More threads by nash21


Hi. I'm posting here because I need advice about my life situation, hoping someone has time to read my story.

I've been unhappy for the better part of my life (I'm 21, male) and right now it feels critical, I am about to move to a town far away and study at university. Situation: I've got one close friend that I've been with for about 10 years, other than that my friendships come from school classes and are now fading away. I've never been in a love relationship with a woman, although I have had opportunities. I feel no motivation towards much in life; I can motivate myself into action like exercising, doing chores etc but there's no intrinsic motivation to BE, to DO, to BECOME. This predicament has led me to various compensatory behaviors, like searching (pathetically) for "the meaning of life", over-performing with the narcissistic goal of short-term admiration from self or others, becoming preoccupied with escapist computer games or ways of thinking, seeking sympathy by appearing depressed. I've probably left out something.

I think I have, from a state of suffering, invalidated my emotions as "irrelevant" and then have come to wonder why I've felt so empty, so driveless. I also over-use rational thinking, mercilessly juggling with judgemental terms applied to me and others in my surroundings. From my point of view, right now I am a bad influence for every single person I interact closely with. The thing that makes me sadest of all is if a friend or a member of my family would depend on my happiness for them to be happy. I now feel extremely guilty and even weep when I see how my unhappiness affects those around me. Sometimes I rant that it would be better to have no relationships at all so you don't have to feel guilty about "infecting" others with unhappiness. So I strive for solitude and try to solve my problems on my own. This post is one way.

You have to realize that asking for outside advice about emotional wellbeing feels like a tabu in my specific culture. Strong, intelligent men don't need help, and they certainly don't show their feelings. That's how it feels anyway.

Going deeper: I am quite certain that my problems started back in early childhood. My weakness is feelings so I guess I never learnt to receive and to give love. That simple. I developed the skill of empathy, but never learnt to love. I feel guilty about this but I think my parents parenting style has affected this. My mother is a wonderful woman but kind of shy and was not a "hugger" as I remember it, and my father worked very much and was absent a lot, and was tired and stressed out when coming home. That said I do know that they have always had their kids' best in mind and they are really great people. But still.

In school I under-perform, over-perform depending on the situation. Generally speaking I'm terrified of _becoming_ ,that is, developing into something. I suspect that I recognize that I'm not well balanced, and still there is a very healthy, very strong part of me that wants a good, respectable life. So I'm afraid that as long as I'm unbalanced, I'll never be able to perform up to my potential in anything. I'll live half a life, and that is unbearable, knowing that you could have become "authentic to your aptitude" (like, you develop into who you deep down in a way already are) but never had the mixture of safety, comfort, self-esteem on the one hand and guts, drive, ambition on the other.

If you have made it down here, I sincerely thank you for taking your time reading this. If you have any advice, don't hesitate!


Hi Nash and welcome to Psychlinks ☺

While I can?t comment in detail about various situations in your life or dispense advice on them, I wanted to share with you what I did see in your words.

You are young. Sometimes, when there is no goal it may feel like we?re lost and that time drags on and that being 21 is half of your life past, but I assure, it?s only the beginning. Your recognizing the lack of goal or direction is just another phase of ?_becoming_? and it?s all good.

I don?t know what your cultural background is, but it has been my experience that people who are afraid of their own emotions, or emotions of others, are the ones that tend to hide them, avoid other people?s emotions, and ?teach? others to do the same. Facing emotions requires an incredible amount of strength in yourself, opening up about them requires belief in yourself and others, and expressing those emotions involves intellect. For some, it is a very scary process and takes a great amount of courage. So you see?it is not an easy task and can only be taken on by strong intelligent men and women. The trick here is what you do with it all.

Happiness?we all want to be happy. Sometimes, we find things that enhance our happiness, or people with whom we can share it, but I would argue that we can ?_make_? someone happy any more that someone can ?_make_? us do something we?re not ready or willing to do for ourselves. What we do is evoke what?s already there or inspire them to find another way. It?s all about making choices and sticking with them. You feel that you ?infect people with your unhappiness??what if you tried to be infected with their happiness instead? It can go both ways if you let it.

Some of your character may be due to your background, but I am a firm believer that regardless of our past, we can learn new habits and beliefs. You?re a young adult now who can make his own decision on whether you wish to be ?typecast? into some upbringing model, or use what you learned as a foundation and build yourself up.

You strike me as a good, compassionate, intelligent, and strong person who cares about others, values his culture, respects his family, and can do anything he sets his mind to. That is who you've become and that is wonderful. As for'll come. I am...umm....older....and balance in my life is always work on progress. :)

In closing, while writing my reply, I remembered a story about two wolves that I think demonstrates the points.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It's a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and in every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
What an excellent reply, Lana! :2thumbs:

About the only thing I can add to that, Nash, is to say that you seem to have some insight into what has brought you to this point but as is often the case the problem is how to turn that insight into positive change.

You indicate that your are about to begin studies at university. Most colleges and universities in North America have student counseling centers, typically staffed by senior students in psychology or social work and supervised by exprienced professors, where students can get counseling appointments for little or no cost. I would recommend that you look into this as an option when you arrive at the university. This might be an ideal time for you to get some assistance in identifying exactly what is holding you back from finding more contentment and fulfillment and how to go about overcoming whatever those barriers are.
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