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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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Hello, Im seeking professional perspective on some observations

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I'm seeking professional perspective on some observations I've made over my own life. I can use help making sense of them.
As I see it, from age 21-27 I established acute self criticism..difficulties recognizing and retaining my own views on situations whilst over excentuating the views of others. Also, I feel I have not reached the point I should have in life at age 29 1/2. Yet "the point" is undefined by me. So I am holding myself to an undefined standard yet not doing anything that interests me professionally because I haven't found it.
Self questioning was a huge theme to the point of shut down for many years, and now, although the mentality lingers, I combat it with alternate thinking in response to it.
In the past my struggles pertained to acceptance in groups and acceptance of self. (Groups are family and workplace, primarily) I have no trouble making friends, I hear positive reviews from peers, from employees..yet I cast this huge shadow of almost disgust towards myself. I get in funks where I feel I am an outcast, exhiled, not worth anything, have made mistakes so grave it will cost me dearly, nothing is safe, and every move I have made down to saying hi to a person I shouldn't have-is me. Sounds dramatic. What is that? Why?
I hear that I am attractive, special, talented but instead of taking these in, I politely say thank you but think, "Smart compared to what?", "Beautiful is what people say all the time to everyone."

I am writing in hope you can shed some light on how I should go about more or less dimming down the judgement of others and amplifying my own interests-views-lending value to myself. Am I on the right track?
I notice a lot in everday interactions, behind the scenes or deep things. People open up to me, share what is really going on in there life, what is troubling them. I mean people I meet for the first time. Am I focusing on the wrong things? Is there a talent I don't see? I have very little direction in life-and ai don't take direction from others easily (working on it). I have gone with the flow and made the best of what comes. I have had $35-$40,000 annual income and I have ten classes left to a Bachelors. I have not known where I want to apply myself and I probably feel like a failure but I would never judge another as that if they were in my situation.
Pareting background- they have been married for 30 years-good people, love definitely underneath it all. Lack of communication...from what I remember, when I attempted to express and remedy a situation or tell my side, I was met with a negative response for having felt the way I did and blamed for the situation. This was all the time, not infrequent. Some phrases I remember hearing "You are twisting my words around." "Quit feeling sorry for yourself." "You are having a pity party for yourself."
When met with harsh judgement, how does one draw the line between the nugget of truth that may exist in that judgement and the acknowledgement and validation of ones own feelings?
Why would a person of age 29 1/2 remain burdened by this? Is this abnormal, in a negative way?
Further background: (I apologize if this is not pertinent info and just simply long as heck) As a kid, 9th grade, my mother said I was depressed and took me to a counselor. We had moved 2 weeks prior to starting highschool from a small town to a school of 2500 kids. Anti depressants followed. Then ADD was explored to explain what was wrong with me. This continued until I was 21 and took myself off of medications. I didn't think to protest meds in 9th grade. I ended up realizing I had felt numb for years. After cutting out the drugs, my mind was flooded.

My thought is that what was wrong with me was that I was conflicted with feelings and had no one safe to discuss and communicate my feelings to. No one to listen. Maybe I didn't communicate affectively?
At age 21ish, I wrote my mom a letter. In my mindset, it was to express so that we could make our relaionship better. I thought if she understood what I meant that she wouldn't think I was so bad and we could be close. I told her that when she would yell at me when I was a kid (daily screaming in the morning that the neighbor (a family friend still) later told my mom and I she could hear from her house), I would go to my room and put my head in my pillow, attempting to suffocate. I remember doing that and thinking,"Maybe this way she will care." I never told anyone anout thatHer response was, "Well, I'm sorry but you don't understand how difficult you were."
Am I messed up or was the parenting messed up? Or neither? My aim here is to understand. Any suggestions on how to get clear about this? I feel that family dynamic left me idling. I am kind and considerate and mentally sharp yet perhaps over stimulated with observations? you may have ascertained from this lengthy confessions session? :)

This is personal to discuss, clearly. Thank you for taking the time.

Norman M. :

Hello, I'm Norman. Are you ready to chat?

Norman M. :

I see that you are still offline so I m going to switch this to Q and A mode and leave a response for your return.

What comes over very clearly in your excellent exposition of your present difficulties is that for almost all of your life you have felt that you were inadequate in many areas of your life.

Much of your parental interaction has, I think, been the start of this process, and your parents’ apparent dismissiveness of your self perception has simply reinforced the difficulty.

You now seem to be caught in a web of negative thinking, and self deceit. You continue to tell yourself how useless you are a lot of the time, so how do you get out of this.

I think the approach has to be two-fold. Firstly, you need to understand a few basic truths about your rights as an ordinary, yet unique individual.

This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.

Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you and analyze them later.

1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I

do, say, think or feel.

2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.

3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.

4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.

5. I have the right to say NO.

6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.

7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say NO.

8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.

9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.

10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.

11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.

12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.

13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.

14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

It may seem simplistic, but in fact, this Bill of Rights is essentially valid for everyone.

Now it’s ok to understand that on a logical level, but what is much more important is to start to put it into practice, and for that reason, I’m going to suggest that you would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

So far, you have done an excellent job of analysis, but now you need some unbiased, non-judgemental assistance to get real clarity about what you might do to move on from here.

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.

I’d also like to make the following comments – whatever happened when you were a child happened because of poor parenting. You did not have the skills, understanding or the means to influence the outcome. I am sure that your parents, loving people as they are, did what they thought was right, but sadly, it was not, and now your mother simply refuses to contemplate that as a possibility – it’s her way of justifying her failings as a parent.

You come over clearly as a person who is well liked and well thought of, and yet you effectively dismiss compliments by demeaning them. If someone says you are beautiful, are you suggesting that they are too stupid to make that judgement? To people you are smart, beautiful and talented. Please do them the kindness of accepting their opinion of you!

If you would like anymore information, just ask.

Best wishes, NormanM

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