It doesn’t matter who you are, there are always going to be days where you feel inadequate. Your goals seem so far out of reach, you doubt all of your ability, and you feel like your mind is in this gray haze.
It’s okay to feel this way. In fact, feeling this way is normal.
It isn’t self-doubt itself that defines what we can and can’t achieve in life. It’s what we do with it, how we cope with it, and how quickly we choose to let it go that defines what we can and can’t achieve.
As somebody who has experienced a lot of self-doubt in the past and still struggles from time to time, I want to share with you what I try to focus on when I get lost in my own thoughts.
What Is Self Doubt?
What you need to know about self-doubt is that it’s nothing more than a little persuasive voice inside of your own head.
For me, this is what it’s like…
I get going with my day feeling confident, happy, and motivated to go. Then I look around at all of the smiling faces around me and the thought of being my own boss or working on my own time. I then become curious of how many others are out there working on their own time, being their own boss, truly living their dream.
I sit there for a second in admiration and wonder, “How did they do that? How did they create that life for themselves? What separates them from me? What do they have that I am lacking?”
And then it’s just a downward spiral from there.
I can describe this to you because that’s what I am feeling right now.
And maybe you can’t relate to the exact examples I am using, but self-doubt definitely leaves its mark on you in other areas of your life. Maybe it’s work where you struggle with feeling inadequate, maybe it’s relationships, or maybe it’s just a personal attribute. Regardless of what it might be, we all experience this feeling.
What Causes Self Doubt?
The Comparison Trap
There are many causes of self doubt, but the most common cause comes from comparing ourselves to others.
Let me tell you, this is what’s been doing it for me lately.
It’s like everywhere I look, I see the success of others and wonder why I don’t have that similar success. Then all of these ideas flood my mind with things I can do to achieve a similar level of success, and the overwhelming number of ideas generally causes me to fail to take any action. It’s like this constant mind battle of what idea is going to be better, what one is going to help me get closer to my goals, etc. Then it gets to the point where I just simply move on and don’t take any action.
Personally, I watch a lot of YouTube videos. I see all of these YouTubers who have created a living for themselves doing something they are incredibly passionate about. I then start to think about what I could do to someday achieve the success they have. Then I begin to think if my ideas are as good as theirs or not. After overthinking everything, I generally just get down on myself and don’t move forward.
So yeah, comparison is the number one cause of self doubt. When we look at others and wonder what makes them better than us or why they have things we don’t, that’s a recipe for disaster.
During these times, I have to force myself to remember what while they might have things I don’t, I also don’t know the full story. I only see their success and not the struggles they have gone through, the amount of hours they have put into something, or what their life is truly like.
I am only getting a surface-level view, and I am letting that view cause me to get down on myself. That, my friends, is the exact reason why Henry Ford once said, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.”
Fixating On A Specific Outcome
One of the biggest things that holds us back from taking that first leap to pursue our goals and dreams is the fear of failing.
When we become fixated on a particular outcome and trained to believe that making mistakes results in us being seen as failures. Not only do we become paralyzed by the possibility of failure but we also close ourselves off to all other possibilities – possibilities that could contribute greatly to our future success.
For instance, use my previous reference about YouTube as an example. You may find yourself reluctant to start a YouTube channel without a particular plan proven to be successful. You doubt your ability to achieve that ideal image of success. You question whether or not you will achieve your goals of achieving a certain number of viewers, subscribers, accolades, or other outcomes.
The joy of getting started and trying something new quickly becomes masked by your fears and anxiety. As a result, you don’t get started, and because you weren’t open to the possibility of failure, you will never know what your successes could have been.
Being Emotionally and Physically Drained
I can’t begin to emphasize how important it is to allow yourself to rest and get a good night’s sleep. Constantly running yourself into the ground is not going to do your mind or body any good. In fact, it’s only going to do more harm.
I begin to experience self doubt when I am incredibly tired. If I do not get a good night’s sleep or try to put too much on my plate any given day, I begin to get lost in my own thoughts and question whether or not I am “good enough.”
That’s because I know myself well enough to know that I don’t think straight when I am tired. I need a good 8 hours of sleep in order to think effectively and be on top of my game. Well, the last few nights I have not gotten that, hence why I am feeling the way I am today.
It’s important to have goals for yourself, but it’s also important to rest. You need that time to recharge your batteries. If you’re constantly tired, you are never going to be on top of your game, and when you aren’t on top of your game, the doubt will start to settle in.
How To Overcome Self Doubt
These are all things I am having to focus on today. When I start doubting myself, this is what helps me.
1. Be Inspired, Not Jealous
What ever happened to being happy for others? What ever happened to congratulating others for their achievements, even if we have yet to achieve goals and dreams of our own?
It’s hard to do, but instead of getting jealous or envious of others, share their success with them. Congratulate others on their accomplishments, be happy that others have achieve their goals and dreams, and simply do your part in being the kind of person you want others to be towards you when you achieve success of your own.
In the meantime, use the success of others to help inspire you. Use the success of others to show you that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
2. Practice Self-Compassion
While it’s easy to extend compassion to others, very few people are able to control their self-criticism and replace it with self-compassion.
Self-compassion is simply being kind to oneself. Studies show that there is a strong correlation between self-compassion and positive mental health, such as reduced anxiety and greater life satisfaction, as well as higher self-esteem.
I have found that being kind and constructive when feeling self-doubt is always a better choice than beating myself up and critiquing my every mistake. My stress and anxiety levels decrease, and overall, I just feel more optimistic about life.
It kind of makes you wonder why we would beat ourselves up then in the first place if we know it’s not going to benefit us.
So what can you do to practice compassion towards yourself?
Use positive and uplifting affirmations. Fill your mind with the thoughts you want your mind to be reflective of. As important as it is to treat others the way you want to be treated, don’t forget to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
3. Celebrate Your Small Wins
Remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Success is never going to happen overnight. It’s going to take many years, many hours of hard work, and occasionally some luck on your side to achieve the success you envision for yourself.
That’s why you should celebrate your small wins.
Celebrating your small wins will help reassure the belief that you can achieve the success you envision for yourself. It can also help keep you motivated. When you see your hard work paying off and recognize that hard work, you will be more motivated to continue to move forward.
During a time where I am in my own thoughts, I am trying to focus on all that I have achieved instead of the things I have yet to achieve. It helps me to take a step back and reflect on the fact that I already have achieve more than I once thought possible, and the harder I continue to work, the more success I will continue to achieve.
4. Just Get Started
All of these different thoughts come to my mind when I think about starting down a new road.
“Will I fail? How long will it take for me to find the success I desire to achieve? Will others like my ideas? What will the future hold for me?”
All of these questions come to my mind, but what I forget to realize is that I will never know the answer to any of these questions unless I just get started.
Your mind is always going to experience doubt, especially when you are taking a chance on yourself and trying something new. But unless you take that chance, you are simply never going to know what you could have achieved.
At the end of your life, are you going to look back on the number of times you have failed? Or, are you going to look back and regret not giving yourself the chance to fail more with the time you had?
That’s probably the biggest motivator for me. Yeah, it’s hard to break past the barriers of self-doubt, but unless I do, I am only going to regret not doing more with the precious time I had.
5. Do Something Enjoyable
When you are feeling down on yourself and inadequate, take your mind off of that emotion by doing something you find enjoyable.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. If you are not enjoying the things that you’re doing, you will never be happy and will continue to doubt yourself every day of your life. Nobody deserves to live that way.
6. Find A Outlet To Release Your Thoughts
And… that’s exactly what I am doing by writing this.
Being able to write my thoughts helps me to release them – to get them out of my head and off of my chest.
We sometimes feel as though we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, so why not find an outlet that allows us to take some of that weight off.
That outlet might be exercising. It might be writing, talking with someone, playing video games, taking your dog on a walk, singing your heart out in the shower, etc. Whatever that outlet is, use it when you are experiencing self-doubt. It’s not going to do you any good to bottle your negative thoughts up inside of you, so find that outlet and release them.
7. Practice Mindfulness
These days we hear so much about meditation and mindfulness that we can often lose perspective about what it actually means and what it can do for you.
Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s about being present in this moment and not worrying about the past or the future. Whatever happens, happens. Your only focus is on what you can do in the present moment and of the world that is presently around you.
Best of all, mindfulness will help us cultivate inner silence and the ability to step back from our minds and evaluate the very thoughts in which we are currently thinking. If we cannot step back from our beliefs, we cannot work on them!
8. Question Your Doubts
Lastly, question the negative thoughts you are thinking. Are they true?
Take some time for yourself and confront then negative thoughts you are thinking. Who decides the outcome of those thoughts? Who decides if those thoughts become your reality or not? Can you control what anyone else thinks of you? Can you learn anything from these thoughts?
Allow each question to sink in and really begin to dig deep. You may not have the answer to all of these questions, and that’s okay. The point of this is to recognize them.
Oftentimes, what you will realize is that these thoughts aren’t true, and that the only thing standing in the way of you and the vision of success you have for yourself is your mindset. Once you learn to let go of these false assumptions, that’s when you really start finding the success you are seeking. So stop believing these untrue thoughts, because once you do, they will let go of you. That is what it means to have true freedom.
You Are You, And That Is Your Strength
To all of those people you admire, you aren’t going to be just like them. Your path to success is going to look much different, and you shouldn’t want it any other way.
Everybody who finds the success in which they sought has done so by embracing their strengths and creating their own path. Now it’s time that you and I do the same.
Remember, you are you, and that is always going to be your greatest strength. Be the individual you are meant to be and impact the world in only ways you can.