I feel like this is something that got progressively worse as I grow older, maybe as I become more sensitive and aware of everyone’s tendency to judge, but I realise that nowadays I tend to over-analyse every single reaction from people around me in order to try and get a sensing of how they are feeling around me. It could be something like I feel like the person is treating me differently from before, or differently from others. I tend to frequently overthink about what others think about me and worry they do not like me or think I’m incompetent or have a poor personality etc. In the past I try very hard to be very nice to everyone but perhaps putting on the niceness facade for too long has led to me feeling tired so I find myself becoming paggro at times these days or having the need to rant just so someone knows I am not happy. On a few rare occasions I even ended up bringing up my insecurity about what the friend thinks of me to the friend, because it gets too debilitating to keep wondering if it is really me having done something that made the person dislike me or if i am just overthinking. Yet I also regret afterwards as perhaps the friend will now think i am being weird and oversensitive and annoying. Or maybe nothing was wrong but me bringing it up is what starts to cause a deterioration in the friendship. After being paggro or ranting I regret it as well since this might lead to others being annoyed of me or perceiving me as not having as good of a personality or feeling unhappy when with me. Or I feel bad that my negative emotions might rub off on that other person I am ranting to and affect that person’s social wellbeing. I know that not everyone can be liked by everyone, but knowing and being able to accept it is different especially given the effort I put in to be as nice and thoughtful as I can to the people around me, yet people may not perceive it this way or maybe it is not reciprocal. Perhaps all these could also be due to how I perceive myself to not be good at doing anything nor particularly smart or pretty and so my identity lies more in my personality thus I feel the need to try and make up for my incompetencies with having a well-liked and desirable personality. Is this normal?
First of all, I am really glad you opened up about your feelings and experiences. I can see that you have self-awareness about your insecurities and that you are able to acknowledge your struggles internally. I want to affirm you that what you’re going through is very normal, and it’s something many people struggle with from time to time. Your willingness to address these feelings of confusion and worries about how others think of you, is very commendable - and I respect you for that.
I think that there are many layers to what you’ve shared and it’ll definitely take more than just one post to explore these, but perhaps it might be good (after this) to process it with your counsellor or a mental health professional. For example, it’s true what you said that we can’t be liked by everyone, and there’s possibility that this ‘need’ for acceptance is driven by a poor sense of self (which takes a long time to develop!)
Perhaps a few questions you can ask yourself are:
- About the idea of making up for the incompetencies - one can also argue that a person’s incompetencies can be seen as another person’s strength, and (if I could really go even deeper here), what is your definition of incompetency?
- Is it fair to label ourselves as incompetent just because we think we haven’t ‘reached the mark’ or is it just a lack of (example) skill there?
- Where did you get the idea of a standard/mark that you should be like?
- What happens when you don’t hit that standard?
- Does that standard apply to all of us?
- Would that mean that we’re all falling short of the standard and thus we are all incompetent?
These could be some questions to mull about, but I would highly encourage you to bring these thoughts into a therapy session with a mental health professional
I think that your self-awareness is truly a strength and a sign of discovering who you are, so keep it up! For the time being, while you’re exploring and processing some of those thoughts deeper, you could try these strategies to help tide you through the moments when you feel overwhelmed:
Mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present in the moment and reduce the tendency to overthink or catastrophize about what others may think of you. Try this: Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
Be compassionate to yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. When you catch yourself in negative thought patterns, practice self-compassion by reminding yourself that everyone has insecurities and it’s okay to have them. Try this activity: Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
Challenge Negative Assumptions: When you find yourself assuming that others dislike you or perceive you negatively, take a step back and challenge these assumptions. Ask yourself if there is concrete evidence to support these beliefs or if they are based on your own perceptions and interpretations. Often, our minds can create scenarios that aren’t grounded in reality, and by questioning them, you can gain a more balanced perspective. Try this activity to challenge these negative thoughts: Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
Last but not least, I want to encourage you that it’s perfectly normal to have moments of self-doubt and to want to be liked by others, but, it’s also important to strike a balance between being considerate of others’ feelings and taking care of your own emotional well-being.
In any case, we’re here for you on this platform - always ready to listen. Do let us know if you’ve tried these strategies and activities, and what else worked for you. Take care and remember that we’re here to support you.
Hi cottonsoul thank you for the advice! I’ll think about the questions you posed and try out the strategies you recommended