Posted by: Martie | 2008/12/08

Bad habit of self-reproach

Hi Doc
I used to study medicine, but unfortunately I quit in my second year. Looking back I was a very immature 18-year old, and probably already struggling with anxiety issues.
I am very regretfull that I didn' t complete my studies, as I am intellectually unfullfilled in my current admin job and struggling financially.
It is now almost 20 years later and the reason I am writing is that I have a mental habit that is causing me a lot of distress. Whenever I speak to a doctor, which is on a daily basis, I start out confidently, but then say something stupid. It is as if I totally lose control over my mouth during those few minutes. Immediately after the conversation I am racked by extreme feelings of self-repoached. The reason is that I feel that I came across stupid, and that I did not do justice to what I feel is my real knowledge or potential.
I realise that this is a completely useless strategy, and each time I am confronted with a doctor I promise myself that this time will be different. However after years of this I now realise that it is not going to be different unless I do something in this vicious cycle differently. I realise that the ideal solution would be to visit a psychologist for a nice treatment plan. Unfortunately this is out of the question due to financial reasons. So Doc, do you please have a tip or two for me to help me break this awfull habit?
Thank you so much in advance.

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Our expert says:
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When yo see a doctor, his or her job is to idenify the nature of your problem and how to help, not to assess your intelligence and give you an IQ score or something like that ! Sounds like an element of Social Anxiety Disorder in what you're describing At any rate, the problem lies in self-defeating habits of thought that have developed over the years, and fortunately CBT ( Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy ) is very effective in helping you to revise these thought-habits and grow confident and comfortable in such interactions. Check out available self-help CBT style books, and check out possible availability of free counselling at a medical school or similar training institution, from psychologists or social workers in trainin --- as trainees they would be supervised and especially careful about being helpful, and would have the advantage of backup from their supervisor.

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