Individual Counseling Relationships

Improve Self-esteem: Doubting your Doubts

While counseling a young man with a tendency toward self-doubt, we discussed how we tend to view events that occur to us through certain filters, which in turn affects our self-esteem. If you have low self confidence, you tend to dismiss genuine compliments from others as “just trying to be nice”or trying to make us feel better.

My suggestion to my client was to be aware of the filters he tends to use when good things happen. Then instead of dismissing positive things or only seeing the negative side, he could consider other explanations. This is a strategy that will improve self-esteem by training yourself to consider new ways to interpret situations and events.

An example might be that you pass by someone and say hello to them and they don’t acknowledge you, you might at first assume they don’t like you or that you are unlikeable. That’s one possible filter. But other possible filters are that the person was deep in thought and didn’t hear you, or they are very shy in public and have trouble speaking to strangers ever though they would like to. Just considering there are other more positive explanations for events helps self-esteem.

My client summed it up this way. He said, “So you mean I should doubt my doubts!”. When he finds himself dismissing genuine compliments, he can doubt these doubts. He can consider the possibility that he has more positive things going on than he thinks. I liked his way of phrasing it much better than mine.

Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan.  He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and for adults.  He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems.  For more information, please visit the website at or call 616-914-9874.