The downward spiral of self-doubt

It doesn’t take a lot to begin questioning ourselves, our abilities and our place in society. A remark from a parent, the feeling of being different or maybe seeing on social media how well a friend is doing. Sometimes we’re in a strong place where we can just shrugged it off. Other times it hurts and may begin us on our downward spiral of self-doubt.

Our self image is built on how we were treated when we were young and as we grew up. This is a  vulnerable time for us when any remark can be stored to come back to consciously or unconsciously hit us.

Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the smallest suggestion that they aren’t ‘normal’ - are not the same as their peers. And we then react mainly in three ways. We withdraw, we try even harder to fit in or we go overboard to be different even to the extent to be seen as weird.

Of course society doesn’t like weird - unless it is a passing phase. Although, in English culture, there are the occasional ‘eccentrics’ who are acceptable as long as they are perceived as harmless. But adults, in general, are expected to conform. Especially if you want to work in the corporate world.

Conforming, however, can make us feel vulnerable and uncertain. We have to become someone we may feel we are not. Those who, as they were growing up, learnt it was easier to slip into the background and not attract attention or become what was expected of them can have difficulties as adults. Relationships can be challenging. How much of the real person do they let their partner see?  And at work, where leaders are expected to stand out, how do you succeed if you have spent your formative years trying to blend in?

Working with a counsellor can help. Finding and accepting the real you, the one that may have been hidden years ago, can help you live the life you actually want to. And finding that you are comfortable with yourself will go a long way to becoming a happier individual. 

However, there is a caveat. It may not be easy and there are those who, in the end, decide that they just don’t want to change. The years of being an actor are just too difficult to change. But then, at least, a conscious decision has been made to live that life and all it entails. And from that decision one can move forward stronger and more in control.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Owen Redahan. MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)

Is it difficult for you to talk to family or friends about certain issues? Perhaps you have difficulties in forming relationships and this makes you feel embarrassed? Maybe there's something about you that you don't want them to know about? For example, you having relationship issues, suffer low self esteem, or feel you're looking too much at internet porn?This is when counsellors, like me, may be… Read more

Written by Owen Redahan. MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)

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