So I've just had a lovely dinner with some beautiful girlfriends. Great and genuine women all. Good food, good wine and good conversation – what's not to like, right?
But the instant I engage in the clumsy farewells, something overcomes me.
It's an awkward feeling of doubt – did I overdress, over order, over speak? Did I laugh too loud, tell unfunny stories, not listen well enough? Did I pick the wrong restaurant, the wrong entree, go to the toilet at the wrong moment?
Do they all think I'm terrible, dull, over-opinionated?
Do they all like each other more than they like me?
That's embarrassing to admit. But essentially that's what it boils down to, some sort of school yard insecurity that I am way less deserving than the rest of the crowd.
So, what's up with that?
It's an awful sense of disassociation that makes me feel completely on the outs. Separate from everyone, on the fringes looking in. And I don't really know why that is.
For a long time I felt this gap was a sign of an unhealthy relationship. That real friendships, real friends would not make me feel this way.
But I'm old enough now and have experienced it often enough to know, it's not the friends or the friendships, it's me.
It's the same feeling that can pull me out of an otherwise completely engaging and enjoyable activity to slap me across the face with regret for some past transgression.
Why do I never get floored by positive recollections? It's only the memories of the stupid things I did or dumb things I said that sneak up on me. Why is that?
It's like it comes from some unacknowledged sense of self aversion, so that whenever I'm having a happy time I need to remind myself of some reason why I don't deserve it.
Okay – now I'm starting to sound like a total nut job.
Am I really that damaged? Or do I just need to start consciously depositing some positive memories into the bank, some good things I've done that I can recall when these feelings of self doubt creep up.
It has been found that humans do have a negativity bias. That negative experiences, comments and thoughts weigh more heavily on us than the positive ones. (What a shame!)
This is compounded over time as we continue to remember these negative situations and therefore they become more readily accessible – a vicious cycle.
But it has also been found that the brain has a certain plasticity and that neural pathways can be remolded.
So while I have years and years of negative recall to combat, it is possible to change the way I think, the way I think about myself.
My thoughts are so powerful. Time to start using them for good.
Do you ever feel like this?