How To Conquer Self Doubt

by Amanda Linehan on February 17, 2009

in Best Of

Doubt
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shahram Sharif

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”  – Kahlil Gibran

Losing faith in yourself is something that happens from time to time.  Even the most confident individuals have to wade through moments of doubt.  You won’t ever get rid of it altogether, but you can learn to jump over the hurdle of self doubt and have faith in yourself once again.

Draw On Your Past Experiences

Do you remember a time when you thought that you couldn’t do something?  But, in the end, you actually did it?  Maybe you were experiencing challenging, difficult emotions that you weren’t sure you could get past, but you did.  Or, maybe there was a project at work you needed to complete that you were afraid would be a failure, but it actually went over well with your superiors.

Drawing upon these past successful experiences will help you to remember that in previous times of doubt you came through fine.  You have a track record of success, so why wouldn’t you be successful now?  Also, list all of the things that you are good at and that you like about yourself.  These will help you gather your courage and give you the knowledge that, in fact, you are a very capable person.  (If this list is not very long, that should tell you something.  Begin to find things you like about yourself!)

Investigate the reason why you doubt yourself.  Is this a pattern?  Is this a typical part of your relationship with your self?  Where does this doubt come from?  Being able to find the root of your doubt can go a long way towards getting over it.  Looking into your past can help you with the present.

Seek Out Experiences Where You Can “Test” Yourself

Believe that when you are faced with what seems like a giant obstacle that you can handle whatever has been placed in your path.  Have faith in the Universe that it has given you the resources to be able to deal with whatever comes your way.  The Universe is not setting you up for failure – it wants you to succeed.

If you doubt your abilities, put them to the test so you can build up your self worth.  During this process accept both success and failure as potential outcomes.  If you succeed than you can build self trust in your own abilities, and if you fail then you can allow it to teach you something.  Going towards your fear always pushes you in the right direction.  Your fear shows you where you need to go next.

Find The Thing That Is Unshakable

Overcoming self doubt is an internal change that relies on external experiences.  Have an internal “anchor” that always allows you to return to your own sense of self worth.  Hold a belief that is based on past experiences (this will make it stronger as it has actually already happened!), something that is unshakable to you, and return to that belief the next time you begin to doubt yourself.  With your anchor firmly in place you will always be connected to your self and external events will have a minimal effect on you.

How do you get through periods of doubt?  Feel free to share your answers in the comments section!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daphne February 18, 2009 at 2:27 am

Hi Amanda,

I love your advice to find the thing that is unshakable. What a lovely way to put it. Sometimes this unshakable thing is one’s God, or a person who believes in us 100%, or just the silence that is a constant accepting friend.

Daphne’s last blog post..The World Is Inside You

2 Amanda Linehan February 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Daphne – That’s right, the “unshakable” thing can be anything. Also, I love that you mentioned the silence as a “constant accepting friend”!!

3 Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com February 20, 2009 at 7:17 am

Good topic and breakdown!
I am hit by doubts often, I admit. The best technique that worked best for me so far is “think less, do more” and then “act, revise, improve”
When in doubt…. ;) i usually try to find that switch in my head and just turn it off, then act immediately. Think less, do more.

Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com’s last blog post..Check Point For Aspiring Blogger

4 Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching February 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for this post. Remembering that, in my essence, I’m unshakable is something that definitely helps me get through self-doubt. I have a more California new-agey approach to it that involves breathing into the base of my spine, the root chakra, to feel my groundedness, but I think the basic idea is the same. Best, Chris

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching’s last blog post..Inner Productivity, Part Five: Breathing Through Our Fear

5 Giovanna Garcia February 21, 2009 at 4:19 am

Hi Amanda

This is a wonderful post, great job. I like it so much I stumbled for you :-)
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia’s last blog post..You are who you think you are.

6 Mehreen February 21, 2009 at 8:42 am

Great post! =)
yes i agree with you..”The Universe is not setting you up for failure – it wants you to succeed.”
coming to..”find that unshakable belief”…that was the best advice you could give your readers :)

7 Amanda Linehan February 21, 2009 at 10:03 am

Alik – I agree wholeheartedly! “Think less, do more” is a great philosophy to have in the face of doubt. Thanks for your comment!

Chris – I think anything that involves breathing is a great technique. Thanks for sharing here!

Giovanna – Thanks very much for the Stumble!

Mehreen – Thanks for your comment! Once you find that unshakable belief, hanging on when in doubt gets easier :)

8 LifeMadeGreat - Juliet February 22, 2009 at 4:06 am

Hi Amanda

I do a great deal of soul-searching over doubt, so that, for me, is a staple form of doubt-handling.
Otherwise, something I’ve recently learnt is to “go big”. Simple DO what I am so fearful of. Close my eyes, hold by breath and GO.

Juliet

LifeMadeGreat – Juliet’s last blog post..Getting What You Ask For

9 Amanda Linehan February 22, 2009 at 10:38 am

Juliet – Good one! I use the “go big” approach also by going towards my fears. It’s sometimes painful, but in the end usually works out. :)

10 Lance February 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Hi Amanda,

A couple of years ago – my wife and I went skydiving. One of the scariest moments ever for me – when they opened that airplane door midflight and told us to jump. There was a lot of doubt built into this one – and doing it – jumping out of that plane – really has helped in many ways to get me through periods of self-doubt. That was big and scary – skydiving – and I came out just fine. Other things in real life can be that way too – come out just fine, as much as we doubt.

Wonderful article Amanda – I enjoyed the whole piece very much.

Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

11 Trey - Swollen Thumb Entertainment February 23, 2009 at 4:04 am

“The Universe is not setting you up for failure – it wants you to succeed.” So true. So very, very true. The Universe has given us all greater purposes, and is sad when we fail to live up to them. People who are insecure, and have failed to find their greater purpose might look to derail you when you try to succeed, but they’re not working on behalf of the Universe. They are working against progress.

And going against your fear is great advice. Fear is never good. Fear holds us back. It’s one thing to refuse to walk across a rickety old bridge, because there’s a good chance it will break. That’s not fear, that’s common sense. But when you’re afraid of public speaking, despite the fact that you could make money doing it… that’s when common sense is trumped by fear. Don’t give in to fear!

Great advice, Amanda.

Trey – Swollen Thumb Entertainment’s last blog post..The Definition of “Artist”

12 Amanda Linehan February 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Lance – Yes, if you can jump out of a plane, then I bet you can do a lot of things! ;)

Trey – Haha, yes, there is a thin line between common sense and fear, and hopefully we can always tell the difference!

13 Jennifer March 6, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Hi Amanda. I very much like your last tip on staying anchored on the one unshakable thing. I have not heard this tip before and it just makes so much sense. When we get fearful, when we doubt, we can just return to that and our confidence will soar. For me, this is how God has always brought me through anything I have ever faced and caused good to come from it no matter what. Thanks Amanda for that great reminder. I will now think of a specific time where this was very real and use it any time I get fearful or doubtful. I’m going to use this for some things I’m doing now.

Jennifer’s last blog post..Words of Wisdom and Peace

14 Amanda Linehan March 6, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Hi Jennifer – Glad to see you here :) Yes, having that unshakable thing makes all the difference, something that you can come back to again and again, no matter where you are.

15 LLnL March 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Thank you for a wonderful post. Sometimes I best my myself for having self doubt…. and the cycle continues. The problem is that I have no game plan for fighting the good fight to stay positive. This article is a great reference for those moments of weakness.

16 Amanda Linehan March 31, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Hi LLnL – Self doubt can be so debillitating! I like how you used the phrase “game plan” for the process of responding to self doubt. ;)

17 Matt July 14, 2009 at 8:51 pm

My doubts are really fears that the world will not allow me to achieve mastery. When we have a sense of mastery at anything we never doubt ourselves in that skill. I find that the action taken to achieve mastery inherently removes enough doubt to pursue the goal and lose the fear we will not be capable of success. This removes the fear that the world does not want me to succeed. The universe is a success and we are it.

When I was 20 I had a job being a film projectionist for an art type film group (this was pre-VHS…no rentals or cable). Part of my job was to announce the films. I was terrified in front of the crowds of 100 or so and could barely mumble. I had studied martial arts and I was told there was a story in the Bushido that addressed this issue. A young samurai had won a great honor and was to address the Shogun. He was terrified and went to his Sensei for advice. His Sensei told him to go into the bamboo forest and for three days run and hit every tree he saw. At the end of each day he should lick his thumb and forefinger and touch his right ear lobe. The young warrior returned and asked: “Now what?” The Sensei told him that right before he was to greet the Shogun he should lick his thumb and forefinger and touch his right ear lobe. The warrior followed his advice and greet the Shogun calmly, spoke with distinction and honored himself and his Dojo. Well, I didn’t have a bamboo forest handy but I ran and jumped and screamed till I couldn’t stand and then did the thumb ear thing. Repeat. Repeat Repeat. That Friday I was as nervous as a kitten at dog show, but I did the ear lick right before I had to make the announcements. I went up and for the first time in my life I spoke clearly to a group of people and I actually looked at them. I still use that technique but I have to refresh the scream run jump thing to keep it working.

18 Amanda Linehan July 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Hi Matt – Interesting story. I’m still thinking about it. I’ll keep this one in mind. :)

19 debenu October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

I have enjoyed this site soo much. Infact, it has relieved me in many ways and has therefore enlightend me.
thanks.

20 Amanda Linehan October 23, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Hi Debenu – Thanks very much!

21 jenny December 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

i have made plans to return to israel. i have longed for this moment,
have i arranged to rent my apart in uk. now 11th hour, and asking if it,s worth all the trouble.
i returned to the uk, [roots] after 18 years. just could not pick up the peices. nothing i want here. no longer like the distances for social outings. felt an outsider in isreal,[language not full], yet the confidence
sought in the uk. hasn,t happened. miss the outdoor life, and good friends. help!

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