We can often sense when people aren't being authentic in the moment. It gets in the way of connection if we can't feel others' presence. As much as I felt used by this new acquaintance, I could relate to her. I don't want to dump on others, yet I do. Suzanne was doing poorly in school. She was barely getting by. She was also withdrawing from her friends and family and was getting into frequent arguments with Cameron, her girlfriend since her sophomore year in high school. They'd gotten along well, for the most part, until just a few months ago. Suzanne was a senior in high school when we first met, and she was getting ready to apply to college. Since my grades aren't good, I'm not going to get into a great college like most of my friends and my girlfriend, Cameron, Suzanne told me one day in session. Cameron is very smart. I'm sure she'll get into her first choice. She works hard, so she deserves it. We've been dating for two years, but recently it's gotten hard to be around her. Some of these propositions must be regarded as assumptions, while the majority may be regarded as hypotheses subject to proof or disproof. Taken as a whole, the series of propositions presents a theory of behavior which attempts to account for the phenomena previously known, and also for the facts regarding personality and behavior which have more recently been observed in therapy. In many ways the propositions presented draw upon previous formulations, and in many ways they differ. There will be no attempt to point out these similarities and differences, since that would detract from a straightforward and systematic presentation. The reader is referred to the references given for the recent theoretical formulations by other psychologists. THE PROPOSITIONS

I) Every individual exists in a continually changing world of experience of which he is the center. This private world may be called the phenomenal field, the experiential field, or described in other terms. It includes all that is experienced by the organism, whether or not these experiences are consciously perceived. Thus the pressure of the chair seat against my buttocks is something I have been experiencing for an hour, but only as I think and write about it does the symbolization of that experience become present in consciousness. It's so hard for me to be alone with my loneliness. I want more intimacy. So I let loose, hoping that will cut some of the pain. I have compassion for why she may have poured out her story like that, and for the likelihood that she's hurt that I haven't followed up to spend more time with her. It's helpful to see how icky it is to be on the receiving end of this kind of false or unwarranted sharing. Rather than achieve the intended goal of furthering intimacy, it blocked it. Seeing the imbalance in action helped me calibrate for myself what level of sharing is appropriate, and learn to check myself to consider the setting before dumping intimate information. I wish I had magic glasses to show me only the right people, and a magic wristwatch to alert me to the right times to share, but I don't. I'm learning and getting better at it, though, recognizing that if my goal is to create intimacy, it's not the case that I must offer vulnerable information that's going to put the other person in the position of taking care of me, but rather that I need to be present in the moment, not jumping to the stories I've created about my life. It's also about fine-tuning my understandings of social cues that may help me figure out how much is enough or too much. I find myself being overly critical. I criticize her appearance, the people she hangs out with, and the activities she does to boost her college application. Deep down, I know I'm picking fights with her because I'm evnious that she seems to have a brighter future than I do. I want her to feel worse than me so that I can feel better than her. I haven't posted anything on social media in weeks, but I do occasionally log on and scroll through my friends' posts. Sometimes I post sarcastic comments to make myself feel better.

Suzanne was right. She probably would not get into one of her top college choices. Yet she still had the time and the potential to improve her circumstances. In order for Suzanne to get to a place where she could grow emotionally, she had to acknowledge rather than repress her feelings of envy and inadequacy. It seems likely that Angyal is correct in stating that consciousness consists of the symbolization of some of our experiences. It should be recognized that in this private world of experience of the individual, only a portion of that experience, and probably a very small portion, is consciously experienced. Many of our sensory and visceral sensations are not symbolized. It is also true, however, that a large portion of this world of experience is available to consciousness, and may become conscious if the need of the individual causes certain sensations to come into focus because they are associated with the satisfaction of a need. In other words, most of the individual's experiences constitute the ground of the perceptual field, but they can easily become figure, while other experiences slip back into ground. We shall deal later with some aspects of experience which the individual prevents from coming into figure. An important truth in regard to this private world of the individual is that it can only be known, in any genuine or complete sense, to the individual himself. No matter how adequately we attempt to measure the stimulus -- whether it be a beam of light, a pinprick, a failure on an examination, or some more complex situation -- and no matter how much we attempt to measure the perceiving organism -- whether by psychometric tests or physiological calibrations -- it is still true that the individual is the only one who can know how the experience was perceived. I can never know with vividness or completeness how a pinprick or a failure on an examination is experienced by you. The world of experience is for each individual, in a very significant sense, a private world. I'm learning to be patient and to build trust first, to brave the discomfort of getting to know people. I'm also listening to my gut to realize when I am not suited to be friends with someone. I've come to recognize that I require a lot more depth in order to feel safe and connected than most people. It's more common for people to need to build a stronger foundation of trust before reaching that depth. It's a tricky situation: what I need for safety is precisely what makes many others feel unsafe. I'm learning now to watch for different intimacy styles, and to know that I need people who are less protected, not to chase people to make them more giving.

We all have different personal boundaries and comfort levels, so what feels appropriate to one person might not to another. I like to dive straight into the deep stuff while other people may take a while to warm up before sharing more personal information. Neither of these approaches is better or worse than the other, but I get in trouble when I try to mold someone into being more like me or to make them adapt to my style of intimacy in place of their own. It's about accepting people for what they are giving me, and not pushing them to be someone different and go out of their comfort zone. She also had to work on realizing that her use of downward comparisons, through diminishing her friends' achievements and devaluing them as individuals, was an unhealthy defense mechanism. Rather than neutralizing her envious feelings, she needed to acknowledge them and see how they were holding her back from growing emotionally and from pursuing her dreams. Underneath Suzanne's drive to feel superior by making downward comparisons with Cameron and other people was her wish to hide and not feel broken inside. Unfortunately, by maintaining a false sense of superiority, Suzanne was pushing away the very people who loved her the most and could potentially help her. It was also using up mental energy she could have put toward improving her circumstances. With lots of time, patience, and work, Suzanne began to feel safe and strong enough to examine her envious feelings without the need to cut down others. She decided to take a gap year between high school and college, during which she signed up for a few college classes; The following year, Suzanne applied to schools that she felt were challenging but attainable, which would bolster her self-esteem. A few years ago, I received a letter from Suzanne letting me know she had graduated from college and was pursuing a career in a field she loved and, most importantly, was proud of! The Perils of FOMO This complete and first-hand acquaintance with the world of his total experience is, however, only potential; There are many of the impulses which I feel, or the sensations which I experience, which I can permit into consciousness only under certain conditions. Hence my actual awareness of and knowledge of my total phenomenal field is limited. It is still true, however, that potentially I am the only one who can know it in its completeness. Another can never know it as fully as I. II) The organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived.

This perceptual field is, for the individual, reality. This is a simple proposition, one of which we are all aware in our own experience, yet it is a point which is often overlooked. I do not react to some absolute reality, but to my perception of this reality. It is this perception which for me is reality. Related to this, I had a troubling relationship with an old friend where I always felt that I wasn't getting enough from her, and it didn't feel safe to have told her as much about myself as I did. Our pattern was that her holding back triggered me to offer more in hopes it would build intimacy, when in fact it did the opposite. I also resented that she didn't share more details about what she was going through, and it was particularly painful when I heard about things, like her partner's illness, from other people. I didn't notice what was going on until we got too entrenched in that uncomfortable pattern and it felt really crappy. Had I given credence to these feelings earlier on, I could have stepped back and realized we weren't right for one another before it got so painful. Pay attention to gut feelings; I've got some other tips for other oversharers out there. I've learned it's better for me to offer my stories when they're asked for than to offer them unsolicited. I have also learned to let others set the intimacy level first and then respond reciprocally. To figure out where my boundaries are most comfortable, I pay more attention to my feelings in the moment. As we're learning, social media is a hotbed for social comparisons. The phenomenon of FOMO--or the fear of missing out--refers to the apprehension that we are either not in-the-know or that our life is lacking particular social events, experiences, or interactions. Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn't really true. Cognitive distortions are thoughts that reinforce our negative emotions--when we tell ourselves things that sound rational and accurate but only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. We will examine cognitive distortion in more depth in article 6. FOMO can also lead to what's called black-and-white thinking--also known as polarized or all-or-nothing thinking--which occurs when we process people and circumstances as either all good or all bad.