I've now been feeling increasingly disempowered for several years, but the situation worsened quickly during the last twelve month and seemed to reach some kind of climax recently. Unfortunately, I don't know the reason for this situation but perhaps someone else can give me a hint here.
Actually, I could be a very happy person. I'm visiting one of the world's leading universities in my field, have great job perspectives, get decent support from friends, my university and my family and I'm achieving decent results in what I am doing.
However, I am constantly feeling like I'm some kind of zombie or I'm stuck in a non-lucid dream. My entire mind is messy and unfocused, everything I perceive is blurry. I am a very intuitive and analytical person - but on the other side, my abilities to perceive and feel seems to be underdeveloped. I am procrastinating even at things I like to do, I am constantly nervous but at the same time also tired. My whole life seems to be very superficial
I've been talking to tons of psychologists, went to church, moved to other countries, read tons of personal developing stuff, but nothing seemed to help. In contrary, my mind even got messier than it was before.
I know that this post is rather messy and not actually saying much, but that's mainly due to the situation - so please feel free to ask questions.
Does anyone have any idea what else I could try to get a clear mind and feel empowered again?
the first thing that hit me when i read the posts in this thread was DEPRESSION. It could be a chemical imbalance/neurotransmitter problems you guys can be having. Not in a sad I wanna slit my wrists kind of way but more like if something great happens to you guys you will remain unphased. We were talking about it in my medical terminology class the other day, if you've been in this state for awhile it's time to look into it.
Taking it down the neuro science path is an interesting idea indeed. If animals of all kind, down to the reptiles, get afraid, they know exactly three reactions programmed in their cerebellum: escape (procrastinate), attack (nervosity) or freeze (paralysis). The cerebrum, where our main intelligent thinking goes on, is "turned off", thus receives less blood, and we are not that smart anymore.
Non of these reactions is very helpful in our modern society - they lead to unwanted result and reinforce anxiety. But exactly these reactions are basically what I am observing from myself, they are making me feel zombie-like (or reptile-like).
This implies that I absolutely need to figure out what I am afraid of. I'll give it a thought and come back again in the evening (GMT).
the first thing that jumped out at me was you saying intuitive/analytical both hand-in-hand. For me, a road-map to what your going through. Best idea is to choose one as more prominant then the other. I'm guessing you will choose analytical judging by your profession. When you try to use both without knowing what your doing, they are in conflict. I didnt say you cant utilise both energies, only that you will need to understand and harness both to work for you. Right now its kinda like..."shall i step over here, or over there?" type thing.
My impression is that you are stuck in your head and not allowing any playful passion in. The spirit needs to be nurtured too.
Is some little voice, or maybe a big one, saying you're not allowed to have fun right now?
You can give yourself permission. It's not just for kids.
The less you analyze it, the more enjoyable it will be.
EDIT - Also...the hard work you've done won't go away if you decide to climb a tree. Or jump in mud puddles. Or...
Live a little. It's not all about work and school.
I tried to resolve the issue during the last month and could improve my productivity slightly, but it's still not where I want it to be. I need to know my goal - then I am unstoppable. But if I don't know my goal, I'm just running around blindly (and of course keep hitting the walls).
Obviously, my problem appears to be that I didn't find the (professional) purpose of my life yet (my overall purpose of life is building networks. All kinds of networks. I'm crazy for building networks that process information. But which kind should I build professionally?)
I got numerous things I like, but I don't know which one I should really go for - and finally end up trying to do everything, but of course do nothing right. I don't even know whether I prefer software development, finance or consulting - or go for my family's business or go for research (ok, research probably not - that's actually what my professor wants me to do).
Thus, my problem is that I don't know the goal, so I don't know in which direction I should walk. My narrow mind focuses on trying to make as much money and gain as much power as possible in the future when I try to think about what I really want to do with my life. But of course, this is not how our world works.
How do I figure this out?
I thought of clinical depression as well as. On the other hand, it could be that you lack commitment to one path as well though. I think if we lack meaning in our lives it can feel sort of numbing. If we fail to establish some sort of narrative meaning in our lives, it feels mediocre and the feeling is one of despair.
Having said that, you should really rule our clinical depression and other biological things that could leave you feeling unfocused, unmotivated, zombie-like and tired as well. Having an iron deficiency, for example, can have these symptoms.
You talked a lot about absorbing a lot of information. Have you tried simplifying your life? I don't think there is one correct way to live your life. There is no one correct path. The best we can do is clearly delineate the values that are important to us and then consciously choose to live out those values during our day-to-day life. Just choose one of those paths listed in the quote. It is really your attitude that counts in the end.
Besides, it is not as if you have to follow the same career for the rest of your life. If you want to go into software development now, do so. Fifteen years from now, you can switch careers and transfer over your skills and experience.
Asdf, to me it sounds like burnout.
You have a difficult time explaining your situation. I'm not sure specifically what the situation is. That happens to me often as well. In my case, it's usually burnout or depression.
Taking a long break to enjoy yourself and energize yourself with things you like to do might be a solution.
There's another psychological phenomenon called "depersonalization" which could also describe your situation. But it's difficult to distinguish it from depression, because they both overlap and some people can be depressed without feeling depressed.
Probably the worst thing you could do would be to intellectualize it. EVERYTHING seems boring when you feel this way. Like pain, it's your brain's way of telling you that something needs attention. You're sick, in a way, even if you don't feel anything.
Have you tried medication? It can be temporary. It doesn't have to be a roller coaster of trying, failing, and blowing money on expensive new drugs.
I certainly do have symptoms like slight depression or smothing similar, thus medication might help quickly (and so does running a few miles a day), but I want to achieve a long-lasting change which can't be provided by pills. I guess the approach of simplifying my life and taking a while off will serve me best and also help to prevent a total burnout (which I might be close to due to the huge amount of courses I am doing this term).
In fact, I try to fight through the last few days of this term until christmas, take a few days off and start the new year more empowered. Perhaps I'll make a trip to Vegas, have some serious fun and attend Steve's workshop and do an internship next term (which is quite relaxing for me as I won't have to plan too many things myself).
Cacheborne posted a rather interesting article in regards to goals. What I took from it was that the process of living your life was more important than the actual goals we set out for our selves. In my mind, I wouldn't literally interpret the article as saying there should be no goals. I do, however, think that it is our attitude and ability to appreciate and experience the moment that is more important. In terms of values, again, I think it is more important to be a living example of who we truly want to be rather than the actual goal it self.
There is another article that I'll link to in a moment that you might find helpful.
the best goal is no goal :zenhabits
Ok, I can't find the original article, but if you are a type of person who has many interests and can't seem to just decide on any one thing to do, you might like the following link and the book that it centres upon. It basically focuses upon 'scanner personalities', which seems to correspond well with certain ennegram and myer-briggs personality types. The underlying idea behind the link and book is to create an untraditional environment for your self that will satisfy your unique desires and needs.
Scanner Tribe Articles About the Scanner Personality
asdf - up against difficult odds a few years ago, I decided to take an antidepressant at my doctor's suggestion. I was too low to resist even though I was not the kind of person who even had aspirin in my medicine cabinet. It was not a permanent thing but that prescription helped move me out of the depths so that I could actually do something more permanent for myself.
A female relative was experiencing some of what you are describing. She did the rounds of counselling, psychotherapy, psychiatry etc - after a very long while, she was tested for and found to have and is now being treated for a form of 'temporal lobe epilepsy'.
Might be worth exploring.
@ZephyrusX: Thanks for the interesting read. I am not quite sure wether I really got a scanner personality or I just want to be successful too desperately to proof that I can still by myself, but it's an interesting model.
@GreekDog: I don't really think that I got a clinical depression in a traditional sense. I, however, got ADHD and perhaps should be treating that medically if I can't handle myself, but so far I've been able to do what I want without Ritaline and try to keep it that way.
A few years ago, I used to perform much better, was much more energetic and achieved things easily. I got straight As at class, stuided two majors at once, worked efficiently, could lead people easily and never worried. Then I gave that up, became lazy, went to parties often and so on because I felt life was too easy (thus boring). More over, I moved to China, learnt Chinese but gradually also picked up the fear of not succeeding there, of which I never got rid since (which is totally irrational in my current situation).
What's bothering me the most is that I used to do much better than I am doing now previously and I just can't get myself in the state of mind that allowed me that performance anymore - and the harder I try, the harder I fail. I've kinda lost my self-confidence and need to regain it in order to dare to succeed. Or I perhaps I need to totally f**k up, beat myself up a few month and start over (which is the way Steve solved that situation when he was stuck in it - and the way I managed to get into that flow the first time before I lost it). However, I'm not that into shop lifting and would prefer to finish my master degree without being kicked out and start all over :d
Trying too hard to achieve a lasting state of happiness can worsen depression. Happiness is like fog.
People with ADHD are the worst about this. They're always chasing something. Sometimes finding it, though, is the most depressing thing of all.
Currently, it seems like sports is the best way to keep ADHD in check, so I am training very often and it does really help.
It's indeed true that I am always chasing a goal and yet I am afraid of achieving it and of not achieving it all at once. This fear is incredibly disempowering and I guess this is exactly what is holding me back.
I thought about this situation quite a while, tried to figure what goal I am actually chasing (as I have too many goals in my head) and found out why I am afraid:
What I really want to do is going into investment banking (trading, not M&A!). Currently, however, this is a socially rather unacceptable job and I am feeling the social preassure from that. Moreover, most invetment banks are hiring very modestly these days, so that it is harder to really get in. The field is therefore incredibly competitive and I am afraid of failing. Therefore, I am always looking for alternatives that are easier to achieve (like software development to integrate business processes in ERP systems or the like) and this keeps me from dedicating my efforts totally to my main goal. Every not-A and every minor failure is reenforcing this limiting believe and this is how I ended up like this. It also gives me the notion that I would be better of failing because I'd at least have security then and could start from scratch.
However, this behaviour is highly irrational and considering my current situation I don't really have to worry much about not getting into IB. Probably I don't get a top job in trading right after graduation (no one actually does), but there are numerous analyst positions that look like a lot of fun to me. Moreover, even if I fail, I can still expect an interesting life, so I shouldn't be afraid - and of course, there's always a second chance. :o
Keeping these facts in mind helps me to relieve a lot of tension and like this I managed to be very productive again in the past few hours while feeling awake and non-zombie-like. However, I need to prevent falling back into old thought patterns somehow... any tips?
If this is the case then I think that it might help you a lot to sort out whatever issues/conflicts you have inside of yourself. The easiest way I know of this is to write a diary. It can be a very soothing and relaxing experience and your mind will feel much clearer everytime you write as frankly and as directly as possible in your diary. Just open a blank page and start writing down whatever thoughts come to your head. Think about it as pouring out all of your thoughts you have all onto the paper. If you want to know more about how to write your diary let me know.
By all means delve into what you want to do professionally.
But as an experience....and I'm not in the slightest a proponent of relationships to fix anything in life but....have you ever loved anyone?
The ability to perceive and feel anOther in a loving, focused way might be something that is missing in your repertoire of experience?
I'm not talking about dating. Or having someone that fits into your current goals and doesn't rock the boat. I'm talking about someone special.
I do love her indeed and I know she loves me very much too, but she's not appreciating me for what I am doing much, she behaves very disrespectfully once she loses her temper (which happens on the daily) and she's generally not very empathic when interacting with other people. Moreover, she needs me to do virtually everything for her - and expects me to do it.
One example would be that when I'm having exams, getting very stressed and anxious from the huge amount of work and could use some support, she's usually not trying to understand why I can't go to cinema with her and gets very upset if I don't go. Then she won't let me study until I go with her or comfort her. If I just lock her out of my study (which I did once when I was really short on time) she kicks against the door until it breaks.
I know that looking at this situation, most sane persons would urge me to leave her. But for me, she's like a daughter and I know that if we break up, I'll probably never see her again (as she'll return to her home town) which would be very hard for me as I've really got a strong protection instinct and want to help her to develop herself - but can't do so if she's thousands of miles away.
This is probably that annoying inner conflict I can't solve and that I'm refusing to face therefore.
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