How To Overcome Self-Doubt And Succeed
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated May 05, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Self-doubt is defined as a "lack of confidence in the reliability of one's own motives, personality, thought, etc." In other words, self-doubt means that you don't believe in yourself. Self-doubt tends to spiral. It might start with one small failure. But that one failure can eat away at you and begin to destroy your confidence. You may start to focus on the failure. Then it begins to grow and spread. Ultimately, it can stop you from taking advantage of life’s many opportunities.
We see this on the football field. A quarterback has a great start to a game, and then they throw one interception. You can see on their face as they sit on the sidelines that they are focused on that interception. It is beginning to affect their confidence. When they get back in the game, they still remember that interception. They begin to "play it safe" and not attempt the throws they should be making. Their confidence is gone, and self-doubt has replaced it.
Every person will experience self-doubt. It is normal. However, it should not consume you. When self-doubt starts to impact your life, it has become a problem that needs to be addressed.
What Does Self-Doubt Lead To?
If you are suffering from self-doubt, there is a good chance that you are sabotaging opportunities that come your way. When you lack confidence in yourself and don't trust in your own abilities, it is difficult to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks. This can lead to not pursuing opportunities that would improve your quality of life. People struggling with self-doubt often have a feeling of being stuck. They might not like the situation they are in, but they don't trust themselves enough to try something new.
If left untreated, self-doubt can lead to mental disorders. People with pervasive self-doubt may begin to have a difficult time making decisions and experience low self-confidence. This can then lead to anxiety and depression. However, it is possible to overcome self-doubt and have a fulfilling life.
How To Overcome Self-Doubt
1. Find Someone To Talk To
The first step in overcoming self-doubt is talking to someone you trust. This may be a friend, a family member, or a mental health professional. Many people are leery of talking to a therapist. However, self-doubt reduces quality of life. When you get the help you need, you will be able to take on new experiences and start living the life you have dreamed of. A professional can help you walk the path to believing in and trusting yourself again.
2. Limit The Amount Of Time You Spend With Negative People
Spend time with people who can see the positive in your situation. The last thing you need when struggling with self-doubt is to be around negative people who are going to pull you down. Reduce the amount of time that you spend with people who tend to see only the bad in a situation. Seek to spend time with the people who are optimistic. Their hope will begin to rub off on you.
3. Let Go Of The Past
Do you struggle with self-doubt because you failed in the past? You are not alone. Everyone has. If you look at the most successful people in the world, you will see that there is usually a long list of failures in their past. But they have the confidence to keep going. They don't let past failures hold them back.
Look at Kobe Bryant. He is regarded as one of the greatest NBA players of all times. He has a long list of accomplishments, including some that no other basketball player has earned. It's easy to look at him and see the successes in his life, but there is one stat that many people don't pay attention to. Kobe Bryant has missed more shots than any other NBA player. What would have happened if he had gotten hung up on the missed shots? He would not have been able to reach the level of success that he has if he were always focused on the things that didn't go right.
Maybe you have failed yourself or let down someone else in the past. If you have done all you can to remedy the situation and you still feel stuck in it, it is time to forgive yourself and move forward.
4. Start Tracking Your Success To Build Confidence
Self-doubt dissipates as confidence grows. But building confidence when you doubt yourself can be difficult if you don't know where to start. The good news is that anyone can increase their confidence. Start by tracking your successes every day. Each night before your head hits the pillow, write down three successes that you had during the day. They don't need to be major successes, and when you are starting out, most likely they will not be.
When you first attempt this exercise, your daily successes could be as simple as I went to work today, I ate dinner with my family, and I paid the phone bill. These count as things that you accomplished during the day. Stick with this exercise and do it on a daily basis.
As the days go on it will become easier for you to see your successes. When this happens, your confidence will slowly start to grow, and your self-doubt will begin to fade. This will help you take a chance on something new, which in turn will give you larger successes to track. But regardless of where you are starting, the important thing is to get started.
5. Don't Worry About Everyone Else
If you experience self-doubt, you may feel like others are judging you. We tend to think that people care about what we are doing far more than they actually do. In reality, most people are so concerned with their own lives that they aren't paying much attention to what you are doing.
You feel your best when you are true to yourself. Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking or what they will think if you decide to go in a direction they don't agree with. You will never please everyone all of the time, but as long as you are trying to please others, it will be difficult to please yourself. Do not look to others for your confidence; instead, work on building true confidence from seeing the successes in your life (see #4 above). You do not need others to validate your opinions or ideas.
6. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Every person has different skills and talents. Stop doubting your abilities because you are comparing them to others. There will always be someone who is better at something than you are. And except for a tiny fraction of the population, we will never be the absolute "best" at any one thing. Even the people that win the title of "best" only hold it for a short time usually before someone else comes and takes it away.
It's time to stop comparing yourself to others and start acknowledging what your skills are. What do you enjoy doing? What comes naturally to you? Start doing those things. Develop your talents and skills and stop worrying about the things that you aren't the best at. You may never be able to make sales as easily as someone else in your office, but maybe your great customer service is what your business needs to secure that big deal.
Don't Suffer Alone
Remember the words of William Shakespeare: "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." Do not let your self-doubt stop you from experiencing the good things in life. As simple as the steps above seem to be, it is much easier to overcome self-doubt when you have a professional working with you. BetterHelp has online therapists that can help you regain your confidence. You can complete this quick online form to find the right professional for you. Imagine the success you could have in life if you do the work to overcome self-doubt.
Psychotherapy to Increase Self-Esteem
To overcome self-doubt, it is necessary to build self-esteem. One study found that a combination of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and art therapy significantly improved university students’ self-esteem and resilience, as compared with a control group that did not receive treatment. The authors pointed out that art serves as “a bridge between the internal world and external realities,” as well as acting as “a medium between the conscious and unconscious.”
The Benefits of Online Therapy
As discussed above, therapy can help build self-esteem. But when self-doubt is a problem, it can be difficult to make it to a therapist’s office. This is where online therapy comes in. You can access BetterHelp’s platform from the comfort and privacy of your own home. In addition, online therapy offers lower pricing than in-person therapy because online therapists don’t have to pay for costs like renting an office. BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped people make changes that transform their lives. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.
“I’ve only been working with Dr. Clarke a few weeks but I’ve really been enjoying the process. She is very encouraging during each section and I know she’s actually listening to what I’m saying. I would very much recommend Dr. Clarke especially if you’re dealing with anxiety, self-esteem/-confidence issues and/or depression.”
“I have been seeing Amanda for 6 months and she has been able to get to the heart of a lot of things I did t even recognize. She was able to decode the language I was using about myself to help me see what is really happening. She is always insightful and incisive, asking the questions that are helping to put me on the path to a better self-image and understanding of myself and my motivations and values. I can't recommend Amanda highly enough.”
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