Why Do We Tell People It's All In Their Heads? [Discussion/Rant]

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:41 pm

This topic is something I have struggled with a long time; people who, no matter the evidence you pile up in front of them, continue to insist that you're imagining something and it's all in your head.

I've struggled with dating for as long as I can remember. One of the biggest things I've identified as one of my problems is my looks/body. While some of this is because of my own born-in-childhood insecurities, a lot of it comes from things dating partners and men have actually said to me over the years. While I won't discount that there are probably also other issues in addition that contribute to my struggling with dating, I do think looks are my primary hurdle when it comes to the initial parts of dating.

And yet, whenever I've tried to talk about it, I've always gotten slapped down and told it's "all in my head." That it isn't really my looks, it's my confidence. It's not really my weight, it's my insecurities.
A conversation I had on Reddit really typified this for me:

Guy on dating forum: "Ugh girls over [X] weight are just so unattractive, I could never date one."
Me responding: "I'm [X] weight and dating can be tough at this weight."
Same guy: "Geez, you're such a sad sack! Get some confidence!"
Me: "But... you just said overweight girls are unattractive."
Guy: "It's your insecurity that's unattractive."

Why Do We Tell People It's All In Their Heads? [Discussion/Rant] Tumblr_lt4k7aqMi01qdzp0e

I have tried very hard to consider these points of views, and examine my own psyche.... but no, I genuinely think that isn't true.

So... what the heck is up with this? What is the thought process behind saying this? Why is there this desire to, essentially, tell the other person they have read their experiences incorrectly and are actually delusional? IS there ever enough evidence to overturn the "It's in your head" accusation? If yes, where is the threshold?
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Post by reboot on Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:47 pm

I think sometimes people read, "I have trouble dating because of X" as "People with X have trouble dating", which is basically taking someone's specific and generalizing it. Other times, especially if the person listening is more X than the speaker, there can be a defensive reaction where the listener takes the speaker's words to be a criticism of them.

None of this is going on in the reddit conversation you cited. No clue what is up with that one.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:57 pm

reboot wrote:I think sometimes people read, "I have trouble dating because of X" as "People with X have trouble dating", which is basically taking someone's specific and generalizing it. Other times, especially if the person listening is more X than the speaker, there can be a defensive reaction where the listener takes the speaker's words to be a criticism of them.

None of this is going on in the reddit conversation you cited. No clue what is up with that one.

Well what's always interesting (and infuriating) to me is when friends do it to me, even when I've told them, over and over, about my experiences. This is my own "I have a defensive reaction" to that phrase, but it started to seem like people said that because they wanted me to shut up and go away, not because they genuinely believed it.
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Post by reboot on Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:15 pm

No denying that people will say it because they are sick of hearing about it, want to shame you for your feelings by making it your fault, etc.. From people who are actually supportive of you and care, it is because people can not think of anything else to say, and since self criticism=lack of confidence in our culture. This is especially true if they think you are attractive or at least average. If in their mind, your looks are fine it must be something else.

No idea how to get people not to do this since IRL things can not be tagged rant/discussion
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Post by Guest on Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:52 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Guy on dating forum: "Ugh girls over [X] weight are just so unattractive, I could never date one."
Me responding: "I'm [X] weight and dating can be tough at this weight."
Same guy: "Geez, you're such a sad sack! Get some confidence!"
Me: "But... you just said overweight girls are unattractive."
Guy: "It's your insecurity that's unattractive."

Jeez, what a dick. Disapproving

reboot wrote:
None of this is going on in the reddit conversation you cited. No clue what is up with that one.

It's reddit, what do you expect? Razz

As to your dilemma, rebound, I understand the frustration. People tend to really believe in the 'mind over matter' technique of things despite never doing it themselves. I wish I could help you more/offer up any advice, but I myself am struggling with my own insecurities around women. scratch

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Post by KMR on Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:59 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
And yet, whenever I've tried to talk about it, I've always gotten slapped down and told it's "all in my head." That it isn't really my looks, it's my confidence. It's not really my weight, it's my insecurities.

I actually don't think it's an either/or scenario and that pointing to a single trait can often be an oversimplification. It's generally a combination of factors that contributes to dating struggles, so I would not tell someone "it's not A, it's just B." Deviating from what is considered conventionally attractive is going to disadvantage someone in dating to a degree, there's no doubt about that. Similarly, having insecurities and a lack of confidence is often also unappealing and can hold people back in dating. The combination of the two factors is not uncommon, as one can contribute to the other, and together they put a person at a greater disadvantage than they would if only one of them were present.

People often want to give advice or reassurance to someone who is struggling, because they assume (maybe not always correctly) that the person wants to either change something so that they can improve their rate of success or be told that this thing they are worrying about is not as big a deal as they think so they can have the motivation to persist. When it comes to advice, it's often focused on attitude because looks are not always changeable (or if they are, may take some extreme measures that may not seem worth it), and many people are not comfortable with making big changes to their appearance, so telling someone to change their looks does not seem productive. But because attitude is often a factor and people want to help in some way, they focus their advice on that and ignore the looks issue, which is probably what makes it sound like, "Looks are not even a factor, it's just your attitude."

I think another reason for the type of advice you're hearing is part of a cognitive dissonance issue. Taking your example of weight, the idea that women are only considered attractive under a certain weight is a pervasive one in our society and many people (in feminist spaces such as this one, especially) believe this is extremely problematic. Telling you that your weight is a problem and suggesting you lose weight in order to improve your chances with men supports the problematic idea rather than fighting against it, so many people do not feel comfortable giving that advice to someone. Plus, they figure you've heard that advice more than enough times already and are sick of it, so they try a different angle.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:28 pm

A bit aside to your actual point but I don't use "its all in your mind" to mean something is not real or trivial. Lots of things are all in your head: the value of money, love, morals, ethics, boundaries. None of those things would exist without a human mind to assign them meaning. When you consider what motivates you on an average day, probably something like 90% of it is based on things that are all in your head as opposed to immediate facts on the ground.

So here's the real answer: yes, conventional attractiveness plays a role in finding a date. Attitude also plays a huge role. Both require some hefty lifestyle alterations to make significant changes in. Just being thinner will help you get dates. Working on your attitudes towards life will also help you build a more fulfilling relationship. I currently have a crush on someone who's a bit outside the build I usually date but she has an amazing smile and this way of making me feel perfectly at ease around her. That means way more to me than 10-20 lbs would.

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:36 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:A bit aside to your actual point but I don't use "its all in your mind" to mean something is not real or trivial. Lots of things are all in your head: the value of money, love, morals, ethics, boundaries. None of those things would exist without a human mind to assign them meaning. When you consider what motivates you on an average day, probably something like 90% of it is based on things that are all in your head as opposed to immediate facts on the ground.

That's true, but people don't usually say "It's in your head" with that meaning in mind. In my experience, it's meant to read as dismissive. Maybe not real, but certainly not factual. Which drives me up the wall bonkers because I feel as if I have amassed a lot of data and experience supporting my theory.

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
So here's the real answer: yes, conventional attractiveness plays a role in finding a date. Attitude also plays a huge role. Both require some hefty lifestyle alterations to make significant changes in. Just being thinner will help you get dates. Working on your attitudes towards life will also help you build a more fulfilling relationship. I currently have a crush on someone who's a bit outside the build I usually date but she has an amazing smile and this way of making me feel perfectly at ease around her. That means way more to me than 10-20 lbs would.

Well like I said in a post today on the prime site, I don't believe looks (or weight, specifically) are the be-all, end-all. However, I do believe that dating is kind of like the ACTs; someone with high scores in several areas can drag up the overall score. So looks are mostly a factor when you have average-to-low scores in other areas, and to achieve a passing overall score, you can't afford an ultra low score.

So when I tell my friends "I know it's my looks," I'm not trying to say looks are the be-all, end-all for everyone, and attitude plays no part in it. But if we look at only those two factors, a "confident" attitude may not be enough to overcome bad looks, depending on how low the "score" on looks are.
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Post by reboot on Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:52 pm

I am in the same boat, RBS. I know it is my looks, but in my case I do not get arguments because I ping so far out of the norm. I can totally see how someone more average would get push back, especially because people are socialized to not criticize the appearance of friends to their faces. Then, as KMR said, in feminist spaces there is serious resistance to fat or body shaming.

I also think people also run into people like Trixnix who used their laments about their looks to launch into some problematic diatribes, so it is kind of a preemptive strike.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:57 pm

Well, here's the point about non-dismissive "all in your head". It still means "what you're saying is influenced by a view you can change and changing that view will change how you interface with things that are all inside of other people's heads." In another post on DNL prime you spent quite a bit of ink on how you're not anything special in any area. Other people disagree with you. Being told they aren't entitled to an opinion is projecting "all in your head" out into the real world. Changing what's in your head, not necessarily in terms of thinking you're a pretty pretty princess but even just in accepting that other people might think so without being delusional, will change the way those conversations go in the real world. You've said elsewhere that your cosplay work is frustrating because even if its good, its not professional quality so no amount of praise from other people will lead to you being satisfied with your work. This latter is both objectively true and "all in your head". Changing what's in your head changes the objective truth.

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Post by Enail on Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:00 pm

On looks specifically, I'm inclined to assume attitude (or something else that is neither attitude nor looks, or several things) is the problem rather than looks (when I can't evaluate their looks for myself), because the vast majority of people I've spoken to who attribute a lack of success in anything to looks have not been particularly lacking in the looks department.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:16 pm

Enail wrote:On looks specifically, I'm inclined to assume attitude (or something else that is neither attitude nor looks, or several things) is the problem rather than looks (when I can't evaluate their looks for myself), because the vast majority of people I've spoken to who attribute a lack of success in anything to looks have not been particularly lacking in the looks department.

I guess I can buy that generally, but it annoys me when I'm talking about myself specifically because it's like, no, look, this isn't just me saying this, I have had lots and lots of other people say it. I mean, isn't the difference between delusion and reality what's generally agreed upon by a group of folks? (If we all see the elephant in front of us, we agree that the elephant is real.) So if I have a whole bunch of non-friend folks saying "Yep, you are kind of unfortunate", isn't that enough of a reality that I can attribute at least half my trouble to without being doubted?

Gentleman Johnny wrote:Well, here's the point about non-dismissive "all in your head". It still means "what you're saying is influenced by a view you can change and changing that view will change how you interface with things that are all inside of other people's heads." In another post on DNL prime you spent quite a bit of ink on how you're not anything special in any area. Other people disagree with you. Being told they aren't entitled to an opinion is projecting "all in your head" out into the real world. Changing what's in your head, not necessarily in terms of thinking you're a pretty pretty princess but even just in accepting that other people might think so without being delusional, will change the way those conversations go in the real world. You've said elsewhere that your cosplay work is frustrating because even if its good, its not professional quality so no amount of praise from other people will lead to you being satisfied with your work. This latter is both objectively true and "all in your head". Changing what's in your head changes the objective truth.

But calling it a "view that can be changed" suggests that the original view is wrong. Or else why change it? And for myself, I don't get why you could change a view that is based on reality and evidence. Sure, maybe it's a depressing view, but I would rather face a harsh reality than live in happy ignorance.

As far as people disagreeing with me as far as talent, this is where I get both confused and annoyed. I wouldn't say that other people are delusional, but I DO say that other people lack authority to contradict me. Take my sewing: I live with my sewing every day. I take sewing classes, I look at other people's sewing and sewing abilities. So far as I know, I haven't argued "I suck at sewing" with someone who is an authority on sewing, OR who is even all that aware of my sewing abilities. And yet when I say "Man I'm bad at sewing," I get push back like "Oh no you're not!" But... how could they possibly know??

I think the whole "no amount of praise" bit was misunderstood. There IS an amount of praise that would be enough. But it'd need to come from 1) someone who knows me well enough and has had multiple interactions with the thing they are praising me for 2) someone is an authority on that thing and 3) someone I know isn't blowing sunshine.

I don't think expecting those three things, and being annoyed when people try to subvert them with arguments about my insecurities, is unfair of me. I don't care if people think I'm an excellent writer; but if they're going to argue with me when I say I'm a bad writer, they had better be basing their opinion on my novel writing and their knowledge of novel writing.

I don't see why being realistic and being annoyed when opinions, even if full of good intentions and genuinely held, are used as contradictions to actual evidence in front of me.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:01 pm

It doesn't really. Views don't come in "right" and "wrong". Is a dollar a worthless piece of paper or a useful measure of exchange? Neither, both. If you're in the middle of the arctic surrounded by nothing but ice and polar bears, chances are your hiking partner won't sell you his food for any amount of cash. In the grocery store, though, it works pretty well.

Views are effective or not effective. If thinking you're bad at something helps you improve, fine. If it discourages you from doing something you like, its getting in the way. I don't think my show's ready to do a major paid engagement. If someone offers me money to perform at a big event, then obviously they see something worthwhile in it. It might be that I see all the flaws and they don't. It might be that "professional" is a lower bar than I thought it was. The only thing that's certain is that if I argue with them, I'll talk myself right out of a gig. There is no objective reality to whether or not we're "good enough".

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:39 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote: Views are effective or not effective. If thinking you're bad at something helps you improve, fine. If it discourages you from doing something you like, its getting in the way. I don't think my show's ready to do a major paid engagement. If someone offers me money to perform at a big event, then obviously they see something worthwhile in it. It might be that I see all the flaws and they don't. It might be that "professional" is a lower bar than I thought it was. The only thing that's certain is that if I argue with them, I'll talk myself right out of a gig. There is no objective reality to whether or not we're "good enough".

Except... there is an objective reality where we're "good enough." Maybe there isn't an individual objective reality, but there's an objective agreed upon reality. If no one will buy your stuff on Etsy, you're probably not good enough. (Whether that's good enough at marketing, at creating, at showcasing, it's still "not good enough" somewhere.) If no one will hire you for X job, you're probably not good at X job. If you can't do X and Y and Z in a particular area, no one with authority is going to say you're good enough at that area. For example, if I can't do basic coding, how can I say I am "good enough" to be a programmer?...

Maybe someone offered you that paying gig because it's in a really sketchy area, or because they're a nightmare to work with and you're literally all that's left in the area. If there's one morality lesson I learned from fairy tales, it's "Never believe undue flattery."
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:42 pm

reboundstudent wrote:Maybe someone offered you that paying gig because it's in a really sketchy area, or because they're a nightmare to work with and you're literally all that's left in the area. If there's one morality lesson I learned from fairy tales, it's "Never believe undue flattery."  

That much is clear but it seems like you're tossing out quite a bit of due flattery in the process. You may not be able to sell your costume on Etsy but I still like it. What does it gain you to convince me otherwise instead of just saying "thanks".

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Post by KMR on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:56 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
I don't think expecting those three things, and being annoyed when people try to subvert them with arguments about my insecurities, is unfair of me. I don't care if people think I'm an excellent writer; but if they're going to argue with me when I say I'm a bad writer, they had better be basing their opinion on my novel writing and their knowledge of novel writing.

I don't see why being realistic and being annoyed when opinions, even if full of good intentions and genuinely held, are used as contradictions to actual evidence in front of me.

You know, I think I understand what you're getting at here. I have some skills where I'm not really sure if I'm doing a good job or not and I can't tell if my feelings of inadequacy about them are accurate or just a result of a lack of confidence. For these skills, when I tell people that I don't think I'm good at them, I'm kind of fishing for feedback, and hearing people say that they think I'm doing a good job makes me feel better because I was looking for that kind of reassurance.

On the other hand, I have some skills where I know for sure that I'm objectively not good at them, but I still do them because I enjoy them. My primary example is playing the violin. I've been playing for a while, so I'm not horrible at it, but I'm definitely nowhere near as skilled as someone who has been playing for over 15 years would be expected to be. I hate practicing to fix mistakes, so I just play without worrying about skill because it's much more fun for me that way. And the first thing I say to people when I mention that I play the violin is to stress that I don't play it well, because I don't want to misrepresent my abilities. And you're right, if someone tried to argue with me and say, "Oh, I'm sure you're a great violinist!" I'd be pretty pissed off too, because they have no idea what they're talking about and are making the assumption that I'm just too hard on myself or have poor self-esteem.

That said, I don't want people to tell me that I'm bad at it because that makes me feel like they're telling me I should give up and that the hobby is worthless if I'm not very good at it, and I disagree with that sentiment. I like to hear positive responses and encouragement, just not ones that try to reassure me about my skill level. The following are kinds of responses that I like to hear when I talk about my violin-playing:
1) "Learning an instrument is hard. I think it's cool that you have that skill at all."
2) "It's great that you're sticking with it, though. Lots of people just give up early on."
3) "That sounds like fun and I'm glad that you're enjoying it."

Are any of those responses (or others I haven't thought of) things you would find helpful to hear when you bring up these sorts of topics?
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:03 pm

[quote="Gentleman Johnny"]
reboundstudent wrote:
That much is clear but it seems like you're tossing out quite a bit of due flattery in the process. You may not be able to sell your costume on Etsy but I still like it. What does it gain you to convince me otherwise instead of just saying "thanks".

Well in these particular situations, the gain comes from people not using these examples to knock down my experiences. It's pretty hard and frustrating to try to talk about being my experiences of being an average, "conventionally unattractive" person when the responses insist on focusing on things like "Well I like your costumes" or "I think you're physically fine." If they were just compliments, given in a different context, that'd be one thing. But in a lot of situations I'm referencing, they don't seem like compliments, they seem like a rhetorical tool to undermine my argument.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:15 pm

KMR wrote:And the first thing I say to people when I mention that I play the violin is to stress that I don't play it well, because I don't want to misrepresent my abilities. And you're right, if someone tried to argue with me and say, "Oh, I'm sure you're a great violinist!" I'd be pretty pissed off too, because they have no idea what they're talking about and are making the assumption that I'm just too hard on myself or have poor self-esteem.

Yes, exactly!! Call it my particular hang up, but it is morally important to me that I present myself in as accurate and true light as possible. I would be mortified to overestimate my abilities, because people could then assume I had been lying about them and using that to manipulate them.

As a kid and a teenager, I won't say that I was a compulsive liar, but I did inflate my abilities, because I wanted to appear special and unique and cool. That lead to a lot of back-lash and embarrassment; I'd tell people I was good at piano, and then they'd suddenly want me to play a Bach piece from sight in the middle of the band room. I tell people I'm a great writer, and now they want to see all my published pieces. And if I didn't have "proof" of how good I was, people could sometimes get genuinely upset and feel betrayed. I needed to start drawing lines in the sand to prevent this.... so, unless I have solid proof of my accomplishments (an authority figure validating them), I refuse to say I'm good or even competent at them.

Horrifying confession time: my senior year of high school, I loved but sucked at AP Music. (Not an exaggeration; a classmate once yelled at me to SHUT UP because I couldn't wrap my head around chord progression.) I convinced my teacher to let me write a story that was music based for extra credit. I wrote a short story that, while not a direct rip-off, was heavily based off a Samurai Jack episode plot (and didn't credit it.) My teacher adored it. He even read it out loud to the class. He told me what an amazing writer I was, and how proud of me he was.

I am still so deeply ashamed of what I did. I wasn't good enough to write my own original story, and I tricked my teacher, who I deeply respected, into thinking I was.

I can't let that happen again, even by accident. It is better to debase my abilities than run the risk of making someone think more highly of me than they should.


KMR wrote:
That said, I don't want people to tell me that I'm bad at it because that makes me feel like they're telling me I should give up and that the hobby is worthless if I'm not very good at it, and I disagree with that sentiment. I like to hear positive responses and encouragement, just not ones that try to reassure me about my skill level. The following are kinds of responses that I like to hear when I talk about my violin-playing:
1) "Learning an instrument is hard. I think it's cool that you have that skill at all."
2) "It's great that you're sticking with it, though. Lots of people just give up early on."
3) "That sounds like fun and I'm glad that you're enjoying it."

Are any of those responses (or others I haven't thought of) things you would find helpful to hear when you bring up these sorts of topics?

Truth be told, I can't say. I'm really not sure what responses I want; I think, mostly, I just want recognition that I'm not delusional/it's all in my head, and that my reality and experiences are as valid as someone else's.
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Post by KMR on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:53 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Truth be told, I can't say. I'm really not sure what responses I want; I think, mostly, I just want recognition that I'm not delusional/it's all in my head, and that my reality and experiences are as valid as someone else's.

That makes sense, and from your post I think I now have a better understanding of where you're coming from. Thanks for the insight.
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Why Do We Tell People It's All In Their Heads? [Discussion/Rant] Empty Re: Why Do We Tell People It's All In Their Heads? [Discussion/Rant]

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:56 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
I'm really not sure what responses I want; I think, mostly, I just want recognition that I'm not delusional/it's all in my head, and that my reality and experiences are as valid as someone else's.

As valid as, yes absolutely. I was tempted to make another point but I don't think I say that often enough. Yes, your reality is equally valid to anyone else's.

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Post by Conreezy on Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:17 pm

It is better to debase my abilities than run the risk of making someone think more highly of me than they should.

I know exactly how this feels. Whenever I engage in something that doesn't have some sort of objective ranking/scoring/measuring system, I feel unsure as to whether or not I should be proud of my performance. I'm not overly competitive, but I loathe being the worst at something. (Except bowling. I don't care how much I suck at that.)


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Post by LadyLuck on Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:34 pm

This particular passage struck a chord with me:

reboundstudent wrote:Except... there is an objective reality where we're "good enough." Maybe there isn't an individual objective reality, but there's an objective agreed upon reality. If no one will buy your stuff on Etsy, you're probably not good enough. (Whether that's good enough at marketing, at creating, at showcasing, it's still "not good enough" somewhere.) If no one will hire you for X job, you're probably not good at X job. If you can't do X and Y and Z in a particular area, no one with authority is going to say you're good enough at that area. For example, if I can't do basic coding, how can I say I am "good enough" to be a programmer?...

All of these things above seem to revolve around someone else taking some kind of action that shows approval of your skill/appearance/actions/effort/whatever. Given your comments about not wanting to "inflate" your abilities... it sounds like, to you, part of what defines being "Good" at something is having other people agree that you're good at it. For you, there's no such thing as having your skills unappreciated while secretly being a master. Or at least, that situation is by far the exception, not the rule. Even more specifically, a person who is sufficiently skilled, will be recognized as such by a similarly skilled person.

Another thing that comes up in your reasoning is that people tend to only bring up "but you're really good!" as a way of arguing with you. It kind of implies that you would be more inclined to believe it if it were a spontaneously given compliment. However, people generally don't spontaneously compliment stuff unless its something far beyond their personal skills/experiences, AND its something they vaguely care about to some degree. At the same time, people often apply the same metrics to "bad" - I'll only call someone else's bad if I think I can do it myself much better with really trying (and sometimes not even then). Because people's evaluation scales are so damn relative, there's going to be a frequent mismatch between what you think is "good/bad", what I think is "good/bad", and so on. I'm guessing this is part of why you specifically want the opinion of someone who's skilled, so that you know this confusion isn't just causing false positives. Is this so?

For some reason this reminds me of a common trope from Magic the Gathering tournaments. At every game store there's always that one sore loser guy. Whenever he wins, he attributes it to himself, and how totally skilled he is. When he loses, he obviously drew bad and his opponent is a luck-sac. His opponent's decks & cards are always "cheap"/"unfair", his never is. Most people know that he does in fact make mistakes all the time, in everything from his deck building to his technical play. But he'll never admit it aloud. It seems to me, you have a STRONG aversion to behaving or coming off like this "sore loser MtG player". You don't want to be that overconfident player that everyone laughs about behind his back. Let's be honest, no one does. I can get this feeling - like you, I probably oversold my abilities a bit in high school.

Hopefully some of this resonates - if any of the above is kind of like what you're thinking/feeling about, well, I think there's some valid reasoning/logic to it.

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Post by nonA on Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:19 am

Question. If someone is near the top of the minor leagues, do they suck because they're not in the majors, or are they really good compared to your average person? There is such a thing as consensus, but sometimes it's worth asking what baseline we use.

I kind of want to go on about subtext here. But since we have a history of butting heads, I'll just say this. I might disagree with your interpretations. You're sharp enough that I hope nobody here doubts your experiences.

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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:20 am

Doesn't this forum have a tendency to compliment people far too often anyway? You're all a very easily impressed bunch.

Even so, people generally give compliments on reflex. Doesn't mean they don't mean it, but people are favorable towards the work of people they already know. Show the same work to them without having previously known them, and they'd say "eh, that's OK."

Basically we're so scared of offending people that we tend to say nice shit even when we don't mean it. I still do this all the time, I'll give someone a compliment while inwardly thinking, "god, that's just average in quality."

A compliment I give the most is "you're better at this than me," because then I'm being honest, they can detect that, and they respond favorably. Don't try that one at home, kids.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:12 am

Glides wrote:Doesn't this forum have a tendency to compliment people far too often anyway? You're all a very easily impressed bunch.

No.

I don't know if I'm one of the people you're talking about or not, but I think I am, just because I've given you a compliment before. If so, I have to disagree with the idea that I'm easily impressed.

We have a few members here who have a tendency to describe themselves as having below-average intelligence, and I typically don't argue—usually because I don't feel like I've seen enough evidence one way or the other, or know them well enough to contradict the conclusions they've arrived at while lucid / not-depressed.

We also have people who occasionally describe themselves as having other undesirable tendencies—internalized bigotry, selfishness, etc., and people either don't argue or agree (though usually in the context of offering advice on how to improve in those areas).

When I describe myself as cynical, or arrogant, or self-hating, nobody's going to go out of their way to say "no you're a wonderful pleasant ray of sunshine and you brighten everyone's day". Why would they? It's not true.

Yes, people often give compliments to try to make people feel better, but that's a separate context, and people still generally avoid outright lying to do so. When I get sympathy-compliments here, it's along the lines of being intelligent, or an interesting person—I sometimes don't feel like those are really true, either, but I don't feel like people who give compliments are just artificially inventing things to say, or disingenuously trying to steamroll over my own perception.

I'll also say that at least for me, giving compliments is actually really hard. Wanting to give one to someone who's hurting is a reflex, sure, and usually finding one that feels authentic to me is pretty easy, too. But expressing that feeling? Not as easy as you seem to think.
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