Relax, your greatest insecurities are the same ones that everyone else is having

We might think our problems are unique, but therapists tend to hear the same sets of concerns over and again. A Nov. 18 Reddit thread asking therapists and psychiatrists about the issues that most patients think they’re in suffering from turns out to be strangely comforting reading, as it shows how common some worries are.

Two of the topics that received the strongest reactions—not loving your family, and the feeling that you don’t deserve your success—were posted by the same person, TotallyBat-tastic, who wrote:

Two things I’ve come across a lot:

  1. Not caring deeply for family members. Especially for their children. They expect this instinct to kick in at some point where they’ll feel fiercely protective, but it never happens.
  2. Feeling “imposter syndrome,” which is basically a feeling that you don’t belong somewhere (work or school), that you’re not capable, and soon everyone will figure out that you got there on a fluke and kick you out.

Many parents admitted that they didn’t love their children immediately after birth. One Reddit user said, “My initial thought upon hearing my son’s first cry was, “Who brought a baby in here?”

Another mother added:

“I didn’t start loving my child until a couple weeks later after she was born. I never understood it when people would say ‘the day my daughter/son was born, was the happiest day of my life.’ The day she was born, I was so hopped up on so much medication that I could barely recognize she was even there when the nurses brought her over. But I remember laying in my hospital bed and looking at this little baby next to me and feeling NOTHING.

It was fun having her there and fun breastfeeding and cuddling her but as far as feelings go, there were none. And I felt truly horrible for not feeling the same as everyone else. Like there was something wrong with me and I was a terrible person.”

The idea of “imposter syndrome” also touched a nerve, and many Reddit users admitted that they’re constantly afraid that they’ll be uncovered as a fraud.

One user wrote:

Imposter syndrome is my life. I definitely got the job on a fluke and have no idea what I’m doing and no one yet knows how truly incompetent I really am. Are there any people who are supposed to be excellent at their jobs that feel this way? People in powerful positions?

Another added that they still thought their job was a joke, writing, “Oh my god is this a normal feeling because I’m reaching my third month and I’m still wondering if this is some really in-depth prank.”

Therapists on the reddit thread also said that their patients often suffered tremendous guilt over things they’d done wrong, that they felt they were alone in the world, or that everyone else was judging them.

One person said many of their patients suffer from “the spotlight effect, adding:

“Many people worry about what people think of them. This causes a lot of anxiety. The reality is that no one is really paying anyone else any attention as everyone is focussed on themselves.

Remember that time when you were so embarrassed it still causes you to writhe in bed at night when you recall it? No one else has given it another thought.”

All of these concerns can be extremely difficult for individuals, who may think they’re the only one in the world who feels this way. But it turns out therapists have heard it all before.

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