From a teen in Malaysia: I’m Asian and grew up constantly being compared to other people, especially my sister, in terms of grades, achievements, sports and basically everything. The problem was that i bad at everything, even if i were average, it wasn’t good enough at all.
My parents love me no doubt but having that constant judgement of disappointment gave me an inferiority complex where i constantly compare myself to other people. And if I didn’t do the best, doesn’t matter in what, i’ll beat myself up over it(not physically). Always thinking, why am i not as good, always so useless, pathetic and just get annoyed at myself. I have been doing this for so many years to the point where i don’t see any positive point in myself. Whenever i feel like i’m good at something, i just think, “No, you are not, you are nothing compared to the people better than you, who the hell do you think you are?” It has gotten to the point where whenever i make a mistake, I would just burn out from work easily.
When i was about 5 or 6, my sister told me that every compliment that i get was a lie just to make me feel good. So i did a test, I purposely drew something ugly and showed it to my mother, the moment she said it was nice, I believed my sister. Well now, I understand that some compliments are true and genuine but i grew up thinking every compliment is a means nothing and it has still stuck. Because of this, it has been very very difficult for me to be positive to myself.
Whenever I fail at something, it hits me really hard. For days i will just stare at a wall, just having an endless battle in my head, “Why am i so bad”, “I should try harder, but what’s the point if you are going to fail again?” ,”there’s only so many opportunities, any more failure and you will trouble your family”, “I can’t give up!, no you can’t you can’t afford to or you will be a failure”, “aren’t i already one?, etc.
Sorry if this is abit of a long read, but i don’t know what to do anymore
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an important American writer, once said “You are what you think”. It’s true. Negative thoughts only produce more negative thoughts. Arguing with them doesn’t work. Telling yourself not to think them only makes them stronger. (Not thinking about something is thinking about it!) But you can change how you think.
One of the basic skills taught in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is “cognitive restructuring”. Cognitive Restructuring is a step by step process for changing your thoughts. Very simply, it goes like this:
1) Keep a journal for a few days of all your negative thoughts. Take notes about where you are, who you are with, what’s going on, etc. this is important information.
2) Analyze your information. You may find that certain situations are more likely to produce negativity than others.
3) Look at instances where your thinking is “black and white”. If, for example, you tell yourself that you always fail at something, think of times when you didn’t fail. Write them down!
4) Replace negative thoughts with the contrary information. For example, if you think “I always fail at work”, remind yourself of times when you did a good job.
This will take time and practice. So practice, practice, practice. You have years of negative thinking to undo, so it will take a while to change it. Many people find that having the help and support of a therapist makes the process more efficient.
I also urge you to go on the internet and research ways to transform negative thinking into positive thinking. It’s often reassuring to know you’re not alone in a problem. It’s often helpful to chat with others who are dealing with the same issues.
You are only 18. I’m very, very glad that you’ve identified this as a problem and that you want to fix it. You deserve the time and effort it takes to turn your thinking around so that you can have a long and successful life without constantly worrying about being failure.
I wish you well,