15 phrases that instantly show you’re second-guessing yourself

The average person makes around 35,000 choices per day.

The number is equal parts surprising and overwhelming.

Granted, some decisions carry more weight than others, but you see how being indecisive might hold you back.

When you obsess over every choice, you’re constantly stressed and ineffective.

Additionally, your hesitancy can result in missed opportunities and a drop in self-esteem.

Here are 15 phrases that instantly show you’re second-guessing yourself.

If you use them often, you should learn to trust your judgment more.

1) Maybe I’m wrong, but…

Whenever you use this phrase, you welcome a sense of hesitation and self-critique into the conversation.

When talking to someone else, you invite them to correct you.

When talking to yourself, you’re allowing self-doubt to wreak havoc inside your brain, which leads to procrastination or decision paralysis

There’s always a chance that you’re wrong.

But what if you’re right – and your indecisiveness is your own worst enemy? 

2) I’m not sure if I should do this, but…

This phrase is another clear indicator that you’re second-guessing yourself, as it reveals a high degree of uncertainty in your decision-making process.

When I first considered leaving my stable job to become a full-time freelance writer, I spent nights mulling the possibility.

I asked my family to weigh in. I asked my friends for their opinion. I read countless online accounts from other people who took the leap.

In the end, I realized that I was the only one who could figure out whether this was something I truly wanted.

So, I sat down and made a list of everything that could go wrong. Not only that, but I came up with solutions for what to do in case the worst happens.

This helped me understand that it was a big move, but I wasn’t out of options in case it backfired.

Sometimes, being a pessimist pays off.

3) I’m probably overthinking this, but…

This phrase shows that not only are you second-guessing yourself, but you’re painfully aware of this fact.

As a chronic overthinker myself, you have my sympathies.

When you overthink, you consider every possible outcome and detail to the point where you struggle to make any choice at all.

Moreover, it’s such a time-consuming process that it detracts from productivity.

I’m ashamed to admit how many hours I’ve wasted playing out scenarios in my head that will likely never happen in real life.

If only I would have spent that time understanding the stock market. I would be much further in life by now.

4) What do you think I should do?

While seeking others’ advice can be valuable, there are instances when you don’t need to rely on anyone’s opinion but yours:

  • When you’re the expert in this particular area
  • When the decision is tied to your values, beliefs, or ethics
  • When the situation involves personal boundaries or intimate matters
  • When you already know in your gut what you want to do, and outside input will only confuse you
  • When you consider having a second slice of cake (life is short, just do it)

5) Does this seem like a bad idea?

Whenever someone asks if their idea seems bad, they seek validation or confirmation from others.

They don’t fully trust their judgment and want reassurance from someone else.

In other words, they’re second-guessing themselves.

Even if the idea is terrible, should that stop you?

As the saying goes, no great story ever started with someone eating a salad.

You should have at least a few spicy anecdotes to share on your deathbed.

6) What if I’m making the wrong choice?

Please refer to the point above.

7) I could be mistaken, but I think…

Using this phrase is the quickest way to convey your lack of confidence in what follows.

If there’s one thing I learned in my time on this planet, it’s that very few people have any idea what they’re doing.

There aren’t many certainties in life.

Change. Death. Aging. And the fact that you’ll make mistakes. Probably a lot of them.

Screwing up isn’t a calamity; it’s part of being human.

And the possibility of being wrong shouldn’t prevent you from venturing a thought.

8) I’m probably speaking nonsense, but I believe…

This phrase is similar but more self-deprecating.

I’m a fan of self-deprecating humor, but even I’ll admit that frequently making self-deprecating comments erodes your confidence over time.

Self-deprecation reinforces a negative self-image and can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, where you begin to manifest the negative qualities you’ve mentioned.

Stop selling yourself short.

9) I’m having second thoughts about this.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

If you’re second-guessing a decision you’ve already made, there’s no need to despair.

Instead, reflect on what’s causing your doubt.

If it’s new information, make adjustments based on these fresh insights.

But if you’re second-guessing yourself due to fear of the unknown, take a deep breath.

It’s natural to feel uneasy, especially if we’re talking about a choice that will impact your life.

Like ending a relationship, changing careers, or running into the woods and leaving society behind. 

It might be helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings about the decision to gain perspective.

Additionally, remember the initial reasons and motivations that led you to choose your current path.

More often than not, you’ll realize they hold up.

10) I’m not sure, but my gut feeling is…

Sometimes, you’ll be on the verge of making a decision that goes against popular opinion.

You might want to pursue a lifelong dream, implement a business strategy that goes against industry norms, move across the country to be with someone you met online or cut someone toxic from your life.

You can’t rely on outside data to sway you in cases like this.

Your intuition, on the other hand, will prove invaluable in helping you make a choice.

As long as you balance it with rational thinking, you’re on the right track.

11) Maybe I should listen to X.

Seeking advice from someone else is a smart move, but only if X is a person worth listening to:

  • They have expertise or specialized knowledge in the subject matter related to the decision
  • They have a proven track record of making sound decisions or providing valuable guidance in similar situations
  • They possess empathetic qualities that allow them to understand your perspective
  • Their moral and ethical values align with your own
  • They have life experience relevant to the decision you have to make

Otherwise, you’re better off relying on your own judgment.

12) What if I’m missing something important?

If you admit you worry about missing crucial information when making a decision, you instantly show that you’re second-guessing yourself.

We might have access to the world’s entire knowledge via a magical brick we use to stalk our exes on Instagram, but doing your research only takes you so far.

You might overlook something important. Even so, that’s no reason to wallow in indecisiveness.

The more you postpone making a choice, the more difficult it will be to take the plunge.

13) What if this decision comes back to haunt me?

Then you’ll figure it out.

You have the ability to do so. 

14) Do you believe I have what it takes?

Everyone struggles with self-doubt, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for reassurance.

That said, the reassurance won’t help unless you also believe in yourself.

Whenever self-doubt shows its ugly head, make a list of previous accomplishments that showcase how capable you objectively are.

This will help you challenge negative thoughts and recognize that they’re not based on real-life evidence.

15) Perhaps I should pick the safer option.

Deciding whether to take a risk or choose the safer option is challenging.

If you’re second-guessing yourself, taking some time to sit with your feelings will prove a godsend:

  • Consider your long-term goals and how this decision will impact them
  • Assess your risk tolerance and see how comfortable you feel about going all in
  • Evaluate the potential rewards and losses and whether you can live with the latter
  • Think about timing – is now the right moment to take the risk?
  • Figure out what you miss out on if you go with the safer option
  • Make a plan in place for contingencies and potential setbacks

Once you’ve done all this, you should have a much clearer image of how to proceed.

Final thoughts

Doubting yourself isn’t the end of the world.

If you’re at a crossroads, take your time and ask for input from people you trust and respect.

But once you’ve made a decision, second-guessing yourself will only keep you up at night.

Trust that you made the best choice with the available information, and give yourself credit for moving forward.

Taking action boosts your self-confidence.

Even if you reconsider later, you’ll know you have what it takes to make things right.

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