I’m a 34 year old male and for many years i went through phases where i was very hard on myself, no matter what i achieved, I would still tell myself that its not good enough and pretty much destroy any sort of “good feelings” that i assume come with such things. Thats not to say that i’m a perfectionist , the work i’m in now is far from impressive, nor is any other aspect in my life, in short to say that i’m a failure is a understatement. Over the past 16 months i have been going to counseling and talking about these feelings, along with some very strong feelings of anxiety, that almost lead me to taking my life, and things have got a little better , i’ll admit its nice to be able to sleep without first reliving almost every event of the pervious day and picking out the mistakes i made and how these mistakes will affect me. despite all this, i still feel that i’m the same person, i should be better , i should be in a better work position , i should be more outing , but i’m none of these and fear I never will be; simply because all of the things i’ve done so far are no good if i’m just going to remain in the same position. I’ve tired different methods of dealing with these feelings ( questioning them, standing up to them, positive self talk, exercise ) but none of these have worked out to well. At the moment i’m stuck, the strong feelings of anxiety have gotten a whole lot weaker, i don’t have a urges to hurt my self physically , but I still feel like the same person and fear i’ll remain like this forever (age 34, from Ireland)
Thank you for writing in. My first suggestion is to be patient. You say that you’ve been struggling with these issues for many years, likely your entire life, so it will take time to change these very ingrained ways of thinking and feeling. I’m happy that you are in therapy and seeing progress! In my experience, changing the perfectionistic, overly self-critical thinking that leads to the feelings of “not good enough” can take extensive work. Sounds like you are well on your way.
My other suggestion is to supplement the counseling you are doing with other things to accelerate your growth. Read self-help books, go to healing retreats and workshops, join a support group, or try adjunctive therapy techniques such as EMDR or Somatic Therapy. The more you put in, the more you get out. Many of my clients realize that they have much more time and energy to focus on getting well when they spend less time beating themselves up about everything. Choose wisely how you expend your mental energy, and keep up the good work!
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts