Ultimate Guide to Dealing Self Doubt
Do you ever think about giving up? Or not even getting started at all? Do you doubt your choices and decisions so much that it’s hard to make them?
I’m too old. I’m too educated. I don’t have enough education. I don’t know the right people. These are all things I’ve found myself saying. These along with many more excuses have kept me from going after my dreams. Sometimes I defeat myself before I even get started.
For many years I thought it was laziness that stopped me from going after the things that I wanted in life. I chalked it up to that and didn’t give it another thought. It was only recently that I discovered that self doubt has been sabotaging me.
Merriam-Webster describes doubt as “to be uncertain about (something), to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely, or to have no confidence in (someone or something)” and self-doubt as “a feeling of doubt about one’s own abilities or actions”.
Some level of self doubt is normal and healthy. It keeps us from rushing into decisions and situations too quickly. It creates a checks and balances system for our every day life. But sometimes doubt does more than keep you from making a rash decision. It holds you back from getting things done and from pursuing your passion.
[Tweet “Doubt is a dream killer. It makes us think that we’re not enough. #quote”]
Doubt is a dream killer. It makes us think that we’re not enough. It makes us question ourselves. It can stop us in our tracks before we even get going.
Ben Franklin put it quite eloquently, “When in doubt, don’t.” If only we could remember this on a daily basis. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t give in to doubt and some ways on how to tackle self doubt.
[Tweet “When in doubt, don’t. Benjamin Franklin #quote”]
Narrow your focus. Sometimes the reason you feel like giving up is because you’ve spread yourself too thin. While it’s good to have a variety of skills and interests, if you have too much going on you get pulled in too many directions. This makes it harder to focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. Instead of doing one or a few things well, you’re doing dozens of things mediocrely. Narrow you scope of things you’re working to accomplish. You’ll do things better, giving yourself more confidence and quashing doubt.
Give it more time. Sometimes we quit because we think we’re so far away that we’ll never reach our goal. Doubt tells us that we’re better off quitting now before we put anymore times towards it, when in reality we’re closer than we think. If we give up, we’ll never know. We throw in the towel when things don’t go smoothly. Because that is what doubt wants us to do. Give it time before you let doubt talk you out of it.
[Tweet “Don’t ever doubt yourselves or waste a second of your life. It’s too short, and you’re too special. Ariana Grande #quote”]
Age is just a number. Have you ever thought ‘I’m too young to start a business’ or ‘I’m too old to run a marathon’? Yeah, me too. Self doubt makes it easy to think that our age can play a factor in our decisions. Just because there isn’t someone your age doing what you want to do, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Don’t let doubt convince that your age should hold you back. You could be the first person your age to accomplish what you’re about to. Let age be an asset not a deterrent.
Run towards your fear. Sometimes self doubt creeps in because we’re afraid. Fear can make us want to give up. It can make us doubt that we’re making the right choices. We may not have all the answers of how we plan to accomplish our goals so doubt says we should shut things down rather then figure them out on the go. That can be scary.
As someone who likes to have everything in place before I do anything, I’ve definitely let self doubt feed my fear and hold me back this way. I’ve spent so much time acquiring all the skills I think I need before I do something, that I never get around to actually doing it. I’m learning that I don’t need all the answers now. I can figure them out along the way. It’s very liberating to not have to have everything in place and all the answers before I tackle something big.
[Tweet “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie #quote”]
Embrace success. The other side of that is the fear of success. What if we set out to do something and it turns out to be a really great idea. And we have great success at it. And everyone wants to buy from us. And we have to find suppliers and partners. And then we outgrow our facility. So we have to move across town. But we don’t want to work in that part of town because traffic will be a nightmare. We’d have a longer commute and longer work hours. We’ll see our friends and family less. We’ll miss events. Doubt convinces us that we shouldn’t even bother trying because success may mean that everything we know and love will change. So we talk ourselves out of it rather than trying it and seeing where it takes us.
Here’s the thing, those around us are going to continue to change whether we do or not. We might as well go after what we want rather than let doubt hold us back from it.
Don’t put your dreams on hold because you’re afraid that things won’t be the same anymore. You’re life will change. But those changes could yield amazing results. No one says you have to do the same thing forever. See where it takes you and reevaluate later.
You’ll learn about yourself. We’ve heard it before: it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey. We learn a lot about ourselves in the process of achieving our goals and dreams. How boring would it be if we didn’t have to put any real effort into achieving our goals? If everything came easily, we’d miss out on the self-discovery that comes with trying new things.
If you let self doubt talk you into giving up, you’ll miss out on great learning opportunities. We learn from our failures as much as our successes. It’s always an opportunity for growth but doubt robs us of that by talking us out of trying new things. Don’t let it.
You’ll be an inspiration to others. When we see others going after their goals, it is encouraging to us. It motivates us to want to do the same thing. Like the Simone Biles commercial where she gets a Hershey’s care package from her friend with a note saying “You’ve always encouraged me to go after my dreams. Well it’s my turn now.”
Giving and receiving encouragement is a wonderful way to shut down doubt. Sometimes we need to see others succeed to know that we, too, can succeed. Help silence doubt by building one another up.
Decisions aren’t permanent. Self-doubt can cause problems when we fear making the wrong decisions. When we have to make important decisions about our life, it can seem like there is only one answer and that once we make our choice there is no changing our minds. I’ve found that this is seldom the case. I’ve stressed over making important career or life decisions because it seems so permanent. I worry that once I make them, I can’t go back to the way things were. For example, I didn’t want to be perceived as a job hopper so I’d stay with a job I hated because I feared that if I discovered I didn’t like it, I’d be stuck there for a while.
[Tweet “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell #quote”]
That’s seldom the case anymore. People don’t stay in their jobs forever like our grandparents and parents did. Trust your gut knowing that if it wasn’t what you thought it would be, you can always change your mind. Don’t let self doubt keep you in a miserable situation.
Self doubt is a huge obstacle to our self esteem, to our success, and even to our relationships. Don’t let it sabotage the things you want in life. Trust yourself. You’ve got this!
How do you deal with self doubt?