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Worry and anxiety


Marv

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How do I stop worrying about what other people are worrying about? How do I stop worrying about other people? How do I stop getting anxious about what other people think of me?  

I really need help with these questions. I worry about other people and what people think of me so much so that it can really negatively impact me and my day. I've always told people that you come first, before anyone else, and that helping other people is good but you have to look after yourself first, yet I don't seem to be able to do that myself. I will go out of my way to help others, which I'm really proud of myself for and I love having it as a trait, but it's starting to really impact me negatively. For example, I have a friend who comes over to my flat sometimes and they really really hate loud noises (which I totally respect and it isn't their fault). But I lean towards the extravert side and I have suspected ADHD, meaning sometimes I can be quite loud. I, and a couple of my friends, also have tics and some of them are very loud (clapping loudly, sometimes we scream or shout) and I can see how it makes them physically cringe. I'm not blaming them, it's just I've started holding these loud tics in and holding in all my energy which isn't good for me. I'm not always loud, but sometimes I need to be. That's who I am. I'm changing myself for someone else and I hate it. I feel like I spend way too much time worrying about other people and I'm not actually making any progress on myself anymore. I feel stuck. I feel like I'm stuck trying to hatch out of my egg. I also came out to my mom yesterday and told her I've been exploring my gender, she took it well, it wasn't a negative response, but now I'm just constantly worrying what she thinks of me and that I've upset her or worried her. There's just no space in my brain for myself anymore and I really don't know how to change that. Any tips at all would be greatly appreciated. 

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey @Marv

It's lovely to hear from you again. Apart from the worrying, how have you been feeling?

From what you've told me, it does sound like you're winding yourself up a lot. It must be tough for you to feel calm right now, but it's good that you're being open about it because this is the key to moving forward :)

I think that a good place to start can be to think about why you focus so much on what's going on for other people and why you care so much about what they think? This way of thinking usually starts in response to something, like a hard time or when something bad happened. Also, our worries tend to be fuelled by our negative thoughts about things, and if we can think about things differently, then we can stop ourselves from being so worried. So, it might be helpful to write down some of the specific thoughts you have so that we can come up with a different way of looking at things. What do you reckon?

Take care and speak soon. 

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Hi @Monsoon 

Apart from the worrying, since I've finished uni exams I've been a lot better. I think I'm still trying to  destress and get back on my feet, but otherwise I'm not like constantly actively stressing like I was. I think overall, I'm feeling good. 

I think the worrying and caring so much about what others think comes from different things. I remember in year 7 in high school, I was super super confident. I used to talk to anyone and everyone, and then I got picked on and realised it was a very different place to primary school... I also realised that if I wanted to fit in and find friends, I'd have to hide my tics. Throughout high school, too, I had this friend who was very nice but she had a lot of problems at home and with her mental health, and I dedicated my high school time to helping her which was fine, but I literally mean like years, and she didn't always listen. I think it took a toll on me? like, I always think about others first, think about what they might be thinking or feeling, help others first, think about their anxieties and thoughts first, before my own. It's just automatic, but I think it's turned into what people think of me as well. I don't know  if i'm making any sense... I'm just brainstorming. Basically, the desire to fit in, constantly helping others and not looking out for myself, being picked on, I think it's all impacted me. I've had a hard time with my tics too throughout my teens so that probably contributes to it all too. 

My mom suggested writing stuff down. I've been thinking of a diary or something, or a positivity journal, or something. I've done a positivity journal before which helped a lot. I dunno, I feel like I'm just always tense and trying to fit in still, or trying to make others happy without even thinking about myself. I get negative thoughts like, if I'm too loud people will find me annoying, or, what if I look stupid doing it, or, they won't like me if I do this, or, I've probably upset them now, and then I end up overthinking everything and spiraling out of control. 

I really don't know how clear all this is, haha, hopefully you're following. female body photography

Thanks Monsoon. Also, would you mind replying in a slightly larger font for me so it's easier to read? thanks :)

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey Marv,

Thanks for getting back to me. More than happy to write in a larger font :)

I completely get everything that you're saying. You are clearly a very kind person for always putting others first before yourself. You must be a really great friend. However, correct me if I'm wrong, but it kind of sounds like you've neglected yourself over the years. Do you think that's fair to say? And my question is, for what? Yeah, you it's good to be there for others, but you also have to be there for yourself. You are your own best friend. The greatest relationship we can have is with ourselves. 

When we try to bend to whatever other people want us to be, we lose sight of ourselves and we aren't authentic anymore. I think that people are drawn to authenticity - the greatest gift you can give to the world is to be yourself, 100%. This is when you are at your best, and people will be able to see that you glow from it.

I wonder, how might your life be different if you start to think of yourself more and do what makes you happy?

Speak soon.

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Hi @Monsoon

You know what, I think you're completely right. I think I've definitely neglected myself just more and more over the years, and now it's resulted in me instinctively putting myself second and others first. I'm not entirely sure why, I guess it stems a lot from the stuff I said in the messages before. I've had friends before say to me that it's great that I help people but I need to make sure I'm okay before others are okay, and that I shouldn't let their stuff affect me. I definitely need to become more intune with myself and listen to myself, I need to listen to myself more. 

I think if I start to think about myself more, my confidence (in general and in myself) would increase for starters which is something I could really do with because I have so many things I want to do and I feel like I start to emerge from my shell but end up only coming half out or even just going back inside. I really need the confidence. Like I said, I had great confidence in year 7, then I totally lost it, I'd love to have that back again. If I started thinking of myself more, I reckon I'd happier, happier with myself, more outgoing, relaxed, less stressed and anxious, and on top of things. I think it would also help in regards to depression recovery as well, I'd be doing things I want to do, trying things I want to do, and be more on top of things like I said. I've had a couple of friends before say to me that I don't always seem very certain of myself and they think sometimes I just bounce of other people, so if I had this confidence and happiness and certainty, it would really help with a lot of things. 

Where do I start in achieving this? 

Edited by Marv
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  • Digital Mentor

Hey Marv,

Yeah, you're totally right. If we always put others first, we kind of give ourself the message that we are not worthy of compassion and self-care. Instead, this energy is directed onto others completely, and we take the attention away from our own basic wants and needs. I think that it's tricky to figure out exactly where you need to start, but being aware of it is a powerful intervention in itself. Changing your perspective and having the willpower to want to do better for yourself is so important, and as time goes on, you will notice that you start to look at situations differently and consider yourself and your needs more. I wonder, what do you think you need to do next to start achieving this? What small changes could you make in your life to move forward a step? 

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Hey @Monsoon

Hmm, yeah it is tricky to pick a starting point. I think I should have more me time for starters, I need to get back into hobbies and working on projects, and just have me time to think over things and work on myself. I'm not entirely sure how to do that but we'll work it out. We mentioned earlier a journal too which I need to do. I'm thinking a sort of positivity/thought of the day sort of thing to write before bed. Whilst we've been chatting about this, I've been trying to make little changes. Like tonight, me and my friends were all chatting in the kitchen and I felt socially exhausted. Usually I'd stay anyway but tonight I decided to leave the fun early to just relax which feels good. I think just learning to look after myself better is a massive one for me,  I have a lot of habits and mindsets I need to break. So there's a few things to start with.... although I feel a couple may not be considered small(?). Do you have any recommendations? 

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey Marv,

Sorry, I realised I didn't make the text larger on my last post. I'm glad to hear about all of the things you can do to help yourself. Rather than give you tips myself, I thought it would be best to ask you what you think could work, because when we come up with our own solutions, we are more likely to follow through with them rather than when someone gives us ideas, so I'm glad to see that you came up with quite a few.

I think it's really positive that you looked after yourself more tonight by leaving early and relaxing. The more of this, the better. If there are any other situations which you find might have an unnecessary negative impact on you, then if you can reduce such experiences/how much you engage with them, then you will also be doing a good deed for yourself. With your kind of situation, it's hard to make big changes all at once, and it can often be more manageable to have smaller changes over time. 

What would you say some of the other habits and mindsets are? 

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Hey Monsoon,

That's okay :) 

Yes, I'm trying to pick things apart and work out little things I can tackle to improve the bigger picture. Actually, one thing I've been working on and am very proud of is saying sorry less. I realised I was saying sorry way too much and for things that I shouldn't be sorry for. I've been really making an effort to stop doing that. I've got my friends involved too and we tell each other off each time we say sorry unnecessarily. Next year for uni we're going to have a sorry (swear) jar! But anyway, that's definitely really helping me, I'm showing myself that I don't need to be sorry for going to bed earlier for example. So I guess that's one bad habit/mindset but I'm working on breaking that one. 

Other bad habits/mindsets I have include: not showering enough; treating food as a reward (I realise this is a big bad thing, but I only did this during exams and I'm doing good now, it is something I'm going to mention to someone though just incase); simple things like sitting down for way too long or no drinking enough during the day; going to bed incredibly late thinking that I don't have enough time during the day when actually if I go to bed earlier, I'll get up earlier and have more time; not having enough relaxing time or thinking I have no time for meditation which is something I wanna do; I don't have a self care routine of any sort either. There's a few. I'm trying to think of ones that link to our original discussion about other people's thoughts and perception about me but I'm not sure. I'm sure there are others but those are ones that spring to mind right now. I know I can change them and I hope to. Working all this kind of stuff out will make my brain healthier and me more confident, right? 

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Hey @Marv

Thanks for getting back to me. I'm really pleased to hear about all of the progress that you've been making. The thing about saying sorry too much is so important - by constantly apologising, we tell ourselves that we are inconveniencing others and that we are doing something wrong, when actually, it's just another habit that we've formed over the years, and what purpose does it serve? By moving away from that, we can help to see ourselves as less of an inconvenience which boosts our self-esteem.

Also, thank you for telling me about your bad habits and mindsets. I'd just be careful to not put too much pressure on yourself. For example, it's good to let ourselves relax by sitting down for a while and having a late night here and there.  This also forms part of a self-care routine by taking some pressure off. So, I can see that you want to improve these things, but don't stress yourself out if you sometimes feel like you're not exactly where you want to be.

What do you think? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi @Monsoon

Yes, that sounds good. It's been a week since you replied and I've moved back home for summer from university. It's been tricky settling back in, it's a challenge, but I'm trying my best. There's already been a few times where I'd have usually said 'sorry' but I haven't and it boosted my self confidence a little which is cool. I've had some early nights and last night I stayed up pretty late, so I think I'm doing good. I definitely need to take the pressure off m myself, it's tough, but we'll get there. I'm going to start a journal too where at the end of the day I write about some positives and negatives and thoughts of the day etc which I think will massively help. I'm trying to engage in self care too, treating myself to a coffee and a milkshake at the cafe in town, having down time for myself and playing games which is really nice. Thank you for all your help and wisdom!

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey @Marv

It's great to hear about all of the progress you are making; it seems like you've really taken charge of your wellbeing which is amazing to see. We all have an incredible amount of power within us to make the changes we need, and that's exactly what you're doing. Also, I completely get how it can be tricky settling back into home life once you've moved away for university, but it's great that you're trying your best. Would you like to share some of the positives from your journal? I always like to encourage people to focus on what is going well; as humans, we tend to focus on the negative, but there is so much joy to be found by looking towards the light. 

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Hi @Monsoon

Things are going well. I'm currently finding it challenging to keep my mood up but I'm attempting to engage in interesting things. I started a couple of paintings today which was fun, and I bought myself some sweets yesterday. Yesterday, I also met up with my friend and we relaxed at the geek cafe in town and then went to the pub for a chat which was great! I've finally started a new tv show too! (I find it difficult to start and finish things). I went for a walk today with my sister in the sun which was nice too. I've been having good breakfasts too, I find breakfast very hard. I'm currently struggling to get out of bed every morning though, I end up just lying there on my phone until 11:30am wasting half the day away which is really annoying me but it's become a habit that's hard to break. There's quite a few positives :) I think something I need to remember is that I have plenty of hobbies, because sometimes I play Fortnite for way too long, it's like a safety net because it's repetitive and I know exactly how it works but I don't always enjoy playing it, it just wastes time, so I need to engage in my hobbies more. Like I said, I've started two paintings so they'll keep me busy hopefully! :D  

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey Marv,

Ah, yeah, I completely get that it will be challenging at times. I think it's important to give yourself the space to sit with those challenging feelings as well. It's completely normal to feel them and although it can be frustrating because they might make us feel like we have taken a step back, just keep in mind that it's healthy to have those periods where you are struggling, and that's okay. Also, progress isn't straightforward - it's up and down and side to side. What do you reckon? 

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