“People will never rise above their own opinion of themselves.” I really like this quote. I believe it to be true. Your opinions of yourself can help lift you up and move you forward, or they can pull you down and keep you stuck. Self-doubt hinders our ability to grow, change, evolve and move forward. It keeps us stuck. This mindset is no good for our self-growth and development.
What is it
Self-doubt is a lack of confidence in one’s ability and decisions one makes. Now having a little self-doubt is healthy. It can help foster introspection and enhance performance. It is good to question oneself and challenge oneself. It keeps us humble. You aren’t always right, so self-doubt can help you from making mistakes, or doing something you shouldn’t do, but there are times when self-doubt can be crippling for you growth. Too much of it can hold you back.
“Self-doubt can be understood as a feeling of uncertainty regarding one or more aspects of the self, such as confidence or likability. Some degree of self-doubt is generally held to be normal, because many people may question their ability to master new or challenging situations.”(Good Therapy). There is a healthy and unhealthy way to go about self-doubt. The unhealthy way that keeps us stuck is what we should try to learn to overcome.
What causes it
There are many factors that play into self-doubt. It isn’t a black or white issue. I will discuss some of them. There may even be more, that I won’t state. It is more complex, than most may think.
- Fear-This is a big one when it comes to self-doubt. We as humans do not like the unknown. It is scary. We like to know everything. It creates comfort, and we love comfort. We think the worst case scenario will happen. We fear failure.
- Comfort-As I mention we love comfort. Getting out of our comfort zone is tough. We like things to go as smoothly as possible. We like ease. We like safety. Staying comfortable does that. But staying comfortable allows our self-doubt to continue to rise. If we never rise above our comfort. We never know what we can do. If you don’t know what you can do. Self-doubt will always follow you. You can’t do this, but you can’t do something, because you never done, or tried it. How would you know?, unless you try.
- Guilt-Feeling like the decisions or actions you make can hurt others, even if it can benefit oneself. You as an individual may doubt what you want to do, due to hurting others.
- Shame-Being embarrassed that your decisions and actions may not fit to the standards of others and society can create self-doubt.
- Victim mindset-Seeing oneself as a victim gives the individual less control. The individual may believe they have no control over their life. This can create doubt in their ability to take control of their life. Mel Robbins(motivational speaker and author of the 5 Second Rule) made a statement that I really liked. “Even if you were victimized. It doesn’t always mean you will always be the victim.” You can always take control back.
- Lack of confidence-Not believing your strengths can pull you up, and putting emphasis on your weaknesses. Putting focus on just the negative aspects of oneself. The individual believes they have more weaknesses, than strengths, or that their strengths aren’t good enough. This mindset can absolutely create doubt in one self. How can one believe in themselves if they can’t see their strengths?
- Lack of trust-Not believing you can make the right decisions or actions can hold you back from moving forward. This goes along with confidence. Once you gain confidence. You can be able to trust the decisions you make.
- Approval-Doing things for others and wanting their approval, and not focusing on your own approval can create doubt in oneself. You look to others to make decisions for oneself, but you don’t look to yourself to make decisions.
- Perfectionism-The all or nothing mentality. Everything must be perfect and go as smoothly as possible, or it is a disaster. If any mishap, mistake, or a bit of failure comes along, doubt arises. As I mentioned, a bit of doubt is okay, but if it is used to not move forward, and if you let these things keep you down, than it can get to an unhealthy stage and keep you stuck. Perfection doesn’t exist. Use the mistakes and failures to learn, not doubt your abilities.
- Past experiences-Your past can help cultivate doubt in oneself. How others treated you, what things were said to you, bad experiences etc,. Your past plays a huge role in who you are today.
How can one overcome it
- Confidence-I mentioned how lack of confidence can create self-doubt, so obviously confidence in oneself can help reduce doubt in oneself. Confidence is an important skill to have. It starts with awareness and acceptance of oneself. Accepting ourselves is learning to accept our flaws, learning not to put energy into them. Appreciating our strengths and putting energy into growing and using them to our benefit. By focusing and appreciating our strengths, and putting them into action. One can learn to gain confidence. This may take time for people who lack it, but you can always build it up. Nothing is ever lost. You got to start somewhere.
- Take action-You just got to do it. Make the decision. Take the action. The more you give yourself time to think. The less likely you will do something about it. Thinking about it for too long creates what ifs, it creates excuses. It creates doubt. Mel Robbins mentions the 5 second rule. Count backwards, not forwards, you can always keep counting. So 5,4,3,2,1 and go. Make the decision. Take the action. She mentions the idea sounds stupid, but it works. I am not sure how well the 5 second rule works, but I will say she has a point on taking action. There were plenty of times I thought about starting something, but my thoughts kept holding me back, until I just did it. Once I did it. I couldn’t believe it took me this long to just do it. You realize it isn’t as bad as your thoughts make it out to be.”Doubt creates mountains. Actions move them.”(Mel Robbins).
- Overcome the emotions-One thing you should realize is fear, anxiety, guilt, shame will arise. There is nothing you as an individual can do about that. What you can do is take action despite those feelings. These are normal feelings to have. It is part of being a conscious being. If the decision or action helps benefit your growth. You got to learn to push through these feelings. They will eventually fade. In the short-term it may be easy to find comfort to ease these feelings right away, but in the long-term you will just allow these feelings to build and keep you stuck, because you aren’t overcoming these emotions that will never go away. Once you are able to keep moving, despite these emotions. You learn that you can overcome these emotions, and still move towards growth. Doubt in oneself will become weaker.
- Journal/Talk to others/self-reflect-All these things can make you aware of your thoughts. It outs it out there to the world. Awareness is important. Once you are aware of your thoughts. You may realize that your doubt isn’t warranted. Maybe talking to someone else and their thoughts can help you realize that you shouldn’t doubt yourself. You may come to see that your doubt is ridiculous,or your overthinking too much, and that you are capable of handling what comes your way.
Mel Robbins mentions that self-doubt is a habit. We all know habits are hard to break, but they can be broken. You may doubt yourself now, but you can teach yourself to gain confidence, take action and reduce your doubt. Nothing is ever lost. It may take time, but you can eventually get there with practice. Always remember to keep moving forward, towards growth.