Why Am I So Paranoid and Skeptical About Everything?

I am writing you specifically because you list suspiciousness/paranoia as one of the client concerns you treat. Try this one on for size! I feel like I am going through life looking at everything with extreme skepticism, mistrust, and suspicion. I have no close friends, and I don't trust anybody except my parents. Here are some thoughts that have occurred to me, just to give you an idea of where I'm coming from: My coworkers are all looking for ways to get me fired. My boss hates me and is just waiting for me to mess up. My doctor only prescribes me things because he's getting a cut from pharmaceutical companies. My financial adviser is only interested in him making money, not me making money. Every waiter I see could be the one who skims my credit card. Every car mechanic is crooked. My girlfriend is going to leave me for someone better looking. As for you, you're only answering this (if you even answer) because you want me to come see you and pay you. Am I right? If not, please tell me why I think this way. I don't feel like I'm crazy, but I don't like living like this, either. —Skeptical
Dear Skeptical,

Thank you very much for writing to me specifically, even though you don’t trust me. I think it takes great courage to reach out and describe one’s uncomfortable life situation to someone who is a stranger. You may be skeptical, but you have come forward and made contact. That means something. I hope you go one step further.

Given that I did respond, you seem to conclude I just want you to come see me and pay me—that I’m in it for the money. It’s true I need to make money and pay the bills, just as everyone does, but the unvarnished truth is I’m answering your letter because it’s my job. What you do next is entirely up to you.

Without spending time with you and getting to the root of your feelings, I can’t offer a guess as to why you think the way you do, but I can readily see you’re unhappy with your life and worried that just about everyone you know is out to get you, in one way or another. You say the only people you can trust are your parents, and that you have no friends. You have a girlfriend, but you’re afraid she will leave you for someone else. It makes sense that you’d be unhappy.

You don’t have to live this way. These thoughts, accurate or not, are harmful in and of themselves because the stresses and discomfort they cause affect you both physically and emotionally.

You describe that you are living in constant fear that someone will take advantage of you and cause you harm. You don’t have to live this way. These thoughts, accurate or not, are harmful in and of themselves because the stresses and discomfort they cause affect you both physically and emotionally. You may know that stress can cause a multitude of physical and emotional reactions that may be detrimental to your health.

It always helps to discuss and bounce around your ideas with another person. Psychotherapy might be very useful to you. You’ve written a clear account of an aching life ruled by skepticism, mistrust, and suspicion. You name your feelings and define your life situation with great clarity. Clear self-expression goes with clear thinking. You might find a therapist who includes journal work as part of a treatment plan. Or you might prefer talk therapy. Sometimes you have to try a few different things, or even therapists, to find the right fit. But if you believe nothing else, please believe help is out there. Perhaps the hardest part for you will be trusting in that, and making the initial call.

While you and a therapist identify ways to alleviate your painful feelings, the therapist can help evaluate their accuracy. Especially if you don’t have many people you’re close to, or that you trust, a fresh and objective perspective from someone who knows what to look for can be useful. Fear responses and trust issues are often based on things that happened in the past, and uncovering what those things might be is an important part of finding healing solutions in the present.

The kind of therapy or treatment you seek and find helpful may depend to some extent on your tastes, but I strongly advise you to make the effort. With some work, guidance, and reflection, you may find that your life (and perhaps your blood pressure) is better for it.

Take care,
Lynn

Lynn Somerstein
Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT is a Manhattan-based, licensed psychotherapist with more than 30 years in private practice. She is also a yoga teacher and student of Ayuveda—the Indian science of wellness. Her main interest is in helping people find healthy ways of living, loving, and working in the particular combination that works best for them, connecting to their deepest energic source so their full range of abilities can be expressed. Lynn's specialty is understanding and alleviating anxiety and depression.
  • 8 comments
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  • KIKI

    KIKI

    April 8th, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    There is obviously a block there that is holding you back form loving and trusting. You have to find out what that block is.

  • Reid

    Reid

    April 9th, 2016 at 12:32 PM

    Might sound corny but journaling does wonders for me.. It gives me a chance to not only get that paranoia off my chest, if I am in a pretty reflective mood I can look back and pinpoint exactly what was going on in my life and i will start to see a pattern of what my triggers probably are.

  • Carole

    Carole

    April 9th, 2016 at 4:45 PM

    please make the choice to find someone you can talk with so that you do not have to live the rest of your life in such fear and sadness

  • Allison

    Allison

    April 11th, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    Are you sure that all of these people you cited actually feel this way about you?

  • maisie

    maisie

    April 14th, 2016 at 8:46 AM

    you are doing the right thing, seeking out help

  • CarrieAnne

    CarrieAnne

    April 23rd, 2016 at 3:44 PM

    I know exactly how you feel. I live my life with a lot of paranoid thoughts too. Like I know in my head that I am just being paranoid but that often does very little to help me not think about them. At least I know this is what I am doing and I know that it is irrational. The part that I would like to work on is getting rid of them altogether.

  • lucky

    lucky

    October 28th, 2016 at 12:10 PM

    thank u

  • Preston

    Preston

    May 12th, 2019 at 2:43 PM

    I personally wish I had the amount of trust you have. Mine is so much worse. I don’t even trust my parents, THE LITERAL PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT ME ONTO THIS EARTH. I think my mom is trying to trap me in her clutches forever. I think the only reason I can’t see my dad very much is because hates me and only uses work as an excuse. I think my stepfather is trying to harm me. I think my “friends” are trying to embarrass me via rumors, jokes, and other methods of psychological torture. I think the faculty in the main office of my school is trying to isolate me from these “friends”. I think my English teacher is trying to fail me because she had my brother a few years ago and he was a huge troublemaker. I think my grandparents are trying to get me to witness traumatic events. I think strangers hate me and are conspiring to be rude to me on purpose. I think everyone in my life is hatching a plan to harm me-physically, mentally, and emotionally- in the worst imaginable ways. I don’t even trust myself. Am I writing this for attention or for help? I barely trust the computer I’m writing this on. Is it going to deliberately not let me post it because the maker of this website programmed it to do so because he or she hates me for existing? You do not realize how lucky you are.

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