The Reasons Of Self-Doubt and Steps To Deal With It


We have all been there.

At some points in our lives, we all question ourselves whether we are doing good enough, what consider as successful or are we capable for all the uncertainties that might come up as we grow older. We doubt about decisions and choices we made or simply feeling “I am just not good enough for that.”

That’s what we called- Self-doubt. Self-doubt occurs when we are lack of confidence or feeling incapable of doing things we need to do. People who doubt about themselves panic about things would go out of control or not going the way as they expected.

A Certain level of self-doubt is good because it indicates you understand what you need to improve in order to do a better job! (just remember that doesn’t mean what you are doing is not good!) However, persistent fear and self-doubt can hugely affect your life, in a bad way.

How Self-doubt Affects Your Life?

Let’s picture this.

Your boss has assigned you an important task because he thinks you are the most suitable person in the room. But instead of taking it as a recognition of your work performance, you started to panic. You panic about whether you are capable of doing a great job and failing to perform well will become a big joke at work. You spend time stressing over every single decision you made and picture how things might go wrong.

It’s not surprising that fear will then play a big role in your own little drama. It brings you to his best friend named procrastination. You delay your work and feeling demotivated. At the end of the story, you hand in your work at the very last minute and of course, it’s not hard to guess you will have the feeling of “I can actually do better than this”.

Causes of Self Doubt

  • Past Experience/ Mistakes

Why is that?

I have no doubt that past experiences can have a huge impact on how we react, especially if you have had bad experiences before like a really broken relationship or being fired without a concrete justification. Past experience can shake and rattle our beliefs. however, you have to understand that your past cannot be altered but you need to stay stuck with it. Keep referencing to past experiences without learning from them is just a waste of your bright future!

What you need to understand?

You have to understand that your past cannot be altered but you need to stay stuck with it. Keep referencing to past experiences without learning from them is just a waste of your bright future!

  • Childhood upbringing

Why’s that?

Our upbringing plays a big role in shaping our habits and personalities. If you are raised by parents that constantly telling you that you are not good enough or natured by schools that judge students heavily on their grades, you might have already internalized the habit of questioning yourself since you were a child.

What you need to understand?

Tell yourself that you are a grown up now and this is YOUR LIFE.You are capable of making the best decision for yourself. You no longer need to seek approval from either your parents and teachers at school. Education and what you have learned so far in your life have shaped you into a better person than you were 10 years ago.

  • Comparing ourselves with others  

Why’s that?

It’s not surprising for us to compare ourselves with others because we are living in a world of competition. We can easily compare our work performance with colleagues or simply in the overwhelming world of social media. It’s easy for us to envy others’ lives and thinking that we are not doing just as great as they are.

What you need to understand?

It comes down to the old and cliche saying- learn to appreciate yourself. This is very true because we are all different and we are all good at different things. That’s just not fair if you judge a goldfish by its inability to climb a tree (or simply living on the ground.)

Comparing yourself with others is sometimes a good practice because by looking at what you are lacking, you can find ways to improve yourself so you can become better at what you do.

  • New challenges to you

Why’s that?

This is a pretty normal case because we have no experience on how to react or what are the things that we need to do. The feeling of uncertainty and insecurity will make you feel uncomfortable.

What you need to understand?

Instead of thinking that you are not capable, take it as a chance to learn. I am sure we all didn’t have the knowledge on how to walk properly when we were young but I am sure you are all doing a great job now, isn’t it? Remind yourself that it’s ok to make mistakes because we all learn how to become better along the way.

  • You have delivered a really great work before

Why’s that?

Take Eilizabeth Gilbert as an example. She is the author of the book “Eat, pray, Love” that sold more than 10 million copies around the world. However, In her book “Big magic-Creative Living Beyond Fear”, she revealed that this success had also once become her biggest nightmare because she wasn’t sure whether she can replicate her success.

This can happen to all of us. Previous success can become our biggest fear because we might think that’s the best we can deliver and we will never produce anything that’s equally better.

What you need to understand?

Instead of thinking about how to replicate the success, think about how to outperform your success because doing the same great thing twice doesn’t mean you are better than before. Learn from your success, knowing that even though you are good at something, there are ways that you can do better. Focus on amplifying instead of replicating, take it as a motivation to encourage yourself to do better, becoming greater at you are already good at! You should not be limited by your strength!

How to deal with self-doubt?

  • Ground yourself and say stop.
    Once you discovered there are negative voices running inside your head, try to stay in the present moment and focus on the positives are keys to set you free. Try to prepare something positive so you can go through whenever you feel negative or unsure about yourself.Ideas on what you can prepare:
    1. A list of counter arguments. Things like “I can do this.”, “It’s just another chance for me to learn.” ,”Wasting time on doubting myself cannot help with the situation” and “He/She is doing great but I am not bad too!”
    2. A jar that contains all your happy memories
    3. A file that contains all the photos that make you smile
    4. A list of quick energy-boosting activities you can do
    5. A box of healthy snacks that you can always go to
  • Take a break and get a boost of optimism
    Sometimes the longer we feel stuck in a situation or emotion, the harder it is for us to come out. Just take a moment to relax and shifting your focus to something totally different. By doing so, it can allow us to clear out mind and look at things from a new and fresh perspective.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help
    While it is important to work on ourselves, it’s also a good idea to get support from your love ones, they can be your partner, family members, friends, mentors or even supervisors. Getting advice and reassurance from others can also improve our self-confidence and keep us motivated.

My 21-day plan on regaining self-confidence

I have this one great approach that has successfully helped me to build my confidence and become a person with gratitude.

I write things down, just as simple as it sounds.

By writing down things that make me question myself and review weekly, I am able to identify what makes me scared and have developed ways to improve myself. And by writing down things that I am grateful for, I started to appreciate myself more and focus on what I have instead of what I am lacking. I even stopped comparing myself to others because by looking at what I wrote reminds me that I am happy with my own life.

A lot of people might think writing journal is a waste of time because we have to spend long hours keeping a record of what has happened but that’s not necessarily the case.

This is my 21-day plan on regaining self-confidence and you should give it a try too!

Week 1: Starting by “Write 3 things that you are grateful for.”
Review them at the end of the week and you will soon realize, the more you write, the more you will see there are actually a lot of things that can make you happy.

Week 2: On top of what you have been recording, “Write down times that you feel unsure about yourself and possible reasons behind.”
At the end of the week, you should be able to identify what are your biggest fear and moments that make you feel stressed.  During the review process, you can start to think of ways to solve your problems, it can be “focusing more on myself” or things you think you need to improve on.

I named mine “My awesome plan of attack.”

Week 3: Write down what you have done to overcome your uncomfortable feelings and how you feel.
No matter what you have done, write them down and recognize yourself! We all need motivation along the way and no matter how small the steps you have taken, it’s an achievement and they indicate that you are one step closer to what you want to achieve!
Doing so does not only motivates you, it helps you to keep track with your progress and becoming the person you want to become.

I think it’s common and normal to doubt ourselves, but you need to understand that staying stuck and panicking for too long won’t do you any good and it’s just a waste of time. Try to get out from the loop as soon as you can and spend time on improving yourself. Don’t give up! You can do it!



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