“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”Sylvia Plath
Self-doubt is sneaky. It swoops in, stealing your confidence, your productivity, and most of all, your self-esteem.
There are many ways in which self-doubt can show up in your life. You may have vague feelings that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t handle what life throws at you. Or you may have overwhelming feelings of defeat regardless of the goal you are seeking to accomplish.
Self-doubt shows up in my own life as a place of inactivity. It leaves me constantly questioning whether or not to move forward with new ideas and keeps me stuck where I’m at. This negative mindset tends to feed into my perfectionist tendencies and keeps me stuck in the procrastination zone.
I have allowed self-doubt to creep in so many times. Sometimes I wonder how much farther along I would be in certain areas of my life if only I had refused to let self-doubt take over.
But we can’t spend our lives looking in the rearview mirror. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and resolve to do better tomorrow.
There are many reasons why we struggle with self-doubt. We may be carrying false beliefs from childhood. Or maybe we have had failed experiences in the past causing us to lose confidence in ourselves. After all, we failed once. What’s stopping us from failing again?
Whatever the cause, self-doubt holds us back from our full potential.
After realizing just how much self-doubt was preventing my own growth, I devoted time and research into figuring out how to overcome it. Although there are still times when I give in, my awareness of its effects has increased. Self-doubt is therefore much easier to spot early on which means I can quickly deploy tactics to divert it in its tracks.
1. Conquer Self-Doubt Through Awareness
“Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”Daniel Chidiac
As with many things in life, awareness is the very first step. It’s tough to fix something if you’re completely unaware it’s an issue.
But how do you know whether self-doubt is what’s holding you back?
Your self talk often holds the answer to this question. During moments of fear, doubt, and overwhelm, do you find yourself thinking any of the following questions?
- “I’m not good enough to do this.”
- “I just can’t do it.”
- “This is too hard.”
- “I don’t know how to move forward and even if I did, I would probably fail.”
- “I’ll never be able to accomplish that.”
If the above comments sound familiar, chances are good that you are struggling with self-doubt. Recognition is powerful. It’s the key to changing this negative mindset.
Because the truth is, you can accomplish things. Big things. Hard things. Seemingly impossible things.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t … you’re right.”Henry Ford
But first your mind has to be in the right place. And being frozen by self-doubt is decidedly NOT the right place.
Practice identifying the subtle negativity hidden in your own self talk. If you are feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt, stop and ask yourself whether you would say these things aloud to someone else.
Chances are good that you wouldn’t. And if you wouldn’t say them to someone else, don’t say them to yourself either.
Stop self-doubt in its tracks by putting a name to it and refusing to feed into the negativity.
Take a vow to stop getting in your own way!
You may also enjoy reading this post about achieving a positive mindset.
2. Get Back to the Basics
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”Lucille Ball
Banishing self-doubt requires confidence in yourself. It requires confidence in your decisions, abilities, and in who you are as a person. And there’s no better way to start than by showing yourself some much-deserved love.
Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually is crucial. You can’t build a house without a solid foundation and basic self-care practices form the foundation of success.
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are all requirements for success. Without these pillars, it’s almost impossible to move forward.
Although there have been times in my life when I have struggled with all three, sleep deprivation has by far been the most personally troublesome. Whether the lack of sleep was related to new babies or stress, those were some of the most challenging times in my life. Sleep deprivation robbed me of my motivation and hung over my life like a haze.
I can still remember walking around like I was auditioning for the part of a zombie extra in The Walking Dead. Waking up utterly exhausted day after day actually caused me to wonder whether I had some type of sleep disorder.
It was during this time in my life that my self-doubt was at an all time high.
I questioned everything. Each and every seemingly insignificant decision became a matter of life or death. From second guessing dinner plans to what I had chosen to wear for work that morning, everything became a big deal. I was constantly doubting myself.
Although I was eventually able to get my sleep back on track, it was a long road to where I’m at now. The road back did start with sleep testing, a story you can find here. It continued with learning everything possible about how to better manage my sleep patterns.
Even today, I am fiercely protective of my sleep because I know what happens when I don’t get enough. And I never want to be in that place again.
Although sleep is my weakness, you may find that self-doubt creeps into your own life when your diet is off. Or when you stop exercising. You may even find that when you stop taking time to pursue meaningful activities, self-doubt sets up a stronghold.
Take some time today to make sure the basics are present in your life. And if they aren’t, what can you change to make things better?
3. Remember Past Success
“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”Unknown
Our mind plays so many tricks on us. If we listen to the negativity, we are suddenly convinced that we are the only ones in the world struggling. No one else could possibly be going what we’re going through.
And nothing we’ve done has been as difficult as whatever hurdle we’re facing. This is by far the toughest thing we’ve ever encountered. And there’s no way we can overcome it because nothing we’ve done has ever prepared us for this.
But is that actually true?
It’s a lie fabricated by your subconscious to protect you from the unknown. Our brains are wired to keep us safe. By sticking to what we know, we are lulled into a false sense of security.
But this is absolutely not the case!
It’s in these moments that we tend to forget all our truly amazing accomplishments! The things that you once thought were truly impossible but yet somehow attained.
Moments of self-doubt are the perfect time to recall all of those incredible feats. You have, in fact, done hard things. Very hard things. Even in those times when you did not do what you set out to, you learned. As long as you were able to take something away from the experience, consider it a win.
Write down the actions which have brought pride. Keeping track of your accomplishments and learning experiences will give you a bank to draw from when self-doubt tries to halt your progress.
You’ve done plenty of hard things in the past. And you’re definitely up for the challenge of tackling more in the future!
You may also enjoy reading this post about identifying your strengths.
4. Be You
“To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.E. E. Cummings
You are unique. There’s no one in this world quite like you. And the world needs your exclusive blend of personality, interests, and talents! The authentic you, imperfections and all.
No one needs some watered down version of who you truly are. We need the real you!
And guess what? You’ll never be anyone else so you might as well be the absolute best version of yourself!
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with self-doubt. I know it may seem off topic but it actually has everything to do with this negative mindset trap.
Just as self-doubt has a greater chance of sneaking in when you’re not paying attention to your health and wellness, so too does it creep in when you’re paying too much attention to other people.
Self-doubt often occurs in relation to other people. Situations in which we either compare ourselves to others or situations in which we are too absorbed in what others think of us.
Either situation quickly fans the flames of self-doubt, causing it to rage out of control.
The truth is that you are you. You can never be anyone else. Comparing yourself to anyone other than who you were in the past is a waste of precious time and energy.
People tend to show us their best sides. Their sunny sides. We typically don’t see the storms or secret battles they wage within. There’s no way of knowing just how much they’ve had to wade through to get where they are today.
So stop the comparison trap. You’ll be happier for it!
And stop worrying about what other people think. It’s impossible to simultaneously please everyone in your life. So please the person who actually matters and who you have full control over … you.
5. Conquer Self-Doubt by Taking Action
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”Dale Carnegie
Self-doubt thrives in small, dark places. It looks for each and every tiny insecurity you have about yourself and grows it from a seedling of doubt into a gigantic, tangling jungle of negativity. After awhile, the jungle of self-doubt chokes out your confidence and so deeply entwines you in its tangles that it’s nearly impossible to overcome.
Self-doubt, if allowed to grow, keeps you stuck where you’re at. And stuck feels safe. Staying where we’re at is familiar. Our subconscious loves familiar because it knows exactly what to expect. There are no surprises. No possible hidden threats.
Except that one big, hairy gigantic threat. The threat of you believing the lies stemming from your own insecurities.
But how do you overcome the tangled jungle of self-doubt?
You take action.
It starts with the smallest possible step. Once you tackle the first step, move on to the second. And so on and so forth.
With each step, your confidence grows. Every step is an opportunity to chop away at that tangled mess just a little bit more.
But the longer you stay stuck in your head, endlessly pondering worst-case scenarios, the tougher it will be to take a step forward. Stop ruminating! Take action! Messy, imperfect, forward, and enthusiastic action.
You may enjoy reading this post about living with intention.
It’s Your Turn
Overcoming self-doubt is far from easy. It requires consistency and the desire to overcome a negative mindset which is holding you back from your full potential.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain on a consistent basis, it may be time to seek medical care. You may have an underlying condition contributing to your mindset and would benefit from accurate treatment. Getting help just might be the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself!
And talk with someone you trust about what you’re going through. They may be able to give you insight into the mental blocks holding you back. Chances are, they can actually help you dispel some of that negativity and move you toward taking action.
I hope you have found a few helpful tips on your journey toward conquering self-doubt! Don’t forget to comment below about what you found useful and where self-doubt is showing up in your life.
Now get out there and take action today!