A common misconception about intelligent individuals is that they have it all together: excel in their careers, maintain satisfying relationships, and continually progress.
But here’s the twist: It is often overlooked that many intelligent people struggle with low self-esteem, making it a real challenge for them to navigate through life.
If you identify with the following six signs, you may be one of those smart individuals who struggle with smartness that comes with a side of insecurity.
1) You are an overthinker
Intelligent people often struggle to achieve the inner peace and happiness that many people enjoy effortlessly due to their hyperactive minds.
Their heightened self-awareness and keen perception of the world lead them to constant analysis of their motivations and actions, as well as those of those around them.
This internal search becomes particularly draining when it is coupled with their low self-esteem.
Because they are usually perfectionists, but still doubt themselves, smart people approach a problem from all sides, trying to find the best solution.
Not only that, but they also turn inward and think too much about their own “shortcomings.”
This habit often plunges them into mental vortexes, eventually leaving them tired and sometimes even paralyzed.
If you catch yourself often about analyzing If you’re stuck in a self-reflection loop, constantly analyzing everything without a clear idea of when or how to take action, chances are you’re an intelligent person dealing with self-doubt.
2) You see shades of gray
If you’re an overthinker and often get stuck in decision-making mode, emphasizing big or small choices, you’re not alone!
Like I said, highly intelligent people are perfectionists, especially when it comes to making the right decision.
You don’t see life in simple black or white, but navigate through endless shades of gray. Issues and situations are nuanced and complex, and addressing them is neither simple nor clear.
You often take your time at a crossroads. Add in a little self-doubt and suddenly you’re stuck in decision paralysis.
3) You are self-critical
If you’re a perfectionist who deals with insecurities, it’s pretty clear that you tend to be quite challenging with yourself.
The demands you set for yourself are sky-high.
Being highly intelligent, you always strive to perfect the way you navigate through life.
However, the lack of self-compassion that people with low self-esteem often experience means that your inner critic becomes extra loud when a mistake is made, or you realize that you could have handled something better.
You end up making things difficult for yourself all the time.
Moreover, you are doing well because you are self-aware of your limitations. You sincerely believe that you can achieve perfection by constantly assessing yourself, identifying shortcomings and working on them.
But here’s the problem: this self-evaluation can often lead to you being overly self-critical, making it easy to get stuck fixating on the negatives.
4) You feel like an outsider
Have you ever felt like you’re the odd one out among people?
Maybe you felt left out all your younger years and weren’t really able to get along effortlessly.
Smart people often feel like they don’t quite fit into the typical group, and in many cases that really isn’t the case.
Their view of life is this deep, curious journey that takes conversations to all kinds of places, making it a bit of a challenge for people to keep up.
For these intelligent people like you, who also deal with self-doubt, the struggle is real in social situations, especially when small talk is needed.
You can’t have superficial, mind-numbing conversations about the weather and the like.
At the same time, you’re afraid that you might seem awkward if you speak up or, worse, you’ll upset everyone or not arouse any interest.
Unfortunately, this fear often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you end up feeling and becoming an outsider.
5) You keep your mouth shut
Feeling like an outsider in social situations doesn’t mean you have nothing valuable to bring to the table. Smart people often see things far ahead.
Their mind is like a pattern search engine with excellent problem-solving skills.
If you struggle with maintaining a positive self-image, you may hesitate to share those brilliant theories or insights for fear of being mocked or proven wrong.
Take my friend for example.
Throw him in a room with a movie or ask him for his opinion on political developments in the region, and he practically has a crystal ball.
The thing is, he doesn’t say a word at meetings, regardless of the topic at hand. He keeps all his insights to himself unless I give him a little nudge and encourage him to say what’s on his mind.
I wonder why someone with so much valuable input feels like their thoughts aren’t worth sharing. On the other hand, some people may not know much about a subject, but they can’t stop talking nonsense.
6) You shy away from compliments
When you struggle with low self-esteem, you tend to undervalue yourself, often overlooking the possibilities and achievements that are glaringly obvious to others.
Even if you were at the top of your class, an excellent manager, a great partner, or a parent, you find it difficult to accept compliments because you have difficulty believing them to be true.
You generally find it difficult to be put in the spotlight, especially if the spotlight emphasizes a positive quality in you.
Remember that the way you see yourself is not set in stone – it is totally changeable!
Please take a second look at your thought patterns and how you perceive yourself and the world, but try to do it with a fresh perspective of self-love, tolerance and assertiveness.
Reforming those long-held, unhealthy self-images takes some practice, but it is absolutely doable.
And if that seems like a lot, chatting with a therapist you feel comfortable with can work wonders.
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