than anything in these moments that are like “dark nights of the soul” for a person? I say it is support to have a person commit to “restore” their Sense of Self—for without out an SoS we are unable to freely live our own life.
It is our hope that the writer of this letter gets the help desired and that she/he regains their confidence and better still discovers their Sense of Self and never loses sight of it for long.
“You have one life to live; make sure it is yours! ~Antoinetta Vogels