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Please help me with my shame and inability to cut people who are horrid to me out of my life

(15 Posts)
sunsetbadger Fri 09-Oct-15 15:39:17

I am the type of person who, if someone is awful to me, I lavish them with presents, compliments, invitations to meet, to try and win them round.

I've been speaking to a therapist about this for a few years and have boiled it down to huge amounts of shame about myself I carry from childhood where I feel I have to go round trying to prove to people that I am good enough.

I'm now in a situation where there are several people who have treated me pretty abominably who are still in my life to whom I feel I still have to prove that I'm "okay."

Everybody who I talk to about this says I need to cut them off/go no contact/ delete from social media / tell to F off etc.

While I appreciate this is popular and healthy opinion, I just cannot get my brain to accept the logic. My brain says surely if I continue to interact then there is still a chance in the future they might see that I am a "good enough" person. (I understand this is not logical - but I need to find a way to tell my brain that.)

Then other people say, if people treat you badly they are not worth knowing. Obviously true. But that kind of reasoning does not work for someone who feels inherently ashamed of who they are. My brain says of COURSE they treat me badly because I am bad, but if I can make good I still have a chance at them liking me.

Can anybody say something to help snap me out of these mind states? Any stories of how you managed to cut people out and it worked better for your own sense of self worth, than keeping them in your life and "proving" or "showing" that you were good enough?

How can I empower myself?

Liomsa Fri 09-Oct-15 15:51:16

Ask yourself why, out of all the people in your life, including those who like and love you, you are choosing those who hate you as the arbiters of whether you are 'good enough' or not. Why are they right, and you're a dreadful human being, rather than them being wrong, and those who love you right?

Are these people your parents, incidentally? Because I've certainly seen in fiercely self-critical friends the influence of their appalling, borderline abusive parents.

There's clearly some 'benefit' (however twisted) to you in keeping these people in your life, and actively maintaining contact with them - is it just familiar to be rejected, therefore comforting? Or are you like a desperate puppy rushing around them looking for affection? Would cutting off contact devastate you because in your mind it would mean the end of the possibility of their approval?

Has it occurred to you that these people may despise you precisely because you fawn all over them, despite the fact that they treat you badly? Have you ever seen a bully ramp up the bullying on the toadying child trying to buy liking in the schoolyard? Maybe they've stopped recognising you as a fellow-human being worth of respect, because they think 'Whatever we rush out, she comes back for more?' They sound appalling, but you can only change your actions. Does it matter if you can't accept the logic of cutting them out?

What is the source of the shame?

Liomsa Fri 09-Oct-15 15:52:36

Sorry, typos.

Fellow human being, WORTHY of respect

Whatever we DISH out.

Arfarfanarf Fri 09-Oct-15 15:59:50

If you have had several years of therapy and still can't make changes then perhaps you need a different sort of therapy?
Cbt perhaps? Something less about delving into the past and nurturing your inner child and more about taking small steps in the here and now to achieve your goals?

At the end of the day, you need to challenge yourself to do the scary things.

Lottapianos Fri 09-Oct-15 16:00:06

I used to be a gold medal standard people pleaser too so loads of sympathy. Really good news that you're in therapy - the damaging messages we learn in childhood (like feeling ashamed of who you are) are just too hard to unravel by yourself, without professional support.

People do advise going NC and cutting people off very often on here and while its undoubtedly the right thing for some people, its not for everyone. There's no magic switch you can flick to stop you caring about what people think of you.

I would suggest switching the emphasis from them, and onto yourself. How good are you at taking care of yourself? Do you eat well, make time to cook yourself healthy food? Do you exercise so your body and mind can become stronger? Do you get as much sleep as you can? Do you allow yourself time to do things that you enjoy? Do you praise yourself when you get things right, make good decisions, demonstrate how capable you are?

I started practicising self care and it was a revelation. I started by praising myself for every little thing - it helped (over time) to counteract the negative voice that you have internalised, the little voice that has so much power, the one that tells you how crap you are all the time. Start noticing the good things about yourself - even something simple like remembering to carry an umbrella on a rainy day, remembering to pick up the dry cleaning, cooking a nice dinner, saying hello to your neighbour. Notice everything positive, and remark on it to yourself in a way that feels comfortable for you. I would say things like 'remembered your brolly - good work babe!', but obviously use words that feel comfortable for you! Over time, my critical voice turned into a nurturing voice, and it become so much more natural. I built up an inner core of strength and started trusting myself so much more, which made me much less reliant on other people.

Try it. It may well help to counteract the shame, that dreadful sense of 'I am bad'.

sunsetbadger Fri 09-Oct-15 16:01:22

Yes exactly, cutting off contact would mean accepting that they would never approve. And to me, because I have a mother who I was constantly, frantically, trying to make happy (and never succeeding) that would represent the ultimate failure. I mean, it wouldn't even be worth existing anymore, because I would feel that in accepting that they didn't like me, I was accepting that I was in fact, the terrible person my mother made/makes me feel I am.

pocketsaviour Fri 09-Oct-15 16:01:55

OP this book might help: Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw.

It sounds to me like there is still a part of you that wants your parents(?) to turn around and admit they were wrong and to become loving towards you. That is not going to happen. It's a brutal truth to take in, and it means you need to grieve for the parents you deserved but never got. It also means you need to re-parent your inner child and teach her how to set boundaries, and how to react to people who don't treat her well enough. (Sorry if that sounds a bit woo, but I have found it a helpful way to work on my own issues - I take care of Little Pockets, and at the same time I grow and become stronger.)

In the years that you've been working with the therapist, what gains have you made? Have you managed to set good boundaries in some areas of life, but not others?

sunsetbadger Fri 09-Oct-15 16:03:03

lottapianos thank you so much that is really helpful

sunsetbadger Fri 09-Oct-15 16:04:41

arfarfanarf I have always thought that going over the trauma again and again is useful over a period of time but actually making changes in behaviour would be helpful. So mane CBT is good too - especially now u have some self awareness about the whole problem

sunsetbadger Fri 09-Oct-15 16:05:09

I have self awareness about my problem. Not "u!"

pocketsaviour Fri 09-Oct-15 16:06:28


...I would feel that in accepting that they didn't like me, I was accepting that I was in fact, the terrible person my mother made/makes me feel I am.

Can you change your perspective on this and accept that they didn't like you because they are terrible, neglectful people who should never have had children? That you were (and are) a pure and innocent soul who deserved to be loved and accepted and nurtured, but instead was let down from day one by shitty parenting.

It's really hard to over-ride those parental voices in your head telling you that you are the bad one and if only you would just shut up and take it, everything would be okay. But they lie. You know? They lie.

Lottapianos Fri 09-Oct-15 16:06:37

Excellent advice from pocketsaviour. Don't underestimate the importance of grieving - feeling sad, feeling angry, feeling whatever comes up for you. You didn't have the parents that you deserved and that is just not fair. Take time to feel whatever comes up for you, and allow yourself to let it out. Labelling the process as 'grieving' really helped me to understand what I was going through and to allow myself to go with it

sunsetbadger Fri 09-Oct-15 16:08:39

pocketsaviour thank you. I have managed to set boundaries with men, as the problem was never really my father even though he allowed the horrid stuff to happen. .i do not have a lot of problems in romantic relationships, but my relationships with women are terrible. I have women in my life who are abudive and vicious to me and all I seem to be able to do is give them money to placate them or apologise for nothing, or lower myself to make them feel better.

Thanks for the book recommendation.

queenoftheknight Fri 09-Oct-15 16:35:51

I have had years of therapy now for this. Keep going, and slowly but surely, you DO come to realise that the problem was theirs. They failed to protect and nurture you. THEY failed.

Naming the processes has been terribly important too, as has feeling the feelings that come up, as has learning how to ground myself in the present. Those people cannot hurt me NOW, like they did then. Sometimes the memories can trigger deeper things, when you have been traumatised, and this must be handled gently and slowly with your therapist.

Keep going.

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Sat 10-Oct-15 06:17:56

Sunset, have you considered having a break from your relationship with your mother / parents ?
It may allow you an opportunity to focus and change your people pleasing behaviours without interference. I found that no matter how fast
I was "shovelling s***t" out as long as I allowed others to shovel their issues in I couldn't make progress, or even effectively build and maintain boundaries..there just wasn't enough me to do that. I had to have a clear headspace .
These days, and with the benefit of hindsight, I might have told people I was writing a book and would be closeting myself away for several months..
and indeed a blog or journal, if you don't already keep one, may well help you clarify what you, the authentic you, not the pleasing someone else you, really feels and wants.

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