At some point in their lives, many people struggle with feelings of doubt. This often occurs when people experience new challenges, whether it be career, education or even starting a family. Doubt, or self-doubt more specifically, speaks to having feelings of uncertainty or ambivalence as it pertains to one’s ability to complete a specific task or operate at a specific place or level.
Having moments of self-doubt is not an altogether bad thing. The issue comes when the occurrences become chronic, meaning it remains for an extended period of time. If chronic self-doubt is not addressed it can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, emotional instability, difficulty making decisions and several other mental health issues.. In this article, we will look at 10 things that you can do to manage or overcome your self-doubt. Many times these results are better when several of these management tools are done simultaneously.
Have Compassion With Yourself
Often, self-doubt is born out of the disappointment of making mistakes in our careers, academics, family or social lives. In these times it is easy to experience feelings of anger, disappointment and doubt in yourself. Sometimes you even treat yourself poorly as a result.
When you experience these feelings it is helpful to remind yourself that you are human and therefore bound to make a mistake or two. Humans are naturally imperfect and to expect perfection of yourself is not a good benchmark. Making mistakes is not always a bad thing, sometimes the mistakes that we make actually help us to learn and grow.
If we speak positively to ourselves and remind ourselves that it is okay to make mistakes, then we can limit the effect that self-doubt has on us. Being kind to ourselves will ease the overwhelming feeling of being disappointed in ourselves. The same compassion that you would have on a friend who is disappointed at themself is the same compassion that you should have towards yourself.
Remember Past Achievements
Imagine the first time you performed in front of a crowd, for many of us that would have certainly been a nerve-wracking moment. But, the more we did it the easier it became and the better we got. The truth is if you had achieved in the past, you are capable of achieving again. Any opportunity that you get whether in school, at work or in our community, is because someone noticed your abilities because they have seen yolu prior performances.
When you are faced with moments of doubt, it helps you to remember times in the past when you overcame something that was challenging to you. Reminding yourself that you are capable of doing hard things will give you the push that you need to approach a new task with confidence.
Do Not Compare Yourself
We have all heard the saying at least once in our lives, “comparison is the thief of joy”, and you can admit the validity of it. When you look at others around you, friends, siblings etc., and you compare their achievements with your own, it becomes a recipe for disaster.
You compare the job you have, the grades you get, the car you drive or even the clothes you wear to those around you which leave you feeling less than. Comparison can sometimes prevent you from trying a new task out of fear that you can’t complete it the way someone else has. This causes you to be stuck in one place while others are moving forward, which continues the cycle of self-doubt in your life.
The fact is that we each have different journeys in life, as well as we each have different methods that we use along these individual journeys. Instead of comparing yourself, spend time reflecting and get to know yourself. In this way you will get a chance to learn and appreciate your own abilities and achieve success in your own way.
Watch How You Think
Whenever we allow negative thoughts to creep into our minds, many times it is hard to notice them because we allow them to become a staple in our lives. I am not good enough. I am not smart enough. I am not pretty enough. I am not strong enough. These are some of the negative thoughts that we foster about ourselves.
When these negative thoughts take root in you, you develop imposter syndrome which comes as a result of these negative thoughts. Imposter Syndrome tell you that you are not worthy or capable of occupying certain spaces in society. They also cause us to doubt that our contributions to society are valuable.
When these negative thoughts come, you should take the time to reflect and decide whether or not these thoughts are true. When you begin to consistently think positive thoughts then you limit the place that negative thoughts have in your life. This way you will begin to believe in the positive thoughts that you form towards yourself.
Lean Into Community
The company we keep will have a great impact on how you perceive yourself. They will either build you up or they will cause your self-doubt to increase. Your community can speak positively to you in the times when you are unable to as well as help you to remember your past achievements.
When you are feeling yourself starting to doubt your capabilities, surround yourself with these people. This way the job of encouraging yourself is not solely yours and the overwhelmingness of talking your back into a good headspace is shared among your community.
Reassurance from others is always a confidence booster, however it cannot be our only or even main source of self confidence. Being able to look inward and validate ourselves is an important aspect to avoid doubt.
The truth is even if we get constant reassurance from others, we will still suffer from doubt if we do not believe what is being said to us. Even if it is a case where you give in to “fake it til you make it”, you have to be deliberate in your actions and thoughts to motivate yourself.
Remember that you are your toughest critic
If your friend starts a new job or becomes a new parent and is experiencing self doubt, would you critique them the same way you do yourself? Would you enable their negative self talk? Absolutely not.
Instead, you would give them grace and speak kindly to them. You would remind them od their positive character traits and give them reasons why you believe that they deserve to be exactly where they are.
We are always more harsh with ourselves than we are with others. You need to give yourself the same grace and love that you would give to your friends and family, to yourself.
Identify your values
What are your values? What are the things that dictate the way you live? When you make an assessment of this, it will help you have a clear idea of what matters most to you. Do you value friendships or being kind to others?
When you assess your values and exactly what they mean to you, you are less likely to operate from a place of fearing any criticism that may pertain to them. If you are criticised about something that you value, your response would most likely be to defend it.
Let’s say you value helping others and become a nurse. Your other friends went off to become lawyers and million dollar business owners and are able to buy better homes and cars before you are able to. It would seem like a situation where you would begin to have self doubt, but the key is to remind yourself of why you started. You started because of the value that motives you and that is something to be proud of, not doubt.
Keep a Journal
In recent times, journaling has become very popular in aiding several mental health issues that people suffer from. The process of writing out your thoughts and emotions gives you the opportunity to organise your thoughts which can help you to better assess and reflect.
One other benefit of journaling is that it may help you to realise that your concerns and doubts are not as detrimental as you thought. It can act as a therapy session for you and allow you to be more relaxed when you think of the challenges you are facing as a result of self-doubt.
Seek Professional Help
If after you have followed all the steps listed above your feelings of self doubt still continue, the most beneficial thing to do would be to seek help from a mental health professional. If your daily life becomes hindered by these feelings of self doubt that is when you know that you are no longer able to handle the situation on your own.
Thankfully, there are mental health professionals who are specifically trained to correct issues of self doubt. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a specific branch of therapy that is geared towards correcting problematic ways of thinking. This form of therapy can help you to improve your mood as well as your overall well being.
Life can be hard. Self-doubt is natural. But there are many ways to overcome these feelings. We hope that this article has given you clarity and inspiration to get over your feelings of doubt.