Courtesy of Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, Savvy Psychologist

What makes you feel insecure?

You don’t need to frown: it is your very own mind. Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen reveals three toxic thinking habits that keep you feeling insecure, plus offers three ways to feel more confident.

There’s that old saying—the mind makes a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If you’re feeling insecure—about yourself, your relationship, or your life—these three thinking habits may be take over your mind.

Those habits are tricky, because on the surface, they appear accurate, and more importantly, they feel accurate. And that’s the problem—they keep us feeling stupid, boring, inadequate, insecure.

#1: Emotional reasoning

This toxic thinking habit mistakes feelings for reality. If you feel guilty, it must be your fault. If you feel hopeless, there must be no way out. If you feel anxious, something bad is about to happen.

But emotional reasoning makes us feel the most insecure when it extends to our relationships: “Because I feel jealous, it proves you’re cheating on me” or “Because I feel anxious, it must mean we’re about to break up.” Then those thoughts spiral and turn into a fight your partner never saw coming. Needless to say, emotional reasoning is particularly frustrating for partners because it’s impossible to argue with a gut feeling, even an inaccurate one.

#2: Mind reading

This toxic habit is exactly what it sounds like: assuming you know what other people are thinking. It will drive so crazy and nervous all the time my friend. It’s a vicious circle of epic proportions.

Mind reading makes you think others are either judging or rejecting you. “He didn’t text me back so he must hate me.” “My boss wants to see me so she/he must be mad.” “Everyone will see I’m sweating and think I’m a freak.”

On the flip side, you might mind-read and assume others are superior to you: “She looks like she has it all together; she must be so confident.” “He got another promotion; he must know exactly what he’s doing with his life”, “I wish I look like her.” Regardless, mind reading makes you come up short.

#3: Personalization

This is also exactly what it sounds like: the thinking error of personalization makes everything about you. Your spouse is grumpy, so you assume it’s something you did. Your boyfriend looked at another girl, so you must not be enough for him. I have a friend who literally lives in a world of assumption, stories. She interprets everything without paying any attention to reality. It is pathetic to let your mind drift in the abyss of constant panic.

How to Stop

How to stop the madness? Half the battle is catching yourself. Try to notice those moments when your mood takes a nosedive or your insecurity flares. Got one? Become more aware of your internal dialog and quickly bring your mind back to reality. Focus on the fact. Bring back your self-confidence.

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