We all experience self doubt or feel inadequate sometimes, and that’s normal. However, constantly battling with confidence-eroding voices in your head is not normal, and you should tackle it immediately if you must live a fulfilling life.
Self doubt is why many people sell themselves short, get too cautious, play it safe, and live small.
On the surface, self doubt appears to protect us from loss, but we ultimately miss out on the experience we would have gained if we took action, regardless of the outcome.
Earl Nightingale famously said, “Most people tiptoe their way through life, hoping they make it safely to death.”
That’s exactly what self doubt does!
And you’ll agree that’s not a good way to live ― not if you want to live an intentional life. If you’re looking to put an end to the psychic battle inside your head, here’s how to eliminate self doubt forever!
But first, let’s understand the purpose of self doubt so we can tackle it once and for all.
Why You Experience Self Doubt
Here’s a one-word summary of why you experience self doubt: self-preservation.
Think of self doubt as your internal defense mechanism to keep you safe, particularly from hurtful experiences like humiliation, embarrassment, heartbreak, failure, and disappointment
But self doubt is not an inborn thing.
You develop it over the years as you go through life and experience disappointments. You also learn to doubt yourself from the people around you during your formative years, as they tell you what you can and can’t do or what’s safe and risky.
In time, the influence of authority figures in your life trains you to internalize these limiting beliefs.
The result is full-blown self doubt!
Instead of protecting you from potential disappointments in areas where you aren’t particularly a good fit, self doubt stops you dead on your track whenever you want to try something new. It robs you of your confidence and tricks you into settling for a mediocre life instead of putting yourself out there and experiencing growth.
Doubt is fuelled by fear, so no matter how well-meaning your inner critic may sound, it will ultimately keep you from reaching your full potential.
Your best bet?
Get rid of self doubt using the following suggestions.
How to Eliminate Self Doubt Forever
Quit Fighting Doubt
You probably heard Carl Jung’s famous saying, “What you resist persists.” That was Jung’s way of saying the more you push against something, the more power you give it.
Doubt is a part of the human experience. It is normal to doubt your abilities every now and then, especially when doing something new or faced with a challenging situation.
But the worst mistake you’ll make when trying to overcome self doubt is beating yourself up for doubting. You only give self doubt more power over you and allow it to show up more in your life.
Bashing yourself won’t make self doubt fizzle away. It’s like punishing yourself for beating yourself up! That approach doesn’t solve anything.
When you hear the inner voice saying you can’t do a thing, remember that its primary purpose is to protect you from embarrassment and humiliation. Don’t argue with the voice, but take action anyway instead of giving in to the fear of rejection or failure.
The voice will get quieter and less intrusive each time you take action, regardless of the outcome. It doesn’t matter whether or not you succeed; just do that seemingly impossible thing purely for the experience.
And when you eventually succeed, you will prove your inner critic wrong and reclaim the power that self doubt has over you, at least in that regard.
Identify Self-Limiting Beliefs
Figuring out what beliefs are working against you is a crucial step in overcoming self doubt forever. How do you identify your self-limiting beliefs?
Here is my three-step process to help you with that:
- Start by figuring out what you really want to be, do, or have if nothing is stopping you.
- Next, name exactly what’s stopping you from being, doing, or having what you want. For example, you may want to be a speaker but have performance anxiety. In other words, stage fright is the “but” that’s stopping you from public speaking.
- Now, write down the statements that come to your mind when you think of your “but.” Using stage fright as an example, your limiting thoughts could be, “I am too nervous,” “I didn’t remember my lines the last time,” “I’m not built for this,” or “I have a speech impairment.”
This three-step process will help you identify the thought patterns causing self doubt and preventing you from reaching your true potential.
What you do next is entirely up to you, but I strongly suggest rooting out beliefs or thought patterns if you must live as you truly desire. And that brings me to the next point.
Name Your Inner Critic
The dominant voice in your head significantly influences your life’s direction. If your self-talk is predominantly negative, there’s a high chance you’ll always sell yourself short, put yourself down, or watch from the sidelines while opportunities pass by.
Your inner critic will always point out your flaws and all the things that can go wrong if you try to do something. It can go as far as reminding you of nasty past experiences just to keep you small or make you play it safe.
This is why identifying your limiting beliefs is important. Once you know the voice of self doubt, you’re in a better position to recognize it as soon as it starts suggesting fearful thoughts.
One practical thing you can do to help weaken the grip of your inner critic is to give it a name, preferably a funny one. Besides, naming your inner helps you become more aware of when self doubt rears its ugly head. It also means you’ll have fun eliminating fear-based thoughts instead of pushing against them and inadvertently strengthening them in the process.
Don’t know what to name your inner critic? You can choose:
- A real person’s name that suits the voice you hear in your head
- An animal’s name or cartoon characters
- Names of objects or descriptive terms
Ensure to engage your inner critic from time to time, especially when you want to step out of your comfort zone.
Call out your inner critic for a little chat when you’re alone. You can even choose to write it a letter! Tell it you’re now running the show and won’t mind a few inputs. Whatever it spews, take it as your limiting belief regarding the situation and take action anyway!
Trust me; it won’t be long before you significantly neutralize self doubt.
Make Your “Why” More Important Than Your Fears
Knowing what you want is a good first step, but being clear about WHY you want what you want is extremely important.
Why do you want to be a public speaker? Why do you want to double your income over the next 12 months? Why do you want to start dating again after a divorce? Why should you risk humiliation and rejection?
Make your “why” more compelling and important than your fears, and you’ll have the courage to take action despite self doubt.
History is dotted with many great individuals who took chances on their dreams, regardless of the outcome. They followed their dreams and risked failing rather than living their lives in regret.
Trust me; you don’t want to look back in your latter years and wonder what might have been if you had tried. That feeling of “I guess I’ll never know now” is worse than any loss you would have experienced if you had acted despite your doubts.
Bottom line: have a compelling reason that’s way bigger than your fears, and you’ll have no qualms facing your fears!
Your inner critic uses the power of your imagination against you. It magnifies everything that could go wrong while cleverly ignoring the things that can go right.
You can take back your power and visualize what success feels, looks, and sounds like!
But don’t wait until fearful thoughts creep up on you before you use visualization. Instead, take a few minutes daily to visualize your desired outcome. You can do this right before drifting off to sleep at night or during break time at work, and you can do it multiple times a day.
However, be careful not to hold rigidly to specific outcomes. The goal is to shift your focus from what you don’t want to what you’ll prefer. Therefore, be flexible in your expectations.
Compare Yourself to Your Ideal Self
Comparing yourself to others is unfair and sets you up for a life of envy and bitterness.
If you struggle with self doubt, build an ideal image of the person you want to be, do, or have, and then periodically check to see if you are moving toward becoming, doing, or having that ideal.
This frees you from unnecessary self-criticism and allows you to work toward becoming the best version of yourself.
Take Baby Steps
There is no magic bullet for eliminating self doubt once and for all. Fear and self doubt are not things you can overcome in one fell swoop. Instead, they require baby steps, consistency, and incremental actions.
Take action every day, no matter how little. Just don’t try to do everything at once because you’ll tire out too quickly. Remember, the best way to devour an elephant is to take a bite at a time.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
A large part of eliminating self doubt is internal work. However, you must do one important external work, and that’s being deliberate about the company you keep.
Your thinking patterns are influenced by the people you spend most of your time with. If you hang around optimistic individuals, you’ll likely fuel your confidence. On the other hand, your self doubt will grow worse if you hang around naysayers for too long.
Here’s another reason to surround yourself with positive people.
Sometimes, you feel doubtful about your abilities, even though you’ve been doing all the inner work. At such times, you need your “tribe” ― your trusted inner circle ― to help you stay focused. This is why building a network of positive people who can nudge you on, even when you still have doubts, is important.
This is one of the most important tips for eliminating self doubt forever. You won’t always be positive, but someone in your circle will, and they’ll help you pull through when you lack confidence.
Perform Regular Self-Evaluation
Although this is coming last, regular self-evaluation is crucial when trying to shush your inner critic. You want to make a habit of checking in on how well (or not) you’re doing in your mastery of self-confidence.
Here’s what I recommend. Every week, take time out to identify what you did well and where you need to improve. Here’s how:
- Write down the actions you took that made you feel great about yourself
- Write down the things you should have done but didn’t do
Next, congratulate yourself on the things that went well during the week. You might even share your progress with your trusted family and friends, especially if you have an accountability partner.
Finally, think of ways to motivate yourself to take action in those areas where you didn’t perform well. You might need to develop new skills, get more information, acquire new knowledge, or ask for help.
This way, you don’t beat yourself for not performing well, yet you are not condoning inaction. Instead of feeling disappointed, you empower yourself to overcome your shortcomings, increase your confidence, and bid self doubt farewell.
Self doubt thrives on inaction! Get out of your head and dare to do the very thing your inner critic says you can’t.
Take action for the sheer experience, not minding the outcome ― that’s how to eliminate self doubt forever and rebuild confidence in yourself.
But if you are too afraid to take action because you’re not sure of the outcome, you’ll always play it safe and live small.