Overcoming Personal Hardships

Your personal battles are the hardest because you must fight them alone and it’s difficult to measure success with them.

However, at the same time, you have the advantage of not depending on other people to make changes.


When you don’t know, look for what you can know:
  • Very frequently, all uncertain things rest on certain facts:
    • No news about a decision means people are waiting or deliberating.
    • No news about physical things mean the situation hasn’t expressed itself explicitly.
    • If you aren’t being informed of something that someone else may know, there’s always a logical reason why.
  • Ask “why” more than “what”.
    • Frequently, digging deeper can give you wisdom on the situation that wasn’t there before.

Since you can’t do anything about the pending situation, focus on the present:
  • As much as you can, try to plan for the worst likely situation.
  • If there’s nothing to plan, drop the entire experience out of your mind.


Self-hatred is when we take life’s natural stressors of life very personally:
  • If you’ve learned from it and legitimately changed, it’s not part of you anymore.
  • Most people may have trouble forgiving you and moving on, but you can’t let that affect you.
  • If you want to commit suicide, you simply want to stop suffering, and would be happy to take any other option.

Regret is not forgiving ourselves over past decisions, and over time it converts into shame:
  • Shame is the belief that we are defective, inadequate or flawed.
    • We’ll presume (often when we’re highly susceptible as children) that we can “fix” ourselves to feel less shame.
  • Shame will destroy any self-development, since you won’t be able to let go of your feelings of worthlessness.
    • At least some of the things we declare as “broken” are core parts of our personality.
  • The solution to regret is to internalize the fact that, given what you knew at the time, you did what you thought was best.
  • Ihe solution to shame, however, is to first become aware of it, then forgive yourself.

If you hate yourself, accept that your beliefs about yourself are wrong:
  • You’re a complex, unique person who has a lot to offer.
  • Even if you feel you’re trash, life itself is a remarkable ordered thing, and you’re temporarily blinded to it by your self-reflection.
  • Unfortunately, because of your misery, most people are afraid to tell you how wrong your self-valuation is because you may take it the wrong way.
    • To put it very bluntly, your despair comes from being self-absorbed.

Invert your problem:
  • If you’re starting to contemplate suicide, ask what exactly has prevented you from doing it yet.
  • When you get past the fear and shame, you do value something of yourself in the mix of everything.
  • Focus on what you value in yourself, and find ways to make small movements that foster it.

Self-loathing: self-deception

Nearly everyone was raised with a defective view of themselves from their parents, but aren’t aware of it:
  • We don’t become conscious of what we were taught wrongly until something mysteriously hurts us and we can’t figure out why.
  • Most of the time, we’ll repeat unhealthy patterns across several life stages until we notice something is wrong.

We only become mentally well and happy when we accept things for what they are instead of what we want them to be:
  • Accepting things is difficult because it often requires removing preconceived notions and forgiving.
  • Most people never accept their genuine self and expect others to do the same.
  • We only connect with others as much as we can connect with our authentic self.
  • Unfortunately, this is a highly personal journey everyone must take alone.

We tend to use “layers” of self-deception to self-protect, but we’ll habituate to them so much that we forget they’re not our real selves.

A. Toxic shame is a complete non-acceptance of oneself:
  • This can be so bad that someone can’t even look at themselves from any perspective.
  • This often means they can’t identify or understanding their inner thoughts and feelings.
  • Look for detachment from the present moment:
    • Plans and plods
    • Trouble playing and having fun
    • Lives in the past
    • Fearful, anxious, or depressed
    • Afraid to make decisions
  • Note any detachment from reality:
    • Overly theatrical
    • Overly rational or logical
    • Self-indulgent or grandiose
    • Pretending to be strong or helpless
    • Conceited or self-righteous
    • Self-centered
  • Watch for inappropriate harshness:
    • Self-doubting or self-hating with a strong sense of inferiority
    • Withholding or silent
    • Conditionally loving
    • Critical, controlling or perfectionist
    • Denies, hides, and judges feelings in self or others
    • Passive or aggressive, or both
  • Pay close attention to trust issues:
    • Obsession with power and control
    • Controlling or micro-managing
    • Distrustful
    • Avoids or distrusts nurture from others
    • Believes everyone is “on their own”
    • Secretive
  • Someone with toxic shame will often behave intensely:
    • Physical violence
    • Addictions, of all types
    • Compulsive and repetitive behaviors
    • Personal failures, as well as trying to fail
    • Compulsive lying
    • Involved in unhealthy relationships
    • Criminal behavior

B. Cover-ups recognize personal failings, but entirely blame everyone and everything else for it:
  • This is usually the approach when someone else bluntly tells them the truth.
  • The cover-up generally swaps back-and-forth between blaming and denying.
  • The attitude when covering up will be:
    • Judgmental
    • Perfectionist
    • Patronizing
    • Raging or angry
    • Envious
    • Blaming
    • Enabling
    • Victimizing
    • Depressed
  • People who use a cover-up identity tend to:
    • Obsess about people-pleasing
    • Moralize or act religious
    • Adopt a caretaker/rescuer role with others
    • Transfer shame to others by claiming complete innocence
    • Control or micro-manage

C. Rigid family/group roles try to find some sort of use by fulfilling a stereotype:
  • These roles are extreme models of how a person feels they “fit in”:
    • Hero, Star, Perfect One
    • Victim, Helpless Parent
    • Lost Child, “Sick One”, Little Parent
    • Problem Child, Rebel, Offender, Scapegoat
    • Enabler, Surrogate Spouse, Provider
    • Mascot, Comedian
  • The roles can extend to other non-family roles as well:
    • Workaholic
    • Substance Abuser
    • Judge, Critical
    • People Pleaser
    • Rescuer
    • Caretaker
    • Entertainer
    • Controller, Manipulator
    • Distrustful, Paranoid
    • Political Activist

D. Defenses identify and understand the issues, but are unwilling to accept personal responsibility for them:
  • Mental defenses are very common to self-protect from pain:
    • Displacement – not living in the present
    • Disassociation – not focusing on reality
    • Denial – not acknowledging reality
    • Delusions – not living in reality
    • Repression – blocking memories
    • Projection – using personal experience as a broader pattern than it should be
    • Forecasting – making idealized fantasy relationships with others
  • People who use mental defenses often show the same behaviors:
    • Clearly inconsistent behaviors
    • Passive-aggressive behavior (i.e., inconsistent boundaries)
    • Over-identification with others
    • Alienation or isolation

E. Internalized shame accepts personal responsibility, but refuses to believe they can be fixed:
  • We often feel overwhelmed and react to the wrong things:
    • Feeling abandonment and rejection
    • Memories of perceived abuse and trauma
  • Many times, we’ll ruthlessly blame our parents or guardians:
    • Rejecting
    • Absent, Neglectful
    • Indifferent, Silent
    • Hostile, Threatening
    • Abusive
    • Guilt-Tripping, Shaming
    • Smothering, Oppressive
    • Unreliable
  • While they did fail, we’ll take it harder than they ever meant it.
  • When people are in a state of internalized shame, they tend to show severe toxic behaviors caused by their chronic exposure to misery.

F. Underneath all of our phony deceptions, we have core beliefs that arose from our dysfunctional background:
  • A healthy core belief has both sufficient guilt/remorse and a strongly developed sense of self, but poor parenting never gives that.
    • Poor parenting teaches children long into adulthood that they’re flawed, inadequate, defective, and “not good enough”.
    • Children over-identify with this world’s realities and define who they really are by their actions.
  • Uncovering and accepting the authentic self is overwhelming because feelings are meshing with reality.
    • Generally, highly talented people can hide their feelings of inadequacy for a very long time.
    • People will be extremely fragile as they identify key parts of how they came to certain beliefs.

Our authentic self has a solid connection between thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions:
  • An authentic person sees themselves as having value and worthy of love, irrespective of actions.
  • Authentic people love themselves with a gentle, motivational attitude.
  • Authentic thought means all ideas are legitimate until proven false.
    • As reality shows itself, beliefs change in a timely way.
  • Authentic feelings have time to grieve, feel, suffer, and recuperate.
  • The consequences of the authentic self are liberating:
    • It’s easy to adapt to changing circumstances.
    • Setbacks are easy to recover from.
    • Thoughts and feelings are expressed without restraint beyond social standards.

First, to find your authentic self, focus on finding and stopping self-effacing mantras:
  • I’m worthless.
  • I’m not worthy of loving anyone.
  • Nobody wants me.
  • I’m alone.
  • People always take advantage of me.
  • Nobody loves me.
  • Nobody cares about me.
  • I’m not needed.
  • My opinion doesn’t matter.
  • I’m hated.
  • Everyone lies to me.
  • I’m ugly.
  • It’s hopeless.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not happy.
  • I’m cruel.
  • I already know what the answer will be.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I can’t make a good wife/husband.
  • I can’t be a good mother/father.
  • I’m a child.
  • I’m stupid.
  • I’m not qualified.
  • I shouldn’t bother.
  • I’m a moron.
  • I’m a terrible friend.
  • I’m a burden.
  • I can’t get anything right.
  • It’s too late for me to do it.

Next, identify all the self-deceptions:
  • Because it’s a type of “performance”, it won’t adapt quickly to the natural changes in reality.
  • A false self triggers from many sources, with no predictable pattern:
    • Facial expressions
    • Smells
    • Sounds
    • Someone else’s actions
  • Learn to detect the false selves as they appear in yourself and others.
    • Can’t respect self or others.
    • Distorted view of self that doesn’t self-love and accept mistakes.
    • Distorted view of others that falsely presumes others believe or feel things.
    • Consistently unfair standards with others and self.
    • Driven by fear, either toward helplessness or hyper-vigilance.
    • Black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking, especially with respect to conflicts and success.
  • One of the most horrifying personas people adopt is the “life of the party” facade:
    • While they hide it well, the lively and enjoyable conversation is meant to control the conversation, not make friends or build relationships.
      • It keeps the conversation topic in an area that feels safe and doesn’t provoke change.
      • They can maintain emotional distance while also keeping a good reputation with others.
    • You can usually detect the facade by pressing on an important, serious conflict.
    • There are other variations to “life of the party”, such as incessantly talking, using many large words, or speaking with lots of trade-based jargon.

Third, identify the self-lies that created those layers:
  • We must identify how we lie to ourselves and accept that they’re lies.
    • We’re identifying these things to forgive ourselves as we discover the lies we’ve believed.
  • This will feel very uncomfortable, but will also be liberating.
  • Be careful with the facades you detect from others, since you can severely destroy your relationship with entire communities if you’re not careful.

Finally, expose yourself (or them) to pain that draws out the situation:
  • Start exposing defenses and cover-ups.
    • The most effective way to demonstrate the authentic self is through feeling legitimate pain, then following where it leads after the first shock passes.
  • Look at any behavior, roles, and defenses that go against any of the following statements:
    1. I am worthy of love.
    2. I am flawed.
    3. I can change.
  • If you’re trying to expose self-deceptions in others, you absolutely must be tactful and gracious with them.
    • Expect them to hate you.
  • With enough time and energy, you’ll break through to the authentic self.
    • If other people aren’t willing to be authentic, either learn to be patient with them or abandon the relationship.


Before anything, accept you have a substance abuse problem.

You will not get out of your addiction by yourself:
  • That substance gave you satisfaction and meaning, so something else must fill that void.
    • If you choose another substance, you’re simply swapping out one mental poison for another.
  • Thus, the only “substance” that’s safe is a supportive community of friends and the release and personal relationship with God as you know him.

Find a healthy community that supports your new lifestyle:
  • If your friends abuse the same substance as you, your habits won’t change because they will sabotage any effective changes.
  • Besides recovery groups, you can also find less direct support through friendships you find through clubs and religious gatherings.

Extreme loneliness

Even in a crowd, we suffer loneliness when we can’t relate with others, which will often compound over years to make us lonelier.

Loneliness usually comes from an unfair situation:
  • Incarceration is often lonely, especially in countries that keep prisoners away from each other.
  • Any long-term poverty creates loneliness, such as from prolonged unemployment.
  • Even in a crowd, separation from a culture of origin (e.g., in a foreign country) can make us feel like we don’t belong.
  • Extreme intelligence can often mean the only people we can find shared experiences with are on the internet.
  • Bitterness or grief can drive away others, even if it’s because a loved one has died.

Learn to enjoy passing time with solitary activities:
  • Learn and play card games, especially solitaire and card tricks.
  • Learn and explore philosophy.
  • Make stories, either by writing them out or in your mind.
  • Practice tossing games or juggling.
  • If you have anything available, try creating something with what little you have.
  • If you’re away from everything, imagine doing something you’re familiar with that makes you comfortable.
  • Spend time in meditation and prayer.

Depression/existential crisis

Don’t confuse your depression with sadness:
  • If your situation is going terribly, you may just be sad.
  • Depression is where you believe that one of your needs can never be met, then relive the past repeatedly to find an answer.

Contrary to what you feel, your first problem is not a lack of understanding or happiness:
  • If you’re battling existential issues, your ability to understand reality is better than most.
    • Digging deeper to find something “known” won’t get you anywhere because all understanding is gradations of trusting various components of perception.
  • Between what exists in nature and the challenges you can strive for, life already has everything you need to find satisfaction.

What you really want and need is meaning in your life:
  • Meaning is when we feel responsible for doing something.
  • Very frequently, we face crises of meaning because we’re so afraid of failure that we only make “safe” bets.
  • The only answer is to find something mundane but necessary, then commit to doing it.

The only meaning that persists involves others:
  • Hugging and getting a massage can help grief and suffering, since the physical contact releases endorphins.
  • We can become so habituated to our own minds that we lose track of what other people are doing.
    • If people around you are avoiding you, it’s likely they’re self-aware enough to protect themselves from you sabotaging their joy.
  • While none of your friends will tell you, your depression is selfish.
    • If you weren’t preoccupied with your own thoughts and focused instead on fixing problems for others, you would slowly find contentment in the results you’d slowly accumulate.

Severe poverty

When you don’t have any money, you often can’t even reliably hunt for a job.

To get out of poverty, save everything you can:

Trust in God as you understand him, who provides everything you need when you need it.

Health issues

It’s completely unfair that some people never need to visit the hospital while some of us need accommodations for even basic tasks:
  • Health is a blessing everyone takes for granted until it fails.
  • Unfortunately, it’s rare for us to regain our health after we’ve lost it.

Don’t compare yourself to everyone else:
  • It’s easy to envy others’ convenient and carefree life.
  • At the same time, those people have likely not learned the discipline you’ve mastered, and will have a harder time succeeding at many non-health-related activities as you.

Chronic pain is severely difficult, but only if you think about the future:
  • We can only take one day at a time, so focus on “now”.
  • Try to find comfort when the pain subsides, since it proves that long-term pain isn’t guaranteed.
  • Don’t expect anyone else to understand, but be grateful that they care enough to try.

Certain blessings can come with a terminal illness (e.g., cancer):
  • The only thing that’s changed from before is the timing of death.
  • Everyone dies, but most people don’t thrive until they feel a shortage of time.
  • In a strange way, you have the means to easily treat each day as if it were your last, and can be far more satisfied in the moment than most healthy people.

Everyone who doesn’t die first will experience declining health through aging:
  • As we grow older, our bodies start wearing out until they stop working.
  • In that sense, you’ve simply jumped ahead to this stage in life faster than they did.

Learn gratitude for each moment: Life is its own blessing, and the ability to run, dance, or jump is one of the foundational blessings that all other blessings sit on.

Don’t obsess about extending your life too much:
  • Many times, doctors try to provoke optimism even when it’s inappropriate.
  • Many health treatments (especially for cancer) dramatically decrease the quality of life (e.g., chemotherapy).
  • Either devote yourself to fighting the cancer and defeating it with every ounce of your existence, or accept early that you don’t have the willpower for it and enjoy the last days of your life.


As we grow older, we start falling behind the trends until we eventually feel like the world is moving faster than us:
  • This only gets worse as we get older, especially as technology keeps improving.
  • While nothing is legitimately “new”, there are a lot of remixes worth enjoying.
    • Never give up the spark of curiosity that you once thrived on when you were a child.

Contrary to popular belief, we tend to become happier as we get older:
  • As we gain experience, our expectations tend to decrease until they’re easier to satisfy.
  • At the same time, this requires us accepting the losses that happened (wasted time, lost opportunities, etc.).

At a certain point, people stop seeing you more like an institution than an individual:
  • The plethora of experiences you’ve accumulated has made you a complex person, with many nuances that makes you special.
    • Whenever you say something, people will imagine that it was what someone with your background would likely say.
    • When you make something new, everyone will believe that it was inevitable because you had so many years to incubate the idea.
  • Embrace it as a badge of honor and a type of authority.

Don’t dwell too much on the familiar past:
  • Your memory has shifted the past positively, but those days were not as good as your nostalgia remembers them.
  • Very often, all the problems that presently exist were around when you were young, but you’re more aware of them now or they’ve become more ubiquitous.

Instead, focus on what you can do now and in the future:
  • Planning out what you want (and more importantly, doing it) may be difficult with your declining health, but you’re also smarter and wiser than you were.
  • Keep fighting and pushing for what you want, and don’t relent to the idea that you’re “too old” to do things.
    • If you’re 45 and start playing a musical instrument, you’ll have been playing for 20 years by the time you’re 65.
  • Even after your peak (between ages 30 and 50), you still have a ton to contribute to the world.

Regularly seek out new activities and time with others:
  • Young people, especially children, will keep you young.
  • Find new, fun things to do that stretch your limits, physically and mentally.
    • Beyond being a thrill, those experiences significantly slow aging.
  • Spend more time around younger people, since your peers will likely have a bad habit of complaining about “the good old days”.

Learn to accept death as the final conclusion to your life.