The words that follow are written in part from the perspective of a former mental health professional. I was a licensed Special Education teacher of severely at-risk students with a substantive course load in Abnormal Psychology, which counted as my training program towards my degree and licensure. Though I left the field to become a full-time writer, I have continued my studies in the mental health realm. The words that follow are based in part on my training. A personal anecdote is included, as are attributions from outside sources.
“The world is passing me by” superficially relates to the concept of imposter syndrome, whereby one believes they have not been good enough to be accorded any real, measurable achievement, and what remains of old goals are presently beyond their reach. The distinction is most who assume the former view tend to give up in the belief there is no longer hope for notable goal attainment, while the latter tend to believe they have been faking their accomplishments, hence the term imposter. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), though neither view is listed in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), they are very real to those who hold them.
See here for Psychology Today article, “Do You Feel that Life is Passing You By?” by Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D.
From the article: There are generally many possibilities that account for you not having achieved as much as you hoped. And if you can get in self-sympathetic touch with these confining factors, you can move beyond them.
In terms of the latter view, see here for APA article, “Feel Like a Fraud?” by Kirsten Weir.
From the article: Though the impostor phenomenon isn't an official diagnosis listed in the DSM, psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.
Regardless of the similarities and differences of the two perspectives, both phenomena can be treated therapeutically. If you prefer not to see a professional for these purposes — though doing so is always highly recommended — what follows are several exercises you can do on your own that may substantially help you regain productivity.
I will first share with you a personal anecdote. When I was a child, I was veritably obsessed with being a writer. Though I have since attained my goals through discipline and a strong work ethic, there were certainly times during my journey where I felt I either was not good enough to succeed in my quest, or I had to “fake it to make it.”
It was my father, Richard Eisenberg, who told me, “You’re right. You never will make it unless you keep working at it.”
He was right. Those brief words became my lifelong inspiration.
If you have goals, either personal or professional, the following exercises can be completed on your own time, and at home, to cope with related feelings of self-doubt:
- Ask yourself, “What inspires me?” If, for example, you are inspired by a certain type of book, read more of them. If you are inspired by sports, watch them for further inspiration. In other words, do what you must to not give up. Like food, you are well-advised to feed your mind, in this regard with inspiration and motivation.
- Physical exercise is also important. The release of endorphins when one works out physically will likely introduce a sense of productivity, upon which you can capitalize based on your desired task.
- When one is depressed, it must be acknowledged that completing most any task may be difficult, or sometimes near-impossible. Take a break. Try to relax your mind and your body, then pick up the phone and call a crisis line if you have no one to talk to. If you are in emotional distress, call 1-800-273-8255, the nation’s most-utilized crisis hotline, which is available to you 24 hours daily.
- Review the articles linked above if you have not yet done so. Within are lists of coping mechanisms that can be of immense help tho those who suffer.
The concepts of ‘The world has passed me by’ and imposter syndrome are two common psychological outlooks that hinder potential for true productivity. As with any mental health-related mindsets, either seeking professional help or helping oneself are of immense importance.
Though neither view is listed in the DSM-5, they are no less real than those ailments included within.
Thank you for reading. I hope, as ever, this article has been of some help.