Raise self-es­teem with vol­un­teer­ing, coun­sel­ing

Austin American-Statesman - - MOVIES & LIFE -

I’m a gay 44-yearold man with self-es­teem prob­lems. I have never seen my­self as wor­thy of af­fec­tion, and I don’t con­sider my­self at­trac­tive. I have never been in a re­la­tion­ship, and no one out­side of my fam­ily has ever said “I love you” to me.

I have re­cently tried to come out of my shell. As a re­sult, the net­work of peo­ple I as­so­ci­ate with has tripled — and I think that has com­pounded my prob­lem. Aside from par­ties where ev­ery­one is in­vited, I never hear from any of these peo­ple. I have only a cou­ple of good friends, peo­ple I can talk to.

I have leaned on my friends to try to help me with my prob­lem. But I’m afraid if I keep un­load­ing on them it’ll wear them down, and I don’t want to bur­den them.

I wish I didn’t feel so worth­less. I know part of my prob­lem is the fact that I am un­em­ployed and wor­ried about money. But this is who I have been my whole life. How do I break the cy­cle and start feel­ing good about my­self ? I’m tired of be­ing lonely all the time.

Dear Lonely: One way to stop feel­ing lonely is to give your­self less time to feel that way. Be­cause you are un­em­ployed and have the time, vol­un­teer some of it. Find a non­profit that helps home­less gay youths or se­nior cit­i­zens — or, be­cause the po­lit­i­cal scene is heat­ing up, the party of your choice.

And while you’re at it, con­tact a gay and les­bian cen­ter and ask what kind of coun­sel­ing ser­vices it of­fers, be­cause your prob­lems pre­date your un­em­ploy­ment. There is help avail­able in your city. Once you un­der­stand why you feel “un­wor­thy of af­fec­tion,” you’ll be able to im­prove your self­es­teem. There are bet­ter days ahead.

DEAR ABBY

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