One of the hardest things that some people ever do is transform themselves from a person full of self-doubt to a self-assured person that believes in themselves. But, the truth is that no matter where you are in life right now, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, opportunities you’ve passed up, or what’s happened to you in life, you can overcome your self-doubt and start believing in yourself. This is true even if you had a poor upbringing and even if you’ve never believed in yourself before. It’s within your power, and it will change your life completely.
I’m so happy that you’re here and reading this article, soaking it in, and implementing the suggestions. Once you do, within just a short period you’ll start feeling better about yourself, feel more confident, successful and know that your future is bright.
Let’s get started on learning how you can overcome self-doubt and believe in yourself.
What Is Self-Doubt?
The dictionary defines self-doubt as, "the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities." This is a very good definition, but it doesn’t fully demonstrate the problems caused by self-doubt and not believing in yourself.
Think about these questions:
• What are the dangers of self-doubt?
• How does self-doubt affect your life?
• Where does self-doubt come from?
• And most importantly, how do you overcome it?
In the next pages, we’ll give the answers to all these questions and more. If it helps, take notes as you read through when you notice issues that resonate most with your current situation. Everyone has different issues, reasons for their self-doubt, and problems in their life. You’re a unique person and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
The Dangers of Self-Doubt and How It Affects Your Life
There are many dangers inherent in hanging on to self-doubt that you should be aware of. If you suffer from self-doubt, it’s important to understand the type of damage you’re doing to yourself if you continue to hang on to it. It has affected your past, is affecting your present and can devastate your future if you don’t deal with it. Here's why.
• Self-Doubt Damages Motivation – When you don’t think you can do much, and don’t trust yourself to do something right, fear can get in the way of doing anything. This can turn into a severe lack of motivation to do more than you have to just to get by. It can affect your entire life because you may have fewer satisfying relationships, a job you hate, and not enjoy life much.
• Self-Doubt Causes Procrastination – If you don’t think you know how to do things "right" then you may end up thinking you’re a perfectionist, which is just a way to procrastinate and never finish anything or finish it at the last minute. This is how you set yourself up for failure. No one is perfect and perfection is not necessary to thrive in this life.
• Self-Doubt Leads to Regret – When you miss opportunities, you will experience regret. Regret, when left unresolved, can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. This will then build upon itself to create even more self-doubt, which will create more regret, and so on.
• Self-Doubt Causes Defeatism – If you allow self-doubt to continue, you can start to become almost morbid in your belief that you cannot experience anything good or happy. It’s essentially an acceptance of failure.
• Self-Doubt Stunts Self-Improvement – When you have no faith in yourself, it’s hard to even think about self-improvement. You think you have too much to improve because you can’t do anything, and maybe you even think you’re a victim of your circumstances to a point that you cannot achieve even if you try.
• Self-Doubt Stifles Inspiration – When you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to get inspired to do anything new or to create anything new. Ending the self-doubt will bring out the creativity you already really have.
As you can see and may have experienced yourself, self-doubt can be dangerous and these are all good reasons on their own to work toward overcoming self-doubt and learning to believe in yourself.
How to Identify Where Your Self-Doubt Lies
Knowing how you developed self-doubt can sometimes help lead to recovering from that condition. You can build self-esteem by getting to the bottom of how it happened. Some people did have self-esteem at one point, then lost it. Some never had it in the first place.
No matter how you determine what causes your self-doubt, you’ll be able to overcome it. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that developed over time or something you learned in childhood. You can work toward building your belief in yourself so that you can overcome self-doubt.
Limiting Beliefs Learned in Childhood
Unfortunately, many people learn to put off their dreams and limit their ideas due to well-meaning parents (or sometimes they're not so well-meaning but perhaps abusive parents) who are also stuck in their own self-doubting lives and cannot ever envision anything different. This happens a lot in communities where people are often born very poor and end up lacking experiences and education to see beyond their own lives to the possibilities that are outside their world.
It’s not usually the fact that parents want to keep their kids from dreaming; they’re just trying to be realistic. When their child tells them about their big dream to travel the world and become a writer, they react in fear and make statements that may be statistically true but that limit their child.
For example, they might discourage their child from becoming a writer by telling them no one makes money writing, or they might discourage their child from becoming anything that is above what they’re used to due to the fear of the costs and the fear that their child really can’t do it even if they try. But this is only due to their lack of success and understanding of life.
This rubs off on the kids. That’s why statistically most people do not break out of the class they were born to. The exciting thing to remember, though, is that some people do, and the reason they do is they were able to see and envision the possibilities and then take the action to see it through.
Past Experiences from Bad Relationships
If you used to have a good self-image and didn’t suffer from much self-doubt but then suddenly or overtime started to develop self-doubt, it’s possible that you allowed your past experiences and bad relationships to get into your head and create this self-doubting experience.
It can be a parent relationship, a friendship, a love interest, a spouse, even a child who is dragging you down and creating the self-doubt in your life. These relationships are sometimes defined as toxic relationships. Unfortunately, a toxic relationship can involve any type of relationship, both relatives to non-relatives.
If you’ve been in a relationship where a person criticizes and cuts down your ideas and tells you that it’s impossible, or tells you about all that can go wrong or is even abusive to you about your ideas, you may have learned your self-doubt from past relationships. If you are still in any of these relationships, it may be time to end it if you cannot explain to the person that you are going to do what you’re going to do regardless of their opinion due to fear of abuse.
Bad Work Environments and Experiences
At some point in your life, if you had a job of any kind that turned into a bad experience (especially if it started with your first job), this can stunt you for a lifetime if you let it. Sadly, many people, especially those who take service-oriented jobs or lower-paying jobs, end up with bad experiences.
Even some people who have higher-paying jobs can allow criticism to affect them so badly that they develop a fear of failure which causes them to not take risks. This, in turn, ends up causing them to get bad job reviews. Then after a bad job review, the person may react badly to that and end up more stuck.
As you can see, this path can end up affecting a person badly at the time and in their future if they are unable to understand that sometimes things happen to good people. They can’t accept that they’re a good person and a bad thing happened to them. Or they can’t learn from their mistakes and realize that they can do better next time. This is a dangerous pattern that can grow and become more than it should.
Lack of Life Experiences
Sometimes a person can suffer from self-doubt simply due to a lack of experience. If you were overly sheltered in childhood, were sick, or had issues that caused you to not have a lot of experiences in life, that can turn into fear, anxiety, and even other problems such as agoraphobia that prevent you from stepping out of your comfort zone. If you have no successful experiences to look back on, it can be hard to imagine success. If you have only experienced failure, it can be doubly hard to envision success later.
Whatever the reason for these experiences: overprotective parents, an illness, undiagnosed mental illness, being super-shy... whatever is causing it needs to be addressed so that you can start experiencing small successes and know what if feels like. If you don’t know what that feels like, it’s going to be hard to move forward.
Your Zip Code
This can be hard to accept for some people, but where you are born makes a huge difference in how you view the world and your place and potential in it. If you’re born on third base, you can still experience self-doubt if you have controlling parents who see only one way that you can have success, such as following in the family business when you don’t want to. But most of the time it’s because you were born either in a place without a lot of opportunities or you were born to parents who, while loving, are poor.
The sad fact is that most people do not escape the situation they were born into today. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t. It just means that due to lack of vision, most people only know what’s inside their small portion of the world, and don’t have their eyes open to the possibilities out there for them.
Just by reading this, no matter what your situation is, you are getting your eyes opened to the possibilities in the world to escape your circumstances and make the most of your life in a way that makes you thrive. That’s a great thing and can make so much difference.
Anxiety can be a symptom of self-doubt, but it goes in a circle. Self-doubt can cause anxiety and if you can find a way to address the anxiety, you may be able to lessen the effects of your self-doubt. Many people who have anxiety describe it as a bad feeling of a million butterflies in their stomachs whenever they think of doing something that makes them uncomfortable.
Often, this feeling is so bad that the person suffers from panic attacks, which can be debilitating. Some people don’t get the panic attacks but they don’t push themselves beyond that feeling of butterflies that they experience as unpleasant. There is a theory that adrenaline junkies see this same feeling as positive and they seek it out, whereas a person with anxiety uses that same feeling to stop doing anything that causes that feeling. Interesting, isn’t it?
If you suspect that you have anxiety, it can be hard to even get the help you need by going to your doctor and telling them about it because that also makes you anxious. You fear they’ll think you’re silly. But you can get help with your anxiety by seeking help from your doctor.
Some anxiety is caused by vitamin deficiencies, so your doctor will likely perform some blood tests and they may recommend you see a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications to help you (at least temporarily) so that you can start experiencing success instead of being blocked from it.
It’s important not to allow this to cause you to stay stuck in your current patterns. The healthiest people seek help and even if you don’t want to take medications, there is help for you to overcome anxiety disorders naturally too.
Often people experience self-doubt simply due to patterns they’ve established since childhood, or in someplace in adulthood that sent them down a bad path of experiencing failure or even something traumatic.
For example, everything could have been going fine, then something traumatic happened like a car accident, a death in the family, and so forth. This may start leading you down a path of repeating bad patterns or accepting that your life is just going to be full of failure and you won’t go anywhere. However, this is something you can overcome by changing your patterns.
The process requires that you are introspective enough to be able to see the truth about yourself, your choices, your relationships, and more about your life. Then you’ll need to be able to take decisive action that will help you start to experience success in your life that you can build on as you overcome your self-doubt and start believing in yourself. Even now, there are so many reasons that you should believe in yourself. Once you start realizing that, this part should be simple.
Reasons to Believe in Yourself
Let’s go over some reasons that you should believe in yourself so that you can combat and rid your life of self-doubt. The fact is this is something that must come from within and not from other people. The idea that if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will is very true. That might seem harsh, but it’s a fact that you’ll need to deal with in your quest to develop your new belief in yourself.
Read the information below, take it in, and believe it. It’s true of everyone, and you are included in this. You were born with everything you need to experience success in life. Your success may look different from someone else’s success and that’s okay. You should be the one who is happy living your life because it’s your life to live.
• You Deserve It – You do deserve to have a happy, full, and successful life that you enjoy. You can and should wake up each day ready and psyched to continue each day, no matter what it brings. You deserve to feel good about yourself and to rid yourself of self-doubt. You deserve to live a life that invigorates you, regardless of your circumstances. Even if you are experiencing challenges that no one else can relate to, you can still overcome them and live a fulfilling life.
• Your Current Relationships – Look at the relationships you have now that are successful. The ones that make you happy. The ones that are supportive. The ones where you are supportive and helpful and make you feel needed. They likely believe in you, and you believe in them. Imagine if you told those people how you feel inside about yourself; wouldn’t they support you and try to talk you out of your self-doubt?
• Where You Are Now – Even if you’re struggling now, you’ve survived this long, right? That means you’re doing something right. You’re alive and you’re able to get this and read it. That’s a positive that you should focus on right now. Focus on what you have right this moment that is good and that is a reason to believe in yourself.
• Prior Success – If you’ve been successful at something, revel in that. Did you manage to get up this morning? That’s a success. Did you do well in school? That’s a success. Did you get a driver’s license? That’s a success. If you need to get down to the very smallest success, that’s okay. You don’t have to have huge successes to draw on to know what it feels like to be successful in doing something.
• You’re Just as Good as Others – Remember that you are just as good as someone else and deserve the life that you want to live. No one deserves it more than you do. No one is more special and for that fact neither are you. But, even though everyone is the same, we all have different ideas of what constitutes success and that too is just as good as the next person’s idea of success.
The truth is if you look from a distance at your problems and put them into relation to the world, how important are they? If you’ve made some bad choices that have resulted in going through a rough patch emotionally, financially, or spiritually, that’s okay - this is how you grow in life. You grow in life through experiences. It is how you react to these struggles that make up who you are.
Let’s look at how to overcome negative thoughts so that you can better deal with self-doubt.
How to Overcome Negative Thoughts
It is possible to train your mind to overcome and turn negative thoughts around. Let’s look at some strategies to turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts, or to at least stop the negative thoughts faster when they start.
• Change the Focus – When you encounter a negative situation, try to immediately turn it into something positive by focusing on what you can learn about the situation. Even if all you learn is that you don’t want to do that again, that’s a positive thing.
• Most People Don’t Care – The truth is, even if you say the wrong thing or dress what you think is wrong for an event or do something that you feel embarrassed about, most people don't care that much. If you can develop the ability to laugh at the situation, that's even better. Most people don’t have time to think about your bad choices, especially if it doesn’t affect them.
• Ask Whether You’re Being Too Serious – Sometimes it’s easy to take something seriously when it shouldn’t be. Does it matter if you slipped and fell when you were trying to sit in your seat at work? Does it matter that you put on the wrong shoes? Does it matter that much if you pronounced a word wrong? Don’t hyper-focus on one mistake or one bad day.
• Replace Negativity in Your Life – Whether it’s people, places, or things, it’s time to rid your life of negativity when you can. Sometimes negative people attract negative people. If you want to be more positive, try to find new friends, new activities, and things that make you happy and feel positive.
• Don’t Make Decisions Bigger Than They Are – Many people plagued with self-doubt tend to have trouble making decisions. Even if it’s just what to wear, what to eat, or what to buy, they're turned into bigger situations than they are. When you are making any decision, ask yourself whether this is going to matter in a month, six months, or even five years from now. That way, you’ll be able to determine whether this is a serious situation you need to spend more time on or if you need to just make a choice and either get on with it or not.
• Take to Someone – Now, make sure the person you’re talking to is positive and doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes it helps to ask someone if you’re overacting, especially if you can find someone who understands how you’re trying to change your life and get over self-doubt. This may be a professional, a life coach, or a friend - even someone from a support group or an entire support group.
• Stop Thinking about It – Sometimes negative thoughts can ruin the experience you’re living. It’s better to try to shelve the negative thoughts during the experience and try to live in the moment. Being in the present enables you to truly realize that this thing isn’t negative at all, or not as much as your mind is trying to tell you. Then when you look back on it, you will likely be able to pick out a lot more positives than negatives.
• Exercise – When it comes down to it, most of us have a lot of extra energy (adrenaline) that needs to be burned off. Some people realize this and that’s why they get moving. Whenever you start experiencing negative thoughts, instead of letting yourself do it, get some exercise. Go to the gym, go for a run, go for a walk, ride your bike, jump rope, go for a swim – anything that you can do that you like doing is a good thing to do instead of thinking negatively.
• Realize When It’s Fear – Sometimes negativity will poke its head in your life when you’re doing something a little bit uncomfortable or pushing your comfort zone a bit. There is a quote by George Addair that is useful here, "Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear." If you can remind yourself of this quote when you are experiencing negative thoughts associated with fear, you can overcome it.
It will help a lot with overcoming negative thoughts if you put these suggestions into action. You may come up with some of your own too. The point is, you want to turn negative thoughts around so that you can instead experience positivity in your day. That way, you don’t get stuck in a pattern of self-doubt.
Strategies for Dealing with Self-Doubt
Now, let’s go over some important ways to deal with self-doubt when it happens. Be assured that even the most successful person works to overcome self-doubt at times. Feeling self-doubt is not the problem. Letting self-doubt control you, make your decisions for you, and rule your life is the problem.
• You’re Not Alone – Everyone experiences self-doubt and whether you have friends, family, or anyone to talk to right now about this, you are not alone in your feelings. It’s all how you react to it that matters. You can find others to commiserate with by joining Facebook groups or other types of groups and forums to help feel less alone with your issues.
• Keep a Journal – One way to overcome self-doubts is to keep a journal to help remind yourself of the accomplishments that you have experienced. You can talk about the self-doubt you felt and how you pushed through it. It doesn’t have to be a false representation of what you’re doing, but do try to focus on the positives of each situation and what you learned from it.
• Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – The worst thing you can do is to make comparisons of your life to someone else’s. This only breeds more self-doubt and even jealousy. The truth is, you have no idea what other people have gone through to be where they are, or even if they’re being honest about their situation. You only know the truth about your situation.
• Learn Gratitude – Every single event in life has something to be grateful for. Even the worst things can be turned around to be a lesson that can help you in the next situation in your life. People who have overcome the worst things that you can imagine - death, crime, illness – all have one thing in common: that’s their ability to see the positives in it or at least be grateful they knew the person, loved the person, or something good.
• Set Small, Immediate Goals – One way to overcome issues with self-doubt is to experience success. Start setting small goals that allow you to experience immediate success. It depends where you are in your journey, but success can be as small as getting up in the morning, to going to the store, to something more challenging like applying for new jobs. (Note that this said "applying for new jobs", not getting one.)
• Surround Yourself with Positive People – Take the time to pick out people you already know who makes you feel good about yourself. If you don’t have those people in your life, it’s time to seek them out. You can find people via meetups online, taking a class, group meetings, a book club and so forth. The important thing is to start being around positive people more.
• Learn to Respect Obstacles – Everyone has obstacles that prevent them from experiencing full joy and push them back into self-doubt. Everyone. The way to deal with these issues is to respect the fact that you may have something to learn or gain from the experience. Find a way to respect the obstacles that are put in front of you and learn from them.
• Learn from Mistakes – When you make a mistake, instead of beating yourself up, accept it and learn from it. Sometimes it helps to write down the experience in your journal with a focus on what you learned and how you’ll do it differently if that comes up again.
• Know When to Walk Away – There are times when giving up is not a failure. There are many times in life where you try something but it’s just not working for you and it’s time to walk away. That may be a business choice, a relationship choice, or something else entirely. If it’s causing you too much stress that cannot be overcome, it’s time to leave it and move on.
• It’s OK to Be Uncomfortable – One thing to realize about life is that it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes. You won’t grow if you don’t experience some discomfort. That doesn’t mean you have to be into mental, physical, or spiritual torture; it's just that feeling a little fearful, uncomfortable or unsure is natural. Put things into perspective so that you know you’re making good choices.
• Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses – One way to deal with self-doubt is to honestly figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Then, develop your strength and even improve upon your weaknesses when you can. Sometimes the way you improve a weakness is to let someone else deal with it. For example, if you’re a bad cook but you want to lose weight, and don’t want to learn to cook, it’s okay to order a meal kit or to get someone else to do it if you have the ability. There is always a way around a weakness. The strengths you possess naturally can also be improved upon almost painlessly.
• Get Accountability – When you are trying to overcome self-doubt and start believing in yourself, it can help to have someone around who can offer accountability. This can be a life coach, a counselor, a friend or a group. It’s best not to choose a friend without their knowledge, though. If you have a positive friend who is willing to help you, that’s okay. But if they don’t know what they’re doing, they may lead you astray. A life coach is a great way to help build your self-image and overcome self-doubt so that you can believe in yourself because they have the training and know their role.
These strategies for dealing with self-doubt will not work for you if you don’t implement them. The issues with self-doubt are so serious that they can make you stuck in a life that you don’t want and aren’t loving. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and that can spiral into a bad situation.
If you want to experience true joy in life, believe in yourself, and get rid of the debilitating self-doubt you’re experiencing, start implementing now. Don’t delay or make excuses.
What to Do Right Now
Now that you’ve read all of that, you are probably wondering where to start, so use this last part to get yourself organized and ready for change. If you want to overcome self-doubt and start believing in yourself, it will take action on your part. So, let’s get started.
Pinpoint Where Your Self-Doubt Began
Using what you’ve learned, it’s important to figure out where your self-doubt began. It may be from childhood, in which case it may take some professional help to overcome it. It may be something you fell into due to other issues that need to be identified. If you’re in a toxic relationship, for example, you may have to work on getting out of it before you can move forward.
Honestly Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
One way to do this is to get out some paper and a writing utensil, and simply write on one side of the paper your strengths, and on the other side your weaknesses. Then take a highlighter and highlight the things you want to work on to improve your strengths and the things you would like to do better in terms of your weaknesses.
Get a Physical from a Doctor
This is important because sometimes self-doubt is caused by anxiety and sometimes anxiety can be caused by vitamin deficiencies. Get a vitamin panel and tell your doctor that you’re experiencing anxiety. They’ll know which vitamins to test to ensure that you can get the information you need.
Eat Right and Exercise
This may seem silly, but eating right and exercising can be one of your first successes and experiences that you can look back to that show that you make good choices. This small thing can give you the confidence you need to stop having so much self-doubt in your life, building your ability to believe in yourself. If all you do is add more water, more fruits, and veggies and start walking each day, that’s going to help a lot.
Invest in a Journal
Find a good paper journal that you can write in each day before you go to bed and when you first wake up. It’s good to do this without technology because it’ll be something you can do without causing you to experience extra stress from the blue light in technology that can cause people to experience anxiety and insomnia.
Seek Out Help
Whether you have a friend you know will help you, or you feel the need to seek professional help in the form of a counselor or life coach, it’s important to find help. The right help for you is what works. It doesn’t matter what anyone else uses; it only matters what is working for you to build your belief in yourself while you’re letting go of self-doubt.
Make Small Goals
Set some small goals so that you can experience success. Your small goals might consist only of the things on this list. But you may have identified some things by reading this that stick out to you as small goals that you can immediately see results from that you want to add.
You can learn all that you want to learn about ridding yourself of self-doubt and building your belief in yourself, but if you don’t act and do something (in other words, implement), you won’t see the success you desire. Even if it’s the smallest thing, like reading this or taking a course, or finding a group, that’s doing something. Small things can lead to big results.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot of information that is going to help you build your self-image, help you get rid of self-doubt, and move toward believing in yourself again quickly. Remember that nothing is gained without putting one foot in front of the other. But also remember that you are capable, you can do it, and you deserve to do it too. You are worth it.