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Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


Feeling Foolish: A Guide to Your Emotions

PUBLISHED Apr 22nd, 2021 & UPDATED ON Nov 29th, 2022

Have you ever thought “Don’t make a fool of yourself!” before doing or saying something? Well, you’re not the only one! Everyone worries about looking foolish in front of other people, saying the wrong thing or making a mistake. Feeling foolish can take a hit to our self-esteem, lower our confidence and make us question our self worth. We might start to doubt ourselves and hold back from cool and exciting opportunities because we fear looking foolish or incompetent. Or maybe we misunderstood someone’s actions or behaviour, and we feel foolish for reading the situation completely wrong. This emotion can make us feel so small and alone!

Keep in mind that we’re our own worst critics. The voice inside your head that tells you how much of a fool you are? Don’t listen, ‘cause they don’t know what they’re talking about! But we know getting through this emotion is easier said than done. That’s why we’re here for you! Let’s dive thru feeling foolish, how it affects your mental wellbeing and ways to cope.

A Deeper Look at Feeling Foolish

What does it mean to feel foolish? Well, Dictionary.com defines foolish as: adj. resulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered; unwise; lacking forethought or caution.” Damn! Raise your hand if you feel personally attacked by this definition. *raises hand slowly*

When we believe we look foolish, it makes us feel totally embarrassed and ashamed. Maybe you’re in the middle of a solo presentation for your class, and suddenly it’s like you forget what language you’re speaking. Your mind goes completely blank and you freeze up, realizing that you left your cue cards at home. Immediately, your face turns red and you start to break a sweat. You panic and all you can think is: I must look like a complete idiot! All of your hard work that you put into this presentation has gone to waste, because now you worry that you look unprepared and like a total fool.

Feeling foolish has a lot to do with not only how we see ourselves, but how we worry others will perceive us. And it really sucks! There’s no other way to put it. But the good news is that we can work through our feelings of embarrassment and shame! It might seem impossible in the moment, but these feelings DO pass. Working through the negative self talk and fear of making mistakes or looking foolish will be better for your mental wellbeing in the long run. You deserve to feel good about yourself!

How Feeling Foolish Shows Up Mentally

When you feel foolish and have negative thoughts about yourself, it can definitely impact your mental health. Here are a few signs you may notice:

  • Self doubt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative self talk
  • Social anxiety
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Feeling of worthlessness

Everyone deals with feeling foolish now and then. Our insecurities and self-doubt can get the best of us, but eventually we learn how to get through it and move past these negative feelings. But if these feelings become overwhelming and don’t pass on their own, it might be beneficial to reach out to a mental health professional.

How Feeling Foolish Shows Up Physically

The physical signs of feeling foolish are similar to those of sadness and anxiety. Here are a few symptoms your body might experience when you feel foolish:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Stomach ache
  • Digestive issues
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty sleeping

These signs are only more serious if they are prolonged and don’t go away on their own. So if these symptoms persist, it might be best to seek medical attention!

5 Ways to Cope with Feeling Foolish

We know that feeling foolish can be the worst for our mental wellness and self-esteem. Good news! We’ve got some coping strategies for you that are easy to follow and will make you feel good about yourself. ‘Cause when it comes down to it, we just want you to be happy!

1. Journal

If you’ve never gotten into journaling before, you might be rolling your eyes right now. But we swear by this practice! Writing down how you feel can be a great way to gain some clarity and reframe the negative thoughts you’ve been having about yourself.

2. Reach Out for Support

It can be embarrassing to admit when we’re feeling foolish, especially when we’re comparing ourselves to other people. But you should never feel ashamed for reaching out to a friend or loved one for support! Sometimes just having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference. Let it all out!

3. Comfort Yourself like a Friend

If you don’t have anyone who can be there for you right now, that’s okay. You can be there for yourself! Think about how you would want a loved one to comfort you in this moment. Give yourself a pat on the back, write a list of the things you like about yourself, and reflect on your accomplishments. Remind yourself all of the positive things about you, ‘cause we know there’s a ton!

4. Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Sometimes, we gotta give ourselves a little pep talk in order to turn those negative thoughts around. Try saying some encouraging phrases to yourself out loud: I feel foolish at this moment but I know it will pass. Everyone makes mistakes and feels foolish sometimes. Everything will be okay. 

5. Engage in Compassionate Self Talk

It’s safe to say that when you’re telling yourself how stupid or foolish you are, you aren’t showing yourself the most compassion. Let’s flip the conversation! Try giving yourself compliments out loud, even if it feels silly or weird at first.  I am smart. I’m super knowledgeable about ____. My talents are ___. I’m really proud of the time that I ___. Reminding yourself of your strengths will help you focus less on what you perceive as weaknesses.

Okay, that’s all from us for now! We hope these tips help you work through this feeling so that you can feel great about yourself. ‘Cause we’re not foolin’ around when we tell you that you’re awesome, and we believe in you!


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