The Negative – An Enormous Can of Worms

I received a message yesterday on Twitter from someone who asked “What do you actually think about yourself? How do you see yourself?” and I realised that this is a question that I have been skirting around and generally avoiding so far…. An enormous can of worms.

The short answer I suppose is that I don’t really like myself very much at all. I see myself generally as a failure and as someone who is deeply flawed. I don’t ‘hate’ myself, but I do have very low self-esteem. I look at my life and wonder why I don’t have the things that so many other people have. I’m Mr Average and I hate that. I constantly try and remind myself that I have so very much compared to so many people, but I just can’t help turning my sights towards and comparing myself to those that are richer, more successful, more popular, more respected, more attractive, more intelligent, better at this, better at that, got a bigger house, live in a better area, go on more exotic holidays, have more friends… you get the idea. I look at those people (there seem to be so many!) and wonder where I went wrong. Why don’t I have those things? Those qualities? I’ve tried really hard to convince myself that I am happy with my lot, but the truth is I’m not. Then I try and think how I can get to where I want to be and I realise that I don’t actually know where I want to be, or indeed who. I waste so much energy on envy, but actually I am envious of an ideal that doesn’t actually exist. Yes that person might have a more impressive job, earn more money and live in a bigger house etc. but that doesn’t make them happier. Their job is probably so stressful it will send them to an early grave, they probably don’t have time to spend the extra money they earn or enjoy their big house, and their family life could be a total nightmare.

So I’m often judging my life against a perceived ideal, not a reality – I can’t possibly win this one but I just can’t stop myself from doing it, and I can’t stop myself from feeling dissatisfied with my own life or achievements. I sometimes do manage to stop myself from thinking like this, and to be thankful for what I have, but it always creeps back to the envy and dissatisfaction.

What elements of my life am I unhappy with? OK – lets make another list:
In no particular order…

1. My job. I am 41 years old and I am someones assistant. I should have my own company or be the boss by now but I don’t particularly like the industry i work in and there is no real way for me to progress my career where I am. So I want a new job in a new industry but have no idea what industry or what role I want to fulfill.

2. Friends. My circle of friends is ever decreasing. Mainly losses to marriage and children, but also the occasional falling out. The friends I have left I don’t really share any common interests with.

3. Music. I’m a musician and occasional song-writer and I record music which I actually like, but unfortunately no one else does. My friends & family aren’t really interested which is a very bitter pill to swallow as it’s probably the only real passion in life that I have. This lack of interest has slowly eroded my confidence and love of making music. This probably needs it’s own post.

4. Being Single (& the reasons). This one is incredibly complex! I have been meaning to get stuck into writing about this area of my life since I started this blog, but I keep putting it off. It is probably central to everything…

5. My grumpiness / temper / general temperament.

6. My lack of motivation and drive

7. My low  self-esteem and opinion of myself

And there we are – full circle. I think that pretty much covered every single aspect of my life. So where the fuck do I go from here?

The other part to the Twitter question: How do I see myself? Again in no particular order: Lazy, unmotivated, average, Jack-of-all-trades master of none, underachiever, damaged, cynical, grumpy, sometimes funny, often irreverent, defeatist, attention seeking (to a degree), lost, directionless, depressive, somewhat bi-polar (never tested or diagnosed), cowardly, dissatisfied, good listener, supportive, empathetic, strong in a crisis (someone elses), very loyal, good at seeing the bigger picture (apart from when it comes to my own life), polite, well-mannered (generally), perfectionist of sorts, wannabe optimist, addictive personality, self-deceiving, contradictory, inferior, self-conscious, self-centred, somewhat vain, self-loathing…

…and I think reading that list back I’d better include: confused.

Oh blimey – that’s a worrying list.

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About RescueMyLife

I am a single man, 45 years old living in London and working in the media. My life is complex and I have decided to try and make some sense of it. I am writing this blog anonymously as I believe that only by remaining anonymous can I be honest and speak freely about my thoughts and feelings. I have no idea where this blog will take me...
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6 Responses to The Negative – An Enormous Can of Worms

  1. My ideas after reading your blog:

    You are always comparing yourself. But you say yourself that what you see – you KNOW – doesn’t make them happier – so why compare? Is there a way to stop this?

    You know what you would change.. You judge your life but what about the positive things: You are creative, you write and and play music as well as your blog

    Your family are not supportive….so therefore it is hard for you to pick yourself up every time as you really are on your own.. newsflash::ultimately we are all alone ! However what you miss seems to me to be the skills and coping strategies to deal with it all.

    Everything comes down to where you are right now in your life. I agree that baby steps are a great idea… you need more structure and to have someone help you with some goals….

    You also say lots of positive things about yourself: you are a good listener, supportive, empathetic, strong in a crisis (someone else’s), very loyal, good at seeing the bigger picture (apart from when it comes to my own life), polite, well-mannered (generally), perfectionist of sorts

    What career do you want? Let’s Skype…..

    • RescueMyLife says:

      It drives me mad to be honest. As you rightly point out, I know all the logic and realities to these supposed ideals, yet still I can’t help yearning for these things and feeling inferior and depressed if I don’t have them – it’s almost like my mind is split in two: one half is logic & reason and the other is like some spoilt little child throwing a tantrum because he can’t have what he wants. The logic and reason will always win out, but sometimes the spoilt child manages to throw his toys far enough out of his pram to totally derail logic and reason for a while (resulting in the bleakness).

      I tell myself all the right things, but sometimes I just refuse to listen. Finding a way to stop this would undoubtedly make an enormous difference to my life. I think my battle is with envy, materialism, pride & bruised ego.

      To be fair to my family, they are wonderful – just not great about ‘things of the mind’ – they are incredibly supportive in so many other ways, but on this one I am very much on my own and I’m ok with that even if it isn’t ideal. I have lived by myself for the last 15 years so I am quite comfortable with my own company. The truth is I can’t really ‘talk’ about these things anyway because I just get incredibly confused about what I’m trying to / want to say. I think the issues are so broad-ranging and complex that the only truly effective way I can confront them is to splurge it all down in a blog and slowly try to piece together the strands. I’ve written quite a lot so far but still there are a lot of key things about my life that I have not yet even touched on.

      Baby steps and structure definitely good, but my moods are a little pendulous at the moment and the steps I can take when ‘up’ are very different to the ones I am able to take when ‘down’, so finding a workable structure is kinda hard.

      What career do I want? I wish I knew that too. Something that I enjoy, a job I can be proud of and that is fulfilling. I have thought about this for years now and still don’t feel any closer to working it out. Most of the things I think I quite like the idea of, I am not qualified for or have the necessary experience. A large part of the problem here is my damaged confidence… if I don’t believe myself capable then how can I expect others to believe in me? The one thing I do know for sure is that I don’t want to stay in the same industry that I work in now.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and to share your thoughts – it really does help and it is greatly appreciated. As far as getting on Skype, I would have to wear a mask or something or I would no longer be anonymous! I feel that my anonymity is really important to this particular process, as it has enabled me so far to be absolutely honest and talk with confidence from behind a safety barrier.
      RML

  2. mrsp says:

    Looking at your list I see a lot of me, am no longer envious of others though, I was at once stage but I had to get to away from the pressures of the job I was doing (partly due to my worsening mental health & due to a life threatening accident my hubby had) and without trying it just sort of melted away. I might’ve given up at the time, so that’s not really a step I’d recommend! Since, in my own way I just try & hang on to life & that takes up a silly amount of time! Many of the qualities you list are those others lack, I get grumpy (really) & angry but then feel bad about it, that makes it worse yadda yadda yadda… I hope the blogging / offloading is helping somehow. I don’t talk much in ‘real life’ about this stuff. I wish I could write songs (I cannot play instruments nor sing!) I love music and my memories usually have a musical trigger. If you enjoy it, keep at it. Good luck with all of this. Wherever it takes you.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      The envy I suppose is usually a monetary thing rather than a status thing; it upsets me that I can’t have a flashy car like my brother & sister, or the latest home entertainment systems or iPad like my colleagues at work. I don’t particularly want their jobs and subsequent lifestyles…. although of course with money comes status, so they are intrinsically connected.
      I know where you’re coming from about feeling guilty after being grumpy or angry – it really can be a vicious circle.
      The blogging is definitely helping in many ways, but in others it is actually making things a little worse – I’m bombarding and confronting myself all the time with all the thing I don’t like about myself and there are so many that it is almost feeling like too big a task to deal with by myself. I’m really struggling to keep my head above the water at the moment and to try and take a positive outlook on life. I suppose this is just part of the process but it’s opening up some pretty big wounds. Because of that I am having to limit myself how much time I spend blogging / thinking about everything or I think I might push myself over the edge, which let’s face it would be counter-productive.
      On a more positive note though, I think once I have written 3 or 4 more key blogs about areas of my life I haven’t yet really gone into so far, I will be able to move forward. So far I keep avoiding writing about the big stuff though…..
      Thank you for taking the time to read, and comment on my blog I really appreciate it.
      RML

  3. MrsP says:

    Sounds like you are having tough time right now. Hope things improve for you. I wonder if it’s a bit like therapy where it gets worse before it gets better?
    As I think more about it, I think I do experience envy – specifically towards those who seem to be able to brush off difficult experiences & have good mental health whatever happens. I know these things make us who we are, but I would love a day where I didn’t think any other these thoughts that bother me, a day that was simply relaxing and carefree. Wishing thinking eh?

    Actually, I wish we could all have that.

    Take care ;o)

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi MrsP,
      I’m hoping exactly that – that it is working a bit like therapy and this is the ‘gets worse’ bit before it gets better. I am really struggling at the moment to stay on top of everything. I’m pretty strong though and usually self-manage my depressions quite effectively. Unfortunately my self-management involves a lot of distraction and concerted effort to not think about stuff too deeply. This time I’m meeting it head on & I think I can’t avoid the fact that am going to come out of it a little bloody. I knew when I started this blog it was going to be a journey and I didn’t know where it was going to take me… I’m now beginning to understand the general direction I’m heading in, and how difficult it is going to be.

      I suppose the envy thing is something everyone has to deal with, it’s just a matter of how you control it. A little envy is probably even quite healthy – it’s when it consumes you, or you become bitter through it, that it turns into a problem.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts MrsP – I hope things improve for you too.
      RML

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