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Baggage Check: Keeping up with everybody

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: Why can’t I stop comparing myself to everybody else? I was always self-confident in high school and college. But now that I am approaching my 30s and engaged, it’s like I constantly need to be reassured that my guy is the best guy, my job the most impressive, my body the fittest, my apartment the nicest, etc. I feel catty and jealous often now, even with close friends.

Everybody has different definitions of self-confidence, and I want to go deeper into yours. My gut is that the seeds of this anxiety were planted long ago and you weren’t as self-confident as you thought back in the day. (You’re human!)

But even if you were, what’s going on now probably means that something’s under your skin. It could simply be the emotional transition to getting married that’s forcing you to overdo the stock-taking of your life, but it could also be that something’s not quite right with you, and you’re falling into a depressive or anxious way of thinking. It could also be that there’s a bad dynamic with your friends – or your fiance – that makes you question yourself. Counseling could really help you understand things further.

Q: My mother has had physical disabilities since I was a teenager. She’s also been physically and emotionally abusive, both before and after becoming disabled. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get out, and I worked hard to put myself through college and create a life for myself. Now that my mother is less able to take care of herself, I’m under a lot of pressure from her sisters to move closer and take an active role in her care. I’m tired of being made to feel guilty for building my own life in spite of her abuses.

Before you draw any lines in the sand, you must think long-term. Your desire not to be very involved in your mother’s care is understandable, and you have every right to build your own life, and I commend you for rising above the abuse.

But what’s your ultimate desire here? What do you envision at the end of her life? Do you see yourself at her deathbed? Sorry to be morbid, but sometimes at the very end, people come to a place of forgiveness. You must also think of her sisters, who may have their own imperfect relationships with her and who may someday be a meaningful link to your heritage.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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