Reader 1: In one of your articles, your advice was to " connect" to people. I find it extremely difficult to do. I feel everybody judges me. I hate talking to people. I feel uncomfortable when I need to face a group. I think I am much more at peace being by myself. Meeting people makes me anxious.
We are assuming that this uncomfortable feeling or anxiety of meeting new people or a group is a problem for you. If you are comfortable with not meeting people and are happy staying alone, it is not a problem at least for now. You have not mentioned your age, but whether you are a student, professional or self- employed, it is difficult to imagine any occupation which will allow you zero interaction with others.
If you feel judged by others, you need to explore why you feel so. You also need to ask yourself that even if your perception of people judging you is true, then what about it? People are entitled to their opinions. Do you start judging yourself too and question your self- worth because of others judgement? If the answer is yes, then you need to challenge this.
Maybe you have faced strong opinions of yourself from others and you want to avoid experiencing that. It could be that your way of ensuring you don't face their judgement is to avoid facing people altogether.
You can choose to face your fear, use the criticism to help yourself grow and learn, instead of holding on to it and being bogged down by it. A force can be used as " push" or " pull". You can decide how much you are going to allow other people to control your life. When you are trying to avoid judgement, you are still being controlled by the same judgement.
Reader 2: I have very low self confidence. I dread meeting people. I feel I will make a fool of myself in front of others. I am getting isolated and I feel lonely.
Low confidence usually makes us feel unsure of things, a course of action or the probable consequence of an action. However, most often we feel inhibited because of our fear of how others will react to us. The sure shot way to gain confidence is to practice being in the situation which challenges you. If you " dread" meeting people, go meet people. Face your fear. Gradually you will be able to desensitise yourself of the fear and gain confidence.
At the same time, start believing in yourself. Excess criticism towards oneself is counter- productive. Don't let your past experiences dictate your present and future. Be yourself, listen more, observe more and slowly you'll find that you are feeling comfortable.
Reader 3: I am a 16- year- old girl; most of my friends are into smoking, drinking and partying. I feel that if I want to be a part of the group, I have to behave like them.They say it will make me feel better. I feel confused and lonely. My parents don't understand me.
We understand your confusion. The question is not whether these things can help you feel better or not ( they cannot), but why you need things to make you feel better about yourself.
It is natural to want to be a part of a group. But that does not mean you have to do things that you do not want to.
We want others to accept us but we don't want to accept ourselves the way we are, or for who we are.
We look for approval from others.
Many of us don't feel good enough.
We find numerous flaws with ourselves.
We tell ourselves that we are not worth it. Challenge these ideas.
You are always worth it. Believe that you are enough, you are acceptable and lovable the way you are. Be with people who are able to understand you and are there for you without pressuring you to be something you are not.
But irrespective of whether you find such people or not, just be comfortable with who you are. If you are able to do that, you will see that others are also starting to accept you, and a group is forming around you. Make new friends, join hobby classes. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your strength. You may also consider taking professional help if things get too difficult.
(Readers' names have been withheld for confidentiality)
Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches Share your problems with them at
dr. sangbarta@ gmail. com