Self-doubt is a powerful emotion. It can distort your view of many different aspects of your life, including your relationship. When we experience doubt and insecurity, we judge ourselves harshly, hold ourselves to unrealistic standards, and often wonder why we’re worthy of love. Left unchecked, self-doubt can be dangerous, if not disastrous, to the health of a relationship.
So how do you get out of your own way? How do you remove the (mostly internal) obstacles between you and happiness? The first step is to identify the feeling. The next twelve are listed below:
1. Stop saying you are insecure.
This step is an important one: if you are currently working on improving yourself - particularly your sense of security - you are essentially working on changing your narrative. This is impossible if you are still labeling yourself as “an insecure person” or even thinking repeatedly about your many pitfalls in the confidence arena. Once you eliminate the thoughts, you can start to change the behavior.
2. Doubt your doubts.
The second step is about creating distance between yourself and these feelings. Although they can seem like they’re coming from yourself, they’re actually an external presence - one that you can analyze, examine, and eventually, eliminate. Start to understand that your doubts are actually your deepest fears, manifesting and parading around as actual opinions. They’re not. They’re false. They have no power unless you give it to them.
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3. Name your critic.
Not a name like “Dave” or “Josephine” (although if you’d like to, you totally can) but identify those thoughts when they start to creep into your self-awareness. If you’re looking at a picture of yourself with your significant other and start thinking: “They’re so much more attractive than me, I bet people notice and wonder why we’re together…” then immediately stop and recognize that THAT is the sound of your critic, and not your own thoughts, your partner’s, or anyone else’s.
4. Stop overthinking.
Overthinking is a lose-lose scenario. If you have a negative thought, harping on it will make it seem more important and prevalent than it really is (not to mention draining your energy in the process). If you don’t have a negative or insecure thought, overthinking will guarantee that you find one. In general, it’s not a great habit, as it typically creates stress, anxiety, and tension within yourself - but in the context of your relationship it spells a recipe for disaster.
5. Get to the root of it.
Understanding that you have insecurities isn’t the real work, it’s only the beginning. Getting to the why is what matters. Think back: how long have you struggled with these issues? Can you trace it back to childhood? Friends? Exes? Asking yourself the tough questions and doing an inventory to determine where these feelings originated will equip you with a lot of information and give you a clearer path forward towards security.
6. If you need help, ask for it.
In the previous step, if you discovered that your insecurity is rooted in something deeper, like past trauma or repressed experiences, you owe it to yourself to process those emotions properly. Reach out to a therapist, psychiatrist, or simply find a support group. This is a critical step if you find out that your insecurities run deeper than you originally thought.
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7. Cut off your comparisons.
When we focus on comparing ourselves or our relationships to others, we open the door to disappointment. This is a difficult habit to just go cold-turkey on, because it’s simply part of our nature. But what we can control is our exposure to it! Simply limiting your social media time can go a long way towards achieving this goal.
8. Cultivate confidence.
The best antidote to self-doubt is self-confidence. How do you materialize more of it? One idea is that you can keep a nightly journal where you write down one thing you did you were proud of from the day - and then the next morning, read your last few entries. What more encouraging way could you think of to start the day?
9. Open up.
No matter how synced you are with your partner, there is no couple on Earth that can read each other’s minds. So instead of crossing your fingers for telepathy, open up the lines of communication. Being vulnerable doesn’t just strengthen your connection, it also allows your partner to gain insight and understanding into your journey. It’s a win-win.
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10. Improve self-talk.
One of the best ways to combat negativity is to realize you can control your own self-talk. And some of the best advice there is on this subject is actually pretty simple: Speak to yourself the same way you would speak to your closest friend. You wouldn’t say: “You’re right, I don’t think you’re worthy of love,” right? You’d say: “How dare you think that? You’re amazing! You’re unbelievable. There is no one in the world like you.”
11. Surround yourself with positivity.
Since you’ve limited your social media intake, you probably have a little more free time, right? Use it surrounding yourself with good things, and good people. They say you’re the product of the five people you spend the most time with, so do a quick mental inventory about the people you’re choosing to spend your time on. If you identify negativity, address it.
12. Embrace insecurity as a part of being human.
Although this sounds a little… counterintuitive, this is a really important point. Extensive self-doubt is no good, as it’s toxic to your confidence and to your relationship. But on another note, a little insecurity is just one of the prices we pay for being a human being. The ups, the downs, they can trick you into thinking you’re the only person who feels that way - but the truth is, we’ve all been there. And we’ll all be there again.
Although self-doubt can sometimes feel like you’re being sucked under in a whirlpool of doubt and darkness, climbing out is surprisingly easy. If you really practice each of these steps with intention, go through them chronologically as many times as necessary, the results are straightforward. You will become more secure. You will doubt yourself less. You will still experience those emotions from time to time (you’re only human, remember) but they won’t guide your decision-making and influence your sense of self. You will be able to see in yourself what your partner obviously sees.
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