How to Overcome Self-doubt?

Mar 8, 2021

Elizabeth Houghton

Sutton Full Potential Founder

No one in this world is immune to self-doubt. At some point in your life, you are bound to question yourself if you are good enough, if you are doing enough, or if you are earning enough? You start doubting your choices and decisions and lack the confidence of taking on new opportunities head-on.

Doubting yourself is quite a human response when life throws its challenges at you. However, too much of it can hold you back. As they say, more dreams were killed by self-doubt than by failure.

So, how can you silence the inner voice that tells you are not good enough? Start by following these few tips to overcome self-doubt:

Accept that you have self-doubt

Remember, you are not alone. Everyone in this world suffers from a lack of confidence at one point or another in their lives. Once you accept this, you can work on overcoming feelings of self-doubt.

Say ‘No’ to your inner voice

When you feel that the inner voice is getting louder, making you doubt everything in life, just say “No.” Be quick to drown out that little whisper in your head that chips away at your confidence. Don’t let the whisper turn into a torrent of self-doubt sentences. Say “No” to that destructive inner voice immediately. Don’t let it take over your thoughts. Silence it then and there.

Think about the past

When you feel the nagging feeling of self-doubt creeping up, stop whatever you are doing and take a moment off. Think about the past. Think of all the times when you doubted yourself, and despite all your doubts, things turned out just fine. You may have conjured up all the negative things that could have happened; however, none of those horrible things ever happened.

Most of the time, self-doubt is nothing more than just your mind resisting change. Yes, it is all in your head. We like being in our comfort zone, and when we face something that may need to get out of it, we start doubting ourselves.

Talk to someone

If you are feeling doubtful about your abilities, talk it out with a loved one. The person you talk to may just have a very different perspective that may help you overcome your feelings of self-doubt. When you keep feelings of self-doubt bottled up inside you, your mind often exaggerates them, thus, distorting them. When you talk about these feelings, you can, more often than not, feel how distorted these thoughts are. You will realize how far from reality your thoughts are. Plus, the support of your loved one can do wonders for your confidence.

Stop comparing yourself with others

When you compare your life with others, you begin doubting yourself in the first place. You look at your friend or colleague’s life on social media and begin wondering if your life can be as great as theirs. Remember, social media does not portray reality. People tend to post only the ‘best’ moments in their life. Very often, these moments are scripted.

If you must compare, then do so with yourself. See what circumstances have you overcome in your life to reach where you are. Instead of looking at someone else’s highlight-reel, appreciate how you have grown and succeeded in life.

Stop worrying about what others think

If you constantly worry about what others might think of you, you will spiral into an endless loop of self-doubt. There will always be someone more successful, and someone, according to you, who has things going their way.

People are busy in their lives, and they hardly have time to think about you. Worrying constantly about their perception of you will only increase your self-doubt and do nothing else.

Stop thinking that everything is about you

When someone rejects you or criticizes you, it is natural for self-doubt to creep in. However, not everything that anyone says is always about you. When people are going through a rough phase, or are in a bad mood themselves, they tend to lash out. They throw their frustration at you by being mean to you.

When somebody says something mean, remind yourself, it may not always be about you. Everything is not always about you. It is very difficult to know what is going on in someone else’s life.

Think constructively

Always try to surround yourself with optimistic people and distance yourself from the pessimistic ones. While that may not always be possible, there are other ways to draw inspiration and motivation from. You can get your necessary dose of optimism from a book, an audiobook, or a podcast. Take a few minutes off; listen to a podcast or read a book when you feel that you have begun doubting yourself.

Shifting your focus to optimism can help you think constructively about any challenges at hand without letting self-doubt take over.

Remember that setbacks are temporary

In life, there will be achievements, and there will be setbacks. Just like you cannot live off one achievement in your life, even setbacks are temporary. If you have tried something new, if you have taken a chance, setbacks will happen. When that happens, remind yourself that it is only temporary and you will get over it.

Don’t let the setback define you or let you view everything with a negative lens in your life. A negative outlook is a trap. If you start looking at everything negatively, you will have nothing but self-doubt. Mistakes happen for a reason. You can learn a lesson from it. Learn your lesson and move on.

Hone your skills

Self-doubt or a lack of confidence happens if you think that your skills are not adequate for the task at hand. Sharpening your skills will definitely boost your confidence. Let’s say you have a presentation at work for an important client. It is pretty normal to be nervous and feel that you may not be ready for it. So, what can you do? Why don’t you try honing your presentation skills? Read up on presentation skills, watch a few videos that may give you valuable pointers. Think up of all probable questions that your client may ask you. Practice in front of the mirror or with a friend. As you practice it more and more, you will understand and remember the content more. This will help you feel more confident and relaxed to ace your presentation.

Stop being angry at yourself

If things don’t go your way, getting angry is a natural response. You may want to beat yourself up, but does it help in any way? Unfortunately not. Being angry and negative about yourself will only increase your self-doubt and lower your confidence levels.

Instead, try being kind and constructive with yourself. For instance, if your presentation did not go as planned, getting angry will not help. Try and figure out what could have been done better. Could you have presented in a different way that could have been more convincing? Don’t think of such instances as failures but minor setbacks. Understand what could have been done better and make sure to practice it mindfully. Doing so will help you be better prepared for presentations in the future.

Set short-term goals

It is great to be ambitious and work towards a goal in life. However, as much as it is important to have a long-term goal, it is equally important to have attainable, short-term goals as well. Long-term goals take time, and any setback can hit your confidence hard. To prevent that from happening, set short-term goals. Make sure that every time you hit a short-term goal, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate these little wins. It could be as simple as setting up your website, but it is a start. Appreciating these little victories will help keep you motivated and keep the feelings of self-doubt at bay.

Remember that in life, you have to be flexible

Not all plans work out the way we want them to. Times change, priorities change, and so do we. What seemed like the dream job a few years back may not seem so now. Instead of doubting your abilities, just remind yourself that you may need to take a new route in life.

Life is unpredictable; hence, you must be flexible with your plans and goals in life. Even the best-laid plans may need changes at times. Remember, having a plan is meant to give your life direction. However, there may be more than one road to your destination. Keep your morale high and be prepared to course-correct if needed in life.

Pen down your thoughts

Maintaining a journal may be a good habit for many reasons. When you are going through a tough phase in life, it helps to remember all the positive things that happened in the past. However, very often, you may remember things with a negative slant, which does not help your self-doubt at all. Jotting down your thoughts about the incident can help you remember as it really was and not how your mind wants to think it was. Also, it is not always possible to remember every detail. If, however, you have it laid out in a journal or a computer diary, it can help set aside the fears and doubts that you have in your mind.

If you have gone through a similar moment in the past, it will act as a reminder that you got through it and will get through this one as well. If the situation is nothing like those you have faced in the past, write down the pros and cons. Writing down the positives and negatives can help you view a situation from a different perspective, which can often lead to a solution.

Many people also believe that keeping a gratitude journal also helps put you in a positive frame of mind. All you need to do is write down everything that you are thankful for on that day. Writing in a gratitude journal can help you end your day on a positive note.

Final thoughts

Self-doubt can hold you back. When you doubt yourself, you are unclear about what you want. You hesitate to take chances, and you let your self-doubt get the better of you. However, a little self-doubt can be healthy. Self-doubt makes you prepare so that you put your best foot forward. A little self-doubt pushes you to sharpen your skills, seek information, and get help whenever needed.

When you feel overwhelmed with self-doubt, use the tips given above to set them aside. You need to strike the right balance between confidence and doubt to get the desired outcome in life.

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