Simple Steps to Help You Believe in Yourself When You Live with Social Anxiety
Are you unsure how to believe in yourself? It’s easy to not believe in yourself when you have mental health struggles. It’s that voice in your head that says you are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough—whatever enough—to be deserving of the recognition of others.
What It Means to Have Social Anxiety
If you have social anxiety you might believe
- others will never like you
- you will always be a misfit in social situations
- you could never succeed in a job where you have to give talks
- people will never value your opinion
- you are basically invisible
The common theme is a lack of belief in yourself.
You might be saying, well no I don’t believe in myself. Every time I have a chance to prove myself I screw up! Just the other day I was having lunch and I spilled my drink in my lap. I gave a speech and panicked in the middle of it. I run away when the doorbell rings.
How can I believe in myself when I don’t believe anything good about myself?
Your Thoughts Define You
A therapist would have you break down those thoughts along the lines of what you would learn in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy is focused on changing the thought patterns that make your anxiety worse.
For example, you might have the following questions to ask yourself:
- Is it really true others will never like you?
- Are there times you did not feel like a misfit?
- Do you have to be perfect when you give a talk?
- Do you really think others’ don’t value your opinion?
- Surely you are not invisible?
What if you are so down on yourself, that you can’t grasp these more “realistic” thoughts. Or, what if they are actually true? What if your whole life people treated you like you were invisible?
How to Believe in Yourself
In these cases, it is helpful to practice something that is known as “assertive defense of the self.” What this means is that if people do treat you badly, that is a reflection of them and not you. If someone points out your anxiety or your unworthiness, doesn’t that say more about who they are as a person that it says about you?
In order to get to a place of believing in yourself, you need to start approaching yourself from a place of acceptance.
Nobody likes you. So what? Do you like you? Is there anything about yourself that you do like? Surely there is something you can use as a starting point.
(Listen to Oprah talk below about how to get what you want in life by changing what you believe about yourself)
What Are Your Strengths?
Maybe you have a skill or ability that makes you unique. Draw on that as your source of strength. Learn how to believe in yourself because of that unique aspect of yourself.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation circle feeling invisible and down on yourself, think about that one thing you are good at. That thing you might even be better at than most people.
You see, that’s your point of strength. If all you ever do is try to fix your weaknesses, you never get to feel good about yourself.
It’s like that old saying about asking a fish to climb a tree. Of course, you are going to feel bad about yourself if your life revolves around how bad you are at everything. Why not get out there and do what you are good at?
Is there anything about yourself that makes you unique? What, in a conversation, could you contribute that would be uniquely you?
Or what aspect of your personality is a strength that you could use to your advantage?
Are you… Smart? Kind? Funny? Detail-oriented?
It can be anything really. Just pick something, and base your belief in yourself on that. Then build from there.
See, we are not talking about changing your social anxiety here, we’re talking about changing your mindset. But ironically, when you start focusing on your mindset and forget about the social anxiety, you might notice that the social anxiety starts to improve as well. It’s what’s known as a secondary effect.
What about you? Do you have trouble believing in yourself? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.