Do you feel like everyone around you “has it all together,” and you’re riddled with doubts, insecurity and worries about your worthiness? Despite what it might look like from the outside, nobody is confident 24/7. We all have our ups and downs. We all have moments of courage and then moments of imposter syndrome. All in all honesty, it wouldn’t make sense to never have doubts or worries unless we didn’t care about anything. When we are concerned about how well we do something or how we come across it, it is because we are invested in the outcome. We want to make a good impression on people we care about. We want to excel at the job we are passionate about. And so on and so on.
So when does feeling insecure and self-doubt become problematic? When it is chronic. When it is showing up every day no matter the circumstances and no
matter the stakes. When it is getting in the way of your dreams and goals. When it is impacting your sleep. When it is causing other problems such as procrastination, rumination, and people-pleasing. When we feel insecure, we might procrastinate as a form of self-protection so that we can tell ourselves, “I could have done better if I’d had more time,” or because we are avoiding what we see as an inevitable failure for as long as possible. When our insecurities haunt us, they can cause us to ruminate over every past “embarrassing” mistake or every conceivable possible negative outcome. And we can find ourselves people-pleasing when we don’t think we’re worthy of having our boundaries; we feel we have to do what others say so that they will like us or include us. We believe that the only way to have a community is by being convenient and of service. This is no way to go through life.
5 Ways to Cope with Self-Doubt!
1. Know your triggers:
It is important to understand when and where your insecurities are most activated. Certain people, places, events, times of the year, or situations may trigger you. Each trigger might result in a different level of distress; for example, any conversation with your sibling might immediately make you feel extremely insecure. Your insecurities may be about your intelligence, your abilities, the way you look, your career and/or financial success, or any other area of your life. Family dinner may trigger you to get your back up about talking about your job. Fancy events may trigger you to worry about your appearance. You may have someone in your life compared to whom you feel slow or uninformed.
As part of this self-awareness, you can dive deeper into therapy by learning about what happened in the past to develop these insecurities. We see patients seeking therapy for insecurities here at our office in Woodland Hills. With your therapist, you can explore past life experiences and unpack how they may have implicitly or explicitly shaped your inner critic and self-doubt. If these memories go back deep into childhood, your adult brain may be able to see what the issue was. You may have already identified where your insecurities first developed. That doesn’t mean that the childhood version of you should have been able to process these incidents and get over them; therapy can help you to heal the wounds of your childhood.
2. Accept your feelings:
Before we can learn to challenge and change our self-view and feelings, we need to first hold space for them. Often I see my clients having thoughts like, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way,” or, “It’s not
even that hard; I don’t know why I am so scared/intimidated.” These types of should-statements reject, criticize, and repress our feelings. And ultimately, what you resist persists. In accepting your feelings, you are able to process, analyze, unpack, sit with and deal with them.
To begin the process of accepting uncomfortable feelings, meet your “should” statements with a rebuttal. For example, if you think, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way,” you can answer with, “Yes, I should, because I do.” From there, force yourself to think (or say aloud), “I feel this way.” Name your feelings. “I feel angry”; “I feel scared”; “I feel intimidated.”
Practice affirming your feelings for yourself. “I feel angry, and that’s okay,” or “I am scared, and that is telling me something I need to know.” Even if your fear is telling you that you have insecurity to deal with, that is still helpful information. Other times, your fear might actually be keeping you safe. Recognizing the emotion and deciding to investigate it will teach you something about yourself either way.
A key factor in accepting your feelings is to make sure that you are surrounded by people who allow you to do so. This may mean that you seek out people who model emotional acceptance, who are quick to validate your expressions, or both. This also means that you may have to take a hard look at who you spend time with and how you feel about yourself before, during, and after your visit. This doesn’t mean that others are responsible for your sense of self-worth. It means that if someone’s words and/or actions are causing harm to you, you have a responsibility to address that. You may wish to communicate your needs and boundaries to this person; if they don’t respect them, you might have to consider stepping away from the relationship. You may have already tried over and over again to say how certain incidents have made you feel, to no avail. This person may be contributing to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors; you are responsible for addressing the issue and finding the solution.
3. Feelings are not facts:
While we talk about accepting our emotions as they are, we also need to be aware that there is a delicate balance between accepting them as they are, but not seeing them as facts. People often fall into distorted thinking called Emotional Reasoning, where you reason through your emotions. For example, when you struggle with emotional reasoning (which is a term from Cognitive Behavioral therapy), you think, “I feel anxious about this interview; I must not be prepared enough,” or, “I feel anxious about this interview, I am not good enough.” In seeking an explanation for why you feel the way you feel, you inadvertently decide that you deserve to feel that way.
Remember that you can acknowledge your feelings by saying, “I feel nervous,” and also remind yourself that your feelings are not facts about what is going on. A good way to counteract this is to state the opposite of what you are worried about. For example, “I feel nervous, but I know I am prepared.” This acknowledges and accepts the emotion but doesn’t allow it to run away with the narrative.
You may experience a lot of feelings as facts when it comes to your relationships. Past experiences may have been difficult and/or traumatic, and you may be afraid to trust that things could be better this time. People may have even told you that you deserved to be treated poorly, ignored, or abandoned. Over time, you may have begun to believe that that was true. Your worries about history repeating may begin to talk to you; “This person will leave you, everyone else did. You’re not good enough”. That is an awful thought to have to live within your head. When you begin to feel this way, talk to yourself about the situation as you would if your close friend had the same worries. Remind yourself that others’ mistreatment of you wasn’t about you; it was about them. Someone who walked away from you without explanation lacked the ability to communicate their issues effectively; they didn’t walk away because you are easy to leave. Someone who said and did cruel things to you was hurting inside, was immature, was insecure themself, and so on; those things didn’t happen to you because you don’t deserve better. It can be all too easy to take on the behaviors of others as our own personal shortcomings.
4. Practice self-compassion:
The way you talk to yourself matters. Self-compassion does not mean you give in to your feelings of self-doubt and glorify them or allow them to continue unchecked. Self-compassion is about self-soothing by noticing our emotions and engaging in acts of kindness in response to those emotions. This could involve any number of self-care tools depending on the circumstance. You might opt to have a note on your phone where you have written affirming statements. In an emotional moment, it can be hard to think of what to say to yourself. If you’ve taken the time in advance to write yourself a love letter of sorts, you can easily access those words when you aren’t able to summon them in your mind.
As an ongoing practice, self-compassion is a great tool to utilize. We tend to reach for emotional regulation when feeling triggered; it might not occur to us that we need a boost until we’re already in distress. However, self
-compassion is like most skills: the more you do it, the easier it gets. You might wonder how to practice self-compassion at times when you aren’t distressed. You practice it through self-care and mindful thinking. When you are having a great day, you can still affirm to yourself what you might need to hear when you are having a bad day. You might say, “I am confident in myself,” or, “I deserve to care for and support my physical and mental health.” These statements will feel far easier to accept when you are in a good headspace; when you need them, they will be familiar.
Try to establish a self-care routine that you can be consistent with. This routine should support you in building and maintaining your confidence. Taking time to reflect on your experiences through journaling, meditation, and/or therapy is a great way to keep perspective and not let insecurities get the best of you. Being consistent in supporting your physical wellness makes a huge difference. You can do so through proper sleep and hydration, nourishing your body, and moving in a way that works for you. Make sure to schedule time for pure fun, whether that’s getting together with loved ones, participating in a hobby or activity you enjoy, or taking a class. Behave as though you deserve a well-rounded and fulfilling life to counteract what your insecurities might tell you.
5. Connect with others:
When we are feeling insecurity and self-doubt, turning toward others can be grounding. We heal through connection. Sometimes that means we just need to share our feelings with someone we trust. Other times we might need to seek guidance from someone else with more expertise on the matter that we feel inadequate about.
Sometimes, we worry that sharing our insecurities will make us feel more vulnerable. It’s true that there are times when you have to summon your courage and take a leap. You may have even experienced times in the past when you thought you could trust someone, but that person misused your trust and exploited your insecurities. I understand how terrible that can feel. The way to know that that doesn’t always happen is to take a chance and trust someone again.
There may be support groups for specific insecurities that you can access, whether in-person or online. These communities may offer you a space to feel seen and understood in just the perfect way to help you out. They might be mentorship spaces, support groups for past or current issues/incidents, or motivational groups for a demographic you fall into. Our insecurities like to tell us that we are alone, that we are the only person who struggles, and that nobody else will understand. Having a community around you to disprove that is very beneficial.
There is no magic wand to wave that will just get rid of insecurities, but wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, we have to accept and address them as they are. We have to be consistent in our work, not perfect. There will always be times when it is more of a challenge to put out insecurities aside or deal with them. There will always be moments when we lose our nerve or hesitate. That is human. The important thing is to continue to do the work we need to do so that we can pursue the happiness in life that we truly desire and are worthy of. However that looks for you, the important thing is that you know you deserve to feel confident and committed to doing so. Insecurities can lead to missing out on personal and professional opportunities; sometimes, those chances won’t come around again. In developing self-assurance, you can reduce the odds that you’ll look back someday and regret the things you didn’t do, the chances you didn’t take, both on others and yourself.
Other Services at Embracing You Therapy
Here at Embracing You Therapy Group, we invite you to explore with us how life would be different if you had more control over your thoughts and emotions, and we invite you to consider that it is possible to accept things just as they are, embracing imperfections to create a gentler place for calm in your life.
Let’s learn what drives your unique perspective on anxiety and stress. Then, let’s find the tools-your unique tools that help you respond to life in a healthy, calm way. Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Client Care Coordinator.