Fear of being criticized, fear of being humiliated, fear of being rejected, fear of violence being visited upon you. These are the common types of fear that some people find themselves being subjugated to, by their own minds, on daily basis.
The irony about living in fear is that whatever it is that you fear, will most likely happen if you do not put yourself in a position to accept and deal with it. It takes more energy hiding from people and situations which evoke fear in you, when compared to the amount of energy it takes for you to invest in preparation strategies for embracing your feelings of fear and tackling the problem at hand.
There are two cognitive processes for getting past your fear, the first is learning about the core reasons for your fear, while the second is changing your beliefs about your feelings.
Firstly, with most people I have worked with in regards to getting past their issues of fear, it has always come down to their fear of suffering. We fear suffering far more than we fear dying, I guess this is why in Christian texts the talk of hell and the idea of being burned while experiencing never ending agony was captivating and frightening for myself and my peers as children. Regardless the belief that one shouldn’t suffer is an irrational belief. It is an irrational belief, because through suffering comes growth. The infant who is teething, is going through a stage of suffering, with the end result being strong teeth. The toddler learning to walk is going through a stage of suffering, with the end result being efficient mobility. The teenager struggling to learn algebra is going through a stage of suffering, with the end result being improved cognitive ability in calculating and solving math problems. Suffering is not to be avoided but embraced. I am not embracing nor encouraging any form of self punishment here, but rather I am endorsing and encouraging an attitude of courage.
Secondly, is the issue with feelings. Feelings make great servants but terrible masters. Some people who struggle with anxiety issues will often avoid discussing certain topics or tackling certain issues due to their fear of having to dealing with painful feelings. This behavior is based on the flawed belief that our feelings are to be tendered to. Our ability to feel is based on our need to compare our perception of the world as it exists in our heads to the world as it really is outside our heads. When our feelings are positive, it means that the world we perceive and the world as is are congruent. When our feelings are negative, it means that the world we perceive is incongruent with the world as it. Our negative feelings are an opportunity for us to reexamine our thoughts and core beliefs with the goal of correcting our perception to match reality as close as possible.
The process of practicing these cognitive processes are easier written than done, and in most cases require the assistance of a professional.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and a life coach.
Periodically I come across videos online with young people acting out humorous skits about humiliating experiences. In some cases it is easy to tell that these skits are based on the personal experiences of the main actor or actress while in other cases they are clearly making fun of other peoples’ misfortune.
I am going to focus on skits based on personal experiences, needless to write, making an online video to mock the misfortune of others is not okay.
If I were to meet some of the producers of the videos based on their own humiliating experience, I would like to ask them,
“Prior to making your video, did you heal from the experience?” “Did you learn the lesson you needed to learn from the experience?”
To the young girl who made the skit about how her boyfriend kept their serious relationship a secret from his family and friends and was hesitant to bring her around his family during the holidays, I wonder if she is still in that relationship? If she still is, I wonder why? Does she not consider herself worthwhile to be introduced to her boyfriend’s family and received warmly by them?
If she were a relative, I would suggest to her that perhaps she is the only one between the two, who thinks it’s a serious relationship.
To my Nigerian brethren who made the video about how Nigerian parents are notorious for beating their children who behave in non African traditional ways – that’s not funny. Yes, I know, most people think it’s funny, but it’s really not. If you disagree with me, simply insert yourself into the shoes of the two main characters.
There is nothing more damaging to the self esteem of a teenage young man, who has put in a lot of work into toasting and inviting a female friend over to his home. Only to be walked in on by his father and beaten in front of her. Furthermore, beating a confused girl who has decided to strip before a camera only worsens her damaged identity.
“But I no dey vex for una,” your other videos are funny expect this one.
We have to be honest with ourselves, because lies only help us in soothing our feelings. That way we can pretend not to be bothered by events we have experienced. Events while unfortunate, provide a sliver lining for us to achieve significant growth via painful feelings.
This attitude of pretending not to be bothered by humiliating experiences, is like convincing yourself you have the ability to dodge bullets and fly like a character in a Hollywood blockbuster. However we are all vulnerable, and recognition and acceptance of our vulnerabilities gives us needed courage in accepting life on life’s terms.
If you have been humiliated or shamed, call it for what it is, because pretending not to be bothered only sets you up to experience a repeat. When we are able to admit experiences that wound our egos, we set ourselves up for proper healing.
By healing I mean being able to acknowledge the source of the wounding, and learning the lesson you need to learn.
What are some healthy and unhealthy methods you have used to respond to feeling humiliated?
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
“Your core beliefs help shape your reality.”
This morning I came across this post, in which the author gave her social commentary on the ongoing Barneys scandal. In essence what the author states is that when people who are poor spend the little money they have on overpriced products they don’t need, they are being strategic in trying to fit into a society in which they feel rejected by.
I have heard this rationale before, and I get it. However I respectfully disagree with it and here’s why;
However before I begin, I would like to state that I don’t know the true financial situation of the young man and young woman who were harassed and humiliated by the NYPD for shopping in the high end department store.
I would also like to state that when police officers take it upon themselves to pick you off the streets and put you in jail, because you were spotted with an item they believed you could not afford, citizens across the country (regardless of ethnicity) should be concerned.
If you are poor, and you have grown up finding yourself on the receiving end of condescending attitudes from would be snubs, due to beliefs in prestige, supremacy and etc, then it stands to reason that adopting such a belief as yours would only bring you more of the same.
So if I purchase a luxury car, because I believe I would be regarded with prestige when seen with the car, then I am only going to attract people who believe in prestige. The problem with people who believe in prestige is that they have a bad habit of being judgmental and condescending towards those they believe don’t measure up. This means I will be inviting more of the same in my life if I subscribed to core beliefs in prestige and acted out on those beliefs.
Also, I am always going to find myself extra sensitive to how I am being regarded by others and constantly in pursuit of more possessions that signal prestige to others, which keeps me trapped in an unhealthy reality.
On the other hand, if I purchased a car that I found of practical value which also suited my tastes without a care for how others would perceive me, I would find myself attracting people who are non judgmental and open minded. So in spite of the fact that snubs do exist and do judge me from time to time, my true reality would consist of people who accept me unconditionally.
For those who have been tricked into believing that unconditionally acceptance must come at a steep price, my message to them is this; unconditional acceptance is always free.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.