When I was in my early twenties, I began to experience what might be called low self-esteem. On one hand, I was very enthusiastic and confident about what I was trying to achieve at that time, but I was simultaneously feeling anxious, unhappy, self-critical, viewing myself negatively, thinking that others saw me as deluded, as a failure, with unrealistic dreams, and that I was unattractive, with receding hair, and that nobody really believed in me in ways I believed in myself. I began to develop feelings of social anxiety, even slight panic attacks. When, in a bar or restaurant with friends, and I tried to drink from a glass or a cup, my hand would slightly shake. Worse than that, is that I would get a kind of trembling in my neck and head. The thought that this was noticeable, and that people could see I had a problem, was a kind of vicious cycle, in that the idea that other people were looking at me, judging me, wondering what was going on, made me feel worse. Sometimes I would get this feeling when not trying to drink, but just when making conversation with people. I think that one of the subconscious strategies I developed in order to counteract this, was to tense my neck muscles. Right now my life is full of work pressure, stress, relationship problems, and so. My work requires me to sit many hours each day at a computer. All of these things combined, are giving me constant connect tension and neck pains. I still have those feelings that I had when I was in my early twenties. I still feel like people look at me, and judge me, and are maybe thinking negative things about me. I still have to drink a pint of beer before going to get my hair cut, just to be able to sit and “relax” without my head shaking. Otherwise, I might be ok for a few moments, but then a thought will cross my mind that someone is watching, and thinking something about me, and it is like spasm in my neck and head. I still live with a strange combination of ambition, enthusiasm and confidence, as well as negativity, doubt, thinking that others believe I am worthless.
Recently, I took up yoga, hoping that this would help. For years I have tried meditation, but I find it very difficult to maintain a daily practice. Please can anyone give me any advice on a type of meditation, perhaps analytical meditation, that will help me resolve this strange conflict, and dissolve these strange negative feelings that make me feel so bad. Right now it is very difficult to make progress with anything and face some big challenges, and overcome relationship problems, when feeling so lost in anxiety and stress. I never used to drink coffee, but over the past three or four years I have developed a habit of drinking two or three mugs of coffee each morning. I have become somewhat addicted, and really enjoying my work over morning coffee. But I'm wondering how this coffee is affecting the rest of my day. I feel like it is a necessary drug that will help me get through my current workload during this year of extraordinary pressure. At the same time I'm wondering if I should or how I can give it up.
Any thoughts or suggestions on these problems would be helpful. Thanks.