When you’re plagued by self-doubt, your life sucks. It really does. I could sugar-coat it if you’d prefer, but the simple fact is that when self-doubt creeps into your life, your life gets hard. Very Hard.
Self-doubt stops you from living your best life by trapping you in fear-based thoughts that chip away at your confidence while magnifying your insecurities.
Here are just a few examples of what happens when self-doubt runs rampant in your life …
- You won’t take risks, so you stay stuck.
- You are less likely to stand up for yourself.
- You live in frustration and regret.
- You experience unnecessary stress; self-doubt anxiety is real and exhausting!
- You have a tough time making headway in your career; excessive self-doubt at work makes you come across less capable than you really are.
- Your relationships suffer because habitual self-doubters have a hard time communicating what they want and need.
- You either lean heavy on perfectionism, which is stifling or, perhaps even worse, you give up on pursuing your dreams, which would be a true tragedy. When you’re plagued by self-doubt, your dreams are in serious jeopardy of dying. Self-doubt is a dream killer!
I could go on and on about how excessive self-doubt ruins your life, but I’m guessing you already know the emotional pain that self-doubt brings into you’re life and you’re looking for relief, preferably served in easily digestible doses right now! (Am I right? I thought so.)
We’ll get to our 15 doubt-crushing tips in just a moment, but first lets take a look at what self-doubt really is.
When Self-Doubt Creeps In, Look at it This Way
Have you ever been at a carnival or amusement park where they had one of those mirrors that distort your reflection? You know the ones I’m talking about; they make you look ten-feet tall or ten-feet wide (oh do I truly hate that ten-foot wide reflection!)
Much of the time self-doubt is a lot like those distorting mirrors; self-doubt keeps you from seeing and appreciating yourself for who you truly are.
If you’re plagued by self-doubt and you want to do something about it, then you will need to work on your mindset, your beliefs (which are often subconscious) and your habits. You’ll also need to work on your courage and confidence. Easy peasy.
What follows are 15 things you can start doing right now whenever you feel self-doubt creeping into your life. If you are plagued by self-doubt, these tips will make an immediate positive impact in your life.
After I reveal the top 15 tips, I’ll introduce you to some life-transforming resources that’ll help you take a deep dive into the inner work you’ll need to do if self-doubt is more than a now-and-then problem for you.
15 Things to Do When You Are Plagued by Self-Doubt
1 Tell yourself that doubts about your worth are liars; remind yourself that you are capable, competent, and courageous.
2 Spend 5 minutes in stillness. Turn your focus to your breath and wait for the wave of emotion to pass by. Emotionally charged thoughts like self-doubt sound urgent when in fact, they are not. Time helps you turn self-doubt monsters into meek mouses.
3 Listen to uplifting music that pumps you up. Make a confidence-boosting playlist that you can turn to anytime you need to remind yourself how awesome you are. Here are a few suggestions to add to your list.
4 Say a prayer that brings you back to your inner wisdom. Create your own prayer, but keep it simple, for example: “I hear self-doubts in my mind, but I know these doubts about my worth are not based in truth. I call upon my inner wisdom to show me my true self-worth.”
5 When you’re plagued by self-doubt, you need to remind yourself just how competent you really are. It’s a good time to remind yourself about all you’ve accomplished.
I suggest keeping a list of all your accomplishments (even small ones!). Every day you see yourself doing something … anything … that’s an accomplishment for you, write it down. When you’re feeling low on yourself, look over this list. It will remind you capable you really are!
6 Remind yourself that self-doubts are the voice of fear, and everything fear tells you about your true value is a flat-out lie. If your self-doubts arise because you are about to embark on something new, some degree of fear of failure is justified (if you’ve never done something, you might indeed fail).
When you’re plagued by self-doubt because you’re about to do something you’ve never done before, it’s important to remind yourself that you’ve done many new things successfully before. Also, know that even if this time you do fail, you’ll learn and, as long as you’re learning, you never really fail.
7 Bathe yourself in self-worth and confidence affirmations. Prepare a go-to affirmation list ahead of time, so you don’t spiral down from self-doubt into self-loathing.
8 Remind yourself that everything will be okay; don’t forget, worrying is not constructive.
9 Recite “Be here now” – a mantra borrowed from Ram Dass — over and over. Self-doubt tries to pull you into past mistakes or pull you into worries about your future. Staying attuned to the here and now is where all power lies!
10 Step back from your thoughts and say “Wait a minute! Is what I’m saying true or just self-bullying?”
When you’re plagued by self-doubt, you may have a self-criticism problem. Self-doubts are often an expression of criticism from your inner mean girl or boy. If you find that’s the case, shut that inner bully down!
11 Self-doubt can be a sign of overthinking. So, when mired in a self-doubt breakdown, take time to listen to your heart instead of your head.
12 Relentless thoughts of self-doubt and low self-worth are not loving thoughts. If you are plagued by self-doubt, it’s time for some serious self-love. Offer yourself total and complete love with whole-hearted sincerity. Don’t just offer the words “I love you” to yourself, be sure to FEEL the love flowing from your heart to yourself.
13 Surrender your self-doubts to God and let them go, knowing the ultimate creative wisdom of the universe has your back. Then, deliberately plant more positive (and correct!) thoughts in your mind.
14 Push through the fear. Every time you muster the courage to push through fear, you build your confidence. That means fewer self-doubt meltdowns for your future.
15 Walk it out. Literally, take some time to move your body and pay attention to your body rather than your mind. Self-doubt often disappears or at least subsides, when you give your mind time to clear your panic-ridden self-doubt thoughts.
Self-Doubt Is Fear … Fear that You’re Not Good Enough or You’ll Make a Mistake
Self-doubt is one of the many ways fear manifests in our lives and our reptilian brain triggers a fight or flight response anytime we encounter fear.
Self-doubt isn’t a ravenous, charging tiger, so the reptilian brain’s over-the-top response isn’t appropriate. We’ve evolved, and so our relationship with fear must evolve, too.
According to Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt, “What holds you back is not fear, but your attitude towards it. The tighter you hold on to the attitude that fear is something ‘bad’ and you can’t do the things you want until it goes away, the more struck you will be.”
When you’re plagued by self-doubt, it’s time to rethink your relationship with fear. In other words, you need to accept fear as part of life instead of always avoiding it.
Harris says, “Genuine confidence is not the absence of fear; it is a transformed relationship with fear.”
Being willing to face your fears is a massive step toward reducing most of the self-doubt in your life.
Can You Eliminate Self-Doubt Entirely?
I want to be clear here; there’s a difference between having some self-doubt and being plagued by self-doubt.
You’re never going to quash self-doubt entirely; for example, whenever you try something you’ve never done before, self-doubt is an appropriate reaction.
Self-doubt can be your inner voice telling you you’re not sure you can do something; if you’ve never done something before, frankly self-doubt is an appropriate response, though being paralyzed by fear is not.
The true goal is to reduce inappropriate self-doubt (the inner critic and fearful inner child who underestimates you), and build your courage up enough that you can face your fears and live to tell the tale.
By the way, speaking of courage, if you haven’t watch Brené Brown’s Netflix Special, The Call to Courage, I highly recommend you curl up on the couch and tune into her show. It’s amazing and you’ll gain some wonderful insight into dealing with self-doubt and vulnerability. You’ll also laugh a lot, because her stories are hilarious.
If you’re plagued by fear, I also recommend Brené Brown’s books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly; each offers amazing advice on dealing with self-doubt, building your courage, and living in confidence.
In-Depth Tools for Anyone Suffering from Relentless Self-Doubt
The tips and techniques I’ve mentioned above will help. That’s a fact. Yet, if self-doubt is a constant companion in your life, it’s probably time for you to do some more immersive work. Here are my top suggestions for shedding self-doubt in your life:
- If self-doubt is a frequent visitor in your life, you need to do some inner work on your confidence and self-worth. I suggest starting with Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life.
- If you have a strong self-care regime already in place, you’re more prepared to handle days where self-doubt overwhelms. If you don’t, the doubts will take a much bigger toll on you. Cheryl Richardson has done some great work in the field of self-care. I highly recommend her book The Art of Extreme Self-Care.
- Self-doubt is driven by limiting beliefs. If you’re plagued by self-doubt, try figuring out what limiting beliefs you are still holding onto. Believe and Create has a great post on this called 62 Self-Limiting Beliefs that Block Happiness and Success. Be sure to check it out.
- Your inner critic can be one cold-hearted son-of-a-gun. The best advice I’ve ever seen on working with your inner critic is in Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big. The entire book is one big nod to building your confidence and going after what you really want in life. In my opinion, it’s a must read.
- I love the Mel Robbins quote, “Confidence is created by the small things you do every single day that build trust in yourself.” She also said “Your doubts create mountains. Your actions move them.” Isn’t Mel great? If self-doubt is a big issue for you, it’s time to start building your confidence. Mel’s book, The 5-Second Rule, is a game-changer when it comes to building your confidence.
- Finally, self-doubt is fear. It’s as plain and simple as that. Many people choose to let fear cripple their lives, but you deserve to live in a much higher vibration! If you want to defeat fear, you do it with love. Marianne Williamson’s classic, A Return to Love, is the tonic you need to help you move from your doubt-filled life to one where you bask in confidence and love each and every day.
I’ve decided to end this post with one of Marianne’s most famous quotes. I hope it inspires you to stop living in self-doubt and fear … and claim the confident, joy-filled life you deserve!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson