One of the hardest things that some people ever do is transform themselves from a person full of self-doubt to a self-assured or self-confident person that believes in themselves. But, the truth is that no matter where you are in life right now, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, opportunities you’ve passed up, or what’s happened to you in life, you can change your self-doubt to having self-confidence and start believing in yourself. This is true even if you had a poor upbringing and even if you’ve never believed in yourself before. It’s within your power, and it will change your life completely.
As a child, I remember being teased and mocked by my older brother. It didn’t matter what I was doing, he was unrelenting in the way he made a joke out of me and my life. This experience left me lacking confidence and I withdrew into a shell. My shield was my father and I remember hiding behind him many times to escape being noticed.
Once I became an adult, I had to come to terms with the fears and fact that self-doubt did not serve my life well. This character quality kept me in other’s shadows and didn’t allow the real me to be seen. Slowly I am emerging and have been doing so for the last 20 years in various levels. Three basic ways of thinking had to change in my mind, for me to be able to change self-doubt to confidence and live a richer more authentic life. In this article, I will share what I discovered with you.
So, congratulations on getting this and reading it, soaking it in, and implementing the suggestions. Once you do, within just a short period of time you’ll start feeling better about yourself, feel more confident, successful and know that your future is bright.
Let’s get started learning how you can overcome self-doubt and believe in yourself.
What Is Self-Doubt?
The dictionary defines self-doubt as, “the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.” This is a very good definition, but it doesn’t fully demonstrate the problems caused by self-doubt and not believing in yourself. Self-doubt can show up when you least expect it. For example, you may have the opportunity to share a talent that you possess, and on “game day”, you self sabotage the event and become mysteriously ill and not able to perform. The fear of failure or being seen keeps others from enjoying your “gifts”.
Self-Doubt looks different in each life. It may show up at very stressful situation or only in family gatherings. Perhaps in business meetings, you may just shut down and not share your newest idea. You may be an artist who hides your work to avoid criticism or the possibility of it. Whatever the case may be, your confidence may be lacking to allow you to show up and let the world see who you really are in a confident way.
No need to worry or condemn yourself, this can change and if you want it to change, it will change.
First Mindset Shift
Twenty something years ago, I decided to join our church’s worship team. I love to sing and play the piano, but it had been years since I had performed or practiced. My nerves were on edge as the day approached that I would play in front of our congregation. My knees were knocking, my stomach in knots and all I could imagine was making a mistake. And guess what, I did make many that day and it felt like devastation of the worst kind. “But”, and a big but, I survived and by performing and playing again and again, I now play weekly without blinking an eye and mostly without mistakes.
My mindset before was focused on the mistake instead of the joy that music is for me and others. So the first shift in my thinking was to change my focus from the fear of looking bad to sharing what I had to offer to the world. Over the years, I tell myself every time I get on stage, “You can’t fail” and for the most part that is true.
Let’s explore a bit more about how self-doubt can keep you trapped.
Think about these questions:
• What are the dangers of self-doubt?
• How does self-doubt affect your life?
• Where does self-doubt come from?
• And most importantly, how do you overcome it?
The Dangers of Self-Doubt and How It Affects Your Life
There are many dangers inherent in hanging on to self-doubt that you should be aware of. If you suffer from self-doubt, it’s important to understand the type of damage you’re doing to yourself if you continue to hang on to it. It has affected your past, is affecting your present and can devastate your future if you don’t deal with it. Here’s why.
• Self-Doubt Damages Motivation – When you don’t think you can do much, and don’t trust yourself to do something right, fear can get in the way of doing anything. This can turn into a severe lack of motivation to do more than you have to just to get by. It can affect your entire life because you may have fewer satisfying relationships, a job you hate, and not enjoy life much.
• Self-Doubt Causes Procrastination – If you don’t think you know how to do things “right” then you may end up thinking you’re a perfectionist, which is just a way to procrastinate and never finish anything or finish it at the last minute. This is how you set yourself up for failure. No one is perfect and perfection is not necessary to thrive in this life.
• Self-Doubt Leads to Regret – When you miss opportunities, you will experience regret. Regret, when left unresolved, can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. This will then build upon itself to create even more self-doubt, which will create more regret, and so on.
• Self-Doubt Causes Defeatism – If you allow self-doubt to continue, you can start to become almost morbid in your belief that you cannot experience anything good or happy. It’s essentially an acceptance of failure.
• Self-Doubt Stunts Self-Improvement – When you have no faith in yourself, it’s hard to even think about self-improvement. You think you have too much to improve because you can’t do anything, and maybe you even think you’re a victim of your circumstances to a point that you cannot achieve even if you try.
• Self-Doubt Stifles Inspiration – When you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to get inspired to do anything new or to create anything new. Ending the self-doubt will bring out the creativity you already really have.
As you can see and may have experienced yourself, self-doubt can be dangerous and these are all good reasons on their own to work toward overcoming self-doubt and learning to believe in yourself.
Second Mindset Shift
The second change I had to make in my mind was believing that I had control over these dangers. “If you don’t like the thoughts running through your head, think new thoughts”, I am not sure exactly who said it, but it really resonated with me as I challenged myself to try to avoid the dangers previously mentioned. I filled my mind with motivating, invigorating, uplifting thoughts that challenged me. I read books like “Switch on Your Brain” by Caroline Leaf and How to “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Joe Dispenza and miraculously, my self-doubting thoughts became replaced with more valuable thoughts.
Making a conscious effort to control where my mind wanders has taken me into a more confident way of being and thinking. I became more inspired and less critical of my authentic self. One of the wonderful outcomes of this new way to think, has affected my family and friends. As a more confident person, I can help others be more confident and I have seen this play out with my daughter. She really advocates for herself now and shows up in an authentic way to her friends and teachers at school.
How to Identify Where Your Self-Doubt Lies
Knowing how you developed self-doubt can sometimes help lead to recovering from that condition. You can build self-esteem by getting to the bottom of how it happened. Some people did have self-esteem at one point, then lost it. Some never had it in the first place.
No matter how you determine what causes your self-doubt, you’ll be able to overcome it. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that developed over time or something you learned in childhood. You can work toward building your belief in yourself so that you can overcome self-doubt.
Limiting Beliefs Learned in Childhood
Unfortunately, many people learn to put off their dreams and limit their ideas due to well-meaning parents (or sometimes they’re not so well-meaning but perhaps abusive parents). These parents are also stuck in their own self-doubting lives and cannot ever envision anything different. This happens a lot in communities where people are often born very poor and end up lacking experiences and education to see beyond their own lives to the possibilities that are outside their world.
It’s not usually the fact that parents want to keep their kids from dreaming; they’re just trying to be realistic. When their child tells them about their big dream to travel the world and become a writer, they react in fear and make statements that may be statistically true but that limit their child.
For example, they might discourage their child from becoming a writer by telling them no one makes money writing, or they might discourage their child from becoming anything that is above what they’re used to due to the fear of the costs and the fear that their child really can’t do it even if they try. But this is only due to their own lack of success and understanding of life.
This rubs off on the kids. That’s why statistically most people do not break out of the class they were born to. The exciting thing to remember, though, is that some people do, and the reason they do is they were able to see and envision the possibilities and then take the action to see it through.
Third Mindset Shift
Another mindset shift I decided to embrace was leaving the past in the past and looking to the future with positive anticipation. Letting go of childhood disappointments and experiences that weren’t positive or uplifting. Changing how I react to family members and keeping my emotions in check as issues arise. And lastly, showing confidence in my reactions and being authentic in relational circumstances.
The self-doubt that I felt with regard to family has diminished after years of practice and turned into self-confidence. I have been able bring this practice into every area of my life and others have noticed how I have changed. I have been able to lead with confidence and rise to new levels of influence.
What to Do Right Now
Now that you’ve read all of that, you are probably wondering where to start, so use this last part to get yourself organized and ready for change. If you really want to overcome self-doubt and start believing in yourself, it will take action on your part. So, let’s get started.
- Pinpoint Where Your Self-Doubt Began
Using what you’ve learned, it’s important to figure out where your self-doubt began. It may be from childhood, in which case it may take some professional help to overcome it. It may be something you fell into due to other issues that need to be identified. If you’re in a toxic relationship, for example, you may have to work on getting out of it before you can move forward.
2. Honestly Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
One way to do this is to get out some paper and a writing utensil, and simply write on one side of the paper your strengths, and on the other side your weaknesses. Then take a highlighter and highlight the things you want to work on to improve your strengths and the things you would like to do better in terms of your weaknesses.
3. Get a Physical from a Doctor
This is important because sometimes self-doubt is caused by anxiety and sometimes anxiety can be caused by vitamin deficiencies. Get a vitamin panel and tell your doctor that you’re experiencing anxiety. They’ll know which vitamins to test for to ensure that you can get the information you need.
4. Eat Right and Exercise
This may seem silly, but eating right and exercising can be one of your first successes and experiences that you can look back to that show that you make good choices. This small thing can give you the confidence you need to stop having so much self-doubt in your life, building your ability to believe in yourself. If all you do is add more water, more fruits, and veggies and start walking each day, that’s going to help a lot.
About the Author
I am Kathy Denise Hicks, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Personal Trainer, and Author. I have spent a decade learning about the body, how it moves and how to teach others to heal their joints and muscles. Being out of pain and losing a few pounds is what many are looking for and I would love to connect with you to help you achieve your fitness and health goals. Correcting muscular imbalances can really help you feel better, look younger and be happier. If you are looking to get moving and feel younger with more energy, I have a program that can help. My 14 Day Workout Trial, will give you an idea of the classes I offer. Come and give it a try. Your next best move may be a click away.