some questions regarding the mind...

Hey guys,

I am having a really hard time with a few things.

  1. I constantly compare myself to others (think I am a failure, etc), think I am less because I make less, and cannot focus on the now (even in a really nice situation my mind might worry/stray off and think about other things).

It’s to the point where I quit a bad job because I was going nuts comparing my friend’s positive work experience to my “just a job,” and when I got a better one, I still compare, finding anything better about what they’re doing. It’s sick, I know it, and I constantly try to fight it by reminding myself of the logic and the positive things in my life, but I can tell it’s still there, waiting for me to hear something really positive for someone else that for some reason makes me question what I’m doing with my life, my capabilities, etc.

  1. I have a problem living in the now. I constantly am aware of time and stress out that I only have 4 hours before bed, then work, etc (the weekend’s the same, I stress if it’s already Saturday, etc). If I cannot be with the person I love for extended periods of time I stress-time is too big of an issue…why I know it should not matter.

Any advice? Should I go see a counselor? Can I be helped? Are there things I can do daily to help with this stuff?


This Aussie doctor has an interesting view of the inside of our heads. The therapy system makes lots of sense - kind of like modern western Zen.

thanks for the article, I’ll read it for sure. Any other ideas guys?

My advice, as someone who’s had similar issues, would be to ignore the fuzzy-wuzzy therapy, the new-age ‘mindfulness’ theories, and things like that. If you want to change, see a psychiatrist. If it’s depression and/or an anxiety, it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain, and the only way to fix that is (drumroll…) chemical intervention.

Or, you can accept that that’s how you are. Some people aren’t happy people. Some people aren’t calm people. That’s life. I realized I became a lot more content once I tried to stop fighting what had been diagnosed as social anxiety and just acknowledged that I’m a person who prefers not to be around people. There’s no reason to change anything about it, and - in my personal, certainly biased experience - mental health professionals will spend most of their time making you feel even worse about yourself by talking endlessly about what’s wrong with you.

Just my two cents; I’m sure plenty of people will disagree with me.

If you don’t have a favorite intoxicant, get one.

At least it dulls the pain for a little while.

drugs? ignore it? thanks…come on :frowning:

Not to sound all hippy-dippy, but have you tried yoga? The meditative aspect helped me a lot when I stayed up all night endlessly worrying about things I had to do the next day.

You’re obviously worried about things that are completely out of your control: what other people do for a living, what time it is, etc. Now IANA psychologist but I would think that any therapy would involve trying to ignore those things in life that you have no control over, and focusing on those things that you do have control over.

You can’t control time, but you can control how wisely you use time.

You can’t control what other people do or how much they make, but you can control your own career path and destiny.

Try, as a starter, telling yourself “it’s out of my control.” Maybe by convincing yourself that there’s nothing you can do about it you’ll be able to relax more and put things in perspective.

yeah, that’s probably a good start. Has anyone else dealt with this? Should I go another step and seek counsel?

Boy I see a lot of people going through this. I have no idea if counseling would help or not but I think mariposalabrown is on the right track with the yoga suggestion, especially meditation. You absolutely can learn to live in the moment; you might as well since you have no choice but to live in the moment. I think you’d be best served by learning about mindfulness the way Thich Nhat Hahn and others teach it. Just my 2 cents.

that’s cool, yeah I might actually try yoga to help with that. What about the comparing and the lack of confidence? Is that something a psychologist can help with?

Yeah a psychologist may help. The trick is picking a therapeutic model that is easy to live with. The book by the guy I recommended starts off by explaining how the little voice in your head that never shuts up works. And you can’t stop it it is there forever - it’s part of being human. And it tells you stuff like “you are a failure,” “you earn less because you are worth less” or “you can’t stay in the now.”

However you can learn to acknowledge the useless messages, not act on them and find better ones to guide your life. So life doesn’t become effortless it’s just that you start to use your efforts more wisely. You change the balance between the amount of time you spend reacting without thinking and the amount of time you know what you are doing, and why you are doing it.

How physically active are you? When I sit around all day I mentally feel like crap. 3 weeks ago I stopped driving to work and now walk to the train station, walk to the office, and reverse that and walk home. It’s about 4 miles extra per day and I’ve found myself walking more on weekends. I noticed last night how much clearer and positive my outlook is. I’ve lost weight.

Yoga, biking, martial arts, walking, anything to get you moving will not hurt and help in all kinds of ways.

I am pretty active. I think I have a pretty cool job, I’m a project manager for a web developer, but I always find something to pick at …my company is not as cool as this one…im not as good as this person…blah blah blah :slight_smile:

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you; I think you just have some habits of negative self-talk, rooted in a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. We live in a negative world, with negative things constantly reinforced; it can be difficult to be a positive person in this atmosphere. Some people manage it; most don’t. Your habits of negative self-talk can be changed, just like you can change any habit.

I would advise counseling, but counselors tend to focus on talk therapy which is not what you need, in my inexpert opinion - you need a concrete plan for developing better thinking patterns. If you could find a therapist who works with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), I think you would have great success with that. Rather than just talking about your childhood or whatever, it actually teaches you methods to think more realistically and reinforce positive thinking with positive behaviours.

There are also many self-help books on this topic; some examples I recommend regularly to people looking for help with anxiety disorders are:
Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression – Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D.
The Power of Self-Coaching – Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D.
From Panic to Power - Lucinda Bassett
The Feeling Good Handbook – Dr. David D. Burns, M.D.
Anxiety and Phobia Workbook – Edmund J. Bourne
Coping with Anxiety: Ten Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear, and Worry - Edmund J. Bourne, Lorna Garano
Power over Panic - Bronwyn Fox
Hope and Help for Your Nerves - Dr. Claire Weeks
Worry – Edward M. Hallowell

ETA: Regarding the medication issue - they have established that positive thinking stimulates the same areas of the brain as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) which are commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression. Take five positive thoughts and call me in the morning! :slight_smile:

Is ACT substantially different than DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)?