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7 Simple Steps to Conquering Self Doubt

conquering self doubt

Even the most self confident among us will experience self doubt from time to time. Because we can’t completely avoid it, we need a strategy that allows us to contend with, and conquer self doubt. So, what is the difference between those who overcome this insidious foe, and those who are controlled by it?

Before we get into that, let’s talk a little about what self doubt is, and why it likes to creep into our lives like a party pooper, and throw a wet blanket on our motivation.

Self doubt is that feeling of uncertainty about your ability to accomplish something. This dark shadow of insecurity can lead to hesitation and indecision. If left unchecked, it can cause us to abandon our course or radically compromise our expectations.

How do we know when we are harboring self doubt?

There are certain words and thoughts that reveal the presence of doubt and we should train ourselves to spot them early on. Phrases like “I’m not sure, maybe I was wrong, I don’t feel up to the task, or this is too hard” may indicate a weakening of confidence brought on by self doubt in our own abilities.

As soon as we say or think anything similar to any of those phrases, we should attempt to identify the source. Granted, such expressions don’t always indicate self doubt, but we would do well to check it out, so we can be sure.

Do not underestimate the destructive power of self doubt

Because self doubt is a temporary expression of insecurity, it can reach right to our core. Like termites chewing away at the foundation of a strong building, self doubt can undermine our strongest beliefs. Often times, it is the only thing that stands between where we are, and where we want to be.

On the positive side

As with other kinds of fear, there are positive aspects of self doubt for those who manage to overcome it. For example, self doubt that is conquered yields stronger resolve. Our determination will always be greater once we successfully meet challenges to our self confidence.

Once we develop a history meeting self doubt head on and conquering it, we become much less susceptible to its influence. It will still surface from time to time, but we will see it coming, and know how to neutralize it.

7 simple steps to conquering self doubt

1. Recognize and acknowledge your self doubt. You cannot overcome something until you first recognize and acknowledge its existence. If we give into the temptation to ignore or deny self doubt, it will impose limits on our ability to act. Self doubt can be a stealthy problem. If you suspect that it exists, you need to pull it into the light so it can be dealt with. The better you become at identifying hidden doubts, the easier it will be to overcome them.

2. Analyze your self doubt. Spend some time drilling down and figure out what triggered it and why? When you analyze feelings, you make them vulnerable logic and reason. Normally, feelings override logic, but questioning the validity of feelings brings them within the reach of reason.

3. Identify the source. If you can figure out where these feelings originate, then you can hit them where they live. You don’t need to psychoanalyze yourself back to childhood or anything like that. Just try to get a handle on the area of your life that creates your sense of uncertainty so you can work on it.

4. Is there a pattern. Do you have a history of self doubt in this area? Self doubt tends to have favorite places to hang out. This raises the likelihood that we have probably experienced it in a similar situation before. Think back, have you been down this road before? Did you overcome your doubts? If so, what steps did you take? If not, what can you do differently this time around?

5. Design a plan. Sit down and plan out a strategy for defeating your doubt. Make an educated decision about what to do next. Choose a path that you think will lead to conquering your doubts. Next, put your plan down in writing.

6. Anticipate possible challenges. Now look at your plan and try to identify possible challenges along the way. Is there some area that you need help with? If so, ask someone close to you to give you some encouragement. Sometimes, some foresight and a little support is all it takes.

7. Take action. You have a plan, the next step is to put it to use by taking action. Stick to your plan and ask for help if you need it. In fact, encouragement is good even if you think you can go it alone.

For most people, self doubt is just a temporary condition. Think of it like a speed bump on the road to success. Take the bump in stride, then put the pedal to the metal, and go for it. When your confidence is challenged, just follow these seven steps and you will get past it. In fact, I have no doubt about your ability to leave self doubt in the dust.

Did you find any of these steps helpful?
How do you deal with self doubt?
The lines are open.

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23 Comments

  1. Mike King February 27, 2009 Reply

    Great article! One of my techniques is to always put great value to progress. It’s much easier to overcome self-doubt and turn it into something positive when you can recognize small changes or improvements toward the results you are doubting.

    • Jonathan February 23, 2011 Reply

      Great tip Mike, progress on any level definitely has a defusing influence on self-doubt.

  2. Annette Colby, PhD February 27, 2009 Reply

    Another great article Jonathan. Thank you! Everyone experiences self-doubt upon occassion or in certain areas of life. What is most important is understanding that it is all right to have doubt. Keep reminding yourself that you are valuable, that you have worth, and that your life matters.

    • Jonathan February 23, 2011 Reply

      Hi Annette, I always appreciate you sensitivity and yes, we all experience doubt from time to time. When I have doubt that isn’t based on reality I just remind myself that feeling unsure is normal, especially before a big leap. Then I do it anyway!

  3. Sheila March 1, 2009 Reply

    It’s not just doubt, I know for a fact that I will never climb a mountain like that one in your picture, lol. In a situation like that it would only take a wet paper towel, if that, to knock the doubt plan right out of my mind, lol. Sorry, had to TRY to make a funny and throw some humor in on some seriousness. :)

    • Jonathan February 23, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sheila, I like adventure but I’m with you on this one. No sheer cliff face climbing for me either.

  4. David March 3, 2009 Reply

    We are all our own worst enemy for sure. Having others doubt in your abilities is nothing in magnitude compared to our own self doubt. We have to be our own best fan!

    Thanks for the great content

    • Jonathan February 23, 2011 Reply

      Well said David, we need to support our own cause if we want the support of others.

  5. Mia August 23, 2009 Reply

    Thank you for your simple, consumable steps to eliminate self-doubt.. a disease that plagues and keeps many from realizing their true potential! Great post and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • Jonathan February 23, 2011 Reply

      Hey MD, it’s a shame when someones history fosters doubt instead of confidence, but it happens. The good news it that we can all get past it if we are willing to learn new life skills.

  6. Josh Sube February 23, 2011 Reply

    I liked the article, simple yet very powerful steps. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jonathan February 23, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Josh, simple is my favorite path to positive change.

  7. Ken Wert October 7, 2011 Reply

    Great post, Jonathan!

    I especially liked this line: “Once we develop a history meeting doubt head on and conquering it, we become much less susceptible to its influence.” That’s so true! That’s largely been the tactic I’ve used through most of my adult life. I don;t really pay that attention to my doubts. I don’t give them a very large role to play on the stage of my thoughts. But that has come at the end of many, many, many years of acting in the face of fears and doubts.

    Thanks for this post, Jonathan and for the great tips for conquering the silent killer of dreams and potential, self-doubt!

    • Jonathan October 10, 2011 Reply

      Hi Ken, I really liked the way you phrased your entire comment. You summed up the process very nicely and your approach is one that I totally resonate with. Thanks for your valuable contribution to this topic!

  8. ifiok November 27, 2011 Reply

    hi jonathan, self doubt is the direct opposite of self believe. we should choose either of them towards our own detriment or success. thanks for your piece. its quite helpful

  9. Nick April 15, 2012 Reply

    Self doubt is there for a reason; it helps us to understand our weaknesses and what we can do to over come them, for instance you might apply for a job that asks for a specific set of skills, you may feel that you don’t have ALL the skills that are required, in return you go away and top up those skills until you are comfortable with your abilities for the job. Self doubt is not always a negative frame of mind in my experience it has helped me to identify areas within my profession that I have neglected. Self doubt can be a kick up the ars* and a boost!! ‘-)

  10. megan April 15, 2012 Reply

    Hello, I was sent this blog address by a dear friend as I have had trouble dealing with feelings of being unworthy and have been full of self doubt and hurt. I have faced and managed to overcome a great deal, yet still I am harsh with myself. I think by reading and applying the tips you give I may start to be nicer to me. My friend says I need to love myself, it is going to be an interesting journey.

  11. April August 30, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    The article is very helpful for me and will use the seven step plan each day to fight against my own self-doubt. I been dealing with my little devil on my shoulder for a year. I have plans to continue my master degree but every time I start a course, I drop a course and wait until the next term comes around. My little devil always tells me I will be overwhelmed with all those assignment or its just too much writing and reading for the course and to wait…. right now I am taking a stand to defeat my little devil and get it done. Thanks so much for this article. I will make my plan and tackle all this self-doubt I am feeling…….

  12. Sydney September 25, 2012 Reply

    Hi I am Sydney, I think most of us think that some things are suitable for certain people only like speaking in public or being a CEO and this often lead to self doubt.

  13. Nabila July 12, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. Reading this has changed my whole perspective in minutes. Now I have some where to start. Again thank you so much this post was very meaningful to me. Have a good one!

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