What to do when self-doubt clouds your confidence and blocks your motivation.
Do you find yourself questioning your beliefs or your point of view? Maybe you often wonder if you’ve made the right decision and second-guess yourself, replaying the various options in your mind on repeat. If so, you may be experiencing self-doubt.
Self-doubt is questioning yourself about the truth about who you are and what you’re capable of. It could be focused on your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, opinions, decisions, self-views, or any point of view you hold about yourself. You might feel uneasy and question your self-competence or capacity to do what you want.
Many of my clients who struggle with self-doubt fluctuate between judging and doubting their abilities and feeling confident in their capacity to meet their goals. Sometimes, you might be skeptical, and at other times, you may feel optimistic.
Do you experience self-doubt?
Here are some research-backed questions to help you determine if you’re experiencing self-doubt:
- Do you feel unsure about your life?
- Do you lack confidence that you’ll accomplish your goals?
- Are you uncertain about your level of competence or capacity to be successful?
How do you know if it’s self-doubt?
Because self-doubt feels multidimensional – critical, judgmental, pessimistic, and so unpleasant that it’s often dealt with unconsciously—some can be helpful and others unhelpful. Here are a few of the ways self-doubt manifests:
Self-handicapping is a defensive strategy that attempts to soften the harsh reality of failure with reasons for your mistakes that aren’t your fault. Stress eating, procrastination, and drinking are a few ways that enable you to blame your struggles on something other than yourself. But, this strategy often worsens self-doubt and leaves you feeling like a failure.
Overachievement is a way of overcompensating that helps prevent mistakes and failures. Self-doubt often leads to the belief that the more regular effort you put in or the more competence you have, the more you need to succeed. Unfortunately, this is often a mismatch of what’s required to stop struggling with self-doubt.
Imposter syndrome is when you feel like the success you experience is not an accurate reflection of your abilities and your success is a result of “just getting lucky.” There are many reasons why this happens, and one of them is that you’re afraid you won’t be able to keep up with your success. You might tell yourself your success is due to luck, timing, or contacts.
5 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt
1. Unconditional self-worth
Unconditional is the key – it’s not dependent on a particular result- it simply is. It doesn’t matter how others treat you because your self-worth depends only on how you value yourself as a human being.
2. Unconditional love
Love yourself “warts and all,” as they say. No matter your mistakes or the heights of your success, like unconditional self-worth above, you love your whole being.
Be in a state of evolution where you continue to be a lifelong learner and build on your strengths.
4. Use positive self-talk
Say things to yourself that are kind, positive, or supportive. Expect that you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn and grow in the process as you support yourself with positive self-talk.
5. Affirm yourself
The beliefs we have about ourselves sometimes need a reminder. Affirmations are a way to do that, as well as a way to keep goals in mind. Moving toward what you want is more accessible than pushing against what you don’t and hoping you’ll receive what you want.
Here are three powerful affirmations:
- I am strong and capable
- I am doing my best, and that is enough
- I am capable of anything I put my mind to
Finally, here are two questions that can help you to focus as well:
- How can I be confident even when I make mistakes or experience failure?
- How can I be confident even when others doubt my abilities or withhold love, encouragement, or criticism?
Developing a growth mindset helps to maintain your self-worth and can support you to believe in yourself even when times are challenging, which helps to prevent self-doubt from taking over.
Self-doubt is an uncomfortable thought process and it’s a solvable problem. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome self-doubt and keep your momentum moving forward confidently with unconditional self-worth, love, growth, positive self-talk, and affirmations.