One of my longest-standing problems related to mental illness has been my rather high degree of personal insecurity. When I’m around friends, or really people in general, and things start to feel weird, I automatically assume something is wrong. Now, often our gut feelings on things like this are correct; odds are that the more people you are around, the more likely there is to be someone who has something going wrong in their life. And the closer you are to someone – as in, the better you know them – the more likely you are to pick up on the little signs that they are sending to reflect how they actually feel, not how they are trying to show everyone else they feel.
Where I go wrong in this situation is, because of my own tendency to feel insecure, I assume that whatever is wrong, the fault is mine. And so I apologize. And I apologize. And I keep assuming blame that is not mine. Which both takes the opportunity for whoever is having something going wrong in their life to try and talk about what is going on, and it makes me feel worse. It can also mean that in assuming blame that is not mine, I let the person who is to blame for something get away with whatever it was they did wrong, and give them a convenient scapegoat to blame in the future, because I’ve proven willing to take the blame for things that were not my fault.
I’m not quite sure of the reasoning behind all this, and I’m sure there are reasons that I do these things somewhere in my past. While I think those things are important – determining why something went wrong is often a good way to make sure it does not go wrong the same way again – I think that, more immediately, I need to try to make sure that the feelings of wrongness I am picking up on are, in fact, accurate. And then I need to determine whether or not I actually did something wrong. Because my willingness to assume blame that is not mine hurts me, and does not help the person whose spotlight I am taking by assuming the blame. They lose their outlet for trying to talk about their shame, guilt, or pain, and I simply gain a new source.
This seems pretty vague, and it is largely because I haven’t really had a chance to talk it through with anyone, but it’s something that went through my head for a while last night before I was able to get to sleep, and so on this new year, I thought it was a worthy goal to try to take on. I’m not going to eliminate my insecurity overnight, and assuming I will would be laughable; I think it’s been there for about as long as I can remember, so it’s a habit that will take a long time to unlearn.But I think it is certainly something to work on, because I know what a problem it has been for me in the past; I think it played a part in ruining at least one potential relationship, and it’s probably been frustrating for other people in my life.
I think it can also be linked to gratitude, in a way, which is also something I have had a hard time expressing; I’ve worked through some of that in earlier blog entries, with gratitude challenges and the like. And I think I’ve improved there – maybe not by leaps and bounds, but one step at a time. So, in the spirit of that, I’ve noticed a comic – or rather, a series of comics – pop up on how to try and take the urge to apologize for things (often it can feel like the crime of even existing, if depression rears its ugly head high enough) and turn it around into thanking someone for their understanding, patience, and willingness to listen. That comic can be found here, at Just Say ‘Thank You’ And Stop Saying ‘Sorry’.
I hope that, for all my readers, 2016 promises to be a good year. If 2015 was lousy, I hope 2016 is an improvement, and if 2015 was good, I hope 2016 continues the streak and makes it even better. Thank you all for reading, and may you all have a Happy New Year!