Root causes of anxiety and low self-esteem (2 of 2)

In last week’s post, I wrote about how I believe body consciousness is the main root cause of my anxiety and low self-esteem / a lack of self-confidence. This week, I’ll address the other main cause, which is what I’ll refer to as an inferiority complex and being very self-critical. This one isn’t easy to clearly describe so please bear with me if this post veers off into waffling territory…

As in previous posts, one thing I must state before I continue is that I am in no way a medical expert. My views within this or any other blog posts are solely that – my views and in no way underpinned by any medical expertise or theory.

Whilst not as prominent as the body consciousness issue, this still affects me in a big way. There are times in life, particularly in a work environment but also in personal circumstances, when I really suffer from self-doubt, particularly when others are naturally adept at stating their opinion in a confident and seemingly knowledgeable manner. I referenced self-doubt and an inability to sell myself well back in post 3 and this certainly links to that. I am often in awe of those who can come across as being confident and knowledgeable in any situation, particularly at work, and find myself shrinking back into a shell in such situations, especially as I’m an introvert by nature. I don’t possess the alpha-male qualities I associate with being able to take control of a situation in this way, and honing in on what isn’t quite right about a situation, rather than accepting it for what it is and moving on positively, means that I would rather not speak up, especially when I see the alternative as offering my viewpoint but that viewpoint being challenged by others. I need to be 100% convinced in what I’m saying to be able to speak up and the fear of challenge, or being proved wrong, usually stops me from doing so.

This is also the case in other areas of life. I rarely engage in political debate, even with friends, for the same reasons. I play in a quiz league and the standard is quite high. I think I can hold my own in regular pub quizzes but this is a different level completely and I’d rather only offer answers to questions if I’m 100% correct (though that wouldn’t be feasible so I continue to feel a small sense of dread when I guess at answers, primarily from a fear of being laughed out of town if I get it horribly wrong). I have more of a tendency in most situations to just nod and politely smile at the viewpoints of others, even if I don’t necessarily agree. Am I too eager to please or just content in keeping the peace? Probably both, though I really don’t like conflict of any nature and would much rather avoid potentially heated situations and arguments than add fuel to the fire and get into uncomfortable discussions. The introvert in me would just prefer to be in a safe, quiet place, keeping my own counsel and continuing to live a peaceful life.

I’ve questioned why this may be on any occasions. The introverted nature and the distinct unease when needing to speak up and offer my opinion is just part of who I am, though I sometimes think perhaps there is a class issue to this. I come from a working-class background, I lived in council houses for part of my childhood, and I got a job at 16 rather than continuing with further education (which I did have the option of doing, and was capable of doing so, but chose not to). Perhaps something of a cliché but I wouldn’t change any of this. My childhood was full of love, warmth, and happy times and my upbringing has absolutely shaped the person I am today. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. In fact, I’m fiercely proud of it. I’m not alone in that viewpoint either – I always appreciate stories of a similar nature and, if this is of interest to you, the comedian Russell Kane offers some interesting views on working class kids and aspiration in this clip, whilst there are many interviews featuring the wonderful Maxine Peake addressing the same theme. However, for some bizarre reason, I often feel a sense of inadequacy when with people who are clearly well educated, or from a different, more privileged background than me. It’s the imposter syndrome I’ve previously referred to; a sense that I’m out of my depth or in a situation where I don’t belong. When I step back and analyse this, I realise that it’s utterly ludicrous, though that doesn’t affect how I feel. Also, and this may sound bizarre, but I really don’t like my voice. When I hear myself speak on videos, it’s deep, dull and monotonous. That preys on my mind, especially when I’m with people who are naturally gifted orators. I’d love to have a wonderful speaking voice and hold a captive audience in the palm of my hand, though I strongly doubt that will ever happen. The Mick Green TED talk is as unlikely as a successful career in ballet dancing for me!

I’ll wrap up now as I feel this post has meandered a little and isn’t as fluid as previous posts have been. I suspected that may be the case as this is the one post to date which I struggled mapping out in advance. However, as it’s another root cause behind my issues, it’s important I try to explain my thoughts.

Thankfully, I’ve now covered much of my back story and what led me to begin writing this blog. I’ll clearly revisit elements of this in future posts but I can now begin writing about things which firmly align to my main objective, which is to talk about what I do to overcome these issues. I will not let it win (‘it’ being anxiety and a lack of confidence) and I dearly want to begin sharing my thoughts on how we can all try to be more positive, conquer our issues, find our strengths, and work on those strengths to achieve much more within our lives. The title of the blog says it all. It’s a battle, but I will work hard and overcome the odds to achieve what I want to. Yes, I Can Do It. I hope sharing my experiences influences others to think in the same way too.

Many thanks for reading. Until next time…

Best wishes,

Mick

6 Comments

  1. Each of your posts have given me so much food for thought mick and I have a lot of internal dialogue going on for some time after reading them. One thing that I strongly believe is that we are all uniquely different and yet similar in that many of us will have areas of our persona where we feel that we don’t measure up so well to others and that we all hide it well to our friends and colleagues (and family too ) I also believe that ultimately other people’s opinions of us are not our business as there is very little we can do about them and the people who take time to really know us are the ones who actually do matter. I also think that we are born with our inherent nature and it’s how we channel it that makes us who we are – background and life events shape our thoughts and attitudes but we are still essentially the same person. Our differences are what makes the world a wonderful place. I can’t wait to read about methods to overcome our fears and issues. And Btw I always thought that you spoke with intelligence, integrity and conviction along with down to earth common sense when I worked with you.

  2. Great post once again Mick – continue to be open and honest and you’ll realise from people’s comments that probably at least 50% of them feel exactly the same. Also I’m betting in a meeting, there’s more people sat there quiet than there is up there talking all the time! Whilst I hate the song from The Greatest Showman 🙄, I do have to admit that just saying “This is Me” and not pretending to be someone you’re not is less exhausting in the long run. No pretending to not be clever, no humour as a defence mechanism, no self deprecating, no deflecting compliments – confident people accept their good traits and work on their bad ones. Interested to see your future posts on how you’re going to gain that self confidence – you’ve every reason to feel it, I know it’s just getting to that point which is hard. Good luck…keep writing…keep sharing

    1. Thanks Allison – really appreciat that. Some really interesting points which I’ll certainly be addressing in future posts. x

  3. Another eye opening, brave and honest post Mick. Again, I can identify 100% with what you say on fear of speaking up, perhaps over analysing what you say and even how you say it! Knackering! I agree with what your friend Diane says about what other people think is none of our business. It’s so important to shift the focus of attention from ourselves, (not that we are self centred but too self conscious) and always have humour to lighten the seriousness of our constant analysis. I would love to have a proper chat with you in August if you’re around, and although I’ve said it before, I’m so grateful that you have found the courage to talk about these issues so honestly and publically. They have been swept under the carpet for too long! Keep sharing and working on your issues, and don’t change who you really are, you are loved by many for just being you. Hugs, Lobster X

    1. Thanks Louise – really appreciate that. Completely agree and we’ll certainly catch up over the summer. It will be great to see you again. Take care. x

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