When Anxiety Reveals Itself In The Form Of Self-Doubt 

Sometimes my most anxious moments feel like it’s a boxing match of me vs. my mind and when I allow myself to go down the rabbit hole of negative thoughts, what happens is self-doubt.

It’s doubting the choices I’ve made in the past and analyzing things I can’t change but thinking deeply about how that might negatively influence someone else. Then I get filled with guilt for things that have already happened. It’s the mistakes I’ve made or could have made or how someone might have perceived something. It’s when a feeling of such insecurity in who I am because the fear of hurting someone or letting them down begins to overtake my entire body until it feels like I am paralyzed.

It’s doubting my relationships and friendships and analyzing it in such detail that something has to be wrong. “The reason I haven’t seen someone in a while is that they don’t like me anymore,” and I run through my mind every detail that supports that statement leading to the outcome of someone leaving and not wanting to associate with me. It’s a text that goes unanswered, and my mind goes to a place that “they are ignoring me, and here is why.” I think of everything I could have done wrong and everything I should probably apologize for, even though there is no issue.

It’s in doubting my ability when it comes to the experience I have with something, whether it is a job or a hobby and anxiety tells me, “I am not good enough at what I do.” Anxiety tells me I will fail. Anxiety tries to convince me my efforts don’t matter and the result of this is striving for perfection. It’s striving to be the best at something. It’s striving to be someone people remember. It’s striving to be the hardest working person in every room I walk into. But even at my best, I am never good enough for myself. It’s continuously overworking or overtraining and over trying because I want to quiet that voice that tells me I’ll never be enough.

The hardest part about anxiety and the self-doubt it leads to is when I’ve convinced myself there something wrong with me and how I carry myself and the choices I’ve made. It’s how quickly I go from doubt to dislike, and the next thing I know, I’m in tears alone because I don’t like who I am. And anxiety leads to supporting that dislike, and suddenly I’m running over details of every reason other people might not like me and every reason I shouldn’t like myself. The sad part is during anxiety attacks; I believe it.

The phrases that run through my mind during these dark moments sound like, “no one likes you.” “You are a burden to those you love.” “You are too sensitive.” “You are a lot of handle.” “People feel bad for you.” “You are broken” “Something is wrong with you.” “You will never be enough so keep trying.” “Everyone is going to leave.” “You are going to fail.” 

It’s heartbreaking trying to navigate through so much self-doubt that exists entirely in my mind. 

Someone with anxiety cares; they care about how they treat people, care about how they make someone feel, care about the words they choose, and are careful, and what they say. So it’s hard for anyone to understand the place an anxious mind goes to because, according to everyone else, you are someone that no one has issues with, you are someone who loves deeply, you are someone who cares and has a heart reflects that care. You are someone who tries so hard with everything you do, so how can you even think of yourself in a negative light?

But anxiety is a constant battle of countering the self-doubt that lives within you.

So in moments when anxiety makes you unsure of who you are and tries to drag you down a rabbit hole of self-hate, try to catch yourself before that. Try to use positive affirmations and repeating what your truth is. Try remembering how much good is within you, and that is what people see. Try taking a breath before your heart starts racing and tears start running down your face, and those negative thoughts feel like reality.

Remember, not everything you tell yourself is the truth.

Because these are the things that are true about you, you are someone who cares and loves deeply. You are someone who tries so hard, and it is enough. You are pretty enough. You are smart enough. You are successful enough. You aren’t damaged just because of your mistakes, we all feel that way sometimes, and we all make mistakes but judging yourself only for that doesn’t account for all the good you’ve done and continue to do.

You might always be your worst critic and someone else’s biggest cheerleader, especially when you don’t know everything about what someone else is going through. You see and experience every part of your own life, and it isn’t fair to compare your worst moments of breaking down to someone else’s highlight reel. The most important thing is to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. And in your most anxious moments, I hope before it gets too negative, the first thing you remind yourself to be kind to the person looking back at you in the mirror who has already overcome so much.

About the author
Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words. Follow Kirsten on Instagram or read more articles from Kirsten on Thought Catalog.

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