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Over and Out

How do I get my confidence back

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Over and Out

For me, one effect of being emotionally abused and constantly put down is that I have very little self confidence.

I second guess everything I do.  I assume other people will think the worst of me (eg that I am useless at work, that I am unpleasant, that I have bad motives, etc).  I assume people will think I am lying, even though I am almost painfully truthful (too many years of being accused of lying or making things up and too many times finding out X told lies to people about what I said, did or meant, so they did not believe me).

I am working with a therapist, but: how do you ever get back your confidence?

How do you ever get to a point where you can trust others to like you, believe you or think you are competent or decent?

How do you stop second guessing yourself?

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Melinoe

How long were you around the abuser for, and how long have you been away from them? It takes time and lots and lots of self care. I'm slowwwwly getting my confidence back after 5 months of No contact after ending a relatively short relationship with an abuser. It comes in spurts.  

Literally do anything that makes you feel good, and do a lot of it. If it's something you feel good AT, that gives you a sense of satisfaction or pride, even better. And this can be anything, anything at all. Maybe you are really good at drinking delicious smoothies, or watching Netflix, or sitting in a hot bath. It's all amazing, keep doing it and keep enjoying it. Really revel in it.

Gather your strongest, most patient supporters around you and go to them when you need a reality check when all those abusive lies about yourself start swirling in your head and seem so plausible. I can't tell you how many times I've sat with my mom or my friend or my therapist and asked them "....ok, but what if I actually am the horrible person he said I am, but I'm just too stupid and selfish to realize it?" And then they will be a touchstone of reality reminding me of the truth about myself, and give me a bit of strength to at least reject his claims even if I'm not yet able to replace it with some confident beliefs about myself. 

Seek out and absorb all the good stuff you possibly can. All the reassurance, all the delight, all the soothing, all the calm, all the logic, all the encouragement you can grab, gobble it all up. You deserve to feel better and refill that well of self-love and esteem that being around the abuser depleted. It might not seem like this will affect your confidence, but slowly, it will. You're re-learning that it feels good to feel good, and that you are doing this for yourself, because you have value and the power to choose stuff - a new or long-forgotten sensation.

You are returning the focus of power onto yourself. Bit by bit, that grasping fear of "what if they think I'm no good, what if they don't like me?" and how scary-important that seems will shift into a more you-centered focus. What "they" think will become less and less prominent as you practice shifting your focus back onto yourself and how YOU feel and what YOU are doing and YOUR ideas about yourself.

Living with abuse meant training yourself to focus constantly on someone else, centering your reality on how they felt and acted, totally ignoring and dismissing yourself. Now you are able to pull that outward focus back inside where it belongs. It will take time, but you will get there. We all will :) 

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Quaddie

I think the beginning of this, a good thing to do is "self-talk." I'm not good at explaining but there are a lot of resources out there. (I bought a book but I never read it so I don't know if I can recommended it, lol, but it's called something like "What to Say When You Talk To Yourself.")

First you have to make a list of a few - not more than 3 or 5, I think is best, "affirmations" or short sentences that are the opposite of what you fear you are. I posted them by my computer at home. Read them out loud to yourself several times a day, even if it feels stupid.

Then, you have to start noticing when you are thinking the derogatory thoughts about yourself. Notice it and try to reframe it in your head as if someone else said it to you. Then, act as your own "mom" (or other supportive person who would "go to bat" for you) - still in your head - and tell the "someone else" that they are full of sh!t and that you are (kind, intelligent, whatever the appropriate positive phrase would be). So basically, you turn the "negative voice" in your head into something that's not you - and answer it FROM you, with a contradiction.

It takes practice to recognize and notice and take action when these thoughts come in.

I also really liked the book - someone in this forum recommended it - "There Is Nothing Wrong With You" by Cheri Huber. There's some spiritual stuff in there but I skipped that part and still got good things from it.

Another thing you need to do is, to do things you enjoy and feel you are good at. THEN - praise yourself inwardly. Go ahead. Do it. ;)  Or even if you feel like you didn't do anything right - find some tiny aspect to give yourself praise about. Every day. For example, if I am feeling like I accomplished absolutely nothing in a day, I might tell myself, "Well, you did do ____, and _____, and that did help make your life a bit better, right?" 

As for trusting others to like you? I think there comes a point where it's not as important to have others like you. Once it doesn't feel as important to get others to like you, then you tend to feel more comfortable around others.

And you can also "logic" with the thinking you are competent. What logical reasons would you have to believe they think you are competent. Did you get assigned a project because you're trusted to get it done? Do you receive any words of praise for your work? (If not, perhaps it's not the right workplace for you - but trust me, I do understand that in this mental state it's pretty hard to job-hunt.......BTDT, yup, BTDT...)

And as for people believing you are decent? That's not something that anyone can control about anyone. So again, I think that's the sort of thing that when you stop caring about that, that's what's important. It's the stopping-caring, not the believing in what they think of you, that matters.

 

I have been through this pretty badly - kind of going through it again, but in an unchangeable physical way..... so I think I get where you're coming from. It takes practice and time and repetition of "good" things to put more on that side of your brain... the side that thinks negatives gets outweighed eventually and you start to feel better.

And it doesn't have to come from others... it can come from inside you.

 

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Quaddie

LoL I cross-posted with Melinoe and we kind of said some of the same things. But she said more about focusing on you, and that's super-important.

A shift from forming your feelings about yourself by what you perceive to be reflected from others.....  into forming your feelings about yourself from within yourself, because of how you feel in the world.

Doing things you enjoy is super-super important...

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Over and Out

Thank you both!

I am trying to work on my self talk via working with a therapist, but I love the idea of thinking how a good mum would defend me.  I would never let anyone talk to my kids the way I think to myself.

One of the hardest things for me is that I haven't been super efficient at work during my daughter's illness and my marriage break up.  I have been withdrawn around people I know. This means it is easy for me to be harsh with myself, based on my own lack of extra achievment or socialconnection.  I have always tried to be a high achiever and hate to do less than very well.  I wouldn't expect perfection from anyone else in my position, but find it hard to cut myself the same slack.

I am trying to do stuff that I enjoy, but find it hard to do anything just for myself sometimes.  It shows how much the abuse has affected me, in that even finding what I enjoy can be difficult, let alone making myself a priority to do it.

I am still doing therapy, so I hope that will help.

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Quaddie

I hear ya. I'm on a "break" between jobs. There was abuse in the last one and it tended to take over my brain. (On top of still trauma from the one before, even though it was years ago.) I do not WANT my only vacation in years (and it's just a few days!) to be consumed by all the crap I just left... but it's like I can't get it out of my brain. Even though I don't want it to, I can't focus on what I'd intended to do with this time off. It's so frustrating. 

Abuse really effs with the head...

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Fluffyflea

It takes time. Be patient.

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