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What is “Self-Doubt” and how you can overcome it?

April 6th, 2022 by Janet Chen

Self-doubt is the belief that you are:

a. not as good as you want to be,

b. you are not able to do something as well as you would like to or

c. other people will criticize you if or when you fail.

The strength of your negative belief is influenced by your experience(s) of failure, hearing someone (parent, religious leader, etc.) criticize you

or someone you know or experiencing some other negative situation.  The frequency and intensity of the negative experiences impact the strength of your self-doubt.  In general, the more frequently and the stronger the intensity, the stronger your self-doubt.

In the article, How to Overcome Self-doubt – 8 Ways Highly Successful People Overcome Self-Doubt, Bruna Martinuzzi writes, successful people don’t let self-doubt keep them from achieving what they want to accomplish.  She lists 8 ways to constructively cope with self-doubt.  Here are 4 of her ideas.

  1.  Avoid Making Excuses – Martinuzzi indicates that self-doubt often makes us rationalize a situation to fit our emotional picture.  We may be afraid to fail, look bad, or take on more than we think we can handle.  We make excuses for why an opportunity isn’t a good fit.  She says that excuses are mental barriers we build that hold us back.
  2. Beware of Your Close Circle – There is a saying that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  There is no scientific study to support this notion; however, there might be some truth to this statement.  We know through brain plasticity research that experiences reorganize neural pathways in the brain.  Neural connections reportedly change even after a 20 minute conversation.  Martinuzzi asks the questions – Who do you spend the most time with?  What effect do they have on you?  When you spend time with them, do you walk away feeling better about yourself or worse?
  3. Raise Your Self-Awareness – Self-awareness is one of the most powerful tools in your personal arsenal.  Make use of it by understanding the root causes of your self-doubt.  What situations trigger self-doubt?  If it is lack of skill, then get some training or coaching.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion – It is often easy to have compassion for others, but difficult not to have self-criticism for ourselves.  Self-compassion is being kind to oneself.  Martinuzzi says studies find a strong correlations between self-compassion and positive mental health.  Dr. Kristen Neff from the University of Texas, Austin campus talks about the following process, notice your own suffering (caused by self-judgment); don’t be cold hearted or mean toward yourself, remember that we are all imperfect.

To read the other 4 ways to overcome self-doubt, please visit How to Overcome Self-doubt – 8 Ways Highly Successful People Overcome Self-Doubt.

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