Suicide rates have been rising dramatically. But of special concern, as reported in The New York Times is the number of middle-aged men killing themselves: “Suicide has typically been viewed as a problem of teenagers and the elderly, and the surge in suicide rates among middle-aged Americans is surprising.” “It is the baby boomer group where we see the highest rates of suicide,” said the C.D.C.’s deputy director, Ileana Arias. “The boomers had great expectations for what their life might look like, but I think perhaps it hasn’t panned out that way.” The University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox recently pointed out in The Atlantic that there’s a strong link between suicide and weakened social ties. It has been getting tougher for men. Brought up to believe they are the stronger sex, expected to be the primary bread-winner for their families, with corporate leaders and entrepreneurs as role models, they have been finding it difficult to sustain their expected social roles. As a result, their self-esteem has been taking a beating. Wilcox goes on: “And over the last two decades, it’s men without college degrees who have ended up most disconnected from the core institutions of work, marriage, and civil society. Guess who is most likely to kill themselves? Men without college degrees.” Ross Douthat commenting on these trends in The Times noted: “The hard question facing 21st-century America is whether this retreat from community can reverse itself, or whether an aging society dealing with structural unemployment and declining birth and marriage rates is simply destined to leave more people disconnected, anxious and alone.” And he moves away from seeing it as relevant to politics and social policy. At the very end of his piece, citing an article in The New Republic on “The Lethality of Loneliness,” he notes “one in three Americans over 45 identifies as chronically lonely.” In other words, he changes the subject: “There are public and private ways to manage this loneliness epidemic — through social workers, therapists, even pets. And the Internet, of course, promises endless forms of virtual community to replace or supplement the real.” From an article by Ken Eisold, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hidden-motives/201305/suicide-loneliness-and-the-vulnerability-men
You cannot be lonely
if you like the person
you’re alone with.
You have mixed feelings about your worries. On one hand, your worries are bothering you—you can’t sleep, and you can’t get these pessimistic thoughts out of your head. But there is a way that these worries make sense to you. For example, you think:
Maybe I’ll find a solution.
I don’t want to overlook anything.
If I keep thinking a little longer, maybe I’ll figure it out.
I don’t want to be surprised.
I want to be responsible.
You have a hard time giving up on your worries because, in a sense, your worries have been working for you.
It’s tough to be productive in your daily life when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts. If you’re like many chronic worriers, your anxious thoughts feel uncontrollable. You’ve tried lots of things, from distracting yourself, reasoning with your worries, and trying to think positive, but nothing seems to work. Telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work—at least not for long. You can distract yourself or suppress anxious thoughts for a moment, but you can’t banish them for good. In fact, trying to do so often makes them stronger and more persistent. You can test this out for yourself. Close your eyes and picture a pink elephant. Once you can see the pink elephant in your mind, stop thinking about it. Whatever you do, for the next five minutes, don’t think about pink elephants! “Thought stopping” backfires because it forces you to pay extra attention to the very thought you want to avoid. You always have to be watching for it, and this very emphasis makes it seem even more important. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to control your worry. You just need to try a different approach. This is where the strategy of postponing worrying comes in. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of an anxious thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off thinking any more about it until later. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anxiety_self_help.htm
If I had my life to live over,
I would perhaps have more
actual troubles but I’d have
fewer imaginary ones.
When you’re homesick for a home you never had and sick from the one you did you can grow up feeling that you’re never good enough. Oh… the poor neurotic. Never good enough, and then when they are, they feel that they’ll be told to either keep it up or that it doesn’t make up for when they fell short or that they were just lucky. Even if they are not told, they can still hear those words in their head. At the core of many neurotics is an inability to comfort, calm, reassure or feel good about themselves and needing those to come from someone else. When they were young and that someone else only offered that comfort, calming, reassurance and approval if the young neurotic acted and behaved in a particular way, that can be a recipe for a lifetime of anxiety. When they did what was expected, the comfort, calming, reassurance and approval came (and rarely effusively); when they didn’t, it was withheld. This is what is often referred to as “conditional love.” The tragic thing about this is that the young neurotic, in order to receive the comfort, calming, reassurance and approval, must conform to the psychological and emotional needs of their caregivers at the cost of their own developing self as well as a piece of their soul. When they don’t do good enough according to what they believe their parent(s) expect, they feel a combination of guilt at having done something wrong and then fear by letting their parent(s) down who are often living a bit vicariously through their child. Their fear comes from feeling that having let their parent(s) down they are not just disappointed, but angry. Deep down they feel that they will lose a connection with that parent(s) if they disappoint them; they feel that if they anger them, it will completely sever the connection. And if that happens they will then feel alone, vulnerable, not enough by themselves and in a state of near panic. They need to realize that their parent(s) not being capable of loving unconditionally (possibly because of what they never received from their parents) doesn’t mean that the neurotic person is unlovable or that they are unworthy of being loved unconditionally. Furthermore, they should do their best to develop relationships with people who are capable of loving unconditionally. Ironically, they are often attracted to people who, like their parent(s), love conditionally, hoping this time they will receive the love that they continue to need inside to feel complete from someone similar to the one(s) they didn’t receive it from. From an article by Mark Goulston, M.D. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-goulston-md/neurotic_b_1604624.html
The moment someone tells you
that you’re not good enough for them,
is the moment you realize that they
were never good enough for you.
To be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe. If you know and love yourself you will find it effortless to be true to yourself. Just as you cannot love anyone else until you love yourself, you cannot be true to anyone else until you are true to yourself. Be who you are! Have the courage to accept yourself as you really are, not as someone else thinks you should be. Do not take action or pretend to be someone else for the sake of gaining acceptance. When you do things that are not genuine or a reflection of the real you, you will not be happy with yourself and will end up confused. You’ll be confused because you won’t know whom to please, or how. Self-respect comes from being true to who you really are and from acting in accordance with your fundamental nature. When you respect yourself, others will respect you. They will sense that you are strong and capable of standing up for yourself and your beliefs. When you are true to yourself, you allow your individuality and uniqueness to shine through. You respect the opinions of others but do not conform to stereotypes or their expectations of you. To be true to yourself takes courage. It requires you to be introspective, sincere, open-minded and fair. It does not mean that you are inconsiderate or disrespectful of others. It means that you will not let others define you or make decisions for you that you should make for yourself. http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/betruetoyourself.html
He who trims himself
to suit everyone
will soon whittle
Self-consciousness keeps us fighting that battle to control our self-image. But obsessing over our shortcomings inevitably traps us in embarrassment and shame. The difference between embarrassment and shame is slight but significant, and the distinction is crucial for building a protective armor of self-esteem. When we introduce our friends to a colleague and forget her name, it’s an embarrassing blow to our image, because we think others are viewing us in a negative light. If there are enough embarrassing moments that we begin viewing ourselves badly, then our self-image collapses and we feel that heavy weight of shame. Kill shame-inducing situations before they become a threat, advises David Allyn, Ph.D., a Harvard-trained social scientist and visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. His book, I Can’t Believe I Just Did That, includes a few pointers:
- Be on time. Punctuality creates self-discipline and impresses both others and yourself.
- Stick to the facts. You’re bound to get caught lying, so why bother? Lies just set you up with unnecessary opportunities to feel ashamed.
- Cut the gossip. Comments made behind your back sting, and don’t forget how you feel about those who talked about you. Focus on deep, meaningful talk…
- Keep your word. It feels good to be considered reliable, so honor your word no matter what the reasons are for disregarding them.
If the damage is already done and you find yourself at the tail end of an embarrassing situation… Don’t lash out in defense or lie to cover your tracks—you’ll just end up feeling worse and likely complicate a relationship that doesn’t need complicating. Try laughing it off or explaining why you made the mistake. Here’s a very important point to remember: People tend to forget others’ mistakes and obsess over their own. From an article by Neil Parmar http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200406/self-conscious-get-over-it
Don’t worry about what
others think about you;
worry about what they think
of themselves when they’re with you.
When we make an important negative decision about ourselves, it is painful. We make the decision – for example ‘I’m not good enough’. This is a huge decision, a complete rejection of self. Then the conscious mind looks at it and goes ‘argh!! That’s awful! I can’t live with that! I’ll put it away!’ And shoves it out of harm’s way, into the sub-conscious mind. It remains in the subconscious… where it delicately blinks away as a ‘truth’. Our lives reflect that ‘truth’. However, we are not aware that it is true for us, because we have rejected it and shoved it into a dark hole. The way to clear a belief is simply to go into the dark cupboard, pull out the belief, Bring it into awareness, and say, yes! This has been true for me. I acknowledge it and surrender to it. In this instant, as we embrace it, the belief’s power magically goes ‘ping!’ and it is no longer true for us. We are merely bringing it into the light and acknowledging it so that it can be changed. The only good thing about the ‘I’m not good enough’ belief is that it is incredibly motivating! People with the belief often have highly developed talents in diverse areas, from trying to ‘prove they are good enough’. By Jelila /Angela Torrington http://www.baliadvertiser.biz/articles/spiritual/2005/feeling.html
Once you become self-conscious,
there is no end to it;
once you start to doubt,
there is no room for anything else.
A growing body of research… suggest that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, may be the key to unlocking your true potential for greatness. Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding – it’s embracing the fact that to err is indeed human. When you are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, you neither judge yourself harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all your awesome qualities to protect your ego. It’s not surprising that self-compassion leads, as many studies show, to higher levels of personal well-being, optimism and happiness and to less anxiety and depression. People who experienced self-compassion were more likely to see their weaknesses as changeable. Self-compassion – far from taking them off the hook – actually increased their motivation to improve and avoid the same mistake again in the future. Why is self-compassion so powerful? In large part, because it is non-evaluative – in other words, your ego is effectively out of the picture – you can confront your flaws and foibles head on. You can get a realistic sense of your abilities and your actions, and figure out what needs to be done differently next time. When your focus is instead on protecting your self-esteem, you can’t afford to really look at yourself honestly. You can’t acknowledge the need for improvement, because it means acknowledging weaknesses and shortcomings – threats to self-esteem that create feelings of anxiety and depression. Here’s an unavoidable truth: You are going to screw up. Everyone – including very successful people – makes boatloads of mistakes. The key to success is, as everyone knows, to learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. But not everyone knows how. Self-compassion is the how you’ve been looking for. So please, give yourself a break. Taken from “Forget Self-Esteem” by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-success/201209/forget-self-esteem
If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way
that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long
would you allow that person to be your friend?
The approach of dissolving our image of perfection sounds contrary to our sense of logic about building confidence and esteem. This is because we have the belief that achieving the image of perfection will result in positive happy emotions and feeling confident with our success. We desire to feel these feelings and chase the image of perfection we have attached to them. What we may not be aware of is that achieving our image of success doesn’t effectively change our emotional state. It doesn’t do anything to permanently change the way the voice in our head speaks to us or what we believe about our self. Many times people have achieved their goals only to find themselves still unfulfilled. Your emotional state may briefly change in the euphoria if the immediate success. But the core belief of not being good enough and your long term habit of self rejection in the mind hasn’t been altered. The critical voice in our head is more likely to put a higher goal in front of us to achieve. The second belief to dissolve is that we are inadequate and somehow not good enough. These are the beliefs that create emotions of insecurity and fear. The emotions are not the problem they are just the resulting symptom of negative core beliefs. The “not good enough” image is a construct of our imagination. It is a belief about ourselves created by the mind concluding that we are “not good enough to meet the image of perfection.” A step to changing this belief is to recognize that we the one observing the “self” image. We can not be the “self” image we are looking at. We are the one doing the looking. This means the “self image we create is really a “non self” image. Taken from “Insecurity and Confidence” http://www.pathwaytohappiness.com/writings-insecurity.htm
I’m interested in the fact
that the less secure a man is,
the more likely he is
to have extreme prejudice.
Real Self Confidence and Esteem is based in emotion, not a self-image. To build self-confidence and overcome low self-esteem is to change how we feel emotionally about ourselves. To change our emotion requires changing two different core beliefs about self-image. The first core belief is obvious. It is the belief that we are not good enough. It may have a more specific association to how we look, how smart we are, money, or lack of confidence sexually. The second core belief to change is the image of success that we feel we should be. Changing this belief is contrary to logic, but is a must if we are to overcome insecurity and raise our self-esteem. When your mind has an image of success that you “should be” it associates happy emotions with that picture. I call that the image of perfection in our mind. The mind does a comparison between the image of perfection and how you see your self-image currently. The comparison results in judgment and self rejection for not meeting the image of perfection. The self rejection results in feeling unworthy and of low self-esteem. While the image of perfection appears to be a way for us to feel good about ourselves, it is actually causing us to reject ourselves which creates feelings of “not being good enough.” If you were to dissolve the belief that you should fit into the image of perfection you would eliminate the self rejection and feelings of unworthiness that result. Taken from “Insecurity and Confidence” http://www.pathwaytohappiness.com/writings-insecurity.htm
A man’s spirit is free,
but his pride binds him
with chains of suffocation
in a prison of his own insecurities.
Children of dysfunctional families come to believe they are responsible for their parents’ problems. As a result they develop low self-esteem, believing themselves to be incompetent or undeserving of love because they have failed their troubled parents. In other words, they internalize their parents’ problems as their own. As such, they develop unrealistic expectations about what is and isn’t their responsibility, and about what they can and can’t control in relationships. Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families carry these distorted beliefs into adulthood. They feel over-responsible for everyone around them, including spouses, children, in-laws, and co-workers. They perceive the problems of others as their own – just as they did with their parents’ problems. They are riddled with anxiety, stress, and guilt in their relationships. They ignore their own needs, feelings, and problems, and, thus, become depressed and resentful. Ultimately, they feel like failures – just as in childhood – because their goal of solving everyone’s problems is unobtainable. Codependency becomes an addiction when codependents subconsciously seek out troubled individuals as a way to avoid dealing with their own problems. By compulsively trying to “fix” an alcoholic, a codependent can feel, by comparison, like a healthy person with no problems. Yet, if the alcoholic goes away, the codependent will compulsively seek out another troubled person to “fix” in order to avoid his or her own feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy. Like any addiction, codependency stymies personal growth as the codependent uses it to avoid dealing with emotional pain just as the alcoholic uses alcohol to avoid dealing with emotional pain. Codependents are generally nice individuals who are very stressed from carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are perceptive of others but not at all perceptive of themselves. Therapy with codependents involves teaching self-care skills, and most importantly, convincing them they are not selfish, or in danger, for choosing to take care of themselves. http://serenityonlinetherapy.com/codependency.htm
One’s dignity may be assaulted,
vandalized and cruelly mocked,
but it can never be taken away
unless it is surrendered.
Michael J. Fox