How to trust yourself and overcome self-doubt

What is self-doubt?

Self-doubt occurs when we feel uncertain about ourselves and our abilities. It is a normal feeling, but it is necessary to find ways to overcome it when it becomes chronic or debilitating.

Feelings of self-doubt can manifest in your life in many ways. It can make it challenging to make decisions, take action towards your goals, advocate for your needs, and live a happy, fulfilled life.

When you begin to trust yourself you:

  • Start to make confident decisions and stop second-guessing yourself
  • Don’t fear mistakes or failure quite as much
  • Trust that you have learned from past failures and won’t relive them
  • Stop caring so much about what other people think
  • You start making progress toward your goals

Causes of self-doubt and mistrust

  • Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt frequently exist at the same time. Imposter syndrome limits our confidence and makes us feel as though we are unworthy or qualified to do the job we’ve been asked to do. It makes people feel like a fraud, even though their successes were all earned and well-deserved.

  • Fear of failure or success

The fear of failing is just as intense as the fear of success. The fear of failure, or the possibility of failure, can overwhelm us with self-doubt. But if we can reframe failure as a learning moment, we can overcome doubts about our ability to succeed.

The fear of success is frequently compared to the fear of the unknown. Not being able to predict the consequences of success paired with the fear of needing to duplicate success again and again can become debilitating.

Studies have shown that women, in particular, equate success with negative consequences. If they have known success in the past, they fear that nothing they create could ever live up to what they’ve created in the past.

Tips for overcoming self-doubt

  1. Care for yourself

Treat yourself with kindness. We’re all human, which means that we will make mistakes, and that’s okay. When we succumb to self-doubt, it is usually grounded in the belief that mistakes are bad and should not be allowed. Mistakes should instead be used to help us grow and develop our skills. Mistakes are necessary for growth.

  1. Perfect is overrated

It can be tempting to try to be perfect when dealing with increased levels of self-doubt. But perfection is unobtainable. Any attempts to be perfect will only end up making you trust yourself less.

  1. Take time away

Sometimes self-doubt can arise when we’re feeling burnt out. Take some time to fall in love with life again. Enjoy some hobbies and reconnect with friends. When we shift our focus away from work, it helps us return refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

  1. Remember past successes

If you ever doubt yourself, it’s good to have a reminder of all the times you’ve been successful thus far. Try keeping a success journal. It doesn’t have to be a paper journal. A folder in your inbox, a tab in your notes app, or a page on your planner would work as well. Every time you receive kudos from a coworker or find that you are proud of something you’ve accomplished, document it. Then, on days when self-doubt is overwhelming, you can gain confidence by looking back at your past successes. 

  1. Stop comparing

Don’t compare everyone else’s highlights reel to your behind-the-scenes footage. In other words, just because someone appears to have their life together doesn’t mean they do. Just like social media, people only share the highlights of their life.

Everyone’s journey is different. Your path is your path for a reason. Stay focused on moving down your own path and let others worry about theirs. Comparison helps no one.

  1. Pause the negativity

When we start to think negatively about ourselves, it can be hard to stop. Partly because it can become second nature, but also because it takes effort to replace those thoughts will something more positive.

Practice recognizing when negative thoughts are happening. Once you start to notice them more, try stopping to ask yourself if you agree with the idea. Ask if the people who love you would agree with the thought. Then, try to reframe your self-talk in your mind to be more truthful to how you really feel.

  1. Surround yourself with supportive people

Finding a community of people who have your back is a great way to fight self-doubt. Whenever the feelings become overwhelming, get your community together so they can remind you of all your excellent qualities!

  1. Listen to others

You will always be harder on yourself than anyone else. So, when you doubt yourself, it’s essential to take a step back and ask for feedback from others. You may see a mistake you made as a career-ending nightmare, whereas others just see it as a simple mistake that will be forgotten by the next day.

  1. Identify your values

What do you value in a person? Everyone prioritizes values differently. Some people value honesty above all else, while others value kindness. Get clear on the values you want to embody most of all. Once we know what truly matters, we don’t have to receive every piece of criticism. For example, if you value kindness above all else and your director asks you to deliver harsher feedback to your direct report, you can stand firm in your values and explain why you won’t do that. You can explain to her that you will deliver immediate and kind feedback, but harsh feedback does not elicit the results you want to see.

  1. Seek professional help

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great way to overcome feelings of self-doubt. When working with a professional, they can personalize the methods you use to help you start trusting yourself sooner.

  1. Take the first step

Don’t wait for the perfect moment to take action. If you never try, you’ll never know how to succeed. Trust is built over time through trial and error. There will always be times when you don’t trust yourself as much as you shou

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