Do you question yourself and your decisions in spite of your successes? Are you in the habit of overthinking and focusing on yourself when things go wrong? Never feeling good enough, does it exhaust you? How about the enormous effort you are putting into things you have frequently done before because of fear of failure? All these may point to chronic self-doubt. Self-doubt, a general sense of feeling unsure about our competencies, abilities, and the attendant outcomes in daily life, can rob us of our happiness. Chronic self-doubt plagues us with hesitation, resistance, anxiety, and impairs our effectiveness. In this, how to overcome self-doubt warrants close attention.
Clear with, overcoming self-doubt helps us to become more effective, take constructive steps towards our goals, and stave off the pain of regret. Rising from self-doubt starts us asking for that promotion we deserve, contacting more people to get more businesses, and asking that cute girl or guy out on a date. Moreover, the ideas behind how to overcome self-doubt primes us to develop the courage to defend our unique definition of success, to stand up and go for what we want, and to persevere in the face of setbacks and criticism.
Here is how to overcome self-doubt, and start ourselves forward.
1. Ask Yourself What If I Fail Or Get Criticised? What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
Self-doubt often rises from our concerns about social disapproval and the possibility of being evaluated by our peers, family, and others. The prospect of failing in plain sight of our peers, or other important people in our lives frightens and demotivates us. So, what if you are criticised? You can respond constructively to this question. “Even the best out there, get criticised.” “Not everyone will be understanding, and that’s okay.” “I will deal with the criticism as it arises. I might even learn more about myself and the situation at hand from the information shared by my criticises.” “I don’t need to be perfect.” “I’m just helping the conversation forward.” Our fears begin to dissipate as we say, “so what?”
Saddling with, when you stop yourself from doing something because you are anxious and fearful about the outcome, ask yourself, “so, what if I fail? “So, what if they say no?” What’s the worst scenario to contend with?” The worst is often not that bad. If your request for a higher starting salary is rejected, you are not in a worse position, than before you asked. Suspecting that asking for a higher starting salary will sour relations with your new employer, presents an opportunity to plan the best way to negotiate. You can think of a salary appropriate to you, and three things that can justify this salary from the start. If you are told “no,” you can still explore opportunities to prove your worth and set up a review later.
2. Do Not Wait To Feel Confident Before Engaging In Something New
Our basic human need and desire for growth and development, and positive accomplishment underlie happiness. As we master challenges, those achievements become part of who we are. Feeling competent motivates us. Not feeling competent demotivates us, and often gets us shying away from pursuing something brand new. Since a lack of confidence in a new skill or endeavour can work against us, we cannot wait to feel confident before engaging in something new. In the beginning, it can be hard, messy, uncomfortable. At this stage, our confidence is low. Being aware and recognising that it is deeply human to feel this way, helps us to move forward anyway. When we practice what we want to improve, we build competence. Lifting our competence boosts our self-confidence. Evident with, taking baby steps, in the public glare, to lift our competence remains an important aspect of how to overcome self-doubt.
3. Be Vigilant To Small Opportunities To Say Yes
To chip away at our fear, it is productive to recognise when a small opportunity to say yes is staring us in the face. We might be scared to ask someone out on a date. In this, a small yes might feature as engaging in friendly chit-chats with strangers in the food court. Scared of public speaking, you might start by volunteering to thank the speaker at the end of the session. Afraid to start your own business, you can do a bit of work for a friend running her own business. Identify your small opportunities and start acting on them. As we do that, we start toning down self-doubt and priming ourselves to take bigger risks. The moment when we rise and say “yes” to the occasion is powerful. Owning it helps us to lift our self-image and confidence.
4. Activate What You Believe Gives You Strength And Resilience, Luck Or Good Fortune
We often believe that something or someone will bring us luck or good fortune. Certain crystals, displays of numbers like 11:11, symbols, prayers, meditation, affirmations, feathers, game shorts, believed to bring certain energies feature here. This in view, researchers discovered that those who indulged in good-luck superstitions such as knocking on wood or carrying a lucky charm actually performed better than those who didn’t activate superstitions.1 Indulging in magical thinking helped to boost the participants confidence and self-belief or self-efficacy. As a result, they enjoyed improved performance. Believing that we are supported or uplifted is a powerful source of strength. Proceeding from, do not overlook magical thinking as you focus on ideas behind how to overcome self-doubt.
5. Focus On Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses
Being aware of your strengths, instead of focusing on your weaknesses, stimulates you to use them again. In addition, this practice boosts our self-confidence, self-belief or self-efficacy, our belief in in our ability to be successful in a given situation or domain. Self-belief diminishes our self-doubt, and gives us the courage to act.
In train with, think of a time when you flourished, when you felt you were doing outstanding work, when you were highly engaged and energised. Reflect on these, to uncover the strengths that made you successful. What was the situation? Identify the conditions that supported you to be your best? What strengths did you use? How did you feel? Why? This exercise enables us to determine the environments where we can easily thrive. What is more, reflecting on our strengths and asking how we might engage those strengths in the future, boosts our confidence to pursue bigger goals.
6. Attribute Your Success To Your Own Efforts, Skills, Or Knowledge
This mentality is a powerful source of self-belief or self-efficacy. When you believe that you have accomplished the task successfully in the past, it becomes easier to believe you can do it again in the future. So, do not discount your success when you successfully perform a task, to nurture your self-belief. Close upon, avoid unrealistically comparing yourself to others and disqualifying your positive accomplishments. Good unfolding with, our minds become homes of the notions of how to overcome self-doubt, as we open them to our successes.
7. Recall A Past Successful Performance
Jogging our memory about when we have been successful in a particular endeavour in the past can boost our confidence and self-belief. Oftentimes, we forget that we have achieved a certain measure of success even in areas where our confidence is failing. Realising we have done this same endeavour successfully in the past gets us believing we can do it again. Equally useful, contemplate similar parts of the experience you mastered in the past. Then, apply them to your current situation. Further with, work on the gaps to increase your skill, boost your confidence, and keep down self-doubt.
8. See Others Similar To Yourself Succeeding At What You Want To Do
The sight of others being successful at what we want to do can powerfully influence our self-belief for the better, from “no, I can’t” to “yes, I can.”
9. Surround Yourself With Positive, Encouraging People
Others expressing faith in our capabilities and encouraging us with positive feedback can help us shift our beliefs beneficially. In line with, surround yourself with positive, encouraging people when you are embarking on something new or big.
10. Give Yourself Permission To Be Imperfect
In plain, make it safe for you to fail. James Dyson, the billionaire entrepreneur and inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, embodies this philosophy. He makes failure an expected part of inventing new designs. He made 5,127 failed attempts before he discovered the winning prototype of the bagless vacuum cleaner. To create a supportive work environment, he removes criticism and encourages a culture promoting learning from mistakes. According to him, “failure is a wonderful starting point because when something fails, you know exactly what the problem is, and you have to think and experiment to overcome that failure.”2
11. Set Preliminary Learning Goals
To move successfully towards achieving our final goal, when we are learning something new, it is constructive to set preliminary learning goals. For instance, if your new goal is to publish a book, you can attend a mastermind retreat for people who want to learn how to write a best-selling book. This serves as a preliminary goal preceding the main goal. Accomplishing a preliminary goal often starts us forward.
12. Increase Your Optimism
Pessimism about our expected outcomes often gets us hopeless. In this state, we find it difficult to get started on the journey towards our goals. Away from, seeing situations, especially setbacks, as temporary, specific, and impersonal, helps us to increase our optimism and courage to act. To flip pessimism to optimism, kick the word “never” and ask yourself “is it true?” This question starts you challenging an irrational statement like “I will never be an entrepreneur.” Optimism helps us to focus on improving our competence and slaying self-doubt.
Following from, improving our competence requires us to be deliberate about what we want to learn at each stage, and to set up the experience accordingly.
Our feet thudding back and forth in self-doubt, the ideas explored above, how to overcome self-doubt, build up our confidence and self-belief, and the courage to act, comes in useful. In this, challenging our catastrophic thoughts, focusing on our strengths, engaging in deliberate practice, owning and recalling our past successes, being comfortable with the discomfort associated with new learning, play their parts.
1. Damisch, L., Stoberock, B., & Mussweiler, T. (2010). Keep your fingers crossed! How superstition improves performance. Psychological Science, 21, 1014–20.
2. Dyson interview. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-WRgQlzES8