At one point or another, we have all questioned whether or not we are doing enough, if we are going to be successful enough, or if we are really good at something. We have all experienced that nagging feeling of self-doubt, leading us to ask ourselves tough questions. Doubting ourselves may make us feel incompetent, unimportant, or sometimes even worthless.
One of the saddest things about self-doubt is it’s accompanied with lots of anxiety and stress. For some, it leads to depression. Some people end up quitting their jobs, leaving school, or any career or hobby they have, while others try to end their lives because they perceive themselves as a failure.
Self-doubt is natural, but it becomes dangerous and destructive when you dwell on it deeper. At the end of the day, we have to fight this self-limiting feeling because it’s the enemy of growth. Here are some helpful things you can do to overcome self-doubt:
Doubt your doubts
Self-doubts are fears that manifest to protect you from loss, humiliation, and regret. Yet the irony is that doubt can also make you lose out on what you may have gained because you feared to attempt. When inner doubts bubble up inside you, don’t let it spin out of control. Say “no” to yourself and tell yourself you are not going down that road again. Stopping yourself before it happens disrupts the thought pattern and stop the self-doubter in you from taking over your thoughts. Remember, your doubts are not the truth – rather, they are only fear-fueled stories that you make up in your mind. The next time you doubt yourself, challenge that thought and doubt your doubts.
Stop comparing yourself to others
On its own, self-doubt can be hard to overcome. If you add a comparison to it, the feeling becomes worse. Comparing yourself to your friends, family, and colleagues’ accomplishments can easily make you feel inadequate. Remember that growth doesn’t look the same for everyone, and the accomplishments of other people around you are not a litmus test to assess your own success. The critical thing to remember when you find yourself in this situation is that everyone is on their own journeys.
Take the focus off of yourself
Sometimes you can feel self-doubt because you’re focusing on yourself too much. If that’s the case, shift your focus to others and try to change your perspective. Instead of asking, “What if I fail this presentation?” ask yourself, “What do the audience need to know about this topic, and how can I make this informative and fun for them?” Instead of asking, “What if nobody buys my products?” ask yourself, “Who will benefit from this product? What problem will this solve, or what kind of lack will it provide for?” The trick is to stop thinking about yourself so that you won’t doubt yourself. When you focus on the things you can do and improve, that’s what will get you to embrace the task ahead of you with a bolder perspective.
Change the meaning of past events
When facing a new problem or a new experience, our brain automatically looks at the past. If we failed or had difficulty back then, it can create feelings of self-doubt in the present. We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can change what it means for us. Start thinking about them simply as events and lessons learned. Focus on what you’ve learned from the experience that can be useful for you. Be grateful for having the experience, but don’t let it hinder you from taking the leap again.
See setbacks as temporary
Accepting failure is always hard to do, but it’s necessary to keep ourselves striving to work harder. When you have a setback, you may start to look at things negatively, but always remember that it’s a temporary thing. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you are a failure. Setbacks happen to people who are courageous enough to take chances. It’s a normal part of a full life. Don’t beat yourself up, but rather, use this setback as a learning opportunity, so you can learn to take better steps to move forward in the future. A failure or mistake can help you make smarter decisions in the future.
Keep a journal
Sometimes, a kind word of affirmation from other people can easily lift your spirits up. However, no one will always be there to say how great you are at what you do, so you must accept that. Be your own cheerleader by writing about your wins or the things to be thankful for in your journal. Write and share the obstacles you managed to go through and always find good things that went well for you during the day. Or, you can write yourself a positive, optimistic letter and list the things you have accomplished recently to make yourself feel better. Instead of focusing on what you’re lacking or the things you failed to achieve, focus on what you have and what you have accomplished to foster a positive feeling of gratitude. Being grateful can put you in a proper frame of mind.
Absorb some positivity
To get rid of those negative thoughts, replace them with positive ones. What you listen to, read, or watch tends to affect you. The next time you decide to listen to some sad music, change it to an audiobook or a podcast that offers motivation and constructive optimism. Read a book about self-development and overcoming self-doubts. Listen and read positivity and absorb it. What you take in can greatly help you shift your self-doubts into optimism.
Develop a personal mantra
You can be your biggest critic, but you can also reverse that role into becoming your own fan and supporter. You can do this by having a set of mantras that you can say to yourself every morning. Statements like “I am capable,” “I am loved,” “I am beautiful,” “I can do great things,” can really help. When you start your day on a positive note, you will tend to carry that attitude throughout the day. Be kinder and avoid speaking harshly towards yourself. If you always put yourself down with negative words, you negatively affect your self-esteem and your ability to grow in your career or personal life.
See yourself succeeding
Do you always think and imagine how things can go wrong? That can help sometimes, but it’s not a healthy attitude to always think that way. Instead, visualize yourself succeeding. Paint a picture of what will happen when you succeed. The more time you spend visualizing and focusing on what you want to happen than the things that you’re afraid might happen, the closer you get to your goal. Believe that you can figure things out. That will make a huge difference.
Talk to a trusted friend about your self-doubts
When you keep your thoughts to yourself, it can become distorted, exaggerated, and not in line with reality. This can also be applied to self-doubting thoughts. Let it out to light – talk to a trusted friend about your struggle. Just letting it out and saying it aloud to someone may help you realize how exaggerated these thoughts have become. Sharing it to a friend can help ease your burdens. Your friend can encourage you to let these thoughts go, and they can tell you affirming words to help you believe in yourself again. Talking about it to someone positive and supportive can help you change your perspective.
Nurture your relationships with people who support you
We may not be honest about it, but we all need other people. No man is an island, and no one can do it all on their own. We all succeed because there are people who taught us, supported us, and helped us. Sometimes, all you need to combat self-doubt is a little reassurance, and your biggest supporters are those who will do that for you. They can be your friends, family, colleagues, and peers who have always been there for you. Focus on fostering deeper relationships with these people. When you surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, you can do more and be more. Stay away from the toxic people, for they will only add to any self-doubt that you are already feeling.
Share your goals with people you trust
You can overcome self-doubt when you share your bold goals with others. Being open about your goals and aspirations with the right people will be helpful for you. This way, you can have accountability, and you can be reminded of your goal whenever you feel inadequate or when you feel like quitting. You may share it with someone who has already achieved what you want to do and can help you go in the right direction. Share it with someone who can remind you of your past successes, or someone who can point out the things to improve about your plan and give advice on how to fix it.
Forget what everyone thinks of you
When you worry about what everyone else is thinking of you, you limit yourself, and you can get stuck in inaction rather than make something and risk criticism. Most people nowadays are caught up in their own lives, so they won’t care that much about what you do or say unless it affects them. Remind yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around you – people have their hands full thinking about their jobs, themselves, their kids and pets, and so many other things. This way, you can have the freedom to do what you know you’re supposed to do.
Correct your course as you go along
It’s easy to get stuck in trying to make decisions. Going back and forth with questioning can water the seeds of self-doubt. The cure for this is to take a leap and make a decision already. Choose the best possible option or your best-laid plans, do a rough plan, and start your journey. You can always fine-tune your course along the way towards what you want. As you get new knowledge and experience, it’s easier to keep going. Not all decisions have to be final from the start.