How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask TherapistMarryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
TherapistMarryAnn is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hi, Kate. Need to get in touch with you again. Some things seem to jus

This answer was rated:

Hi, Kate. Need to get in touch with you again. Some things seem to just persist. I suffer from a severe lack of self-confidence. I am not interested in exploring the causes of why—if it’s bad parenting, or critical teachers, or lack of friends or faith, etc. I get that these factors and others can be or are the contribution or cause of having little if any confidence in myself. On the exterior and on paper, there should be no reason why I am absent having confidence. I am reasonably attractive and in decent physical shape; I’m well-educated; I have completed a 26 year military career, and have recently started a new career. I am happily married with no kids, and I’m financially secure. But on the inside, I feel that I lack any measurable talent. I have thought for the longest time that I’m not good enough… for anything or anyone. I feel like I’m one mistake or bad decision from having this façade I’m living to start crumbling down. At worse, I feel like I’m living a lie. I doubt myself and become hyper-aware of any comment that I perceive, false or otherwise, as an attack against my character or skills. I don’t want to “fake it until I make it.” In fact, I think trite comments like that are insulting and only worsen the problem. I don’t know what to do and I’m getting very depressed. Please help.
Hi! It's great to hear from you.

I agree with you that learning about your past only helps you understand where your feelings come from but it does not help you change what you feel now. For example, you can see that low self esteem comes from a parent that put you down all the time, but that understanding does not change the fact that you have low self esteem now and need to address it.

In order for real change to occur, you have to loosen the fixed ways you are thinking about yourself. The issue here is how to change thoughts that you have become used to over the years. Changing those patterns is key to helping you increase your self esteem and lessen your reaction to what others say to you.

Building your self confidence is a matter of deciding to do so. It takes some work, including learning more about self confidence and applying what you learn. Here are some resources that can help:

By learning more about self confidence/esteem, you can give yourself the tools to change your thoughts. You have to stop the "learned" thoughts you had from whatever source they came from and make your new thoughts your own. In other words, you are giving yourself the messages that you should have gotten when you were younger so you can build your own self esteem.

When you suffer from lack of confidence, it is going to magnify anything around you that fits that pattern. So when others criticize you, it will go like a hot knife through butter right to the root of your feelings, confirming your thoughts about yourself. In order to change this, you have to have a counter thought you can use to tell yourself. For example, if someone questions your ability to do something, it helps to have a comment you can tell yourself (or even that person) that confirms the opposite of what you feel. If the person says, "this is hard for you, isn't it?". That hurts. But instead of letting it confirm what you feel about yourself, choose an opposite statement such as "It is hard now, but I will learn it and be good at this soon".

Make a list of affirming statements about yourself. This can be difficult since you probably tend to think negative thoughts. If it helps, ask others around you like your partner or trusted friends to help. What are the good things about you? What would you like to improve? What things are you most proud of doing? Etc. Make this list, look it over often (post it somewhere to read it each day if it helps) and add to it as you go along. By doing this, you send positive messages to yourself, the ones you deserve to hear rather than the negative ones you had to hear before.

It can also help to have friends and family affirm what is good about you. Hearing it from others gives you another way to take those messages in and make them part of your own thought patterns.

These resources may help you as well:

10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem: How to End Self-Doubt, Gain Confidence, & Create a Positive Self-Image... by Glenn R. Schiraldi PhD

Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem... by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Kate, I am working with your company so you can get credited for your services. . I've given you an excellent rating on 3 separate occasions regarding your answer so I don't know why I keep getting an email to rate you. I want to get this resolved quickly because I value your service.
I'm sorry you are having so much trouble rating. I will forward your question to the moderators so they can address it.

I put your question through. Hopefully I will hear from them soon. You can also ask for assistance through the customer service link if you want to address it that way.

Thanks for letting me know.


Related Mental Health Questions