This episode follows Chapter 2, Lie # 6: “You Can’t Trust Anyone” of Anxiety… I’m So Done with You! In this episode, you’ll learn:
- humans are social beings and need people
- how isolation amplifies negative thoughts
- why relationships are mutually beneficial
- how to deal with difficult people
It’s hard when anxiety convinces you that you can’t trust anyone or shouldn’t need people because people need people. I’ll teach you that when you learn how to trust yourself, you will see which other people you can trust too. You’ll learn that self-trust starts with self-compassion.
“You You Can’t Trust Anyone!”
People who feel emotionally bad are often tempted to isolate themselves. There are many reasons for this; some are you don’t want to feel needy, you don’t want to be a burden, and you don’t want to be hurt when you are so vulnerable. But you are not protecting yourself because isolation makes everything worse, not better.
Being scared of people might be your reason for isolation, but isolation is increasing your fear of people. It would be best if you broke out of isolation, and in this episode, I give you tips for exactly how.
“Individualistic ideas hurt people. One, because they’re impossible to maintain. So you feel like a failure. And two, because they make you isolate yourself. And then you’re alone in your head with your negative thoughts. Not a good place for anyone. Isolation, even when it’s self-inflicted, makes us feel unloved, untethered, without a purpose, and lonely.” – Dr. Jodi Aman
Listen to Anxiety Lie #6: “You Can’t Trust Anyone!”
Resources for this Episode:
Get my other book: You 1, Anxiety 0: Win Your Life Back from Fear and Panic
Teaching Teens Their Personal Agency
Why You think Anxiety is Not Curable
Transcription of Episode
Welcome to this episode. We’re talking about Chapter 2, Lie #6, “You can’t trust anyone!” Grab your notebook and pen, y’all, because I will lay down some information that will change your life for the better.
When you’re a social being, like all humans are, you need people. So this lie that you can’t trust anyone will mess you up. If anxiety convinces you that you can’t trust anyone, it convinces you that you don’t need anyone. But you do need people because people need people. Individualistic ideas hurt people.
- Because they’re impossible to maintain, so you feel like a failure.
- Because they make you isolate yourself, and then you’re alone in your head with your negative thoughts, which is not a good place for anyone’s isolation. (Even when it’s self-inflicted, isolation makes you feel unloved, untethered, without a purpose, and lonely.)
Sometimes being alone when you have me time is good. You recoup and rejuvenate. But we’re talking about something else here. The flavor of isolation is distinct. It feels different to your mind and your emotions as if you’re un-held. You might be isolating because your anxiety says, Stay alone; it’s safer there where no one can hurt you. However, the isolation hurts you so much more. It keeps you from good uplifting relationships! And what’s worse, it makes you feel so bad about yourself that you attract people who mistreat you. And then, you have no community to get you out of those relationships.
Isolation breeds more isolation.
In my practice, I’ve understood that isolation is one of the worst things for people. When I have a young person in my office, and they say, “I don’t care if I ever feel better.” The first thing I think is that they are severely isolated. People often mistake not caring about anyone, not caring about feeling better, or not being interested in anything anymore as symptoms of depression. Still, I see them as neurobiological symptoms of isolation. In isolation, your dopamine stops releasing.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a hormone) that makes you feel good. When you’re in isolation, nothing exciting is happening, just a lot of negative thoughts tumbling over themselves in your head, so you have little to no dopamine release. Your body gets used to not having it, and soon it doesn’t care if it ever has it again. When dopamine goes off, you’re like, “That feels good. I want more of that!” And you do the activity again, and then the dopamine goes off again, and you’re like, “That’s awesome! I want to do that again!” and so you do it again.
But when you’re in isolation, it doesn’t go off for a while, and you stop caring whether it goes off again. You’re not used to it. You might feel like your mind is atrophying or that you can’t concentrate. Do you ever feel like that?
It feels freaky and like there’s no hope. I seems like you’re losing yourself. But feeling like yourself again comes back. I promise. All you need to do is trigger the dopamine. Yeah, I’m saying it like it’s easy, but it’s not. Plus, you probably have a lot of resistance, too.
Isolation Affects You
That calorie-saving resistance we discussed in the last episode kicks in big time here. Whereas everything you try to do will feel like a waste of energy. But it’s not a waste of energy. You need to override that false belief.
You will feel better if you get out of isolation. At first, it will feel scary and uncomfortable. That can feel out of control. But once you’re out, you start to feel a bit better. It takes a little time and going out a few times, but soon you will feel in more control, not less. It’s hard to do this and even more difficult to do it alone. It helps if you have a friend to go out with. After some brain stimulation, you will leave the Monkey Mind’s negative spiral and return to feeling more like yourself. Okay, back to needing people…
People isolate themselves for a lot of reasons.
They don’t want to feel needy. They think that humans are not supposed to feel needy. However, the more people try not to be needy, the lonelier and more negative they feel about themselves. Also, the more unloved they feel, and so the needier they become. When neediness is not satisfied, it comes out sideways and causes drama in relationships that you do have. Regular people are needy! Not only people with something wrong with them. People, in general, are needy. So you could stop judging yourself for your neediness. When you allow yourself to be needy, you can seek companionship before it escalates and gets out of control.
Relationships are mutually beneficial.
You get your needs met while giving someone else what they need.
I had a client recently whose anxiety had her avoiding school. She wanted to complete high school but would freeze in the morning and then decide to stay home. Unfortunately, she had experienced significant trauma, and that influenced how her anxiety made her want to stay home. Her anxiety is entirely understandable, but also it hurts her more.
Anxiety is often the result of experiencing trauma. Still, anxiety, once it is there, can become its own animal, meaning it acts separately from the trauma reaction but still feels like the same thing. While she and I addressed the trauma in therapy, I also wanted her to attend school as soon as possible. I knew it hurt her and her recovery more, not to go. For one, healing happens in relationships, not in isolation, so the trauma recovery is much slower while she stays home. And two, after some time of not going, the idea of school was becoming scarier and scarier, and thus harder and harder for her to go.
She told me she couldn’t attend school because “I don’t feel comfortable around people anymore.” For her, that was a truth.
You can assume this fear of people came from her experience of trauma, and of course, the trauma influences her feelings about people. I also witnessed that since the trauma, there were periods when she had been around people, and at those times, she was comfortable. This fear of people didn’t start until she stopped attending school for a few weeks and being around people became unfamiliar. The longer she stayed home, the worse it was. So was she afraid of people due to trauma reaction, or was this from isolation?
It’s important how we make meaning around our fears and anxieties
When she viewed her fear of people as due to the trauma, it motivated her differently than if she thought it was due to the isolation. If it was from the trauma, then she assumes people trigger her and that she must stay away from people. She says, “I isolate because I’m afraid of people.”
This gets a truth status in her mind: that people are scary. It is not true, though. Some people are dangerous, sure, but her anxiety tells her that all people are scary, period. This has her double-downing on isolating herself in order to protect herself.But she is not safe in her Monkey Mind.She is so much worse there! I suggested that being scared of people is not what caused her to isolate, as much as her isolation was causing her to be more afraid of people.
I said, “If you get out of isolation, you will be less afraid of people.”
I reminded her of recently when she was around people and how that was okay. I reviewed with her that we’ve seen that pattern repeatedly; when she’s around people more, she’s more comfortable with people, and when isolated, she is afraid of people. I knew about this phenomenon because I’d seen it play out with many other clients. Getting out of isolation saved their lives, and I wanted to save hers too.
Anxiety is a liar
Back to this section of the book and the lie, “You can’t trust anyone.” If you’ve been hurt a lot, I am feeling you in this section because many of your experiences feel like proof that people can’t be trusted. Or that you deserve to be treated badly or that you’re picking the wrong people. The real answer is that people are limited. Everyone has shabby self-esteem. They’re all dealing with negativity in their own heads, which, while invisible to you, is there, I promise.
Some people’s misery is so big that it overflows onto the people around them. They become “difficult people.” Difficult people can range from just being negative, crabby, and playing devil’s advocate all the way to being narcissistic and controlling. And then, there’s so much in between. You have to handle these differences in various ways.
In the book, I share my best secrets to dealing with difficult people, giving you some practices to try. What did you think of the energetic eye roll? I love that one! If you liked it, I made another longer Energy Shield Training video with these techniques explained a bit deeper. You can get that in the blog post with this episode. The link is in the show notes.
The biggest reveal in this section is that the only person you have to learn to trust is yourself. You have to trust yourself when you risk being around people since people are limited and can hurt you. When you trust yourself, you won’t give them as much power over you until you know them better. Plus, you’ll take your time observing them to see if they’re truly kind before you’re vulnerable with them.
There are good people out there.
You will vibrate higher when you feel better about yourself and have built trust and confidence in yourself. Consequently, you’ll feel more of a match to higher vibrating people. (In Chapter 3, I go deeper into how to develop that self-trust, but for now, it’s important to know that working on the relationship with yourself will make a difference in how you feel about other people.)
One of our biggest fears is that people will judge us or call us out for our inadequacies. But it’s important to know that when people judge you, they’re judging you because of their fear of being called out for their perceived inadequacies. Or, they’re trying to project away from their own perceived inadequacies. (Those are the people who put others down to make themselves feel better.)
Humans fearing or overcompensating for our perceived inadequacies is what holds power tactics, bullying, and discrimination in place. It feeds racism, ageism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and more. Judgment and discrimination over others are people’s misplaced fear of their own powerlessness. It is why people abuse people. (I’m not talking about people who are psychotically violent or psychopathological, I’m talking about people who are controlling and abusive but seem like regular people sometimes.)
The Drama Triangle
We call this narcissism (which has become such a buzzword!).
It’s helpful to think about narcissism as a kind of anxiety. Not everyone who has anxiety is narcissistic, but everyone who is narcissistic has anxiety. Someone who is narcissistic feels a huge anxiety about being powerless and they overcompensate to the point of obsession at times. They alternately convince everyone that they’re great or a victim in order to control people and situations. They are self-centered. The people in their lives only matter for what they can get from them. When they get nervous, they control people to regulate those emotions. Plus, they are skilled at subtly making you think it is you that is crazy.
I will embed my Red Flags video in the blog post that goes along with this episode in case, as you’re listening, this is reminding you about someone in your life. The link will be in the show notes. I’ll also embed my Drama Triangle video in there.
People who are narcissistic engage you in the drama triangle. Once you understand what is happening, you will not feel as crazy anymore. Knowing the drama triangle will help you deal with difficult people your whole life. It illustrates types of disruptive interactions that cause conflict. In the drama triangle, there are three roles that people engage in to manipulate others:
- the Persecutor
- the Victim and
- the Rescuer
3 Roles: The Persecutor, the Victim, and the Rescuer
When they’re in a Victim role, they might accuse you of hurting them, as if you’re their Persecutor. Other times, they manifest an emergency, so you could be their Rescuer. And still, other times, they want to rescue you or persecute you by putting you down. Do any of those sound familiar? Watch that video to deal with people who relate to you this way.
Back to people judging you… It’s essential to understand that people who judge you hold themselves to higher standards than they are holding you to (and failing them). They are not happy people. Knowing this can help you avoid taking their expressions personally. It’s never about you, no matter how convincing they can be.
It might encourage you to have some compassion for them even. Having compassion for them does not make you vulnerable because once you know it is not you, you are no longer available for them to control you. Compassion puts you in a power role where they cannot hurt you. It protects you from giving what they say meaning. When they judge you, you say, “Oh, poor thing, that’s so sad.”
Nor does having compassion for them mean that it’s okay that they did that to you. It’s not okay that they judged you! It’s not okay that they’re mean! Period.
Have compassion for yourself too. When someone judges you, and it hurts you, perhaps, they criticize your voice, saying it sounds funny. Be kind to yourself because it can be painful, even if it is not about you. It’s not okay that they did. Say to yourself, “I get why that hurt me,” after an attack like this, thus validating yourself.
Your negative self-judgment
What’s also important to know is that if someone insults you, it hurts more when they’ve hit a button that you’re sensitive about. If someone mentions your body and you’re sensitive about it, the criticism is more keenly felt if they tease you for a small rock in the corner of your yard that you didn’t even know existed. You have no shame about the rock there, so you wouldn’t feel bad when they say that. You’d merely look at them like they were crazy for mentioning the random rock.
But when it is something you’re sensitive about, it would feel horrible. This is what you do: If someone says something hurtful to you, immediately get away from them if you can. Then, as I said, have some compassion for your soft human because, of course, it hurts you. What they told you hurts, so you need to validate yourself about that hurt.
Then, check in with yourself. Find out if you’re sensitive about what was insulted and why. Then, endeavor to make peace with yourself around that thing. Use this as an opportunity to expose and then drop your implicit negative self-judgments! We’ll talk a lot about this in later episodes, especially in Chapter 4, but that’s enough to chew on for this episode.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode
Thank you so much for listening to this podcast, “Anxiety…I am So Done with You!” with me, Dr. Jodi. In this episode, we talked about
- needing people
- trusting others
- trusting yourself
- identifying narcissists
- dealing with people judging you
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening, commenting, subscribing, and sharing, especially for giving me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. That helps this series get into the ears of more people that need it. You know how I feel about this devastating mental health crisis among young people, and we have to do everything we can to change the tide. The next episode will be a deep dive into the last section of Chapter 2, Lie #7, “You can’t!” Read or listen, and I’ll see you there, and in the meantime, come on and hang out with me on TikTok @DoctorJodi.