I feel like I don't know myself | INFJ Forum

Featured I feel like I don't know myself

Discussion in 'The INFJ Typology' started by Truth Eternity, Nov 10, 2019 at 5:25 PM.

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  1. Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Community Member

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    I never feel like I'm myself, only some eminence that happens to congregate around this body. Like this body is something else entirely. I look in the mirror and see an alien, I feel like an alien. I don't feel like I belong in this body, and it's awful. I can't look into a mirror and see myself, I just see something that happens to be where I am. What is this? What causes this? Do any of you experience this? This feeling felt stronger as I grew older, and now I just look into the mirror and feel a mixture of dissassociation, nothingness, and discomfort. It's been that way for years, even before my parents divorce and the awful depression that has brought upon me.
     
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  2. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome

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    I think it is pretty normal for Ni/Se types to feel like their outer selves don't match their inner selves.
     
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  3. sassafras

    sassafras snazzy [insert blank]

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    This sounds like depersonalization.

    It's sometimes triggered by trauma or high cortisol levels, but it's also a side effect of quite a few medications or a stay-over from a recreational substance. It's also common in depression, anxiety, various other mental illnesses and seizure patients. Many, many otherwise healthy adults cope with it too; you're not alone.

    Unfortunately, it's not something that can really be cured. It's something that kind of comes and goes on its own. You might get some relief by stimulating the vagus nerve. The most common way to do so is with a cold shower or massage, but there's a number of other things you can try. This article has a nice list: https://selfhacked.com/blog/32-ways-to-stimulate-your-vagus-nerve-and-all-you-need-to-know-about-it/

    I hope you get some relief soon. :hug:
     
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  4. John K

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    I'm just going to talk around this and see where it goes.

    The first thought is that what you are experiencing has at least two separate parts to it. One is your feeling of disconnect - from the world? from your physical body? My own experience and that of others here in the forum shows that this is fairly common among INFJ folks. You aren't unique, though the particulars of how you experience it will be different in detail to others. In my own case, I woke up one morning whan I was 8 years old and realised that the world didn't look real. Never has done since, though it took me till I was in my 20s before coming to terms with it. @Asa's comment is right on target - my personal view is that our inferior extraverted sensing pushes a lot of our experience of the external world into our unconscious, which makes it feel unreal and disconnected - it can also coat it with a feeling of mystery and enchantment, both light and dark.

    The second thought is that you are suffering from depression on top of this weird perception. Now these experiences are disconcerting anyway, and if our mental health is poor for other reasons then that amplifies the way that we react and we can spiral into considerable distress - which disconnects us further from the world around us. The triggers that @sassafras mentioned can also cause an amplification - I certainly notice that alcohol pushes me further into unreality. So does fatigue - I have problems if I don't get enough sleep, or if I have a sensory overload (eg by driving for several hours, or being in a large noisy crowd of strangers for any length of time, or spending too long in front of a computer screen).

    I don't have any miracle approaches. When it's particularly troubling, I find some gentle exercise such as a stroll in the country, or re-reading a favourite book, or watching an old favourite film helps enormously. Socialising a bit with a small number of old friends helps as well. I find as well that it's very comforting to know that we aren't unique with this and it's actually quite normal for our type to have this sort of experience.

    Of course tackling your depression is very important in its own right because this lowers your defences - are you getting some treatment for that? If it's causing you real distress, you should get professional help.
     
  5. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome

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    I almost mentioned this, too. I'd like to hear more info from @Truth Eternity before going deep, though. What level of disconnection do you feel?

    As usual, @John K has interesting things to say.
     
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  6. Hostarius

    Hostarius Magniloquent Malapert

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    Yes I was wondering that, too, before I made my mind up on which angle to take here.
     
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  7. Aneirin

    Aneirin wandering aimlessly
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    I also get a sense of depression in reading your description of your experience of the self. There is the "square peg in a round hole" feeling, but this seems deeper and darker somehow. Seems that a therapist could be of some help here.
     
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  8. Elis

    Elis I Like this Place

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    I'm with @sassafras , it sounds like depersonalisation / derealisation. It's been a good 5 years since I was there, but from what I can tell it's perfectly benign in and of itself, though it can feel distressful at times. Best advice I can give is to make sure and try to cover the health basics. Eat well, exercise, and get adequate sleep, and get an outlet - someone to bounce ideas with, that sort of stuff.

    Also, I wouldn't get hooked up on that it was there before your parents divorce. There's tension that build up to a divorce, and depression has a way to skew these things. I don't think this is something innate to you.
     
  9. OP
    Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Community Member

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    Thank you. Unfortunately, I can't afford any therapy. I can barely afford my bills atm. But I'm on a journey, diving deep within myself to find all the hidden truths. My name, I believe, is a product of my struggle -- I always feel like something vital is missing, and thus am on a "search for the truth" kind of thing, trying to find out what is missing. I guess my name embodies that search, and is sort of a way to say I'll reach it eventually. I wish I had others to help, but there's really no way for me to communicate. I'm in a college town, not in college -- but working -- and I don't have reliable transportation other than to and from work, nothing and nobody really lives around me. Nothing to do other than shop for groceries, and no nature in sight to sit and meditate in.I'm trying to save to move back home, and am taking this time to dive deep within myself and find out more.
     
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  10. OP
    Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Community Member

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    It's sort of like I'm my superconscious, and the rest of me is being looked on from around. Like I'm a pilot in my head, and my body is just a machine. I believe if I can find why this depersonalization is occuring and fix it, I can be, in a way "closer to the truth," closer to feeling whole again.
     
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  11. OP
    Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Community Member

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    I understand. It's been there since I was young (12 or so years ago). I just now decided to tackle it in my journey of self-analizing and actualization.
     
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  12. Hostarius

    Hostarius Magniloquent Malapert

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    Yes, like Sass says, this does sound like depersonalisation, but I think we need to do a bit of digging in order to come to a firmer conclusion. What I would ask is, when you look in the mirror, do you see 'you' looking back at you, or do you have the feeling that the person looking back at you is a stranger? If the latter, this would indicate a neurological issue.

    The other side to this is that, from a purely rational (i.e. philosophical) point of view, the particularity of our bodies represents something quite absurd about our existence. I think Hegel had something when he posited Geist to describe an experience of 'universal consciousness' - from the point of view of our subjectivity, we are the only conduit through which existence is experienced, and I think this invokes the expectation of something like 'universality' within ourselves too. As 'the subjective observer' of the universe, we are abstract entities, and so I think that it's a little jarring, therefore, to consider just how very particular we are in our physical forms, when our minds wander free in the aether.

    This is exacerbated in those who are prone to contemplation, introspection and abstract thought, of course. Existing in an undifferentiated wash of universal, general, and abstract ideas can make us prone to a certain kind of shock when confronted with the peculiarity of our concrete selves. I've done it myself - to look at the fellow in the mirror and puzzle over just how very particular the body is - black hair, not blond or red, &c. &c. It's a jarring, disconcerting transition to integrate the concrete into what is generally an abstract experience of the world, and we might experience something of this feeling when we seemed to be defined by others in a way that doesn't feel right to us, or in a way that otherwise 'closes down' our sense of self from the 'open generality' in which it rests.

    In this sense, there is nothing 'wrong' with a certain feeling of depersonalisation, since on philosophical grounds it's highly justified - any rational contemplation of the matter will lead you to this position (and in that way, our conscious really messes with easy diagnoses, as a lot of rational contemplation can imitate mental illnesses in their foci). Alarm bells should only start to ring if the discomfort becomes unbearable, or you develop some kind of unmanageable existential terror at the thought.

    Make sure you get enough vitamin D.
     
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  13. OP
    Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Community Member

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    It's constant -- always happening -- but very slight. But when I look in the mirror, I can't for much longer because I get disturbed, feeling like I don't know who I'm looking at, like I've lost who I am. Maybe it's because I try to improve so many people's lives, and as INFJs, we depersonalize to "put on our masks" in order to better connect with others, and I do this a lot. It may also be because of trauma, since when get deeper into the depersonalization, I look down at myself and feel a sense of disdain, like I don't like what I'm seeing. I feel like so many things that went wrong in the past and continue to go wrong -- I should've been able to prevent at least some of them, and since I couldn't, I failed, I'm a failure in terms of myself, but not in terms for others. Sometimes I get brief moments of personlization, and that's when I feel my best and most confident. This mostly happens when I do things that connect with who I am, such as wearing my favorite color or eating my favorite foods (which happen to be unhealthy, as unfortunate as that is). Maybe a step to repair this issue is to better connect with myself. And I don't mean focus on myself and not overextending myself for others, as I've worked on that and have made significant progress -- more like I need to do things that are more me. I think doing that would be a powerful first step in feeling like myself again. Thank you for all your advice and I really look forward to more of it.
     
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  14. OP
    Truth Eternity

    Truth Eternity Community Member

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    I see mysef, I just don't feel like I'm connected with myself. I feel very disconnected with who I am, in an intimate sense, but not in a physical or mental sense.
     
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  15. Hostarius

    Hostarius Magniloquent Malapert

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    But is it a stranger who looks back? Are you afraid of them? Is he/she a threat to you?

    I see. In an intimate sense? This sounds now more like an identity crisis than it does clinical depersonalisation.
     
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  16. OP
    Truth Eternity

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    1: No.
    2: Yeah, you're right. It's definitely an issue with identity, I just didn't know what to call it. Thanks for the clarification, Hostarius.
     
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  17. John K

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    Again some thoughts and questions for you to chew over ….

    Your inner quest seems to be making your disconnect worse. That doesn't mean you should stop, because the depths of truth lie within each of us, but some of those truths present themselves to us in a dangerous way. You do need to balance it.

    The way you talk about your empathy with others, and the boundary problems associated with that, is very familiar. There's loads of fashionable advice out in the spiritual internet about suppressing our ego, but I think many INFJs need to do the opposite and strengthen their ego. Unless it's well defined there's nowhere to go with it. When you look in a mirror, you see someone who you lack connection with - but there is a person looking back at you. Love is not just a warm cosy feeling but an act of will too. Try to love the person you see there in the same way as you care for someone else in need - think about his needs and his distress and his longing for love and connection, for boundaries and clarity. I know it feels artificial, but work on it in the same way you work and meditate on the inner journey. Body and soul ..... you are infinitely valuable - all of you.

    It feels like your in-the-world isolation is a real problem and that you need some plain ordinary connection with people who love you. You don't give much indication of your age so I can't see this clearly. But are you estranged from you parents? Could one of them fund you to go and live with them or near them for a while? I feel you really do need some real life connection.

    On a more philosophical note, but a personal one, I've never thought that my identity is bound up with my physical body. I have a body, but that isn't me. It's the same with thoughts and feelings - I have these but they aren't m either. I cherish them all as one of the great gifts of existence - the universe could have gifted trillions of possible other people a chance of life instead of me, but it didn't give it to them, it gave it to me and that is a miracle of wonder.
     
  18. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome

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    @Truth Eternity

    Try changing how you look, how you dress, and your activities to resemble how you think you should look and be. This may help a little.
    If you're saying eating your favorites foods helps try adding activities you enjoy.

    This may sound like a broken record, but seeking therapy would help you determine whether this is depersonalization, caused by trauma, an identify crisis, an existential crisis, low self esteem, etc.
     
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  19. MINFJToothFairy

    MINFJToothFairy Gardener of teeth, human teeth.

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    You are not alone. :)

    I understand this. When this kept occurring to me, I sought help and was given antidepressants. Without that, I recommend you take on hobbies that give you a sense of being in a moment: just you and whatever it is you're doing. Basically it's any activity where you allow yourself to inhabit your body. Walking in the mountains did me wonders because it reminded me of the basics of my existence. Understanding my body made me personalize with it. For me that was a lot of things like gardening, sketching, walking... Then eat healthily and get regular sleep. Also exercise. I know I'm sounding like a cliche but these things really did help me. I hope it does the same for you.

    It won't be a switch and it won't be easy on an every day basis but just always breathe. When it's overwhelming, just breath and feel your very existence.
     
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  20. MINFJToothFairy

    MINFJToothFairy Gardener of teeth, human teeth.

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    I recommend something that is physically, mentally, and emotionally strenuous like climbing mountains but before that, I need to know if you have suicidal thoughts or tendencies? Because if you do, don't climb mountains alone. Climb with someone you care for.

    I recommend it because the exhaustion wrapped within this activity is grounding on an intimate level. It has the power to make you self reflect about your most basic values. Your choices and experiences are simplified and it's just between you and the mountain. The union with the self is indescribable.(for me)

    But climb with someone you care for because it's dangerous and only when you climb with someone you care for will you want to push forward.
     
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