Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Paradox of Attention

This post has been something that I've been thinking of in one form or another for months if not perhaps even years somewhat.  It is a collection of a bunch of different things that all interconnect and a number of them are things that I honest have a hard time talking about even on something like this that it makes it hard to even know where to start.  I guess I might as well start with how I see myself as without that nothing that follows will really make much sense.  If anyone has read any of my previous posts you'll know that I had a number of issues with depression, self esteem & self worth.  It is that which mostly forms how I think of myself, for the most part I tend to consider myself pretty worthless and that in turn effects how I assume other people see me.  I don't remember where I heard or read this but it always made a lot of sense to me, anyway the idea is that since our own thoughts are the only persons thoughts that we have access to we tend to assume that everyone thinks the same way we do and therefore our default assumption of what other people think of us is shaped by how we think of ourselves as it explains both why people with ridiculously high opinions of themselves don't realize that some people don't like them and why people with very low opinions of themselves always assume that no one else likes them either.  In practice at least for me this tends to lead me place higher value or importance on everyone else's time or attention or worth then I ever do on my own, and the higher I regard them the greater that gap becomes.  This used to be an especially tough problem for me back when I was more sociable as even if I wanted to get together with friends I'd feel too bad about trying to demands on their time or attention to even mention it to them or if I manage to get myself to mention it I would do it in the most broad and undemanding terms I possibly could (something like "let me if you ever want to do anything") which would usually mean nothing would ever come of them as most people tend to be busy and forgetful especially with such vague comments.  I can only imagine that most of them either forgot about it immediately, thought it wasn't important or  maybe they even thought I didn't really want to but I doubt for most of them they intentionally didn't follow up on it because they didn't like me and definitely didn't want to have to spend time with me but that is often how I interpreted it as not only do have a very low opinion of myself I also tend to be very analytical of things so I would analyze social interactions and "find" or rather much more likely misinterpret or just flat out imagine subtle slights and things that my mind would use to justify the belief that whoever it was really didn't actually like me, sadly this is something I still struggle with a great deal and have been with someone the past few days which is what prompted me to finally sit down and at least try to write this all out.    Now I'm sure a number of people would say well why didn't/don't you just ask the person if there was a problem? For me at least, I don't partly because it tends to happen to some degree with almost all my more significant social interactions especially if I already in a more depressive mood and partly because it goes back to what I said earlier where I consider other people's time/attention/feelings to be far more important then my own and so if it is indeed something I'm imagining I don't want to waste their time or inconvenience them having to deal with my stupidity all of which would again make me feel even worse about myself.  One of the big problems with this is that it does indeed make it hard for me to ever feel like I can ask for help especially when I might need it, even if all that would be needed is a little encouragement, because I will feel like I am just being a burden on other people & I'm wasting their time and that I'm just not worth that effort.  I've started very slowly to get a little better with this at least with my parents and people I am very close to but I still really struggle with it.  As I know myself well enough by now to know that there are times when I just need a little encouragement, a little boost to pick me up out of a rough time but just can't figure out how to do that without seeming needy or that I'm just looking for attention for it's own sake.  Even now I have to fight the urge to just stop delete this whole thing and just try to deal with it on my own without bothering anyone else.  I think just about the only thing that keeps me from doing that is that reading this and knowing that they are not alone might help someone else with their own problems or issues.  This is also why I force myself to tweet out a link to every one of this posts I type up & why I will always try to go out of my way to encourage & support other people in what they are doing as maybe they are at a point where all they really need is just a bit of encouragement.