What’s your problem?

Hi friends. It’s summer and I’m hitting the skies again. Back to my favorite city to see some of my favorite people and enjoy the birthdays of my two favorite nations. The fleeting evenings this workweek will be spent on next week’s article (I know I already told some of you what it’s about) so today I just have a question for you.

Whenever I ask the audience something, even if I’m just asking what’s happening, I’m moved by the response. Behind each of the names in the comment section is a vast, actively unfolding life and we all get to see so little of it, normally. The anecdotes are always so colorful and compelling, so much more interesting than fiction.

I also love how the commenters start talking to each other and helping each other. I love that a large contingent of the (mostly) like-minded gather here regularly.

I want to know:

What has been the hardest part for you?

Of life, that is. I don’t mean the roughest period of time in your life, I mean the recurring theme that has always given you grief, particularly if you feel like most people don’t have a problem with it.

Your answers and stories are always so helpful to me, and other readers too. I constantly find myself forgetting how complex everyone’s story is, and whenever I do my problems appear to me as the world’s great drama. And that’s not good for anyone. When other people open up, it gives us perspective about each of our own bags of hammers.

Venting is totally welcome, but that’s not really what this is about. I specifically want to see people articulate what area (or specific issue) hangs them up the most. Throughout my life, I’ve let certain problems fester, for years even. Recently I’ve made huge progress on certain lifelong issues, and the amount of action it took to see a change was staggeringly small.

All it really took to start changing things was to finally articulate the issue to someone else, in words. There’s something magical in that. I’m asking you to do that, here, even if you don’t normally comment.

Tell us. What’s your problem?


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thedr9wningman June 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

I have two answers to this question, and I’m taking a real interest in learning brevity. That said, I will explain each.

1. Unlearning
2. Keeping quiet

One of my constant observations is that being an adult, like truly being ADULT, means you have to unlearn much of the things you’ve learned as a child. I observe in people (ahem, myself) that accruing stuff in our modern culture is fairly easy to do. I type this on a 1920s table next to my wife’s grandmother’s tea set and behind me sits my grandmother’s hutch with all her dishes in it.

But the hard part is getting rid of stuff. Of letting go of bad memories, bad training, attachments to ‘comfort food’, poisons that are killing you (anything that works against your health), ideas about what should be. Getting rid of my CD collection is hard. Why? Because I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to let it go. It represents a time when I was curious about music, when I ‘collected’ music. Now, I have to face the music that everything I need is on the internet and I need to adjust my tactics.

Adjust my tactics: you see, it is I that needs to change. It is I that needs to take action. And the little i doesn’t like that. The ego i says that the world needs to change around me, bend to MY will, do what i think.

2. keeping quiet

I lose friendships over this. But I also, at times, strengthen friendships in my failings at this. My observations of the world, the core, the Truth that I (think I) am able to discover in this life are some things I often wish to share. When those observations relate to calling out an ego, usually someone else’s, for dominating others, displaying bad behaviour, or otherwise being inappropriate to other people, they don’t want to hear it. Down to mistakes in grammar. They just don’t want to hear that they’re not communicating effectively. Dispelling that illusion is something people don’t take well to. But time and time again, I think I’m close enough with someone that I say something.

Sometimes it ends well. Many times it does not.

Those are my problems. Thank you for reading/listening.

Arielle June 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Maybe the instances where it doesn’t end well was where those people already had a complex. Not that it’s not helpful to be corrected but sometimes but it’s not really necessary. Sometimes it can be annoying. We have to learn to use discretion when it comes to people’s feelings. I used to be that way. I learned to be more conscientious of what I say because I noticed I was offending people, even those I care about. People got tired of talking of me. People want to be accepted not so much corrected, especially by their peers. It takes practice. If it’s something you really want to change make it a point to think of their reactions and how it would make them feel before you say something. Take the time to think about how it would make you feel. Your gesture could be misconsruied as critical instead of genuine. Don’t be too hard yourself, though. We’re only human.

Alex July 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

And it’s not entirely your fault either. Some of the fault lies with the other person. I’m someone who often gets corrected, particularly by my partner. At first it made me angry, but then we talked about it and came to an understanding about it. I realize now, without getting defensive, that I’m not the greatest at communicating and I’m actively working to improve. At the same time, my partner has come to realize that the very reason I often speak in imprecise or inaccurate terms, sometimes with incorrect grammar, is also the root of the flexibility of thinking (linguistically) that allows me to have great proficiency in picking up foreign languages. I can speak several with varying degrees of fluency and my progress in learning them is very rapid, whereas he has a lot of trouble in that area. That same detriment of not being precise with how I string together my own sentences or whether the way I describe something uses the best possible words for the job allows me to express myself in another language with different structure, even when I don’t know the exact word for something. So I think that kind of understanding needs to be present with both parties, and having a frank discussion about the subject when you reach that point where you feel you can do so can help. :)

Jessica June 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

My biggest problem: I have Asperger syndrom.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a problem per se. I quite like my condition actually. But some parts of it are harsh on a daily basis. And the biggest issue is social behavior. I don’t get it. I don’t get people, I can’t understand their motives, their reactions, their jokes, their behaviors. And I don’t know how to behave. Every little social thing is an ordeal for me, from looking at the cashier in a supermarket to having fun with my friends. I’m constantly struggling to understand and react accordingly. I panic when I’m surrounded by more than 5 people. I feel like I’ll never understand people and be understood by them – like I’ll never belong anywhere.
This condition is sometimes exhausting.

Spiderlgs July 15, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I work with students with Aspergers and I promise you that there are people who do understand you. I have students who despite any and all of their social miscues, I understand them completely. I understand how much the tone of my voice can matter.. I understand that sarcasm will fall flat… but I also understand that they still have to be a part of the joke, even if they need to be told its a joke immediately after, so they don’t feel like the jokes on them. I know that a meltdown may come in certain situations, so I protect them… and though I don’t “understand” what it’s like to have Aspergers.. I don’t “understand” what it’s like to be anyone else but me. People are more in tune to you than you think.. trust and believe that.

Ian July 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Hi David, I repeatedly struggle with inequality and unfairness in a global sense.

You see I have been lucky, stable in every way, married with great kids, nice place, still have my parents etc. I lived in New Zealand when my kids were little and now live Norway for their school years. In a sense I have everything one could wish for…..but then there is this nagging that won’t go away.

Because I am an ex aid worker (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania) and even 5 years after leaving this kind of work, I am beset with the unfairness and inequality of my life when compared to many millions of people ‘unlucky’ enough to be born in poverty/elsewhere.

This feeling is doubly problematic here in Norway, where people show such wealth through their cars, houses, second (and third) houses (main, winter and summer!), their clothes, holidays and general ‘expectation’ that this is all somehow normal and a ‘right’.

I am always fighting the urge to run away back to Africa, where I feel normal and a part of something real that helps balance the scales, even if its just a little! It just doesn’t feel natural to relax in such comfort when you know everything is so out of balance; that so many face war, hunger, disaster, struggle, pain and fear on a daily basis.

marian June 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm

This is my biggest problem as well. I’ve been plagued by lack of confidence, anxiety, and a lot of the other things people have mentioned here, and I’m unendingly grateful to people like David for giving new perspectives on these issues. But the sheer imbalance in the world is something I haven’t managed to get a functional perspective on (either one that would let me accept it, or one that would let me do something worthwhile about it without completely giving up other goals in my life).

Ian, I think it’s really interesting that you’ve worked directly on these issues, and I can sympathize with your desire to run away back to Africa, though I’ve never been there. It just seems like it would feel more real to work on things somewhere like that than in a 1st world country. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot about living in a 1st world country, but it just seems like a big piece of the puzzle–or rather, of reality–is missing here. How does one continue to live such an incredibly privileged life when so many others are living far below the poverty level? And yet, I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a missionary or a relief worker.

Hope July 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

My constant problem is probably a theme of the lack of moderation in my awareness and a lack of self confidence. I would like to learn how to relax. Go with the flow. Not think about every little thing that comes from my mouth.

Raimond July 2, 2012 at 8:05 am

My constant problem is lack of ability to unite my inner and outer worlds and to gain one perspective. Although I understand that I will die one day, I am not able to make any meaningful realization, beyond the intelectual level (in a budhism praxis way).

Nilza July 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Guilt–of never being good enough for anything. Desire–of being different and ‘better’ than everyone else. Fear–of being found out. Inability to connect with anyone. Resentment–of everyone else being happy but me. Realization–of being completely and utterly unremarkable in every sense.

Tobi July 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Well, I have a lot of reoccurring problems. but I think the worst one right now is liking to have control. If things get out of my control, I get angry and frustrated and that’s led to embarrassment and loss of dear friends.

I think the main problem is the environment in which I’m used to. Growing up and even now at 20 (and home for the summer break) I am not going to school (I was never allowed to go to school. But now I’m enrolled in Job Corps, where for the first time I am around people a lot and not in control of my surroundings). Here at home I am the master. I can go where ever I please (as long as my mom doesn’t need the car) I can do whatever I please. I can arrange the furniture however I want, be as clothed or not clothed as I want, I have the tv remote to myself, the wii to myself, the refrigerator is all mine, bed time is non existent, I think you get the point.

After enrolling in job corps and living on center with those 250 other people and the militant rules, I’ve noticed a lot more anxiety, troubling making and keeping friends, and everything else that comes with this sort of thing. If something isn’t under my control, I don’t feel as ease. I am anxious or angry or depressed.

Basically, I want things my way.

Reem July 3, 2012 at 12:41 am

recurring theme ..
i believe the ability to forgive has never been easy for me, i read those articles about forgiving and letting go and how it does you good.. but i see no truth in it, forgiving is like accepting evil.. letting it in, you give it permission to dim your emotions and make you less of a lover , giver… dreamer.

unless a great good finds me as a result of the trauma.. and i “feel and experience it” i believe i will never be able to forgive..

Tobi July 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Forgiveness isn’t at all about bowing down, it’s about the exact opposite. It’s not something you can do out of emotion. It’s something you just decide. By forgiving you’re saying “I’m better than this.” You don’t sink to their level by trying to get revenge on them or anything, or let the situation control you through anger. That is what it means to forgive. And you may have to do it a million times over, for the same thing. But if you don’t, evil really will dim your emotions.

Marie July 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Reading the responses to this post was really heartening for me, because hearing the stories of people’s struggles with self acceptance and perfectionism, reminded me that those issues used to be a problem for me, but aren’t anymore. I can’t even remember how they ceased to be problems for me, but it’s nice to realise that I’ve moved beyond them.

However I’m still stuck in one area of life. My problem is relationships. I try so hard to be a good partner – being respectful and accommodating and reasonable, but I never feel appreciated or loved. I wonder if I have some problem that prevents me from feeling loved or if I just make poor choices of partners. Perhaps I’m looking for more from relationships than they can give. I don’t know. I just can’t get it right. :/

John July 4, 2012 at 1:39 am

Facing unfavorable social situations. I find that, having spent a lot of my youth in social situations in which I am a target for unpleasantness (aka, bullying) that if I have a commitment to an unfavorable social situation, like returning books i borrowed from someone who doesn’t like me any more, I will avoid it like it is the plague. I will make a plan to meet up with the person, and then when it gets closer, I just chicken out, make an excuse not to go, and don’t respond to any inquiries. I do not like this, for a lot of reasons, one is that it’s a particularly crippling weakness in today’s world, and it’s caused many relationships of different varieties to fall apart, because I choose to chicken out of what could end up fixing things, rather than facing it properly.
While I know I face a lot of other shortcomings, this one is the most prominent of them for me, because I can fake things like compassion when I feel like the problem is ridiculous, or interest when I lack it, but I can’t fake the ability to face this, because the only one who really sees this is myself. And, on top of that, if I plan to do anything besides be a rock star (because they can just do whatever they want), or unemployed (nobody to answer to), I am going to have to learn to deal with these, even though I really only recently became comfortable with pleasant social situations.

but what bothers me most about it, is that people do not seem to understand it, and are very unwilling to work with me about it. As seen with the case of the borrowed books, I had been offering to mail them to her for months, since making a trip upstate just to return some books was a rather large inconvenience, I was working a rather time consuming, unpleasant job, with a boss who would not give me time off, and she wouldn’t come more my way to get her books, things got more unpleasant between us, as she wanted the books back, though never enough to meet somewhere convenient for me…

While, having written that situation out, I realize the problem was by in large her fault for not being willing to make it somewhere convenient, or by giving me her mailing address, I still chose on some of the odd times in the ending of this whole episode, to cancel any meeting up with her, because by that point I knew she was totally pissed, as she had a right to be.

Fiona July 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I did a word count for ‘anxiety’ in these comments and was surprised it only showed up 4 times (sorry for those who also struggle with it). ANXIETY is by far my biggest problem. It is a horrible, unnerving feeling – the worst feeling in the world according to me. I should be an anxiety expert by now (35+ years in the making), but I still struggle with the fundamentals of getting it under control. I am exhausted by the number of solutions I have tried, books I have read and experts I have met with. They all ‘help’ but they don’t ‘cure’ and sometimes it’s a daily battle to get through it, accept it, treat it, and take faith that it will dissipate as quickly as it came on. One day … I hope to write the book on mastering anxiety so someone else can suffer less as a result.

Alex July 6, 2012 at 9:01 am

Even if that word only showed up so many times, there were a number of other posts that mentioned things like lack of confidence, self-consciousness, etc. Perhaps others struggling with anxiety simply think of it in different terms?

Fiona July 12, 2012 at 12:43 am

Thought about it. Anxiety, I believe, is a symptom of potentially many different types of problems – many listed here. Often I do not know what exact problem is causing the anxiety, though I will often learn in hindsight and it usually winds up being related to uncertainty about something. But for me, personally, “anxiety” – the physical and mental symptoms of it alone – is what immediately comes to mind when I think of my biggest problem … not any of the potential ‘bigger’ problems that cause the anxiety in the first place. The uncomfortable physiological/psychological problem of anxiety is a greater problem to me than anything that may be causing it, if that makes sense. I would like to think that I am wise enough to work on the things causing anxiety and not just countering the anxiety itself, but I often find this very difficult to do as logical as it may sound.

Brian July 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

What’s my problem? Relationships with other people. I can’t seem to be comfortable having a conversation unless it’s about something really profound. Maybe this is because I feel like I have no real, close relationships beside one girl who I’ve more or less emotionally abused via my indecisiveness in our relations over the past several years. Even so, I find myself unsatisfied with the degree of “real” “profound” communication between us, which may be the reason I’ve been so indecisive. Regardless, I often attribute my constant moving around as the reason for my lack of close friends, but I realize that my family members have gathered plenty of great relationships, while I feel as if I have not. I think this makes me less comfortable “leaving the shore” as it were, since I feel as if the shore is practically nonexistent.

Vivienne July 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

My problem is my career choice. I love acting, as cliche as that sounds but I would fight for acting & I would gladly die for it a million times. I’ve never loved anything so much. But growing up in a strict, conservative household, my parents want me to go to college. I want to go to acting school & thrive in theatre & film. Due to our tastes into what’s best for me, we tend to clash frequently. My father, who’s never been around for me decides ever-so-magically to give me advice on my career. He gives me false hope that he’ll support me in whatever I do but when we’re around family together, he mocks me. I’m standing no more than 5 feet away from him & he mocks me. “Hey, you know what she wants to be? She wants to be a BIG MOVIE STAR. What a joke.” & I have to take it. Because he’s my dad. My mother, on the other hand, reminds me that I should give up on my dream because it’s not realistic. She’s not as harsh but still sides with my father. It seems like I should give up on my dreams because I don’t have the resources: money,experience,etc. But how are you suppose to give up on something that makes you feel like you’ll die without it? That there’s no significance to life? But when you’re out there performing, you’re..free. People do crazy things when they’re in love. So should I let go or should I fight to the bitter end?

CB July 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Have you considered going to college to study theater? I know there are theater programs – most require auditions – but that way you could follow your dreams and honor your parents wishes. If you double majored in theater and something else everyone would be happy. Good luck!

Partha July 9, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hi Vivienne. As a rule I keep my nose firmly out of other people’s business, but I find your post so very moving — and, more importantly, you’re at one of those critical junctures of your life where perhaps, just perhaps, a word of support might provide that critical tilting over that might make all the difference — so, if I may, here’s what I think.

Nothing, but nothing, is more important than following your heart, your dream. Unfortunately one’s parents often do not support their children in this very critical juncture. That happens due to three reasons, generally: first, they do not really empathise with the child, do not hear her heartbeat; and/or, two, they don’t care all that much, that is, they don’t really love the child unselfishly, and enough, to go out on a limb for her, not when it inconveniences them seriously; and/or, three, perhaps not having had a real dream themselves, or perhaps not having followed it themselves, they do not themselves realise the vital importance of being able to follow one’s dream.

In any case, do realise that parents’ views, while not unimportant, aren’t all-important.

Now about the practical aspect of this whole enterprise: look, think about this. If you’re sure you want to do this, really sure, then decide: you do it, come what may. Don’t give yourself the option of not doing it. Do it, and do it now. Now I cannot presume to advise you on the specifics of your situation — you can do that best, and do it yourself. But don’t give yourself the option of backing out, okay, nor even of delaying. Tell yourself that, no matter what it takes, you’ve GOT to do this. Believe you me, things will work out. You may or may not become the next Natalie Portman, but you will definitely be able to walk your dream path. And that’s all that matters.

I say this to you as a father myself, and also as a child of not-always-very-supportive parents, as someone who’s found out the hard way about the importance of following one’s heart, and the huge price one pays, deep inside (although it may not always be evident on the outside), when one does not do that: Go live your dream. Let nothing stand in your way.

Not knowing the first thing about the world of acting, I wouldn’t presume to say anything about the specifics of things you need to do, but seek out people, ask, I’m sure you’ll know, you’ll find out. But the important thing is this: don’t let this moment pass, don’t let go your dream, don’t give up, don’t postpone: it could, in the long run, make all the difference to you, the difference between being fully alive and being one of the innumerable living dead who populate this world.

Cheers, and all the best.

Rosa July 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

My problem is finding love. I’m young (24) and pretty and smart. But I find it hard to really like someone. The few times I have really liked or fallen in love with someone, it’s either unbelievably hard for us to be together or they are in love with someone else.

Dee. July 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm

So you asked what’s my problem. I wanted to come up with something deep/better at being human type-ish and all of that jazz, but frankly, probably one of the shortest comments here caught my eye. It was a post by a girl who’s young, smart and finding it impossible to find love. You want to know what my problem is? Girls and boys who have the entire world in front of them and feel/expect that love or whatever thing that they want will suddenly fulfill their lives. Trust me, I get it. It sucks being lonely. I’m only 19 and I know this. But that’s of no matter. If a person can’t really love themselves, how can they expect to be loved by someone else? And frankly, (I’m pretty sure I got this little motto ingrained into my head from one of your posts) getting the things you want isn’t necessarily self love. It takes a lot of fighting and quite a bit of patience, (and maybe a bottle or eight of wine along the way) but eventually when you come to terms with yourself, you become at peace with what you have in your life. And usually – it turns out – that life is a lot better than what was once imagined. So cheer up kids.
I just read more posts and they’re frustrating me.
All this false “good self esteem” crap is a load of crap.
I’m sick of people not being true to themselves. No wonder they can’t find love.. Honesty is the most important thing in a relationship. When you start with honesty.. You start.

Yazoo July 10, 2012 at 3:21 am

My problem is my family background!
Not one of my extended family have a career, let alone a basic job. Social welfare for all of them. Only one of them is married, the rest of them (middle-aged adults) are still struggling to even have a functioning relationship, or even functioning friendships. Low-self esteem is abound, self-centred selfishness, pettiness, lack of drive, lack of care for other people. These are my earliest “role models”.

My mom, as a single mother, under the pressure (and struggling with depression), has always been my worst critic, the things she has said to me have been worse than I myself could have came up with even in my finest moments of teenage self-loathing (or adult self-loathing)! Calling me a selfish bitch who ruined her life, when I was eleven, or informing me that my friends wouldn’t be my friends if they knew just what a horrible person I am inside, are two simple examples. The verbal-attacks got progressively more detailed as I got older, nitpicking at what I do, how I do it, what I say, etc.

But! I don’t consider myself particularly unlucky! I took it personally when I was young (snivelling in my room and such) but, I soon realised it was her being a nasty person, not me being a nasty person that was the issue. I got through my teen years trapped in that house of hell by shutting off all of my emotions. I was as cold as ice. I had two modes. Angry or hungry :P Nothing else came into it.
Looking back it’s just grey, vague memories. I remember I had an abusive boyfriend but I look at it in my head like I’m watching a film because I had no emotional reaction at the time. I can’t connect with that person I was because I wasn’t a person. I was a shield of iron.

Then in the last six years since being an “independent adult” I have come a long way. Beginning with extremely self-destructive behaviour resulting in chronic depression that lasted for a year (THAT definitely broadened my emotional plane! ), flunking college, getting kicked out from another college I have come one full circle. I have an amazingly healthy relationship with my boyfriend and with my friends, with people in general! I’m no longer a shield, I’m open and relaxed. I have drive, I’m athletic, I excel in college (there’s only so much failure one can take). To look at me you’d think I had a stable, loving caring background.

In reality, during my depressive episode, where not one family member helped me, where I tried to reach out, openly telling them I had depression, they ignored me or laughed. So, I read as much “self-help” literature as possible and tried to learn and change from that. If you can’t find a basic role model in life reach for one off a shelf! That’s how I changed who I was.

Unfortunately, my issue is, every now and again I do get hit quite badly with the “imposter” syndrome, but in a hard way, I get really low and feel disgusted with myself. What am I doing with a boyfriend who is mentally stable? If he knew the struggle that goes on in my head, and who I’ve been in the past, they way I’ve acted over the years, the failure I’ve been. ( I have told him, but a description is not the full reality)

I will also be hit by extreme feelings of inadequacy when it comes to my friends because they’re so well-adjusted and it all comes so naturally to them. If they knew that I have had to take deliberate action and work towards being normal, they would ship me off to a loony bin! :)

I just have the disgusting feeling that creeps up on me that no matter what I do I will end up on the social welfare, with no friends, all alone just like my mom and my relatives, because poor mental-health runs in families, why wouldn’t I crash and burn one day and just be a total failure, it seems inescapable.
I have been a success, I’ve turned my life around, but the feeling happens sometimes, MOST often when I check my financial status. I get stressed when I have to scrape by because no money means less options to further my education leading me back to the doom and gloom of rumination about my future.

So! That’s the biggest problem in my life. Don’t even get me started on my Hypochondria! That is also a weighty issue in my life, but it does serve me well. I exercise my body with discipline because of THE FEAR!!! :O

My only advice to people is…
This is about survival of the fittest. So figure out how to be the “fittest” in all aspects of your life. Love, health, friends, career, education, hobby, etc.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the best, but you do have to do your best. That’s your responsibility and that’s how you change your life, in your own way, in your own time.

I just lived in a third-world country for a year, so I don’t have words of comfort or faith to offer to those struggling. And I think it’s best if people don’t hear those kinds of words.

The first-world ideas of “everything happens for a reason” and “karma comes around” don’t quite translate so well when people die all around you, and there’s injustice in all aspects of life.

Faith is a nice comfort blanket, but it holds you back. Reality is harsh, but when you know what the problem is completely, no matter how little you want to hear it, you know what you can do about it.

Life story = Over ;)

Sukeey July 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm

What you have done is amazing, even heroic!
I can’t imagine how hard it must had been. I applause, respect and admire you for that.
Although I don’t know you, I’m proud of what you did and encourage you to be proud to !
There is no such thing as a normal person. There is no predetermined you. You do not inherit failure. You are who you choose to be. You have chosen to be a warrior. For that, I congratulate and love you.
I wish you the best and hope you will never belittle yourself again, because you should know you DESERVE better!

Yazoo July 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

WOW, thank you so much for you kind words, and for even taking the time to read my comment!!! I really appreciate it! You just made my day! :D

I hope life treats you well, for you are a lovely person! :)

Sukeey July 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm

My pleasure ^^
I’m actually very honoured to know that someone somewhere appreciated what I have to say after he allowed me to take a peek at his life although I don’t know really him <3
And I hope the same for you my friend and even more if it's possible :)

Yazoo July 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Haha, Sukeey! Of course I’d appreciate your kind words, it makes more of an impact than you’d realise!

However, I’m a girl!!!! ;)

Thanks again!!! :D

Janet Maher July 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

I have nominated you for an Illuminating Bloggers Award. You can read the details at MaherMatters: .
Wishing you well,

Sukeey July 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Lack of answers.
Not knowing how to answer the following questions:
Why I’m I still alive while I have no purpose ? (Maybe it’s fear)
How could I be less afraid ? (of just about everything)
Is it possible to know exactly what to do with my life ? If yes, How ?
How to start living ?

Booboo July 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Why I’m I still alive while I have no purpose ?

It hasn’t come to you yet. Some people know! Some people get hit with it ;) Something will come into your life that will make you realise your purpose, you don’t have to go out there specifically looking for it, but you do have to get out there and “show up” in this world for the next few years for it to come along!

How could I be less afraid ?
Just look over your entire life and all the bad things that have happened to you. You handled them, you know if something bad happened again, you can handle it. Things happen regardless of whether you think about them or not, so enjoy yourself when nothing fearful is happening, and deal with the fearful things as they come!

Is it possible to know exactly what to do with my life ? If yes, How ?
A lot of people are in the same boat as you as regards this question. It is possible to know exactly what you don’t want to do with your life ;) Maybe by process of elimination throughout the next few years you can figure it out? Throw yourself into the opportunities that seem interesting, learn which ones suit you and which ones don’t and it will eventually come to you.

How to start living ?
Get out there and throw yourself into something! Find a social group, work, read, study, learn, grow. It doesn’t have to be fantastic, it doesn’t have to be successful, but it does have to make you feel like you’re alive, and make you happy.
Everyone has their own definition of what it is to be “living”!

That’s just my two cents… I hope it helps in some way? My answers may not even relate to your life! Sorry, I wish you gain clarity soon! :)

Jude July 13, 2012 at 4:34 am

Whats the hardest part? … I have two. My LIFE hardship is keeping myself open when the men in my life continuously show me they aren’t to be trusted, as they have my entire life. Realizing that becoming bitter would only harm me, no matter how badly I’ve been hurt and no matter how they’ve betrayed my trust. This is actually quite hard. I believe this is what I’ve struggled with since I was 5 years old. And, will continue to do so. At least, until honorable people are introduced into my life.

My second struggle would be on that I’m currently battling with. It is to not let others (and especially not the internet) control what I think of humanity. I believe the internet has a particular way of making one feel soulless and black. Moreso than any fight with any one individual that happens ‘in person’. If you have a fight with someone in person, you still somehow maintain your person-hood. But if you receive negative feedback online, somehow everything we are becomes more evil. More … I don’t know, more nasty. It becomes easier to always have to be right, to show ego, and its dirty. It really is.
I’m struggling to remember that every day, as I work on the web.

Ani July 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This is the my first time writing on Raptitude. I just recently discovered this blog, and I check in now and again. I get inspired by the overall commitment to honesty and self-betterment. I often relate to the struggles expressed (most especially the disabilitating procrastination).

Just reading through the comments on this post, it emerged clearly to me that many of us are struggling on opposing sides of the same problem. What amazing potential for healing and perspective-swapping to occur!

I would like to share with you two dear pieces of inspiration that I think about that help me get back on track when I am particularly hard on myself.

One is a quote from Martha Graham, and I think it applies to the human race, not just artists: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

The other piece of inspiration comes from the beginning of the 2nd part of an interview with Leonard Cohen. It so resonates with me. Finding a sense of inner-peace and contentment has everything to do with toppling the blame and shame mindset, and adopting a forgiving and accepting approach to ourselves, life and people. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30u_L99IOLU&feature=relmfu

Taken together these inspirational bits are powerful, even paradoxical. How could we feel relaxed and at peace (Cohen) in a perpetual and necessary state of restlessness (Graham)? I’ve come to understand it as a cat-and-mouse game! A matter of psychological tag! On a good day, I might even find this to be amusing.

Spiderlgs July 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm

The one thing that keeps me from everything is constantly wondering why people do what they do and then taking the majority of my answers and blaming them on myself. I struggle when people don’t respond to me in the same way I respond to them. This can be short term interactions with new people, longer term friendships/relationships where I feel like I am always giving the best of my self and wondering why I don’t get the same treatment in return. Then that makes me question the genuineness of people, or my own judgment about life and about people and then it just ends with me looking at the glass half empty or completely empty. My relationships are very important to me and I’ve always wondered why they are not reciprocal and what I am doing so that they never seem to be that way.

Yazoo July 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm


I feel the same way sometimes. You’re not doing anything wrong at all, nothing that you’re doing is “causing it”, it’s just that a lot of people aren’t self-aware, or haven’t been taught about the impact of what they say or how they act can have on other people.

Don’t take it personally! You’re just more people-oriented than most.

If you can learn to rein it in a bit, only give yourself to those people that will reciprocate!

For the rest of the population, most people seem to be attracted to you if you are generally nice, but act like you don’t need friends.

Strange how that works, but there you go. :)

Huge suffocating Cloud July 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

I’ve been on self-help websites and books for years, I’m 26 now and I still have not feel good about myself. I’ve been in and out of my relationships, mostly because they eventually find me to be needy and desperate, they just throw any reasons just to get out.

When everything is turned off (t.v., computer, music, even the lights) it’s suffocating for me just to face myself, I don’t like myself very much obviously, so I think that’s the reason they all want out.

When someone happens to like me and we get into a relationship, I put all the pressure of making me feel good on them, and I suffocate them and I lose them. It hurts so much to see someone you love so deeply go.

Luckily my exbf is still talking to me, letting me off easy I guess, the lines of communications is open so I can still talk to him, I am trying my best to take time and stop talking to him for a while, but just today and yesterday I talked to him and dragged it on. When I just regained his interest in talking to me again just yesterday. I’m back to the bad place.

Life hasn’t been easy for me, I’m gay and I’ve tried to convince myself for 25 years, finally last year I just decided this is really me, it is what I am made of.

Having low self-esteem really, destroys everything nice that comes to you. I love him so deeply, I just wished he’d see me again, I have been dumped before and got over them kind of, but right now, what I want is him. And I can feel there is still a tiny window of hope for me.

I am currently trying to get my ex back and to no success yet. I had little progress yesterday, but I got desperate so lost all of it. I’m picking myself up and I dont know, I want to feel good again, and be independent like really be happy with myself, but it’s not that easy.

Reading your article up top, I hope someone knows how to deal with this in just a few words. I have read that instead of trying to focus on yourself, try helping others and that would be a good place to start feeling great about yourself, that is what I have now, I am applying it to everyone and even to my bf, giving him space and all.

I would appreciate any kind of help. Thank you so much. I love you all

Booboo July 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi there!

There was an article on Raptitude before that was GREAT that was about self-love, when you’re feeling down. Not love in the “feed yourself ice-cream” and “let yourself lie-in” kind of love, but if you had a child, you’d kick him in the butt to make him/her do stuff to improve their life. What would you say to yourself right now to make yourself feel better, from a parent-to-child perspective?

Right now you’re focused on your ex-boyfriend, the first step is realising that what drove him apart was you relying on him to make you happy! Well done! Most people never recognise this so they keep making the same mistakes.

Do you have a basic “framework” in your life?
If you had a job, a boyfriend, education, volunteering, a social life and a hobby, for example, you would be deriving joy and fun experiences from all aspects of your life. Your boyfriend would still be important but not the be-all and end-all as regards your quality of life! He would just be one part of this framework…

I read that idea in a book called “opening our hearts to men” by Susan Jeffers. Like all “self-help” books it has its questionable parts but the message of the book is directed towards those in relationships with men who, as soon as they get into a relationship, start finding faults in men, being unhappy, basing their happiness on them, and pushing them away!

I had to read it 2 or 3 times over the course of a few years (and over the course a few relationships ) before it finally sunk in!

It gave me a different view on my life, and how I approached and viewed men and relationships.
It might not work for you, but I do see that you’re struggling with this. I was the exact same and I still get the same way too!

Basically, you’re not alone! I’d say more but I feel I’d just be regurgitating the contents of that book I mentioned above! Again, this is just one person’s advice. You don’t have to take it!

I hope you’re a little feeling better since you’ve posted that comment… Time is a good healer, and gives good perspective.

Sorry I can’t be more help

Berenice July 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

My “big” problem, all along my life, well, since I have conscience, is that I
don´t like myself, I don´t appreciate myself. I also have heard that instead of trying to focus on yourself, try helping others, but I don´t if that is real, if it really helps.

C. July 18, 2012 at 6:36 am

I’m 39 and I went bankrupt last year. Moved in with my mother. Had a bit of an emotional breakdown. Don’t have a job, am too conceited to get one. Or maybe I just couldn’t handle the rejections anymore. Have a girlfriend that I don’t love but use for sex.

Shell July 19, 2012 at 7:03 am

I supppose my biggest problems would be the fact that though I have a pretty good live, I just feel so sad all the time. To the point where I don’t really want to continue living. I get overly attatched to friends, to people, and when those relationships die, I get devastated and I feel even worse. I spend too much time obsessing over the people closest to me in my life, making my other relationships suffer, and when the friendship or romantic relationship dies, I’m left alone, which adds to the sadness. I know I do this. I’ve known for a long time. And I’ve tried to change it. To be close to several people, or not be close to anyone at all. But it doesn’t work. There is always one person I will fall into sync with. That one person who makes me happy. Then they go and all the lonliness and such comes back.
I don’t view myself as a good person, I see myself as a selfish person. Even though I’ve been told many times I’m not. When something goes wrong I blame myself. I lose friends because I just want a strong friendship, that the other person doesn’t want. My love life is going okay at the moment but there was a recent threat of a breakup and I comletely fell apart, because the guy is such a huge part of my life. I rely on other people’s relationships with me for me to stay happy. And they fall apart so easily that I just end up hating myself again.

Nick July 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

My problem is that I always feel interrupted, and then that leads to anger, frustration, anxiety and stress. Interrupted is the only word that really comes to mind when I put thought into what causes those feelings. Further I feel that I have to allow myself to be interrupted at that time – usually either it is my family and I feel that I should give them my attention, or it is work and you can’t really say “leave me alone I’m busy thinking”. I think that is what I am usually doing when I feel interrupted. I am thinking about something that is holding my interest at that time. Life is so full of interruptions and I always seem to be thinking about something. I wish it would all slow down, or else that I could speed up. The times that I feel content is when there is finally nothing that “has to be done”, which is seldom.

Michael Calkins July 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I’d have to say a combination of sort of a resentful poverty minded jealousy that holds me back from opening my mind.

A.L July 26, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I often feel sad or distraught but have no connection as to why. I’ll be driving in the car looking out the window and suddenly this sadness overcomes me I even start to tear. I’m not thinking of anything sad or upset over something, it just happens. My mood changes and I can’t understand why.
When I’m asked “What’s wrong?” I’m not even sure how to answer. It doesn’t happen often but if I figure out why this happens I’ll be able to understand myself much better.

Natalie July 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm

What a great question to ask! I think for me it is really two things and I am sure they are related to each other in some way but I haven’t quite figured out how yet. The first thing is the fear of failure and the ever looming feeling of just not being good enough which can become so paralyzing at times that I just want to hide under my duvet instead of even trying. I am working hard on that one though and lots of positive, encouraging self-talk instead of the normally rather harsh and critical one going on in my head is helping a great deal I think. The other one is a fear of rejection and abandonment which can be quite a problem when interacting with other people in any way as I have the tendency to view (seemingly) negative behaviour of them towards me as automatically having to do with me and them not liking me/rejecting me – it can lead to a lot of insecurity and misunderstandings but again I am working on it and feel that I am improving. The presupposition in NLP stating that “behind every behaviour lies a positive intention (for one self)” is helping me a lot as well because it highlights how most behaviours of other people aren’t about me at all… I might just be “collateral damage”. So when I feel hurt or rejected I just ask myself what the positive intention for the person might be (most often I find that they are trying to protect themselves in some way or feel a need to be in control etc) and that makes it a lot easier to not take things to heart as much and dwell on them like I used to! Still work in progress though but I think these two things are definitely my biggest issues holding me back in my life!

jahi August 9, 2012 at 1:37 am

The hardest part of life for me has been sleeping with the lights off.

Anonymous January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am

Hi! I just discovered your blog while doing some research on minimalism and simple living – the lyfestile i´m currently trying to live and i´ve been reading non-stop! This post grabbed my atention and i feel i must answer this one!

My problem is that i am an only child and was raised having a close relationship with my parents. Not many friends os family, just my parents. I don´t know most of my family and growing up i´ve always felt alone and resposible for my parentes (they kept telling me i was their only child and that i would some day have to take care of them). I grew up longing for close friends and a romantic relationship. All i ever wanted was not to be alone and my greateste fear has been to witness the death of everyone i love and have no one left. Sounds crazy but that´s been my reality since day one. I love being alone, i have fun by myself, i don´t have the need to do everything with other people and sometimes when my partner travels and i have the house only to myself i enjoy moments of silence, solitary readings and gettings things done and it´s really peacefull. My fear of being alone has a lot to do with having no one alive that loves me or that i can trust but doesn´t make me unable to find joy and calm in the moments i am alone and know people i love are fine wherever they are. So it´s not a fear os spending time alone, it´s a fear of loosing people permanently.

The fear or being alone many has lead me many times to be condescendent with other people or to neglect myself. I sometimes make a big deal out of simple remarks people do when they talk to me and will get ofended with no need whatsoever. I get defensive whenever i feel someone doesn´t aprove of what i´m doing and have a hard time dealing with criticism. I´ve been trying to learn with life in order to accept that nothing will ever make me feel safe and that i must deal with my fear of loneliness in a more positive way.

courtney king January 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

My problem is that I need to delay self gratification so I can finish college in California- but the person I love lives really far away in my hometown. So I have to be okay with not being happy- just so I can be proud of myself when I finish, because if I don’t I fear I would resent him later in life.

Tony February 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Wow. . .a lot of pretentious posturing nonsense here in the comment section. People are on the defensive because wherever someone tries to create something that is in some way evaluating the human psyche/motivation etc., it is perceived as pretentious–especially when it is done well as is the case with the writing on this blog.

That said. . .it is pretentious to write. . .it is pretentious to pretty much take part in any form of self-expression where you want to be heard–because you are assuming you have something other people want to hear (and when you charge a fee for counselling in the “contact” section you are assuming that even more directly).

I am not hating. . .Readers read. . .writers write. . .people. . .read this blog and take away from it what you will. . .look for the use and you will find the meaning. And remember. . .if you don’t like what the guy says you are welcomed to take his advice for what you paid for it–NOTHING!

KungFuFighter April 13, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I constantly have paranoias about the people around me. And, because of that, I find very hard to make friends, or even interacting with people in the most basic levels. It happens mostly with the people I care about, the ones whose presence makes me grow up and feel better.
And although I find it’d be very useful to speak these thoughts out, to actually talk to people, I have a huge problem to communicate and always end up not doing it, no matter how much I try to. And the amount of messed up feelings I end up having is very uncomfortable, and it makes me close myself to the world even more.
I truly believe meeting new people is gonna be a good thing for me, but I’m often too afraid to get to know them. And even more afraid to try to change anything, in a way that things may get even worse than they are now.

Alejandro June 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

It’s been a couple of months but I hope this article is still active. Cool blog David, I go here regularly when I procrastinate from work.

My biggest problem, is self-pity that leads to the “victim” mentality. For most of my life I tried to escape my problems, and blame others for why things weren’t going right. Pretty much blaming everyone but myself.

First, I was watching vast number of hours of porn. Then when I had my first girlfriend, I let my ex’s life consume mine. When our not so healthy relationship finally ended, I went on a rampage to blame my family, subconsciously at first until I realized that even though they may have something to do it, the one who really needs to get his act together is me.
Shortly after I went on a quest for productivity lists, “The 10 things productive people do” “5 things you should do when you wake up” etc. After I stopped liking lists I somehow got to this blog haha.

So basically my biggest problem now is the remnants of the “victim mentality” that I helped and fed for so many years. And it’s tough. As soon as new challenges emerge, a reality check is presented, I revert.

Kitty Soze July 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I realize I am a bit late to this exercise in introspection, but I wanted to jump on board, because as you’ve said, just telling someone about the problem tends to lead to solutions coming to light.

My issue has been not feeling good enough, or feeling like a fake. I have, by all external/societal measures, done well for myself by getting an advanced degree and being fairly good at my job. But I feel like it’s just not enough, and recently, rather than push myself to do better, I have begun to feel like no matter what I do, I will never be good enough. That I am not deserving of the title I hold and that I am not as good or as smart as people tell me I am.

I’m working on it, and I am blessed to have a great husband, family, and friends who disagree with my assessment – pointers welcome!

Suchi January 6, 2014 at 11:46 am

I was once part of a survey of high performing women (in terms of academics /career) and they found that close to half of the women feel the same way as you do! That’s when I started reading about it.
They called this feeling the “impostor syndrome”. Granted that giving it a name doesn’t quite help you directly, but I thought you might be able to look it up and find out causes or how to deal with it.

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