A sample sentence would be:

I have this lingering feeling of [irrational doubt] that's discouraging me from pursuing my goals.

I've used Merriam Webster to search for synonyms for doubt but none appeared to be what I was looking for which are distrust, distrustfulness, dubiety, dubitation [archaic], incertitude, misdoubt, misgiving, mistrust, mistrustfulness, query, reservation, skepticism, suspicion, uncertainty. None of which includes the irrational part to it.

Compound word or phrase can be acceptable.

  • What do you mean by irrational doubt? Knowing for a fact, intellectually, that something is real, but doubting it anyway? Can you give more context? May 25, 2020 at 0:20
  • Your sample sentence refers specifically to self-confidence and not just confidence. Are you looking for a word that refers specifically to self-doubt? May 25, 2020 at 0:24
  • What do they doubt, the value of the goals or their ability to achieve them? May 27, 2020 at 10:32
  • Your own term doubt seems to fit the bill. Is there any reason why you rejected it?
    – Lawrence
    Oct 22, 2020 at 7:01

2 Answers 2


If the doubt is irrational, then it’s imposter syndrome:

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

This phrase can be directly inserted into your example sentence.

If there’s not an element of accomplishment involved I would just say it’s just low self-esteem.


The nearest I can get is inadequacy

a lack of confidence that makes someone feel they are not good enough to deal with a particular situation or with life in general

Macmillan dictionary

Being a feeling, it is not rational. Being a lack of confidence, it inhibits the pursuit of goals.

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