I've been contemplating a reply to this thread for a couple days.

A lot of it for me is residual paranoia from interactions with my adopted mother and her third husband. Well within earshot, they'd talk about me in the third person, even sometimes to my face as if I wasn't there! Nor were they discreet when in another part of the house, knowing full well I could hear their "discussions" about what was wrong with me.

So, my issue has been not so much that people are talking about me, but that they're thinking of me in a negative way.

I'll turn this around a bit with a mixed success story. After several months' successful work on a client's projects, often a high volume of work, he suddenly went Mel Gibson on me. A rambling email even included, "YOU CAUSED THIS" in the same caps. Naturally my first reaction was that it was My Fault. Then I really read the entirety of the email. It was all bullshit and had nothing at all to do with me or my performance. This guy was either drunk or having a complete meltdown of some sort. I decided, income be damned, I wasn't going to tolerate that treatment. I fired him.

LOL...of course I second guessed myself for the next few months and had to talk it out with a couple good, patient friends when it came up, but a year later I can say I'm glad I'm free of the bastard. He's even been advertising on Craigslist. Seems he can't keep anyone around.

I suppose what I'm saying is that confronting the guilt/shame that's become second nature sometimes requires a gut-wrenching leap. But, mygawd, what a difference it makes.