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May 26, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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I Feel Empty

Question:

Hi,

My name is Constantine and I'm 18.

I was born in New York but my father died when I was 5. So when I turned 8 we moved back to Greece, where I live now. By that time I started elementary. The worse years of my life, though, were in high school.

I started to realize what it is like to lose and to feel pain. I lost many chances - things that if I'd done, today my life wouldn't be like this. I got rejected, but for this it's my fault. I made a lot of mistakes. Every single thing in my life makes me feel so...nothing. I have a constant feeling that I will lose control of myself and that's what leads me to make mistakes.

The thing that makes me hate my life though is the rejection. It's my fault and I said that before. I kicked her out of my life and I just can't forgive myself, especially when I learned that she was in love with me. Things also changed though when I learned that she was in love with my best friend too. I lied to her but I didn't mean to hurt her. I only did it because I have boundaries in my personal life and I just can't let everyone into my "personal space".

I've reached a point where I wake up at morning and I'm great, but throughout the day I get depressed and I end up being so awful, so sad and miserable at night. I think about all those mistakes I made, of how stupid I was. What can I do? I don't want to be like this. This is keeping me back; it's not letting me live my life. What is the thing I can do for myself?

Constantine, 18-year-old man

Answer:

Constantine, the single most powerful thing you can do is to stop bashing yourself. You write as if everything bad in your life was your fault, and there is nothing good there. Both of these beliefs are false.

You only mention one specific example of a bad thing: the girl you love is torn between you and your friend. She has loved both of you, and had to make a choice. Because you suffered from depression, you reacted in a way that pushed her away, and she chose your friend.

The way to treat this is to grieve for the loss and acknowledge the pain, but to learn from it. She may get sick of the other boy and return to you. If not, in time you will be attracted to other girls. By then, you need to get your act together, and avoid the things that induced her to leave you.

There is no such thing as a mistake, there are only learning experiences. Learn from this one.

You know, there are two kinds of pain. Suppose I was careless, slipped over and broke my leg. The pain in my leg and the inconvenience of crutches for 6 weeks is legitimate pain. But I can then berate myself over and over for my stupidity. I can beat myself over the head with guilt for having been careless; torture myself with "If only..."

That would have no benefit to me at all. It does not undo the accident. My leg is broken, and that's that. I can't avoid the legitimate pain, but I certainly can choose not to suffer the extra self-torture I put on top of it.

You have a certain past that involved losses. Because of this, as a little boy you built a picture of the world that tends to get you down. As a little boy, you probably got the idea that somehow you should have been able to stop your father from dying, that leaving New York was somehow your own fault. This helped you then to make sense of your world, but now, as an 18-year-old, do you still agree that you had that responsibility?

This is the exact way you are still hurting yourself. Bad things happen. They happen to everyone. Often, they are completely out of our control, as your father's death was out of your control. And we can live with them. You've survived without your father for 13 years.

Some bad things are caused, partly or wholly, by our actions. If you look back at such an event and see you've made mistakes, this only shows that you have learned since. If you can work out how to do things better next time, then you have gained in wisdom, and the suffering was therefore worthwhile.

So, be kind to yourself. Find the good things in your life. (For example, if you were as horrible as you believe yourself to be, how come this girl did love you equally with your friend?) Develop your strengths and learn from your mistakes.

Have a good life. You can.

Bob

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

For more information visit the site or contact information page on QueenDom.

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