Almost every person on this planet has dealt with self-doubt and feelings of not being good enough. I certainly have. I have felt inadequate. Stupid. Small. Ugly. Invisible. (And the list goes on.) I have doubted myself countless times. Doubted myself in relationships. In jobs. At university. Regarding my own ideas and goals. I have doubted myself as a person.
And while I do think that self-doubt is – to a degree – a normal feeling that comes up every now and then, it can become crippling and it can stop us from reaching our potential and enjoying life.
Thankfully, there are simple and effective steps that we can take to (slowly) overcome self-doubt and insecurity to lead a more content and worry-free life.
Let’s get into it.
1. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!
This is such an important saying – especially when it comes to feeling emotions that weigh you down – such as insecurity and self-doubt. It is easy and natural to react in counterproductively when something makes us feel uncomfortable. For example, if you have an idea for a project and you pitch the idea to friends and family the response might be less than encouraging. You might hear a “are you sure” and “that is not possible, stick with a safer option”. As a result, many people will start to feel insecure about their idea and self-doubt can easily creep in. You beat yourself up for that “silly” idea. Suddenly, you are ready to give up before you even started. You get angry at the situation. You feel like the world is against you. Pretty quickly, everything feels dark and difficult and you are mad at the world and yourself for being stupid enough to actually come up with a ludicrous idea.
This reaction and these feelings are normal. However, it is important to realise that negative self-talk and giving into self-doubt is NEVER part of a positive solution. It is much more helpful to change the angle from which we look at challenges and situations that make us self-doubt ourselves. What if we see these situations as opportunities to learn and grow and ultimately to achieve our goals and dreams? Let’s look at it from a different angle. What can we gain from welcoming a challenging situation with an open and positive mindset?
2. Get inspired
There is nothing wrong with admitting to feeling down and uninspired. Get inspired. Talk to a close friend, who gives productive insights and uplifting feedback. Or, read a book, a blog. Watch a video, or listen to a podcast. There is so much amazing content out there that inspires and motivates, especially when we lack motivation ourselves. It is normal, it happens to everyone!
3. Remind yourself of how far you have come already
This might seem like a very obvious way to manage self-doubt, but it has helped me tremendously. Reminding yourself of past challenges, in which you felt insecure and convinced you “couldn’t do it” or that “there was no way out”. Remember how you overcame each obstacle and how you grew and how it brought you to where you are right now. This provides such a sense of confidence and faith. How many times did the worst-case scenario, you made up in your mind, actually come true? Most often, we are much more capable of dealing with difficult or challenging situations then we give us credit for. Remembering past challenges shows us, that we can do it because we have done it before. It is simple but so powerful!
4. Being ok with letting go control
All too often, self-doubt creeps in when we feel insecure about if we are able to do something and when we fear, that the outcome is not what we want it to be. In this case, it is a good idea, to remind ourselves that, there is absolutely nothing we can control in this life – except our own attitude and reaction. Admittedly, it takes practice, consistency and time to be able to control the own mindest and reactivity to challenging situations. But it is never a wasted effort. Remembering that having control over a situation is a made-up concept to generate a perceived sense of security can help you with letting go control. Releasing the need to control situations brings such a sense of freedom and ease into – just – being. And it helps tremendously to eliminate self-doubt and insecurity. Just imagine that, whether or not you will be able to achieve your goals has mostly to do with your mindset and how you react in situations, and not so much with the outcome of a special scenario.
5. Failing is part of our path to reaching goals
This one is something I have to remind myself of way too often: Let’s stop being so unbelievably scared of failing. Let’s stop treating failure as a detrimental end-to-all. It isn’t. It only is, if that is what we make it out to be in our minds. I am sure, by now you have heard it a thousand times before. But it is true. WE limit ourselves. The things WE tell ourselves, the way WE see ourselves and our potential, determine whether or not failure is just a part of our way to achieving our goal, or if it means the end of our efforts.
Failure is a word with such negative connotations. And naturally, we are scared to fail. We are scared to be labelled a failure. Consequently, it seems the one – the single most important – thing to avoid on our journeys. And we forget that everyone – you and I – fail all the time. Every single day. When we are kids, we fall down all the time. We get up, we learn to walk. When we are older, we fail at being on time, cause we didn’t plan enough time for public transport. We learn from it, next time we are on time.
we fail all the time – In small ways and in big ways. But when it comes to our most sacred desires, our wildest dreams and ideas – the goals that make us feel the most alive, while at the same time scaring us to the bone – we cannot fathom the thought of failing. It would hurt too much. It would mean that we are not what we dreamed of being. But why can’t we just accept, that here too – we will fail. And with that acceptance learn so many valuable lessons: failing is a necessity in becoming what we want to become. I want to encourage all of us to embrace failure. Let’s not let the fear of failing and self-doubt hold us back from going for what we want. Let’s stop procrastinating on taking action because we are scared that it might not work out, or that we can’t do it. No matter what happens, we will be smarter than before.
6. Trust your gut and values
When we are riddled with self-doubt and insecurity, we often also lose trust in our intuition and values. Our intuition, this gut feeling, that feels warm and seems to send waves of amazing, electric, toiling energy out into every cell of our bodies when something feels right, or feels like a heavy stone, sitting in the depths of our stomach, giving us an uneasy feeling, telling us that something isn’t quite right. Trust it. Trust the gut feeling. It’s not something we can (always) explain rationally. But it is such a reliable signpost. When you doubt yourself, try to calm down and remember past times, when you had this special gut feeling. Breathe in and breathe out, zone in on yourself, cancel out all outside noise and critical voices. What is your gut telling you? what are your core values? Do you feel better turning left? Or do you feel better turning right? Trust your gut, when things start to spin out of control and doubt creeps in.
7. Practice compassion
Practice compassion, towards people around you but also towards yourself. This is something we tend to forget all too often, especially in difficult times and when we doubt ourselves. We become so harsh towards ourselves. So unforgiving. we talk down on ourselves. Hating on our insecurities. Telling ourselves, that we are not good enough. That we don’t deserve to achieve success. That needs to stop. When we are in a state of insecurity and self-doubt we are especially vulnerable. If we see one of our friends like that, we would never talk down on them. Quite to the contrary, we would build them up and tell them that it’s a subjective feeling. It is fleeting and it doesn’t represent reality. We would give productive feedback. We would think of things, the friend can do to feel better. What we do for our good friends in situations like these, we should also do for ourselves. Let’s love ourselves a little extra when we are feeling down. Let’s be kind to ourselves. Let’s not judge ourselves for feeling doubtful and insecure. Let’s remind ourselves, that it’s ok to feel like that and that this too – shall pass. Let’s be nice to ourselves when we are not feeling our best!
8. Take deliberate action & celebrate the small steps
Once we have calmed down a bit and the enormous flare-up of self-doubt has ebbed down it is time to take deliberate action. Remind yourself of your values and think about the next small step, that you can take, which is in alignment with what you want to portray and stand for. And then take small, and deliberate steps and start building momentum. It is actually proven, that taking action animates self-doubt!