It’s normal to experience feelings of doubt when we are faced with new or challenging situations. Self-doubt is characterized by feelings of uncertainty regarding one or more aspects of the self. It is something that we all may experience at certain times in our lives. However, when it becomes debilitating for us, that’s when we may need more tools to overcome self-doubt.
Self-doubt may stem from previous negative experiences or from attachment style issues. Those with insecure attachments may have experience being criticized, that can contribute to self-doubt later in life. If someone has been told in the past that they’re “not good enough” or incapable of something, then this can have a large negative effect on their self-worth. We also have a deep societal pressure to achieve, which can be more harmful than motivating for us.
If persistent self-doubt is not addressed, it can lead to:
- Procrastination or lack of motivation
- Emotional instability
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty making decisions
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome goes hand-in-hand with self-doubt. Psychologists describe it as the experience of feeling like a fraud, despite having achieved success. Imposter syndrome is something that is especially felt among women and minority groups. With imposter syndrome, it can limit our courage to put ourselves out there in a meaningful way or go after new opportunities. It causes people to experience self-doubt about if they are “qualified enough” or doing “well enough,” in a job, a relationship, a friendship, as a parent, or any other activity (even though they usually are).
Self-doubt and imposter syndrome can have a significant negative effect on someone’s self-esteem. However, there are ways to combat these feelings and become more confident in ourselves and our abilities.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt
1- Practice Self-Compassion
If self-doubt is holding you back from taking a leap with your career or in another aspect of your life, it helps to remember that we are all human. We all make mistakes along the way and it’s okay to do so. When we doubt our abilities, it’s often because we don’t want to make any room for mistakes. However, mistakes are also how we learn and grow. We can mitigate self-doubt and fear of failure by practicing being kind to ourselves, no matter the outcome.
2- Remember Your Past Achievements
Remember when you may have been scared to do something, in school or work, but it actually ended up going really well? It helps to reflect on concrete achievements where something challenging for us turned into something great. A lot of achievements are born out of initial uncertainty or doubt. It helps to remind ourselves about the times that things have gone right, because the same thing could happen in the present moment.
On the flip side, it’s good to not focus too much on the past or past failures we might have had. The present moment is a new opportunity to do well, even if things didn’t go right the first time.
3- Try to Not Compare Yourself to Others
They say that comparison is the thief of joy. This saying rings true in many ways. If you’re experiencing self-doubt because you’re afraid you won’t accomplish something at the same level as someone else, then it can be a paralyzing feeling. Everyone’s journey and ideas of success are different. What we can control and focus on is our own path and where we want to take it, regardless of where other people are at or what they have done.
4- Be Mindful of Your Thinking
When negative thoughts begin to creep in, sometimes they are hard to recognize because we become so used to them. Imposter syndrome thrives off of these negative thoughts that tell us that we aren’t worthy of the place we’re at or that we won’t produce good work. Next time these thoughts persist, take a moment and ask yourself if you really believe that they are true. Consider how positive thinking may shift your mindset and allow you to be more confident in your abilities.
5- Spend Time With Supportive People
The friends and family members in our lives who believe in us and everything that we’re capable of will always be on our side. When you’re feeling self-doubt, surround yourself with these people. They can remind you of how talented and resilient you are during times when you’re not feeling that way about yourself.
6- Find Validation From Within
While it’s great to feel reassured from others that we are doing a good job or that we are capable of accomplishing a difficult task, it’s equally important to have our own faith in ourselves. Constant reassurance doesn’t mean much if we still don’t believe in ourselves. Even if we aren’t the most confident about where we’re at, it’s good to practice being accepting of our strengths and all that we have to offer.
7- Remember That You’re The Harshest Critic
Would you doubt a friend who took on a new job or for the way they parent their kids the same way that you doubt yourself.? The answer is likely no. We will always be the harshest critic for ourselves. It’s a nice reminder to treat ourselves with the same kindness and compassion that we have for others, instead of being so critical on ourselves.
8- Identify Your Values
Take a moment to assess your values and what matters most to you. It may be that you’re kind to others, you’re a good friend, or that you contribute to something meaningful in your life. When we recognize these values and what truly matters to us, the fear of criticism from others falls by the wayside. And when we live aligned with our values, it doesn’t feel as detrimental to be criticized or make mistakes.
9- Keep a Journal
Journaling is always a therapeutic exercise to practice. Writing down your thoughts of self-doubt or experiences with imposter syndrome onto paper might be a good release. You may even realize after you see your concerns written down, that they may not be as detrimental as you thought they were. This can help to gradually overcome self-doubt.
10-Seek Professional Help
It may help to see a mental health professional to overcome self-doubt if these feelings persist to the point that makes it difficult for you to function in everyday life. Therapy can help us feel understood and give us tools to alleviate feelings of doubt. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular form of therapy that can help specifically with self-doubt. With CBT, we can learn methods to challenge problematic ways of thinking that may lead to an improved mood and overall well being. If you’re interested in meeting with a therapist at Eugene Therapy to help overcome self-doubt, you can request an appointment today.