Have you ever felt nervous before going into a new social situation and worried people might not like you? Have you ever had thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “Everyone else is so much more _______ than I am”?
If so, you’re already familiar with self-doubt. It’s a common human emotion. Most people are able to work through it, and the feelings eventually pass. But what if those thoughts and feelings are constant? What if you feel them for almost everything you do?
Experiencing self-doubt is normal. But as with most things, if it’s severe enough or impacts your quality of life, it could be a sign of a larger issue, such as a depressive disorder. It’s also not something you just have to live with. If your self-doubt is related to another mental health issue, treating the underlying condition can improve this symptom too. And even if it’s not, there are things you can do to feel more confident and be more supportive and less critical of yourself.
Keep reading to learn more about what self-doubt is and how it relates to your overall mental health. That includes what you can do if your feelings of self-doubt or poor self-esteem are affecting your life.
What Is Self-Doubt?
According to Merriam-Webster, self-doubt is defined as “a lack of faith in oneself.” Another definition is “a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about one’s abilities, actions, etc.” Everyone experiences self-doubt sometimes, and this is normal. You may be nervous or worried about your ability to give a big presentation at work or wonder if you’ll be able to cook a new dish.
Signs of poor self-esteem include:
- Self-critical thoughts
- Feeling like you aren’t good enough or as worthy as others
- Feelings of failure
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Heightened sensitivity to outside criticism
- Changes in weight
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Reliance on drugs or alcohol
Self-doubt isn’t a problem in and of itself. It’s how you respond to the thoughts and feelings of doubt and what actions you take that defines whether it’s something that needs to be discussed with a mental health professional. Some indications that an issue may need to be addressed include:
- You’re experiencing chronic feelings of self-doubt
- You have self-doubt about routine tasks such as going grocery shopping or taking care of your children
- Self-doubt is causing quality of life issues
Other Conditions Related to Self-Esteem
Many mental health disorders involve some type of low self-esteem. This could be because of the illness itself, such as in the case of depression, or because of the stigma involved with that mental illness.
Self-esteem is an important part of who we are. How we perceive ourselves and interact with those around us tie back to self-esteem. If you’re struggling with self-doubt or poor self-esteem, it could be a symptom of another problem, such as:
- Imposter syndrome (feeling like you aren’t good enough and are just faking it)
- Eating disorders
Self-doubt and poor self-esteem are particularly associated with depressive disorders. It’s common for those experiencing self-doubt to wonder if they have depression. Many of the signs of poor self-esteem and self-doubt overlap with the signs and symptoms of depression.
While self-doubt can certainly be a symptom of depression, the two are generally considered separate mental health issues. Depression is a diagnosable mental health disorder, while self-doubt is a more general topic in mental health.
Should You Seek Help When Suffering From Self-Esteem Issues?
No matter what people say or how they come across, no one is confident and self-assured 100% of the time. Everyone has insecurities and moments of self-doubt. Experiencing these moments or struggling with self-esteem is extremely common. While it’s not necessarily indicative of a mental health disorder ― although this is possible — there are steps you can take for a better life.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive circle of family and friends is an important first step. A team of people you know can point out your positive qualities or be a cheering squad can be helpful. When you need a little extra boost navigating unfamiliar areas or feeling confidence with new endeavors, those people can help increase your self-esteem.
Keep in mind that this team doesn’t have to be your immediate family. In fact, it shouldn’t be if they haven’t been supportive in the past. This is a role for those who truly have your best interests at heart.
Another tool that can help when you’re experiencing self-doubt is to keep a running list of your positive qualities in a journal or notebook. Write down when you successfully navigate a situation or do something you thought you couldn’t do. It’s easy to lose sight of your past accomplishments and focus just on the doubts of this present moment. Having this collection of greatest hits to pull out in moments of self-doubt can remind you of all you’re capable of.
Finally, consider talking to a mental health professional. You don’t have to have a mental health diagnosis to benefit from counseling or therapy. A health care practitioner can be an objective outsider who can help you work through issues and thoughts. That includes why you feel and think the way you do. They can also provide tools you can use to cope with those feelings and move forward.
If you’re concerned that feelings of self-doubt or low self-esteem may be causing problems in your life, consider seeking help. And if you believe they may be symptoms of a larger mental health issue, it’s definitely time to seek professional support. The team at FHE Health can help you better understand where those feelings of self-doubt are coming from and what you can do about them. To learn more about what we do and how we can help with self-esteem and other mental-health-related issues, contact us today.