CBT, an explanation

ttl-inside

I am following modules on ‘Self Esteem’ and it makes for interesting reading. There are 9 modules and I am on module 6 of the set.

I am finding myself agreeing with everything I have read so far except on the basis of, how I advise other people. Everything I am reading is just stating how I have naturally approached issues of self esteem in others. This is both true but, a little unhelpful. I accept and acknowledge the causes, that’s spot on for me. I was bullied and put down a lot as a child into my teens and my memories are of not being good enough so that obviously will have had an influence upon me but, to be honest, I feel I conquered all that in my 30’s. I stopped making excuses and protecting myself, I really did become a different person and especially from around the end of the 1990’s. Many who’d known me prior to being 30 wouldn’t recognise me as a person today. You know, it’s funny, I do still have some pointless hang ups from my childhood. Part of me still gets a little anxious when I have to buy something because of how often I got ignored in shops as was customary for perceived young kids in shops in the 60’s and early 70’s and, being so short I was always treated as a child regardless of age. That feeling doesn’t stop me buying stuff (I wish it did, I’d save a fortune) but I acknowledge a remnant of it remains. I don’t feel intimidated as I used to, I can give as good as I get these days. Am I over compensating? I don’t know, I think perhaps sometimes I do. I could possibly let someone have it where the situation could have been handled more delicately. But then, that’s a fine line isn’t it? If I deal with a situation with diplomacy and get shit on from a great height and my objectives are not met, does that resolve anything?

A saying constantly comes back to me as I read these modules and it is: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”. Perhaps there is a bias in such things to always presume that current issues people have and the way they deal with them have a historical protectionist methodology behind them. That coming away from a given situation feels shit not because it was shit but because we merely perceive it that way because of our core beliefs in ourselves. Yes, I am using a lot of big long words.

They give an example of a quiz night invite from friends where a person feels they won’t be clever enough, they are too stupid so will either decline the invitation or resolve themselves to the fact that it’s going to be an utter humiliation. They are advised, during the module to not think that way, instead consider that it is a social event, it doesn’t matter, win or lose, it doesn’t matter if they answer any questions or not. Indeed, answering just one question should be seen as a great personal achievement and how wonderful that friends invited them. All good positive thinking and, in theory, it should work.

I’ve had this experience … I’ve gone into such a thing knowing I might not be able to achieve greatly but that’s OK because they’d be pretty dumb to know me so little they’d invite me along if they didn’t expect to answer some questions themselves! I didn’t care if we won or lost, it wasn’t important as the company and experience were far more pertinent. There was no complicated thought process just a relaxed approached with a little anxiety that we might all look totally stupid! But, that’s not how it turned out. They were all taller than me, we were standing up at (for me) chest high tables. None of them looked at me directly, they just talked to each other. I tried to converse with them but, in their haste to answer quickly they didn’t take the time to acknowledge I existed. When we left one of them commented they didn’t know why I bothered turning up seeing as I didn’t contribute anything! That was hurtful and it made me incredibly angry. Needless to say, they are not friends now. But it goes to show that no matter how much a person changes to minimise a negative outcome, they do still happen.

I’ve done quiz nights since (sitting down) and they were great, just to point that out. My point being, we can change as much as we need to in a way which ensures we have a high self esteem but that doesn’t stop shit happening and it’s a shame they don’t acknowledge that or, haven’t done so yet.

I know I am actually very likable, OK, ‘I’ think that I am and don’t have a reason to think otherwise. I cannot overlook my lack of friends who’d put themselves out for me though. This is where self doubt comes in because I know, for an absolute fact, that I also have friends who I don’t talk to barely at all, actually, fell out with that, if I called them up and said I urgently needed them, they’d be here if they could. I’ve probably got more genuine friends like that than many other people. I’d rather have the handful I have than hundreds of ‘friends’ who frankly don’t want to know about ‘heavy shit’ and only want to be friends for the fun times. That said, I’d love to have more fun times, am stagnating a little here! I’ve also been attracted to younger people, I now acknowledge this is a partial mistake as it places them in a difficult position. England today is very ‘bic’ and ‘ist’. One of those is ‘ageist’. We practically encourage a generational divide from birth. Some are extremely hostile toward age difference. It’s very difficult to include someone in their 50’s into a group of 20 somethings. Some may ask why they brought their granddad along or their dad and, well, I am not out to make my friends feel awkward so, that’s not happening. I have learnt that ageism is one ‘ism’ almost impossible to eradicate as it’s just so acceptable. Younger male friends might think I only want them for their body and, there may be some truth in that I could find them attractive and might not say no but, my friendship with them actually doesn’t depend on the physical, I just happen to believe they’re fun to be around and might want to do some of the nutty things I want to do such as aerial assault course, segway challenges and so on, more so perhaps than someone my own age might. Age doesn’t seem to be such a thing in the Philippines which is perhaps why I like it so much but then, when I speak to someone my age there saying they’re old (Randy), I do despair a little!

So, anyway, CBT is about getting us to work out the causes of our issues and working though methodologies to overcome those issues through honest self assessment and experimentation. Right now though I suspect I am on the wrong set of modules, I don’t think my major issue is self esteem. I don’t think its confidence, in my mind I am capable of doing things that I often discover are not quite so easy when I try them! I’d say that was the reverse of a low self esteem. My expectations are not unrealistic, I just try and run before I can walk. My objectives and expectations of what I can achieve are sound and I genuinely believe I will get there. So, it’s not self esteem, it’s something else …. I need to speak to my man at the clinic again but, I am really edging to this theory it’s as simple as loneliness, needing a life companion (I don’t care for dogs). It’s quite possible to be surrounded by people who love and care for us but still feel lonely if we don’t have a mutually caring and loving relationship … assuming we’re that sort of person and, I am!

I tell you what as a kid I considered a failure, one of many things, getting a divorce and getting married more than one. So, I am divorced twice now and still very open to the idea of a long and happy married life. I couldn’t think like that if I had a low self esteem!

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