Overcoming Self-doubt

Posted by on Nov 2, 2017 in Personal Development | 4 comments

Self-doubt is a bitch. And yet I don’t know anyone that doesn’t experience self-doubt. Why is this experience so universal? What is self-doubt, really?

Most self-doubt begins in childhood, but these experiences may continue or occur in adulthood. Some common causes of self-doubt include:

  • Being criticized as a child by a parent, teacher, or trusted advisor
  • Being told not to trust our feelings or experiences by a parent, teacher, trusted advisor, or spouse (includes gaslighting)
  • Being rejected or excluded
  • Being a minority and/or having a minority opinion
  • Being a visionary with ideas that challenge the status quo

Whatever the cause, self-doubt affects our ability to trust ourselves.

I’ve spent my life trying to prove myself. I grew up in poverty. I was used to being looked down on as less than. Less fortunate, less able, less desirable.

If no one expects much from you, it’s hard to believe you can amount to much.

I was lucky to have that one person who believed in me no matter what. Someone who believed I could do anything I wanted to do. Someone who believed I was worthy. That person was me.

So, yes, I trusted myself. I believed in myself, despite my circumstances. And I still experienced self-doubt. I still do experience self-doubt.

Self-doubt shows up for me when I’m afraid to act on my trust in myself. Yet somehow I find I’m not really afraid of failing- I’m far more afraid of succeeding. The seed of self-doubt may have been planted in childhood, but it’s fruit is not that I truly believe I’m not good enough, it’s that I believe I am good enough, despite experiences that suggested otherwise. Those experiences are the false proof that I am lured into believing that directly conflicts with what I know to be true.

And that false belief that I’m not good enough keeps me playing small. The idea that I won’t amount to much is actually a little bit comforting. It means I don’t have to keep trying. It means I’m not really all that special and I can find comfort in living the rest of my life in mediocrity.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” ~Marianne Williamson

As comforting as it is to consider a life of mediocrity, that comfort cannot comfortably co-exist with the pain of unfulfilled potential. Oh dear, this blog post isn’t actually about legitimizing self-doubt, it is really a blog post about getting over myself and taking courageous and inspired action towards the life of my dreams.

Whoops, sorry I got all motivational on you there.

So what does it take to truly overcome self-doubt? Maybe it doesn’t matter what caused it. Maybe even understanding self-doubt it not the answer. What if overcoming self-doubt is really about trusting myself through being brave and taking action.

Well, okay then. Here are 17 ways to overcome self-doubt:

overcome self doubt

  1. Stop trying to explain yourself
  2. Stop justifying
  3. Stop complaining
  4. Develop your intuition
  5. Stretch outside your comfort zone
  6. Take a leap of faith
  7. Stop comparing yourself to others
  8. Give up those activities, thoughts, and beliefs that aren’t serving you
  9. Get out of your head and into your body (move it, shake it!)
  10. Stop trying to figure it all out
  11. Stop blaming
  12. Be kind to yourself
  13. Make mistakes
  14. Practice mindfulness
  15. Be bold
  16. Be brave
  17. Get off your ass and do something!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of god. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

So you have self-doubt- so what? We all do. The real question is, are you going to let it stop you?


  1. Number 7 is a big one for me and I have known that it is an unhealthy habit for quite a while now, but I continue to engage in it. I don’t know how to escape that. I think self-love is a big one for me, too. But again, I don’t know how to address it.

    • This is a hard one for most of us, I think, and it’s difficult to get over it completely.

      I do what I can to focus on myself and when I find I start comparing myself to others, I remind myself to shift my focus back to me. What one small (or big) thing can I do right now that will support me and my success? Then I do that thing. Then the next thing after that, and the next after that.

      It’s small changes, one thing at a time, one day at a time. Over time it gets easier.


  2. Incredible post. Could not have come at a better time.

    • Hi Scott,

      I’m glad to hear this post helped you, too! Writing this post about self-doubt was an assignment from my writing coach. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to write about a personal experience I’m currently experiencing. It’s great to get feedback!

      Thanks again!


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