10 Ways To Stop Doubting Yourself

Karen writes at A Meaningful Existence, a blog devoted to helping others put meaning into their existence through practical personal development strategies. You can subscribe to her RSS Feed and also find her on Twitter at @kruby.

When James first proposed adding me to his new team of writers, I was flattered, but then I got scared. A whole pile of self-doubt landed on me. What if I couldn’t commit to writing a quality article every Monday, after all I have my own site to worry about? What if no one liked my writing and I didn’t get any comments? How embarrassing would that be? I’d start off the week and let all the other guest writers (and James!) down. We’re trying to build momentum for the week, but if I bombed on the first day, what would that say about me? I would let everyone down, particularly myself. But, then I started thinking of various ways that I could kill my self-doubt. Since you’re reading this article, I guess I must have overcome my fears and accepted the challenge of guest writing here every Monday.

Here are 10 Ways That You Can Use To Stop Doubting Yourself

1. Know that you are not alone.

When we’re doubting our self and our abilities, it may seem like we’re all alone. It looks like everyone else in the world has it all figured out. Look at them, enjoying success after success. It looks so effortless for everyone else, except for us. Why are we the only ones struggling? Why can’t I seem to make any good decisions in my life? Am I the only one who seems to be screwing up all the time?

I’m sure that everyone can relate to those moments.

And, that’s the important part to remember – these are all fallacies. No one has everything figured out. We all make mistakes and make poor decisions at various times in our lives. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done in your life. Every human being has moments of doubts and feelings of insecurity. Just knowing that everyone else is scared some of the time and doesn’t know what to do, can make you feel better about your own fears.

Unless you can see into the future (you can’t, can you? if so, let me know tonight’s lottery numbers and I’ll split the winnings with you), you’re just like everyone else. We’re all just trying their best to make the most of our lives. Some days are better than others and some days are worse. Sometimes we feel confident and ready to conquer the world and sometimes we don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning. Just knowing that other people feel the same doubts as we do helps put it all into perspective.

Remember that you are not infallible, and neither is anyone else.

2. Look to your past for accomplishments.

Reflect on your life. What are you most proud of? What accomplishments have you done in your life that you can point to and say – I did that. Little ole me did that!”.

Writing down a list of your accomplishments or your most proud moments is a great resource to have when you are full of self-doubt. Refer to the list when you are feeling particularly down and need a pick-me-up. Know that if you were able to accomplish something in your life, so you can do it again. Start adding to the list and keep adding to it anything that you are proud of.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any big audacious accomplishments listed. Are you proud that you finished your high-school education? Add that to your list. Did you accomplish everything at work this week? Then add that to the list. Remember, that this is personal list that no one else has to see.

Re-read the list when you think that you’ll never get past your feelings of self-doubt. If you did something to be proud of in the past, know that you can do it again in the future. This will boost your confidence and your belief that if you are somebody to be proud of.

3. Use the power of visualization to crush your self-doubt.

Visualization is a powerful technique which can literally transform your life.

In particular moments of self-doubt, I like to picture myself fearless doing whatever I need to do to push past that which is causing me resistance. Sometimes, I visualize myself as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider which makes me feel 10-feet tall. Boy, can she kick-butt! Nothings going to stop her from going after what she wants. I ask myself – “What would Lara do in this situation?” If she can do it, then so can I!

You can visualize yourself or anyone else and play out in your mind how they would react. Pick a super-hero, if you have problems picturing yourself acting confidently. Keep practicing what you would say, how you would feel, and what you would do in certain situations and then let the feelings of confidence wash over you.

Keep visualizing the very best outcome for whatever situation that you are having self-doubts about and soon you will it make that success a reality.

4. Let go of your expectations.

A lot of self-doubt comes from our expectations of ourselves and of others. If you are expecting everything in your life to go smoothly and not to make any mistakes, well you’ll be in for a rude awakening.

When things go differently than what you expected, it can cause you to doubt yourself. For instance, you asked out that girl and and you expected her to say Yes, but instead she said No. You thought you nailed the interview and got the job but they haven’t called you back. You submitted what you thought was a killer guest-post that would send thousands of readers your way and instead it got rejected.

Examine your expectations in these situations and see if there are possible explanations for each outcome. Maybe it’s not you – the girl already has a boyfriend, the HR person is on vacation for two weeks and hasn’t called any candidates back, or your guest-post was on a similar topic as one they posted last week.

When we let go of our expectations, we allow things to happen naturally. You’re separating your feelings of expectations (and possible disappointment) from the actual situation. Let go of your expectation and accept things as they come. Maybe things will turn out to be better than what you expected.

5. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you.

Human beings are social creatures. We all crave acceptance, especially by people we love. Ensure that you are around people who unconditionally love you and with whom you love. There’s nothing like being with people who accept you for who you are to build up your confidence.

Talk to people who have your best interests at heart. Use them as sounding boards for when you are experiencing self-doubt. Let them know that you are scared.

Of course, you have to be wary of pessimistic people in your life. If they bring you down and worsen your self-doubt, spend time with those who love you and provide you with positive re-enforcement.

No one wants to be with people who make you feel worse about yourself. So, limit your time with those negative people and spend time with people who love you for who you are, warts and all.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others.

This is another way that feeds into our self-doubt. We look around at others and think that they are better than us.

Jane has more Twitter followers as me. John has so many Facebook friends and is so popular. Look at how much Joan is making on her blog and she’s only been writing for four months while I’ve been writing for four years! What’s wrong with me? I’ll never figure this out!

Just stop it. Stop comparing yourself to other people. No good can come of it. Besides, most of the time it’s an illusion. People only tweet about the good stuff in their lives. No one wants to tell you that they had another rotten day and that nothing exciting ever happens in their lives. They boost up the one interesting tidbit in their lives in an attempt to make themselves feel better and to make you feel worse about your own life.

All those Facebook friends aren’t really friends, either. How close can you be to hundreds (or thousands) of people? Oh, and all that money that Joan said she was making, well she lied.

Don’t believe everything people tell you or what you read on the Internet.

7. Just Do It.

Sometimes you just have to scream louder than that little voice in our heads that are saying that we can’t do something or are not good enough. Tell that little voice to STFU and then just do what you would do if you didn’t have any self-doubt and were overflowing with confidence.

Don’t over-think things.

Just Do It. Use this as your mantra every time you are paralyzed with self-doubt. It will get you unstuck and build momentum to keep you moving forward in life. Do your best in each situation, but remember to Just Do It. It doesn’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect all of the time.

Get on with life. Stop letting your feelings of self-doubt keep you from enjoying everything that life has to offer.

8. Read great books.

Filled with self-doubt? One of the best ways to overcome it is to read uplifting and inspirational books, particularly autobiographies. Read the books of people who have overcome so much in life, despite their doubts.

Listen, everyone has struggles to overcome. There’s not one person on the planet who hasn’t made mistakes and who hasn’t failed in some thing.

Some of the most famous people in the world have not let their self-doubt stop them from living meaningful lives. If they can do it, then so can you.

There’s the saying that you are the same person five years from now, except for the people you meet and the books you read. Make a plan today to start reading great autobiographies of people who have inspirational stories and you won’t recognize yourself 5 weeks from now, never mind 5 years.

9. Ask great questions.

Start asking yourself some great questions, such as:

What’s the worst that could happen? If the worst case scenario happened, could I handle it? How likely is the worst-case scenario to happen? Is it a realistic outcome?

Is this problem that I’m experiencing all encompassing or is it in one area in my life?

Are there any areas that I feel super-confident in? Can I use some of that feeling in other parts of my life where I’m feeling some self-doubt?

What’s the best possible outcome of this situation and how can I make sure that this happens?

What do I need to do to solve this issue?

What would Lara Croft do in this situation?

Just by using the logical part of our mind, we can activate our reasoning power. This is another great way that we can get unstuck and start moving past our self-doubts.

10. Ask for help.

There’s no shame in asking for help. It’s a sign of strength to know that you need help and you reach out for it. Ask other people for help when you are feeling too much pressure and are feeling overwhelmed by your self-doubt.

If self-doubt has been an all-encompassing issue in your life for many years, then gather your courage and seek professional help. It’s normal to have doubts about yourself and your abilities, but if it’s affecting everything in your life, then you need to talk to someone who has the experience and the tools to help you.

Know that it doesn’t have to be forever, either. Just a few sessions with a trained therapist can work wonders. Then you can move past yours self-doubts and get on with your life.

I hope some of these 10 ways of overcoming your self-doubt has helped. What other way have you personally used to overcome your own feelings of self-doubt. Share with us!

Bungee Jump
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gusjer

Karen writes at A Meaningful Existence http://www.ameaningfulexistence.com/ , a blog devoted to helping others put meaning into their existence through practical personal development strategies. You can subscribe to her RSS Feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/AMeaningfulExistence and also find her on Twitter at @kruby http://twitter.com/kruby .

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  1. Hey Karen!

    Thanks for starting the week with a bang! Not sure how I’m going to follow that! No, wait… I need to take your advice… I “CAN” do it! :]

    Seriously, top post. Some very real stuff that hit home within the first couple of points for me. Especially that naging little voice that says “hmm, not sure bout this, you’re not good enough to compete in this race”. Time for me to start screaming louder I think!
    .-= Phil Johnson´s last blog ..Stop wasting time and money! =-.

  2. Karen, Great post, resonates alot.

    I am lucky in the sense I know whatever I put my mind to, I’ll do it, never suffered self doubt in that sense, hence me talking as normal, living in the hearing world…

    I feel blessed in that sense, then I realise it’s down to me, always was, always will be πŸ˜‰

    One of the biggest things I tell people is this… there is ALWAYS someone worse off, someone who has it harder than them, no matter what it is.

    Whatever it is, you just gotta go for it, if in doubt, say nowt… πŸ˜‰

    Great start to the series you are doing here.
    .-= rob sellen´s last blog ..Make money online, mining locally? =-.

    1. Hi Rob,

      You are indeed lucky if you never doubt yourself! I agree that intellectually we may that we can do whatever we set our minds to, but unfortunately many people let their emotions and fears get in the way. That’s why it’s important to have various ways that we can use to overcome these self-doubts.

      I agree that there is always someone who is worse off than we are. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, particularly when we are in the depths of doubting ourselves, but we just have to look around us to see that somone has it worse than we do.

      Glad that you liked the article.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  3. Karen,

    What a great start to the week! Perhaps this should be part of a Monday morning meeting; it’s a sure way to get people off on the right foot and ready for the week ahead.

    I particularly like no. 2 and no. 4, they are so powerful when coaching.



    1. Thanks, Paul.

      Hey, that’s a great idea. Come to TIP on Mondays to get your boost of confidence for the week ahead :-)

      I agree that thinking of all that you have already accomplished in your life and letting go of expectations are really important ways that you can use to overcome your self-doubt.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

    1. Thanks, Jean.

      Doing something scary often pushes us past our comfort zone so that the next thing we are scared of doesn’t seem so scary :-)

      You’re right, it is a shame that so many people let their self-doubt from making their dreams a reality. Hopefully, we can learn the various ways of overcoming self-doubt and getting more out of life.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  4. Being the first to post sets the standard Karen and what a high standard you’ve set! I would add one further to your excellent list and that’s what the worst that can happen?

    1. Hi Mo,

      Comparing yourself to others can begin a downwards spiral, and the only way to stop doing that is to focus on your own strengths – not on anyone else’s. We all have strengths and things that are unique to us. When we focus on building that up, we don’t need to validate ourselves against anyone else.

      Thanks for commenting,
      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  5. Hey Karen, what a great post that was!

    Thoroughly enjoyed it, I will make sure I check your site out after I’ve written this.

    It was once said that if we threw all our problems into a pile with everyone elses, we would take ours back. This means that there are loads of people who have it worse than us so we shouldnt be disheartened by that.

    I was at a Les Brown event in January and one of the attendees had to speak out on what she learned from the seminar – she was so shy she couldnt say a word. Les then told her to visualise herself speaking in front of 2000 people. He then told her to speak and she spoke a few words! It was amazing. Just goes to show that visualising your outcome beforehand is extremely powerful – mainly because it puts you in the positive state.

    I would say that surrounding yourself with people who love you and care about you is key since they will see positive things in you that you don’t see. They will give you that much needed confidence to take action and let go of your doubts.

    I think that by comparing yourself to others you are inspired by them, but ultimately it makes you unhappy if you are not making progress to be like them. Its a tough one. Again it comes down to the people you surround yourself with. Focus on you and adding value to you, then its much easier to add value to others.

    Just Do It – I totally agree, you have to be willing to let go of your fears and step out of your comfort zone. We are either growing or dying so if you are uncomfortable doing something which is worth it then you are in the right place.

    I think the main reason people have self doubt and low confidence is because of competency. If you are not competent at something you are not going to be confident at it. So that is where alot of self doubt can set in.

    So get competent at whatever it is that you gotta do and like you say Karen, JUST DO IT!
    .-= Aaron Darko´s last blog ..Interview with David Risley on How To Get Started Online =-.

    1. Hi Aaron,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      You bring up a good point and one that I should have expanded upon. If you are full of self-doubt, then get some training, read some books, talk to people, take courses – whatever it takes to increase your competency in that area. By increasing your competency, it will increase your confidence. You will know how to do something that you didn’t know how to do before. Remember, if someone else has done it before, then you are smart enough to figure out how to do it, too!

      Glad that you enjoyed the article here and I hope you enjoy the other articles at my site.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  6. Great post Karen!

    A lot of times I am nervous about doing something and I just remind myself that I certainly would feel a sense of comfort by not doing it but will I grow?

    From there, I have to ask myself which is more important to me: To feel comfortable or to Grow.

    If I answer comfortable it’s because I’m just scared and am not sure how to handle it. I then tell myself that if I grow, I may not be scared next time and will be further along with my life and what I want out of it.

    Growing is much better in my opinion and I feel your post has really had an impact on a lot of people, myself included.

    Thanks! :)
    .-= Eric´s last blog ..Where Do You Want To Go And Who Should You Listen To? =-.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Do the thing that scares you and you will no longer be scared. Great advice!

      I agree that if you approach the thing you fear with the idea of growing by doing it, then you will be taking something positive out of that experience, regardless of how it actually turns out. Life is about growing and those people who are stagnant in their lives need this advice the most.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  7. Hi Karen, excellent post :) I feel wonderful after reading that. Its very re-assuring that I’m not the only one with all the doubts you mention. I think I go through all of them before every post, but every day I gain a little more confidence. For several weeks now I have been getting some mentions on other blogs, so I must be doing something right.

    (Does this mean my guest post will be delayed now the info dude has got you on his team? Congratulations on that by the way, very well deserved.)
    .-= Maria´s last blog ..WooRank – Website Analysis Tool =-.

    1. Hi Maria,

      No, you are definitely not the only one who has doubts and who goes through struggles every day! By facing our fears and growing each day, we are building up our confidence and can tackle even more *scary* things.

      I’m not surprised that your site has been gaining popularly – I even mentioned it during my last Friday’s Links segment. You have been on a creative role lately!

      No, I have not forgotten your request. It’s near the very top of my to-do list :-) Soon, I promise.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  8. James & Karen,

    I hope you don’t mind – I am pasting this into word and printing this out – such an inspiring read… and I’ve only read number one so far!

    Thanks you Karen for such an amazing article!

    Take care,


  9. Bomb?! Let’s us down?! Are you kidding?! This was an awesome first post. And instead of allowing this great post to allow me to doubt and begin to compare myself to others :) I’m going to use #3 – which is actually my favorite technique for dealing with challenges:

    “Use the power of visualization to crush your self-doubt”

    This is how I keep myself going! Thanks for sharing these great motivational tips! They were much needed :)
    .-= Kiesha @ We Blog Better´s last blog ..Stop nagging – nobody’s listening anyway! =-.

  10. Heya Karen, awesome start – and so personal !

    Self-doubt used to dominate me until last year – but with enough energy to melt metal and a focus that could make a laser beam jealous, I completely reinvented the way I perceive the world !

    Those times are over -and over for good – I only and only concentrate on what’s helping me and the world around me – everything that’s limiting in any way will be replaced with an instant focus on pure potential !
    .-= Mars Dorian´s last blog ..Why YOU Should leap into the Unknown ! =-.

  11. Hey Karen,

    I liked your article. I think that all the ways you mentioned are very helpful to stop doubting yourself. But the one I come across most often is the one concerning comparing yourself to others. I think too many people do it and it’s not good. People are different so why would you want to compare yourself to someone who holds different point of views then you?!
    .-= Julius Kuhn-Regnier´s last blog ..3 Exotic SEO Strategies for Your Website =-.

    1. Hey Julius,

      I agree that comparing ourselves is certainly one way that we can begin to doubt ourselves. If we just try stop doing it so often, we can build up our own confidence. No one is perfect – there’s no need for comparison, particularly, as you say, with people who hold different points of view than ourselves? It doesn’t seem fair to compare in that way, does it?

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  12. I totally agree with all the points, especially the ones about writing down your accomplishments, visualization, and asking for help. Sometimes when my self-doubt really gets the best of me, I turn off the PC and spend time walking around our neighborhood. However, I try to focus on getting that boost of confidence as soon as possible and avoid spending too much time away.
    .-= Julius´s last blog ..The Challenges of Blind Internet Users =-.

    1. Hi Julius,

      That’s a great tip, as well. Just by getting outdoors and getting into nature, we can start to put things into perspective. The act of moving starts the blood flowing and fills us with energy. Plus, isn’t it true that we start to think better when we’re feeling energetic and confident? I know I do.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..The Only Words You Need To Overcome Your Fears =-.

  13. Hi Karen!

    Great post! Recently I’ve been reading great books and blogs that are very motivational and key in influencing myself. Although, I’m a blogger in the personal development niche, it’s sort of mandatory that I do so, but the benefit is that I’m gaining more confidence and information on developing a better self image.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hi Jarrod,

      I’m of the mind that we should be reading other personal development bloggers to get inspired and motivated, plus it’s great to support each other. You never know where that one spark of inspiration you read can not only help you in your life but also help you to write an inspiring article to help others.

      Glad that you liked the article.

      .-= Karen´s last blog ..Stop Lying To Yourself =-.

  14. Hi Karen,

    just been offered a job recently. Worked my way through first interview,beat 21 applicants to the last three and was chosen for the position. It was when I got the position I started doubting myself. The more I read the job description the more I feel I can do it. I questioned in my head why did they choose me? What did they see? I wouldnt say I was well qualified for the job buy hey they must have seen something. I am the sort of person who will give anything a go, whats the worst thing that could happen? I have the rest of my life to live, and compared to recent things which have happened in my life I am very grateful they have given me the opportunity, I will do my best in my new position, what more can I say.


  15. Hi,
    I’ve never been to or heard of this website until I Googled “How to stop doubting yourself.” This post has helped me immensely and I’ve decided to go through a physically and mentally rigorous course that I was previously terrified to take part in.
    Thank you :)

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