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How do I challenge this belief?


david90
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I have social anxiety and it is mainly caused by the fact that I believe who I am is determined by other people's opinion of me. My mood is a roller coaster because if people treat me good then I would feel good and vice versa. I was given the advice "Just be yourself and just just ignores what people think of me" but it doesn't register in my head because how can I not care?

The way I think socially is similar to a classroom. If I do good in a math class, then the teacher would give me an "A" and that's how I would know that I'm good at math. Currently I have little confidence when it comes to making friends and even less confidence when dating. Because I receive little or no positive feedback on my myself as a person, I have little confidence in myself. I don't know if I'm a socially worthy person.

Is evaluating yourself based on other people opinion a good thing? If not, what is the alternative? I just don't see how I can evaluate myself without factoring in others opinions of me. In the back of my head, I know that it is not a good belief but I don't have any other alternative ways of thinking.

Thanks for the help!

Edited by david90
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David,

It seems to me that you are confusing your value as a person with your skill, or maybe lack of it, in a particular area. Take your math class example: the point of a grade is not to tell you whether you're a "good" or "bad" student, or person. It's just a summary that's meant to identify the students that need more help. A skillful teacher won't just give someone a bad grade; they'll also try to identify for the student which areas they're weak in (which types of problems they got wrong), and will probably spend more time in the future with those students who had lower grades. Not to insult them that they're "bad", but to help them to achieve.

When I was in math, there were lots of other ways to decide whether I was understanding the material, without waiting for tests. During lectures, did I understand each step the teacher went through to solve a problem? Could I think of other ways to use the techniques they were showing? As I did the homework, did I feel confident of how to solve problems on my own? Did I get the right answers when I checked my work against the back of the book? None of those checks involve anyone else's opinion, and certainly none of them affected my worth as a human being.

Now, of course, socializing isn't exactly like math class. For one thing, no one teaches it. And I have to admit, I too was more comfortable in math class than with people. :-) But the only way to learn to socialize is to do it, then check the result. If you like it, keep doing it that way; if not, try something else. So, in a way, you can "factor in others' opinions". Not about your overall quality as a human being, just about that one particular behavior you just tried.

I can't tell you how many times I screwed up something small, like maybe dropped my books, and thought to myself "I'm such a dork," or whatever. I was so good at putting myself down that I didn't even need anyone else's help! :-) Only now, more years later than I care to admit, can I tell myself, "Nope, you just dropped your books. Could happen to anybody."

So, at no time can you let those other people decide for you how you should feel. Because let's face it, there are people out there who get their kicks from causing pain. Not all of them, not even very many of them. But more than enough of them so that if you give them that handle, that power over you, they'll be glad to take it. And I can assure you, you deserve better.

In the end, though, all I've been able to tell you is how I challenge that belief. You're going to have to come up with your own reasons, if you want to change. Start with that voice in the back of your head; I bet he has better advice than I do, anyway. :-)

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Thanks for the reply and I do see your point on how I am judging myself based on my skills instead of the value that I have as person. I am not familiar with the value that I have as a person though. The concept is new to me. Why would I have value just for being alive?

How I see myself greatly depends on how others see me and I don't see other alternatives to this belief. If I'm handsome, smart, kind or friendly, I don't believe it until people tell me so.

Edited by david90
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi David,

You are evaluating yourself based on how you think others are evaluating you. In other words, you are projecting your low self evaluation onto others or convincing yourself that you know what they think of you.

"Finding" and "malign" are right on target. Can you answer "findings" questions and tell us more about yourself?

Allan

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When did that get started David90? Has it always been that way for you? How do you see others? Do they have value apart from whatever skills they may or may not have?

It started when I was in high school. Earlier than that I don't recall being anxious being around people. I don't know if this is the reason why I'm anxious but in high school I did hang out with a bad group of people that didn't treat me very good. I always they often ganged up on me.

I have a positive view of other people. I like people.

I don't understand the question "Do they have value apart from whatever skills they may or may not have?"

If I don't judge myself based on what other people think of me, then what can the judgment of myself be based on?

Edited by david90
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We're trying to help you to separate two different groups of things, David: whether you're a good person who has value, versus the ratings that you're assigning for certain specific traits, like whether you're handsome or smart or kind. There are a lot of good people who are ugly, or who have never graduated from high school. If you're liking people in general, you probably aren't making this mistake about them. So why are you confusing the two things, when you evaluate yourself?

But even if you were to decide that you're going to judge your own worth as a human being using people's judgments of your individual characteristics, Allan would also be right: you don't really know what those other people think about you. I'm sure you don't actually go up to people and ask them if you're handsome. You're only guessing from their reactions.

For instance, how would people (let's focus on girls, since you're a guy) act if you were, in fact, handsome? Well, some girls might stare, some might whisper to their friends and then giggle, some might avoid talking to you. If you're handsome, they might be whispering "Isn't he cute" or avoiding you because they're too shy to talk to you. But the same might happen if you've got a huge zit on your forehead! Then some girls might stare, some might whisper and giggle, some might avoid you. How do you know which it is?

I know, myself, that I see a lot more women looking at me with interest when I already feel good about myself. When I'm in a bad mood, even when it isn't visible on the outside, they somehow don't seem interested. Why? Because every observation of the outside world can't help but be filtered through your own brain. There's no such thing as an objective truth.

And I know that I would have had a hard time believing that, at your age (assuming I'm clairvoyant and can guess that you're about 18.) But I've gone through a lot of cycles of depression and what we'll call normalcy, for lack of a better term, since then. When I'm down, all problems seem huge, all people seem hateful, and life generally sucks. When I'm not, even the same problems seem solvable, the same people seem, well, ordinary, and life can be beautiful. It's not as if the problems, or the people, or the world keep changing (well, not that much.) So, if someone reacts badly to you, how do you decide that it's because of what they think of you, and not just because they're having a really crappy day?

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"If I don't judge myself based on what other people think of me, then what can the judgment of myself be based on?"

Perhaps what you are looking for is feedback. I think we all need that. Good parenting is about mirroring back who we are so that we can build an identity that functions well enough out in the world and also with our inner issues that come up. After our parents comes our friends and peers then coworkers & bosses, spouse...etc, giving us feedback on who we are. Perhaps you haven't had enough of that so that you can discover you?

Malign wants you to see how we can misread people's reaction to us which is a pitfall to viewing yourself only from the vantage point of another... Allan's point as well. We want you to have a viewpoint of you from you. That is no easy thing to achieve if you are missing some developmental steps of getting good feedback from people who care about you.

"I have a positive view of other people. I like people."

That's a very good thing!

"I don't understand the question "Do they have value apart from whatever skills they may or may not have?""

Are people valuable to you apart from their skills or looks? Would you find value in someone who was ugly or could not do much?

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I have social anxiety and it is mainly caused by the fact that I believe who I am is determined by other people's opinion of me. My mood is a roller coaster because if people treat me good then I would feel good and vice versa. I was given the advice "Just be yourself and just just ignores what people think of me" but it doesn't register in my head because how can I not care?

The way I think socially is similar to a classroom. If I do good in a math class, then the teacher would give me an "A" and that's how I would know that I'm good at math. Currently I have little confidence when it comes to making friends and even less confidence when dating. Because I receive little or no positive feedback on my myself as a person, I have little confidence in myself. I don't know if I'm a socially worthy person.

Is evaluating yourself based on other people opinion a good thing? If not, what is the alternative? I just don't see how I can evaluate myself without factoring in others opinions of me. In the back of my head, I know that it is not a good belief but I don't have any other alternative ways of thinking.

Thanks for the help!

Hi David,

I think I belive what you your are trying to come across is Evaluating yourself needs to come from you Internally, Not externally. Do not look for it from others, Self esteem , the way you feel about yourself , comes from you. Self confidence, needs to be built up by hearing good things from how you feel about yourself internally, and knowing that your a good person no matter what, and no matter what anyone thinks of you. No matter how how you look , or what you do. That stuff is all superficial. A grade, an achievment, a behavior , does not make a person. It is our values , actions, beliefs, and how we treat others that makes us desireable , or social. WE choose to be the way we are. People can judge us on the outside, however , that can't take away who we are naturally on the inside. Who we really are. The real us. Honesty, caring, A conscience , A nice person, A kind, real guy a girl goes for .

Does that make sense?

If you keep wondering what others are thinking of you all the time in social situations no wonder it is producing anxiety. Thinking everyone is going to look at you and judge you, well in a way, at first , yes, that happens, then once there is talking that tends to be over. With age and maturity, I find that that I don't worry about what people think anymore. Frankly , I do not even care less. the only person you can change is you , so it is better to start working on how you feel about yourself , and building up your self confidence. Forget about what others may or may not think about you. think that it is their loss. to meet such a wonderful guy like you! Believe in yourself, and know that you have the power in yourself and you do not have to look towards others to feel good about yourself.

Edited by mscat
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Hi David,

I think I belive what you your are trying to come across is Evaluating yourself needs to come from you Internally, Not externally. Do not look for it from others, Self esteem , the way you feel about yourself , comes from you. Self confidence, needs to be built up by hearing good things from how you feel about yourself internally, and knowing that your a good person no matter what, and no matter what anyone thinks of you. No matter how how you look , or what you do. That stuff is all superficial. A grade, an achievment, a behavior , does not make a person. It is our values , actions, beliefs, and how we treat others that makes us desireable , or social. WE choose to be the way we are. People can judge us on the outside, however , that can't take away who we are naturally on the inside. Who we really are. The real us. Honesty, caring, A conscience , A nice person, A kind, real guy a girl goes for .

Does that make sense?

If you keep wondering what others are thinking of you all the time in social situations no wonder it is producing anxiety. Thinking everyone is going to look at you and judge you, well in a way, at first , yes, that happens, then once there is talking that tends to be over. With age and maturity, I find that that I don't worry about what people think anymore. Frankly , I do not even care less. the only person you can change is you , so it is better to start working on how you feel about yourself , and building up your self confidence. Forget about what others may or may not think about you. think that it is their loss. to meet such a wonderful guy like you! Believe in yourself, and know that you have the power in yourself and you do not have to look towards others to feel good about yourself.

I agree with you that I evaluate myself externally instead of internally. The problem I have with evaluating myself is that I don't see a lot if not any credibility in my own evaluation. I feel that an evaluation of myself would be biased thus is not right. If I designed a car, I would only see it as a good car if other people agree me.

Have you ever done something, and then seek the opinions of others to see if you did a good job? Why did you seek the opinions of others when you can say that you did a good job yourself? That's how I feel about myself. I have need seek the opinions of others to validate myself.

I want to rely on my own opinions of myself but the concept just doesn't make sense to me. I don't believe in it.

Edited by david90
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Hi david90, can you tell us more about yourself? Are there specific aspects of you that you would like feedback on?

Prior to high school, I don't recall being anxious. I was somewhat of a wild child. I remember in middle school, a teacher sent me to the nurse office to get my hearing check because I talk so loud. I don't have any hearing problem, I was just a loud kid without social inhibition. I do think that I had bad social skills back then. Also I was somewhat shy toward girls. I obsessed over a girl all through out middle school. She didn't like me but I kept on perusing her.

As a high school freshmen, I don't recall being anxious around people. I met and hanged out with the same group of people for 4 years. At first they were nice but then they started to criticize me. They criticized anything they can about me and they had no intent to help me but to make fun of me. Whenever I expressed my views, they would ganged up on me and criticized my views. I do admit that because I had bad social skill, I may have offended them but it was never my intention. I just didn't know any better. I was the group's "entertainment." Whenever they want to have a laugh, they would find something about me and make fun of it. They made fun of how I walk, talk, gestures, clothing, hobby, pov etc.

As a freshmen in college, that's when I really started to notice the anxiety. I was lonely for all 4 years of college. I didn't belong to any groups and always felt lonely. In my senior year, I met a guy who is still a good friend today. I made only 1 friend while in college.

I severed my friendship with my high school group 2 years ago. I'm currently 26 years old.

As for your question, I crave positive feedback in all aspects of my life. The aspect that I crave positive feedback the most is my social value. I want to know:

if people like me.

if people think I'm cool.

if people think I'm physically attractive or at least ok looking.

if people think I act weird.

if people think I have things to offer if they become my friend.

if people think I'm fun to be around with.

David.

Edited by david90
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That makes sense to me David. You want to succeed socially, and you want feedback on what your social rating might be, maybe to feel assured that you have social value so you can go forth with confidence and less anxiety.

May I delve into this a little more, though? It is very much in keeping with the environment of high school to think in terms of a social "score," like the rating an athlete would have. Is it possible that the bullying you experienced froze you to this way of viewing social success? Trauma will do that. It can lock you in at a certain level and keep you cycling round and round in a stuck way instead of in a growing and developing way.

To put it more simply, you were bullied. Are you caught in their trap still, trying to prove that you really do have value?

In any case, the way out of your social anxiety is to begin a new chapter of social involvement. You reached out for us here, and that's a start. We can help support you to go out and have more social experiences, help you process what happened and work through some challenges. There are plenty of people here with social anxieties. Feedback on social interactions and skills as they are being developed can help a person go out into the world with more confidence and less anxiety.... The high school kind of feedback --a rating system-- just ends up eroding confidence. Just something to consider, anyway.

What are your social opportunities now, and can you comment on them?

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That makes sense to me David. You want to succeed socially, and you want feedback on what your social rating might be, maybe to feel assured that you have social value so you can go forth with confidence and less anxiety.

May I delve into this a little more, though? It is very much in keeping with the environment of high school to think in terms of a social "score," like the rating an athlete would have. Is it possible that the bullying you experienced froze you to this way of viewing social success? Trauma will do that. It can lock you in at a certain level and keep you cycling round and round in a stuck way instead of in a growing and developing way.

To put it more simply, you were bullied. Are you caught in their trap still, trying to prove that you really do have value?

In any case, the way out of your social anxiety is to begin a new chapter of social involvement. You reached out for us here, and that's a start. We can help support you to go out and have more social experiences, help you process what happened and work through some challenges. There are plenty of people here with social anxieties. Feedback on social interactions and skills as they are being developed can help a person go out into the world with more confidence and less anxiety.... The high school kind of feedback --a rating system-- just ends up eroding confidence. Just something to consider, anyway.

What are your social opportunities now, and can you comment on them?

I have been trying to meet people through clubs and college. I'm in two clubs: a social anxiety club that I found on the internet and the other is a business club at my college. I'm also taking one class at the college.

I feel a lot less anxious when approaching and talking to people in small clubs. On the other hand, I feel anxious when attempting to meet people in the class I'm currently taking. I fear rejection and judgment from the people in the class. It reminds me of my old college days.

Comparing to my old college days, I feel that I made a lot of improvement in terms of anxiety level. I would say about 50% improvement. I'm not sure if it is because of my attempts at self help or just time.

I'm also planning to see the college's therapist. I'm still trying to hide my problem but not as much. I'm at a level where I can consider seeing a therapist. The service fee was included with my tuition so it cost me nothing.

I do think I'm trying to prove that I have social value.

Edited by david90
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi David,

I do not think that Finding was telling you to stop posting here. She is just being very encouraging about psychotherapy and I agree with her, and so do you, and that is why you are going to the College's psychologist.

You know, when I read your most recent posts something popped into my head. You said that, before High School, you talked very loud. You also said that, during your four years of College, the members of your friendship group started to criticize you. Is it possible that you have ADD or ADHD without knowing it?

Why do I ask? I ask because it might explain the loud talking as well as friends starting to give you a hard time. Of course, the therapist will be in a better position to formulate a diagnosis. What I am saying is NOT a diagnosis but just a question. Were you ever considered for ADD when you were young?

Allan ??????? :D

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Hi David,

I do not think that Finding was telling you to stop posting here. She is just being very encouraging about psychotherapy and I agree with her, and so do you, and that is why you are going to the College's psychologist.

You know, when I read your most recent posts something popped into my head. You said that, before High School, you talked very loud. You also said that, during your four years of College, the members of your friendship group started to criticize you. Is it possible that you have ADD or ADHD without knowing it?

Why do I ask? I ask because it might explain the loud talking as well as friends starting to give you a hard time. Of course, the therapist will be in a better position to formulate a diagnosis. What I am saying is NOT a diagnosis but just a question. Were you ever considered for ADD when you were young?

Allan ??????? :D

Nothing happened in my college years. The bullying happened in high school. I was like a ghost in college.

It is possible that I had ADD in middle school and prior but for sure not in high school, college or now. I did good academically all my life. After middle school, my personally got really mellowed and laid back.

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Guest ASchwartz

David,

ADD is not something a peson has sometimes. It is something that a person has all the time. The fact that you did well in college only means that you were sometimes able to concentrate. One thing you could do is take a self test and that will give you a tentative diagnosis for ADD. Actually, if you do a search of our site you will find that there is a self test. It is free and will give you a result. If it is positive then you should follow up. Also, you could ask the college psychologist.

I am not clear about what you are asking about self evaluation. If you mean your estimation of yourself, I believe it is clear that your self estimation is unrealistically low.

Allan:)

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I mean the standard by which you use to judge and evaluate yourself. I saw a video on youtube that talks about self concept and how it is dependent on our evaluation of ourself based on our standard.

Here is the video

How can you tell if the standard that you used to evaluate yourself is too high?

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My first suggestion is to check whether you hold yourself to a higher standard than you do other people. If they get a question wrong on the math test, do you think they're no good at math, the way you do for yourself, or do you think they just made a mistake?

This doesn't remove the possibility that your standard is "misplaced", but at least it reduces the amount of unfairness.

It's also very difficult to discuss these things so abstractly. Things are rarely so logical in real life. Why not cut yourself some slack? It's not like life is giving grades.

Which brings me to, what are you using these "standards" for? If you "fall below" them, what do you do, and for what purpose? If you exceed them, what do you win? Because you know, at the end of this life, you die, and your grades don't, in fact, go into your permanent record. Wow, I wish someone had said that to me at your age. Or maybe they did; I wish I had listened.

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Why are you needing something to judge you? I don't need one and if someone try to talk to me about how "valueable" I am, they are just talking out of their arse! Listen, life is so complex that no single system or person can truly judge how "valueable" a human is. Plus, imagine how you would judge two of your friends, will you just tell me that this guy is better than that guy? I found that inhuman. We are not machines, we are not measureable. Compare life to something so simple as math class is unthinkable.

Have you ever try to truly seek what others think of you? or try to ask them questions like "Do you hate me?" I think that you never have the gut to did that and just make up what people think of you all the time without ever questioning it's validity. You are so blind, you can't see the world.

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