How To Overcome Self-Doubt And Succeed
Most of us experience self-doubt at times—it’s a normal reaction that often arises out of our desire to accomplish our goals and excel in life. You may want to succeed so badly that you place high expectations on yourself, or you may have experienced a failure that caused you to believe that future endeavors will end the same way, despite evidence to the contrary.
A lack of belief in yourself can cause you to eschew important opportunities, impact your relationships, and affect your mental health. But it is also something that can be addressed and kept in check. Below we’re going to discuss the effects of self-doubt and how you can avoid them so that you’re setting yourself up for success.
The effects of self-doubt
If you are living with excessive self-doubt, you may be inadvertently disrupting opportunities that come your way. When you lack confidence and/or don't trust your own abilities, it can be difficult to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks. This can lead to not pursuing avenues that might help you grow and improve your quality of life. Because of this, people struggling with self-doubt often feel stuck. They might not like the situation they are in, but they don't trust themselves enough to try something new.
Self-doubt can also cause an individual to feel that they don’t deserve affection or admiration from others, which may lead to trouble developing healthy relationships.
How to overcome self-doubt
The following tips can help you find the roots of your self-doubt, build confidence in your abilities, and value yourself more highly.
Find someone to talk to
Often, the first step in overcoming self-doubt is expressing your feelings so that you can better understand and address them. Talking with a friend, family, or mental health professional can help you get to the root of your concerns and start to improve your self-esteem. Another person may have a unique, unbiased perspective of your abilities that you hadn’t considered. For example, they could help you realize that your lack of faith in your abilities comes from childhood insecurities that are still affecting you; or they could simply help you see your value by pointing out your proficiencies and positive qualities. Talking to someone can help you start to believe in and trust yourself.
Spend time with people who value you
Try to surround yourself with people who have a positive mindset and want to see you succeed. Being around people who may have a negative outlook on life can cause you to feel worse about yourself. Instead, try to spend time with people who lift you up and see the best in you.
Think about how you feel after spending time with certain people in your life. Are you happy, motivated, optimistic after interacting with them? Or are you unsure of yourself, anxious, or pessimistic? If there are people in your life who cause you to feel self-doubt, consider setting boundaries or limiting the time you spend with them. You deserve to have healthy, positive relationships that build your self-esteem.
Let go of the past
Do you feel strong self-doubt because you feel that you failed in the past? You are not alone. It can be hard to move forward in life after we tried something that did not work. However, if you look at the most successful people in the world, you will see that there is often a long list of failures in their past. Often, though, their confidence in themselves allowed them to keep going and helped them succeed in future endeavors.
Failure can be a learning opportunity that allows you to make changes and excel the next time around. Remember that mistakes are a normal part of the growth process, and they are not necessarily indicative of your skills. Try to forgive yourself, let go of the past, and move forward with a positive mindset.
Start tracking your success
Taking note of your achievements every day can help you increase your confidence. Consider writing down three successes that you had during the day each night before bed. They don't need to be major milestones—just anything that improved your life, helped you take the next step in your pursuits, or made you proud of yourself.
Your daily successes could be as simple as preparing dinner for your family or exercising, or as significant as completing an important project at work or paying off your student loan debt. As you continue this practice, it will likely become easier for you to recognize your successes, which can help you build self-assurance and decrease self-doubt.
Avoid comparing yourself to others
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, people are often so concerned with their own lives that they aren't paying much attention to what you are doing.
Part of increasing your self-confidence is trusting yourself enough to not worry about what others are thinking. If you know that you’re on the right path, the opinions of others need not dissuade you from doing what you know is best. You can give yourself all of the validation you need when it comes to your ideas and decisions.
Every person has different skills and talents. Doubting your abilities based on how they compare to the abilities of others can be counterproductive. Try to avoid comparing yourself to others and start acknowledging what your skills are. One way of doing this is to make a list of your positive qualities and aptitudes. Once you’ve done this, consider working on maximizing the utility of those things that make you unique. Developing your talents and skills can help you limit worry regarding perceived deficiencies.
Instead of comparing yourself to friends, coworkers, or families, it can help to view them as a source of inspiration. For example, if you admire the achievements of a colleague, consider talking to them about how they got to where they are and how you can do the same.
Improving self-confidence with online therapy
A growing body of evidence suggests that online therapy is an effective method of addressing concerns like self-doubt. For example, in a study of almost 300 participants, researchers examined the benefits of online therapy when it comes to managing feelings of low self-esteem related to depression. The results show that participants experienced significant improvements in feelings of self-esteem, empowerment, and overall quality of life six months after the end of treatment.
Online therapy is a convenient form of mental health care that can help you build self-esteem and grow. When self-doubt is a concern, it may be difficult to make it to a therapist’s office. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy from the comfort of home, through video call, voice call, or in-app messaging. In addition, online therapy offers affordable pricing because online therapists don’t have to pay for costs like renting an office. BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped people build self-confidence and thrive. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar concerns.
“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.”
How do you overcome self-doubt?
Overcoming self-doubt can be a difficult process to complete on your own. There are some techniques that may be helpful, such as practicing mindfulness, learning to replace negative thought patterns with a more positive mindset, and seeking the support of loved ones. If these techniques don’t work or you find yourself struggling with feelings of self-doubt for long periods of time, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. Mental healthcare providers can show you ways to deal with self-doubt and create viable methods to improve your self-image and confidence.
What are the causes of self-doubt?
Self-doubt may stem from a variety of sources, many of which can pertain to an individual’s specific circumstances, perspective, and experience. Here are a few common root causes of self-doubt that may influence a person’s thought patterns.
- Work: Pressure in one’s professional life or distress regarding poor work performance may cause someone to experience feelings of self-doubt. These feelings may be compounded by the negative influence of supervisors or coworkers who may reinforce these feelings or detract from an individual's past achievements.
- School: Academic struggles can also contribute to stress and self-doubt. Overwhelming workloads, test pressure, fear of their life after graduation, or experiences with fellow students may cause a person to doubt their abilities, which could further exacerbate their inability to perform in class.
- Relationships: Challenging relationships, whether they be with partners, friends, or family, may contribute to feelings of self-doubt. In some cases, these relationships can become abusive*, which may further increase the negative emotions a person experiences.
*If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it’s essential to reach out for support. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
How can you improve your self-confidence?
Low self-confidence can cause numerous problems in our lives and may affect our ability to socialize, work, or go to school. According to the UK National Health Service, there are a number of ways to improve your self-confidence, including:
- Identify Negative Thoughts: In most cases, the first step to improving self-confidence is to identify negative or incorrect beliefs about yourself. These are usually thoughts of worthlessness or the doubting of one’s abilities. Once you’ve recognized these harmful thought patterns, you can begin to challenge them and create a sense of self-compassion. This can be done by writing down examples that oppose negative thoughts, discussing your strengths with loved ones, or performing tasks that reinforce your confidence in your abilities.
- Create a Support Network: Positive relationships with individuals who build you up can generate a significant boost to your self-confidence. Loving connections with those who show you appreciation tend to be healthier than negative relationships involving insults or manipulation. Watch for the red flags of a toxic relationship, and if possible, limit your exposure to these individuals.
- Set Boundaries: Creating healthy boundaries can help you establish a sense of self and understand your unique set of needs. Some examples of boundaries include learning to say “no” when you are too busy or do not want to perform a task. This can be difficult, especially if you are already struggling with low self-confidence. But being able to say “no” should not disturb a healthy relationship; a caring friend or loved one will be happy to respect your boundaries.
What can you say to someone who doubts themselves?
If you know someone who is doubting themselves, there are several ways you can help to boost their self-esteem and show that you care.
- Ask Them How They Are: If a person hasn’t vocalized their self-doubt, but you are afraid they may be hiding their emotions, you can start by asking them how they are feeling. In some cases, their self-doubt may be rooted in challenges they are facing in their life. Actively listen to their struggles, being careful to wait until they’ve finished talking before offering advice or assistance.
- Show Interest in Their Passions: Talking to an individual about their passions and interests can be an effective way to combat their feelings of self-doubt. By discussing activities they enjoy or excel at, you can help to remind them of their strengths instead of focusing on negativity.
- Include Them Socially: It’s possible that a person is doubting themselves because they feel disconnected from others or their community. Invite them out to your next social gathering or event and help them connect with others. You may also consider joining them for a day of community service, which can help them experience the positive feelings associated with helping others.
How do you help someone with low self-esteem?
Helping someone with low self-esteem can begin by letting them know you’re there to support them. In some cases, a person may be struggling with their self-esteem because they believe they don’t have any supportive people in their life who care about them. Improving a person’s self-image can be as simple as spending time with someone and letting them know you care. It may be helpful to schedule a regular time when you can meet up and discuss their feelings, offering assistance or solutions when appropriate. If they seem to be overwhelmed by feelings of low self-esteem, it may be helpful to recommend they seek the help of a mental health professional.
How do I get my confidence back after anxiety?
Experiencing anxiety can be difficult and may have a negative effect on your self-confidence. While the best solution is often to speak with a mental healthcare professional, there are some techniques you can use that may help relieve anxiety and boost your confidence.
- Practice Self-compassion: Anxiety disorders can cause us to doubt our own abilities and accomplishments, which may lead to a drop in confidence. To combat this, try to be kind to yourself and engage in self-praise. When you get a task done or perform well, it may be beneficial to take a second and celebrate.
- Using Grounding Techniques: Acute instances of anxiety may cause a decline in self-confidence, as well as feelings of discomfort or distress. Grounding techniques can help you focus on the present moment, and involve techniques like deep breathing, counting objects in the room, or focusing on physical feelings within your body.
- Identify and Reduce Trigger Exposure: While it may not be possible to avoid your triggers entirely, understanding what can trigger your anxiety can be a good way to increase your self-confidence. Write out a list of situations or environments that tend to invoke anxiety symptoms and try to reduce your exposure if possible.
How do you overcome self-doubt in children?
The process to help your child to overcome self-doubt may vary depending on their age, temperament, and personality. Here are a few tips that may help you boost your child’s self-image and confidence.
- Actively Listen: When discussing your child’s feelings of self-doubt, it's important to give them your full and undivided attention. By actively listening, you are validating their thoughts and showing them that you care. Try to get down to their level when speaking and repeat important points back to them. That way, they know you are listening and involved in the conversation.
- Help and Teach: Some childhood self-doubt can stem from the uncertainty of the world around them. Allow your children to ask questions and help them find solutions to the problems that are challenging their confidence. When teaching your children, it can be helpful to show them how an activity works and guide them through each step. When mistakes are made, try not to be overly critical or harsh.
- Model Good Behavior: In some cases, self-doubt may occur as a result of not knowing how to have a positive perspective on life. By modeling good behavior and attitude, you can show your children what types of behavior will be beneficial. Once they see the positive aspects of emulating your behavior, they may stop doubting themselves and start making more developmental progress.
Why is it important to have high self-esteem?
Having high self-esteem can have a variety of potential benefits, though it can also have several drawbacks. One scientific article that looked at a large body of research and several meta-analyses examined the effects that self-esteem can have on relationships, work, school, mental health, physical health, and antisocial behavior. In it, researchers found evidence to support that high self-esteem may lead to more satisfying relationships, higher adaptability, better performance in school and work, improved mental and physical health, and lower instances of antisocial behavior.
While this article seeks to refute the claims made by some scientific literature about the “dark side” of high self-esteem, it does cite a few drawbacks of self-esteem interventions. One challenge they identified was that self-esteem boosted by intervention may not carry the same benefits, and may actually increase instances of narcissism. Researchers stated that a “deeper understanding of interpersonal and intrapersonal mechanisms” could reduce these drawbacks by creating more effective intervention programs.
Why does confidence matter?
One reason that confidence matters is that it has the potential to increase your sense of resilience. Life can be filled with multiple successes and failures, and low self-confidence may lead a person to focus on their mistakes rather than their accomplishments. If a person doesn’t feel confident, they may find it more challenging to bounce back from a setback, which may lead to a further decrease in self-esteem. By breaking this cycle, moving forward, and increasing one’s self-confidence, individuals can gain the fortitude to overcome life's challenges and achieve personal, professional, and academic success.
What are some examples of self-doubt?
How our self-doubt can manifest will vary from individual to individual. That being said, there are a few common ways that one can notice their own feelings of self-doubt.
- Negative Self-talk: One of the most common ways a person can doubt themselves is through negative self-talk. Negative self-talk typically takes the form of an “inner critic” that criticizes one's actions or is generally pessimistic about their self-image. These thoughts can often be identified through self-reflection or by seeking the support of a therapist.
- Doubting Your Abilities: Self-doubt may lead someone to underestimate their own abilities or believe they can no longer be capable of doing tasks they once excelled at. Over time, this may lead to negative outcomes at work or school and may put stress on interpersonal relationships.
- Avoiding Challenges: Someone who is doubting themselves may intentionally avoid challenges in order to steer away from failure. If an individual is consumed by self-doubt, they may identify one or more aspects of a new job or activity as outside their ability and avoid trying new things. This can lead to a stagnation in personal growth, which could further exacerbate feelings of self-doubt.
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