When somebody gives you a compliment, how does it make you feel? Is it a good feeling? Is it a physical feeling, or is it thinking something good -- thinking as words, I mean -- or is it more like the way you experience things like warmth and comfort, or what? Is it something you want to go and get more of somehow, like a food you like; or is it more like something that's nice when it happens but you can't make it happen again (though you might be able to increase the chances of it happening again), like winning a competition?
[If you're going to try to answer any of that lot, please don't just say "Oh, you know," because I don't. Imagine you're trying to explain colours to someone who's been blind since birth.]
On the University Counselling Services website, it says "Allow yourself to feel pleasure at what you have achieved and reward yourself for each achievement." I don't understand what they mean by "allow yourself" -- it sounds as though they're accusing me of preventing myself from feeling pleasure at it. If I am, then it's only in the same way that I'm preventing myself from feeling pleasure at eating Marmite. I just don't like the taste; in the same way, I just don't feel anything at the stuff I've "achieved". I don't think I know what counts as an "achievement", because it seems to be at least in part circularly defined as "the things you've done that make you feel good about yourself". I don't have any of those. Really, honestly, that's not just "false modesty", it's genuine total incomprehension. I do not know what it feels like to "feel good about myself". If it's something I've felt, I wouldn't know how to identify it, and I certainly wouldn't be able to correlate it with the things I've done in any meaningful way.
There are things I've done that other people say things about, and mostly I wish they wouldn't, because I don't like being praised for things that I don't consider praiseworthy (the best analogy I can find is to suggest that you imagine how you'd feel if somebody said "You're really good at getting drunk", or "You bully people really effectively"). Then there are things that people don't say things about. They're less of a problem. I don't really feel anything about them. Then there are things that, when I do them, it makes the slightly queasy feeling of guilt in my stomach go away for a couple of seconds before I remember the next thing I'm supposed to be doing and haven't done yet. Is that absence-of-discomfort what "feeling good about myself" means?
And I really don't know what "rewarding myself" means. I don't want a candlelit bubble-bath, chocolate, a day of pampering at a health spa, a manicure, etc. I don't want or need any more CDs/books, and if I bought myself a CD or a book every time I managed to do the little things I do (like managing to do the laundry or tidy a room or send an email or something), I'd be even more broke than I already am. The only "reward" I want, the only thing that I can think of that I want, is to actually be a functioning member of the human race. If I could produce that for myself on demand, I wouldn't need to balance chocolates on my nose as a "reward" for getting up in the morning. I can't do anything, and I've tried so many different shapes of stick and so many different flavours of carrot.
I don't know how to fix this. The thought of being like this forever makes me cry, and I'm tired of crying, it makes it really hard to even pretend to do my job.