Ask The Therapist: “I met a guy that I like but I also have feelings for someone else…”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, or simply need advice about their problems, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained counsellor. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I recently met a guy that I like but I have also started to develop feelings for someone else. Now I feel guilty considering both guys. i often compare the two in my head but im scared to loose both. Am I bad a person? Please Help! How does this work? How can my feelings be all over the place? What should I do? Who should I choose?”

Haya’s Response:

Dear Anonymous,

What you are going through is a series of self-doubt. Seems like you’re looking for someone to give you validation on what you are doing is right or not. You will need to eventually choose one over the other.

What is self-doubt? Lack of faith in oneself: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about one’s abilities, actions, etc.

Deep down inside you know whom your heart directs you towards. You are caught up in a cycle of self-doubt and fear of losing both and ending up alone.

Do you really know who are you are? I feel that’s where the confusion lies. When we don’t know who we are, we get lost in what we really want and become confused and find ourselves in self-doubt.

Not being happy with yourself is often the first clue that you are not acting like your true self because people are happiest when they stay true to who they are. The temptation to act on the contrary comes from fear-based thinking. The result is that your emotions take over your reactions, regardless of what you truly believe about yourself.

You will have to make a choice. But to make that choice you will have to go through a process of exploring and getting to know yourself. We live our lives to the best of our abilities in getting to know others around us, yet during that we forget about ourselves. Once you do this, your self-doubt will also lessen.

Each of us has a built-in set of core values – things that we aren’t willing to compromise no matter what. Discover your core values and align your life with them instead of conforming to everyone else’s morals. If you struggle with the process of discovery, therapy would be a great place to start for you.

Your therapist might challenge your beliefs about yourself and the world around you so that you can determine whether they serve you well. They might ask you if you believe as you say you do, why do you act differently? The conversation is one of give-and-take so that you always have the chance to explain your behaviors and the therapist can offer their support and guidance through this difficult and emotional process.

When you begin following your own beliefs, you may be able to have a better relationship with others and yourself. You are then coming from a place of strength rather than a place of self-sacrifice. The more in tune you are with your true self, the stronger you become. You gain confidence, your self-esteem skyrockets, and you no longer worry about being different from others. When you know who you are and what you want out of life, making decisions becomes much easier.

Self Doubt

If you are suffering from self-doubt, there is a good chance that you are sabotaging the opportunities that you have in life. When you don’t trust in your own abilities and lack confidence in yourself you will not be willing to step out and take risks in your life. This usually leads to not pursuing opportunities that would improve your quality of life. Self-doubt if left untreated often grows into other mental health issues. Many people begin to suffer from emotional instability, and they struggle with anxiety and depression. They have a difficult time making decisions and suffer from low self-confidence.

A source of self-doubt is your own negative inner chatter. The best way to quiet the negative chatter in your head is to present evidence against anything it’s saying. Here are some examples of possible responses:

◾“What are you saying? That I’m too old to run a marathon? There’s a British man named Fauja Singh who ran a marathon at the age of 100! I still have time.”

◾“Yes, I realize that I didn’t go to business school. That’s why I’m taking business courses online.”

◾“I understand that it’s going to be hard. But this is important to me, and I’m willing to do the necessary work.

Next, shrink the challenge.

It’s easy to doubt yourself when the challenge that you’re facing is very large. Therefore, you can decrease your self-doubt by making the challenge smaller.

Ask: What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

Another way to overcome your self-doubt is to come up with the worst-case scenario. If you fail, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Then, ask yourself the following:

◾Is it really that bad?

◾What steps can I take to lessen the probability that the worst-case scenario will come to pass?

◾What can I do to be prepared in case the worst does happen? What sort of ‘insurance’ could I set up in order to protect myself?

Ask: What’s the Best that Could Happen?

If you go after your dreams, you might fail. But you might also succeed. What would that look like? Paint a vivid picture of what your life would be like if you achieved your goal. Whenever you feel self-doubt rearing its ugly head, pull up that image of yourself succeeding and achieving your goal.

Sometimes you feel self-doubt because you’re too focused on yourself. If that’s the case, what you need to do is shift your focus to others. Look at the following:

◾Instead of asking, “What if I bomb the presentation?” ask yourself, “What do the people who are going to be in the audience need to know about this topic, and how can I make the presentation fun and informative for them?”

◾Instead of asking yourself, “What if nobody buys my product?” ask yourself, “What problem am I trying to solve for others with this product?” and “How can I make sure that my product solves that problem?”

◾Instead of asking yourself: “What if I ask for the promotion and I don’t get it?” ask yourself, “What does the company need from someone in the position that I want, and how can I best meet those requirements?”

See what the trick is here? If you’re not thinking about yourself, how can you doubt yourself? Put an end to self-doubt by focusing on others.

Walk Through Your Fear

Self-doubt is fear: fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed, fear of disappointing others, and so on. In order to overcome self-doubt, you have to walk through your fear.

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