Issues Treated in Therapy:
Surely no one is free of self-doubt; to live without considering the possibility of failing, being wrong, or being disliked, without any uncertainty or internal conflict is not only impossible, it would likely be dangerous. Overconfidence is often no better than a lack of confidence. To the degree that humility and introspection are forms of self-doubt, self-doubt can be healthy. But the kind of self-doubt that indicates a basic lack of self-knowledge, an inability to commit to meeting our needs or pursuing our goals, and a tendency to never trust our own instincts and reason is a bane to happiness and growth. Self-doubt as a chronic state, one that undermines plans and ambitions, interferes with intimacy or new relationships, blocks progress in choosing a career, or consistently induces feelings of anxiety or depression, is not something we need live with.
Self-doubt can stem from childhood experiences, for example being subject to criticism or mixed messages from parents and caretakers, having difficulty getting along with peers, missing out on experiences that would foster a sense of confidence and purpose, or not receiving positive reinforcement for our accomplishments.
Self-doubt may be linked to anxiety disorders, depression, or dependent personality disorder. However, self-doubt is much more common than these very serious conditions. Self-doubt may be a temporary state, triggered by changes or disappointments in life. Whether it is chronic or acute, persistent or transient, severe or mild, self-doubt can be troubling and it can be addressed in therapy.
Jamie, 27, enters therapy for treatment of anxiety. He is generally a happy person, but seems to miss out on social, romantic, and occupational opportunities due to a lack of confidence. Therapy reveals great ambivalence about his sexuality. Jamie discloses a stifling religious background, a father who was unfaithful to Jamie’s mother repeatedly, and rather negative peer influences. Therapy helps Jamie understand the unconscious beliefs he developed growing up in that circumstance, and begin to be able to discard false, unhelpful beliefs in favor of true, positive ones – such as ceasing believing that sexuality is shameful and choosing to see it as healthy and beautiful. The therapist recommends several activities to Jamie – dance classes, martial arts, a men’s and women’s therapy group – that help Jamie overcome his shyness and self-doubt.
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Last updated: 05-14-2013