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LeahMSWuofm
LeahMSWuofm, Clinical Social Worker
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 372
Experience:  10 years post-MSW experience
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I have just been feeling really stupid. Like I went to an

Customer Question

Hello, I have just been feeling really stupid. Like I went to an Indian temple with my parents, and I couldn't guess that a girl was going to sit behind me, and I felt stupid. And then when I went to the bathroom, there were two people waiting, and I didn't realize that they were waiting to use the bathroom - I thought they were waiting for their kids or someone they know or something. And then when my mom and I were waiting for my dad to come and pick us up so we wouldn't have to walk to the gift shop, when other cars were coming and stopping by us, I didn't realize that they were coming to pick someone up too until I thought about it. And then the next day, my mom and dad were going to the lab to get blood work done, and I didn't realize they were leaving because I didn't look up to see that my mom had her purse with her. And then when I went for a walk, my mom was at the door when I came back, and she said that she got there right when I came back. And then my mom went to the grocery store, and I guessed that the groceries cost around $80, and they actually cost $94.11, so I felt stupid because I made the wrong guess. And then I was talking to my mom, and I said whether the garbageman will come on Friday to take the garbage since it is Thanksgiving on Thursday, and maybe they have Friday off. And my mom said if they don't come Friday, they will come on Saturday, and if they don't come on Saturday, they will come on Tuesday, and I was about to say Monday, but then realized they would wait until Tuesday since they always come every Tuesday anyways. And then I went outside to talk on the phone, and when I got back inside, my dad said, "Did you go for a walk. Always take the key and lock the door when you go for a walk." He didn't see the phone in my hand. So I felt like he made a wrong guess about me, but I wasn't able to prove it to him, and I ended up being made feel stupid for it. So I feel like these kinds of instances of feeling stupid keep happening with my parents and everyone else I interact with. If I can't guess something about them correctly, I feel stupid and feel like they are thinking that about me. I got a lot of things right too, like I guessed the time exactly right twice, and I spelled my grandfather's, my mom's father's, name correctly even though it was a long Indian word and no one ever told me how to spell it before, and I knew that TSH stood for thyroid stimulating hormone on my mom's lab work sheet, and I remembered the names of two people and a store and a restaurant that my mom couldn't remember. But I just feel so incredibly stupid right now like I am the stupidest person in the world. This feeling is so strong and it hurts me SO MUCH. It's like someone poured a liquid called stupid down my body. I was valedictorian in high school and got on the waiting list to Harvard my senior year, so why do you think I'm feeling that way and people are succeeding in making me feel that way? PLEASE say something to alleviate my anxiety on this. I have given you a ton of examples, so going by those, please tell me what you think. Thank you.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  LeahMSWuofm replied 1 month ago.

Hi! Thanks for writing to us. My name is***** reading your description, the first thing that pops out is that you are being way too hard on yourself! You are creating expectations for yourself that are not easy to follow given the variability and unpredictability of life. You are also assuming things about the way that other people treat you that you are then skewing to support your notion that you are stupid and other people feel this way. Making inaccurate assumptions (mind-reading), jumping to conclusions, black and white thinking, catastrophizing, are all common "cognitive distortions" or "automatic negative thoughts" which are flaws in human's everyday thinking that lead them to incorrectly receive and interpret information. You can read more about these here and see if some of the things you are doing may qualify as a cognitive distortions... http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/ These are super common for everyone but calling attention to them can be very helpful as we navigate how we relate to the world around us. They can show us that the things we think (and then affect the way we feel and behave) are not always accurate.

Also, it also sounds like perhaps you are just distracted, maybe with your own thoughts and anxiety, so you aren't paying as much attention to your immediate environment and therefore are missing little things that you are now deeming to be representative of your stupidity. They are definitely not - no example you gave made me think you are stupid at all. PLUS, valedictorian of your high school and Harvard?? Those two things along are absolute evidence that you are not at all stupid. If you are worrying about how you are missing things and feel like others are noticing, try to engage in being more mindful. Mindfulness is the great practice of being more engaged in each moment of life using all 5 senses to be attentive and aware. This is important and valuable because it helps us stay focused, relaxed and centered rather than letting our minds live in the past or future which can lead to distraction, angst and anxiety and unease. So try to live more in the moment with direct awareness and attention to your immediate environment and how you are interacting with it. you may be surprised how much this allows you to feel engaged and alleviates some of the pressure and worries you are having rght now.

I hope this helps. The facts show you are not stupid so try not to put so much into these small everyday occurrences. These little things happen to people all the time because we are go go go and just not paying all that much attention. Try to rid yourself/minimize cognitive distortions and be more mindful and you will hopefully feel better in no time.

-Leah