How To Overcome Self-Doubt And Succeed
Updated October 15, 2018
Reviewer Tiffany Howard, LPC, LCADC
Dictionary.com defines self-doubt as a "lack of confidence in the reliability of one's own motives, personality, thought, etc.". In simpler form, self-doubt is when you don't believe in yourself. You doubt your own abilities. Self-doubt tends to spiral. It might start when you have one small failure. But, that one little failure sticks out in your mind and then it begins to steal your confidence. You start to focus on it instead of moving past it. Then it begins to grow and spread. It stops you from taking advantage of opportunities in life.
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 steal their confidence. When they get back in the game, they remember that last 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 in their life. 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 Self-Doubt Leads To
If you are suffering from self-doubt, there is a good chance that you are sabotaging the opportunities that you have in life. When you don't trust in your own abilities and lack confidence in yourself you will not be willing to step out and take risks in your life. This usually leads 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 that they are in, but they don't trust themselves enough to be able to step out into something new.
Self-doubt if left untreated often grows into other mental health issues. Many people begin to suffer from emotional instability, and they struggle with anxiety and depression. They have a difficult time making decisions and suffer from low self-confidence. If you have been dealing with any of these feelings yourself, you understand how debilitating it is. But, you don't have to continue to live like this. You can overcome self-doubt and find the success that you long for.
How To Overcome Self-Doubt
- Find Someone To Talk To
The first step in overcoming self-doubt if talking to a professional. Many people are leery of taking this step because there is a stigma that surrounds mental health issues. However, self-doubt brings down your quality of life. When you get the help that you need you will be able to take on new experiences and risks in life and start living the life you have dreamed of. A professional can help you walk the path to believing in yourself and trusting yourself again.
- Limit The Amount Of Time You Spend With Negative People
Spend time with positive people. The last thing you need when struggling with self-doubt is to be around negative people that are going to pull you down. Reduce the amount of time that you spend with people that always see what's bad in a situation. Seek to spend time with the people that are always optimistic. Their good attitude and hope will begin to rub off on you.
Be careful not to share too much information with people that are negative. When you share an idea that you have with people that are overly negative, they are going to point out every single problem that they can think of, even if they don't know what they are talking about. They usually try to tell you that they are "just trying to help," but you feel like they are doing the exact opposite. These people often don't to bring you down, but they are most likely struggling with self-doubt as well that keeps them stuck in the place where they are. If you want to rise above that, you need to spend time with other people that are succeeding and taking chances in life.
- 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 and continue. They don't let past failures hold them back.
Look at Kobe Bryant. He is looked at as one of the greatest NBA players of all times. He has a long list of accomplishments that he has earned including some that no other basketball player has. It's easy to look at him and see the success 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 would have gotten hung up on the missed shots? He would never be able to reach the level of success that he is at if he was always focused on the things that didn't go right.
Maybe you have failed yourself or 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.
- Start Tracking Your Success To Build Confidence
Self-doubt disappears as confidence grows. However, growing confidence when you struggle with doubting yourself can be difficult if you don't know where to start. The good news is that anyone can improve 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. These don't need to be major successes, and when you are starting out, most likely they will not be.
The size of the success is not important. The important thing is that you learn to start seeing the success that you are having in your life. When you first attempt this 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 the successes in your day. When this happens, your confidence will slowly start to grow, and your self-doubt will slowly start to go away. As this happens, you will begin to take the chance of trying something new and will have larger successes to track. But, regardless of where you are starting from the important thing is to get started.
- Don't Worry About Everyone Else
If you struggle with self-doubt you probably also struggle with feeling like other people 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 really paying that close of attention to what you are doing. So, if you spend your time worrying about what others are thinking of you, it's time to stop.
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 certain direction they don't agree with. You will never please everyone all of the time, but as long as you are trying to the one person, you will not please is yourself. Do not look to others for your confidence, instead work on building true confidence from seeing the success in your life (see #4 above). You do not need others to validate your opinions or ideas.
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Every person is different and has different skills and talents. And, the best part is that we need each of those talents and skills to make this world incredible. Stop doubting your abilities because you are comparing them to others. There will always be someone that 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 as the "best" only hold it for a short time usually before someone else comes and takes the title 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? Discover what those answers are and then start doing those things. Develop your talents and skills and stop worrying so much 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 that you should have. As simple as the steps above seem to be it is much easier to overcome self-doubt when you have a professional working alongside you. Better Help 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.