Why Does Every Little Thing Get To Me?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

It seems like for the last couple of years (or somewhere around that margin) I’ve been having problems with just letting things go or mentally getting over something. For example, yesterday, I was in a book store, walking up to the counter, when I felt something hit my back. I looked down, and it was some kind of children’s rubber toy, and there was a stand near me that it could have fell off of if I bumped into it. However, I didn’t notice any such thing on the stand, and it landed on my back… What I’m getting at is, is that I began to ponder that there’s a good chance someone had thrown it at me. I looked around, and saw no obvious suspects, so there was pretty much nothing I could do. I gave the lady at the counter my book (my Dad was with me and he payed for it) and he drove me home. No big deal, right? Everyday little thing… But then I thought about all the things I could have done, like yell for whoever threw it, or shown some kind of anger, or even gone as far to consider asking the lady at the counter to run through security tapes to get a positive I. D. on the thrower to exact a plot of revenge at the time of my choosing. And it really bugged me, and I knew I could never go back, and if someone had thrown it, they had the better end of me. They won. I lost. I felt like a coward, and I began to re-enact things I could have done differently in my room, imagining them to have happened or that by simply saying or doing something in my room, it would somehow make me come out on top. Then, I said things to myself like, “It’s okay, I was just showing that they’re not worth my time.” to give myself a reason to not have done anything at the time. I feel like this problem, which is growing worse at a rapid pace in my life, is affecting me mentally and clogging my mental process and emotional state, which could have something to do with my severe apathy. Any help on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

A. I agree with you that this is a problem. I would categorize your reaction to the situation you described as inappropriate. It is normal to consider the possibilities of what happened to you in the store. After your analysis of the situation you could not determine what had happened. Given the facts, as you have described them, the only rational conclusion for anyone in that situation would be, they simply don’t know what happened. After they came to that conclusion they would have forgotten about it. You did not forget about it. You could not let it go. It became your primary focus. At first, you considered the possibility of an accident. You quickly abandoned that possibility and fixated on the idea that it was done on purpose. These feelings are paranoid in nature.

Paranoid personality disorder is a mental health condition in which an individual is highly distrustful of other people. They suspect that others are out to get them. Their distrust and suspiciousness can sometimes lead to anger. The anger can sometimes lead to violence. If someone believes that others are out to get them or trying to “one up” them, then this can lead an individual to feel angry and to seek revenge. This may be what you are experiencing. Based on your belief that someone had purposefully thrown a toy at you in a bookstore, you thought of plotting a way to seek revenge. If you’d like to read more about this disorder please click here.

I would highly recommend evaluation and treatment. I cannot be certain if you have paranoid personality disorder; only an in-person evaluation could accurately determine that or any other diagnosis. I believe it is important that you receive objective feedback about how you are perceiving your life situations. As you mentioned at the end of your letter, this problem is not going away and is becoming worse. It is leading you to other distressful feelings and symptoms, all of which need to be evaluated.

Therapy may be difficult for an individual if they have paranoid feelings. I believe that you would benefit from counseling if you were willing to try it. Here is a link to therapists in your area. I wish you well. Thanks for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Why Does Every Little Thing Get To Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/03/why-does-every-little-thing-get-to-me/