How Self-Doubt Affects Us
Self doubt is a beast of an enemy. It can make you question everything about yourself and your abilities. It can paralyze you into inaction.
So where does this feeling come from? When we dig further into the roots of self-doubt, we will find fear. Each person’s fear might be different than the next but it is still fear.
Fear of rejection or being judged wrongly: What will they think?
Fear of failure: What if I try and it doesn’t turn out at all like I hoped?
My belief is this is a topic of conversation worth talking about. How much more can we achieve if we stop doubting and start living?
Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?
- Am I good enough?
- Do I have what it takes to succeed?
- Why am I staring at this blank screen – unable to push through and just write?
- Do I have anything worth offering or am I just another voice in a sea of voices?
- Is this ‘just a good idea’ or am I supposed to pursue this dream or opportunity?
- Am I doing the right thing?
You and I could probably sit down together with a caffeinated beverage and come up with an endless list of thoughts related to this crippling doubt.
What I’ve Learned About Kicking Self Doubt’s Butt
Overcoming this nasty feeling may not be the easiest thing in the world to do. But luckily, with the right weapons in your arsenal, it is doable!
You are not alone in your battle. I get it and so do many others. Thankfully though, you don’t have to put up with the nagging voices in your mind telling you that ‘you can’t.’ Oh yes you can & you will!
As I’ve shown up to the battlefield of self-doubt, here are the lessons I’ve learned on how to overcome the overwhelm.
#1 – think of how far you’ve already come from where you were
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.T.S. Eliot
Have you accomplished anything at all? I bet your answer is yes! Even if what you’ve accomplished seems small to you – it’s still an accomplishment!
Often, when we suffer from insecurity, fear, self-doubt or any other nasty emotion, it’s easy to downplay our achievements.
Not everyone could do what you’ve already done. Stop for a moment and give yourself credit for even those small wins.
When you realize, “I’m not where I want to be, but I sure have come a long ways from where I was,” everything seems much more manageable.
Having a dream is easy. Having the courage to go after that dream can be hard work. Realize that the dream in your heart is worth attaining. Settling for a life of mediocrity and playing it safe will never satisfy you.
#2 – comparison robs you of joy, creativity and security
Comparison is the thief of joyTheodore Roosevelt
Don’t do it! 🙂 Okay, I know it’s much easier said than done.
In this social media age, the comparison game has become easier than ever. Every photo seems to depict the perfect life. They have it all together, right?
No. Actually, they don’t. You only see what they want you to see.
They don’t show you the bills piling up on their counter-top. You don’t see the blow up fight just before the staged photo was taken.
The process before the picture of the perfect lighting, angle, etc aren’t included.
You also can’t see inside that person’s mind to read their thoughts. What you see is NOT always what you get.
I would venture to bet that in 99.99% of the cases, you will find thoughts just like yours and mine. You will find insecurities, fears, pressures, doubts, worries, anxieties, good days, bad days and everything in between.
There is no such thing as ‘the perfect life.’ Sure, some are easier than others. That still doesn’t make it perfect.
Don’t buy into the lies. When you compare your life, your home, your kids, your work, your body, your creativity, your anything, with a reality that doesn’t even exist, what good does that accomplish?
If you need to, shut down social media. Unfollow toxic people and ideals. Take a break from negativity. Preferably, get rid of it for good.
As you read blogs or other media, remember that no one has it all figured out. Even the ‘experts’ in a field are still learning, if they’re smart. Take into consideration how long that person has been doing what they’re doing to achieve where they are.
We are all at different points in our journey called life. In areas where you are strong, I may be weak. Where I am strong, you are weak.
It is our uniqueness that makes us awesome. Our differences make us stronger when we come together.
Think on this: What advice would you give someone in your very shoes? Give yourself that same kindness and advice. You’re worth it!
#3 – short term goals vs. long term
If I focus on the short-term goals, then the long-term goals are going to be in my favor.Crystal Dunn
Sometimes, the reason we feel overwhelmed with self-doubt is because we are focusing too much on the big picture.
As an INFJ, I’m extremely guilty of this one. If you are anything like me, sometimes the smaller steps of action take a backseat to dreaming about the final result.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking leads to overwhelm. It also tends to create thoughts like, “There’s no way I can accomplish that!” “How am I going to get there?” “I might as well just give up now because I’ll never achieve what it is I hope for.”
Focusing too much on the long term goals can seem unattainable.
Consider this: If you make a short-term goal you can accomplish TODAY, when you achieve it – how much better will you feel about your progress?
Each one of those small, achievable goals being accomplished will fuel you to keep going toward your long-term goals.
It is healthy to have both long and short term goals. Just be sure to balance the two.
Weight loss is a great example. It’s much easier to focus on losing (or gaining) 5 pounds than it is to focus on 50. Smaller, bite sized goals and successes lead to even greater wins in the future.
#4 – choose your company wisely
People inspire you, or they drain you – pick them wisely.Hans Hansen
This could have probably been at #1 in terms of importance. The outside voices you listen to can make or break your success.
Ever heard that saying, “You are who you surround yourself with?” It is 100% true. Birds of a feather tend to flock together. If the group you associate with believe you need to settle in life, because, ‘this is as good as it gets,’ you probably won’t go far. Or if they tend to act/talk a certain way – guess what? Most likely, you will too.
Chances are, negative people won’t fill your mind with positivity. They will limit you in the same way they feel limited.
Many of us are struggling with self-doubt because of our childhoods and friendships. If all you heard growing up, whether intentionally or not, was that ‘you can’t,’ it takes work to believe you can.
Letting naysayers go in your life is OK! At a minimum, you need to severely limit your exposure to them. There isn’t much worse than having a goal you are working toward and having someone close to you tell you to give up because you’ll never make it.
For some people, this is fuel to push harder. However for most, it only reinforces the self-doubt, fears and limiting belief patterns.
Anything worth having in life won’t come easy. It will take some sacrifice, hard work and dedication. But you absolutely can achieve anything you set your mind to do.
#5 – go back to the beginning
Sometimes it is necessary to go back before we can move forward.Mary Balogh
Whatever your project or goal is, what first excited you about it? Go back to that in your mind. Remember the giddy excitement you felt when you dreamed it up. Allow yourself to experience that again.
Did you feel capable of achieving it then? Of course you did! You wouldn’t have begun if you didn’t. So why is now any different?
Begin to carefully examine what events (or people) discouraged you and made you doubt your ability. What thoughts are you thinking? Become aware of what’s in your heart and in your mind.
Some people call this phase ‘rediscovering your WHY.’ Why did you choose what you chose in the first place? Chances are it’s because you believed you were capable.
What tends to happen is, the further we get into something, the more fear we begin to encounter. Our fear increases because we become more attached to the final outcome and the process. You are more invested in wanting to see it succeed.
The more invested you are, the more you have the potential to get hurt. Since most of us human beings aren’t big fans of being hurt, we will avoid the potential of pain by giving up. Self-doubt wins again.
Consider this: What if what you dream of doesn’t fail? What if it succeeds instead?
#6 – ask yourself: why am I doubting?
If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.Louise Hay
This one is critically important to our success. Have you ever really wondered why you are doubting yourself in the first place?
What messages did you receive growing up that could be contributing to your lack of self-esteem now? Who told you to give up your dream? Who told you it wasn’t possible? Did you take over and start telling yourself that same lie?
Most people aren’t born with the attitude of, ‘I can’t.’ Somewhere along the way life knocks our hearts into a state of disbelieving. Simply settling. “Yeah, I’d love to see that happen…but it was never meant to be for me. I’m not really supposed to be happy.” “People where I come from don’t get lucky like that.”
It’s a fact: people who gave up on their dreams will try and get you to give up on yours. Misery loves company, my friend. Negativity breeds more negativity.
Recognizing limiting beliefs is a great first step in eradicating self-doubt because the two work hand in hand. They’re practically one in the same.
#7 – you are more than your mistakes
“There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of selfmastery. From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher”Robin Sharma
In this life, we will make mistakes. Hopefully we will learn from them and grow into better people.
You will have starts and stops on this journey. You will have what seemed like great ideas and turned out to be anything but. Don’t beat yourself up for it! If you’ve started a project or plan and there is no hope for it working out, let it go! That’s perfectly okay!
Just because in your past you weren’t successful with something, doesn’t mean you won’t be now! Don’t let your past stop you. Don’t get hung up on what didn’t go right back then.
This is now. You have a chance now to succeed and fulfill that longing in your heart.
I have a piece of print art here in my office. It reads: “The past is your lesson. The present is your gift. The future is your motivation.”
What will we decide to do this day to appreciate the gift we’ve been given?
#8 – it doesn’t matter what they think!
Taking wise advice from trustworthy sources will help us grow and mature into the people we aspire to be.
The problem comes in when our thoughts turn to, ‘but what will they think??’ If everything we do revolves around pleasing other people, we’ve got a big problem.
Other people won’t always understand the vision inside of you. It isn’t their journey to take. If you are waiting for their validation of you, you might never get it. Don’t let this stop you.
Worrying about what others will think of you stems from a fear of rejection. This particular fear causes you to reject yourself and who you really are. No wonder it creates a storm of self-doubt!
If ‘they’ can’t love you for who you are authentically, it really is their loss. You need to be true to you, your heart and your purpose. Anything less than fully living is an empty shell of an existence.
#9 – forget fear! go for it!
Do it afraid!Joyce Meyer
One of the best ways to overcome self-doubt? Put on your best armor, push your way through like a bull and go for it! Just start. One small step at a time. You will eventually look back and see those small steps have turned into giant leaps.
Ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen? (If your answer to this is something major like losing a marriage, financial security or your health – it might be time to reconsider. At a minimum, please seek professional advice).
Sometimes our greatest rewards come from our greatest risks. After my abusive history in relationships, I was terrified to marry my husband. I did it anyway and am grateful I did. Choosing fear would have made me miss out on the greatest blessing in my life; his love, devotion and willingness to be a better man for us each and every day.
Sit down with pen and paper. Weigh out and write down your pros and cons. What will happen if you don’t try? What would happen if you DO try? What’s the best scenario and what’s the worst?
Writing these thoughts out will help you get clarity on what’s important. Our minds can become so cluttered with a mixture of truth and lies. Sorting out what’s what brings understanding and can automatically tear down fear and self doubt.
As you process all of the information you’ve discovered, take a walk in nature. Walking helps us think and process information better. The increased oxygen flow and neuron firings bring clarity where we are uncertain.
#10 – cut yourself some slack
It’s funny, just this afternoon as I talked to my husband Bill during lunch, I said, “I wonder if this article is any good. I wonder if it will help anyone.”
Bill then pointed out to me, “Isn’t that a form of self doubt in itself?” To which I replied, “Yes, actually it is!”
So you see – we doubt ourselves far more than we realize at times. Asking others you love and trust to offer you insight when you are ‘doing it again’ can be very healing. In those moments, your awareness of your self-defeating patterns can point out areas to focus your work on.
Cut yourself some slack. Try to believe the best. We tend to underestimate the power of ourselves, our words and our giftings. You never know the impact you might have by simply being you.
When we think it isn’t good enough, those just might be the very words or actions that change someone’s life!
#11 – pray for understanding
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.Proverbs 4:7
I know that not everyone believes in the power of prayer. I do. I’ve seen the power of God at work in my life over and over again.
When you don’t know what to do and doubt is taking over, humble yourself in prayer. Ask Father God to show you what to do. Listen and He will.
The root of self doubt and fear in our lives can come from so many different places. Only the One who made you knows exactly where you’ve believed a lie. He has the ability to uproot it and set you free. You need only ask. It is His great pleasure to be there for you.
Self Doubt Doesn’t Have To Rule Your Life
“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”Honore de Balzac
Doubting ourselves really means doubting our worth and our abilities. Going the route of discovering why we feel the way we do about ourselves might be messy and painful. But it is the only surefire way to be free from the haunting fears.
Use your self doubt as a way to examine the parts of yourself that cry out for help, just as a small child would. These pieces of you need and deserve healing. Your future depends on you being whole.
Silence your inner critic by heaping hot coals of love all over it. When you are tempted to tear yourself down – build yourself up instead. On purpose.
The more kindness we extend to ourselves, the more we will be freed from the grips of self hate, self doubt, anxiety and insecurity.
It’s not the easiest road to travel by any stretch of the imagination. I travel it daily to be honest for a multitude of reasons. Maybe you do too. The more we affirm ourselves for the value we offer, the more self doubt succumbs to self confidence.
Would you treat someone else the way you treat yourself?
Did this article help you identify some areas of self doubt? How do you overcome yours?
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