“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” ― Suzy Kassem
I’ve struggled with self-doubt for decades. I doubted myself, my looks, my ability, everything. I was never enough. And my choices reflected that self-doubt.
I also let self-doubt stop me from pursuing the things I wanted. It held me back from being who I wanted to be. Who I am.
The self-doubt and negative self-talk became such a habit, I was comfortable with it. They kept me from improving and stuck in an endless loop of negativity and self-loathing. And while it still occurs, those voices have become a lot quieter.
But back then, those voices made me hate myself.
This self-doubt I had lead to fear. Self-doubt and fear go hand in hand. We become afraid of trying new things because of self-doubt.
We fear change because we are afraid of the unknown. We are creatures of habit, good and bad. And we are afraid if we try something new, it may not work out and be worse than what we have now.
The self-doubt amplifies this fear. We come up with the worst-case scenarios in our heads instead of focusing on positive outcomes.
We worry about what could go wrong instead of focusing on what could go right.
Fear and self-doubt lead us to believe the risk associated with trying something new is greater than the risk of remaining in our current situation.
We adapt to our circumstances even if those circumstances aren’t benefiting us. Because it’s comfortable.
To overcome the self-doubt, fear, and lack of confidence, you need to intervene in your own life and take control.
And these four areas are the start of getting rid of self-doubt and fear:
Acknowledge you have problems and figure out what you will do about them. No matter what your situation, there are always ways you can improve. It will take courage, and you need to be open to scrutiny from yourself and others. Look deep within yourself and hold yourself accountable for things which you can improve upon. Be truthful and real with yourself. Rediscover who you are and liberate yourself from those negative feelings you tell yourself all the time. Figure out who you are and what you want. Take part in your own life instead of letting others dictate it.
Perfectionism is not possible. Not one person in the history of humanity has been perfect and you aren’t either. You need to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made like you forgive others. Perfectionism only makes us disappointed when we cannot live up to the impossible standards we set for ourselves. It makes us unhappy and gives us low self-esteem. Allow yourself to screw up and fail. Learn from it, be better the next time, and move on.
Comparison to others
You are unique. There is no one else like you in the world. Sure, there are others who are similar, but you are one-of-a-kind. If you compare yourself to others, you will never get over self-doubt and you will never live up to mythical standards others have set. No matter what their Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter feed tells you, everyone is not popular, rich, or famous. The truth is comparing yourself to others wastes time and energy.
Having compassion for yourself is one of the most important parts of having a healthy self-relationship. Self-compassion allows us to have fewer negative emotions. It stops you from the constant criticism, labeling and the definitions you give to yourself. You have the ability to let go of all the negativity you place upon yourself. It takes work but can be done. Stop being the source of your own misery by having compassion for yourself. Realize we are all the same. We all have flaws. It is a part of what makes us human. Stop telling yourself these made-up stories you have in your head and create your own story.
If you can get comfortable in those four areas, you will see improvement in your life. It will not happen overnight and there will be setbacks. That’s life. But, the more you focus on improving in these areas, the easier it gets to overcome self-doubt.
You can doubt yourself all you want, you can have zero self-confidence and you can worry every minute of every hour, but if you take action, you build confidence.
I love to write. But I was always afraid of publishing my work. I didn’t have enough self-confidence to put my work out there. I allowed the self-doubt to stop me from hitting that publish button.
I was afraid of being judged. I was afraid my writing wasn’t good enough. I knew I would be laughed at, ridiculed, and once I was found out to be a fraud, I could never write again. My dream would be over before it started.
But, I did it. And the world didn’t end. In fact, I received a lot of positive feedback. So I did it again. And again. I’m building that confidence. I’m overcoming the self-doubt every time I hit that button. And it leads to confidence in every other area of my life.
I’m validating what I believe I am. I’m seeing myself as a writer, a life coach, and someone who can help others.
Because how you see yourself is very important. If you see yourself as someone who always procrastinates, then what do you do all the time?
If you see yourself as a writer, you write. If you see yourself as a runner, you run.
So I write. And run.
Because I’m both. But I’m also so much more than that. And that’s because confidence has replaced the self-doubt. You can be more too.
The more action you take to overcome yourself, the more confidence you build. Every action towards your goal, no matter how small, makes the goal that much easier to achieve.
People who are living the life they want didn’t allow self-doubt to get in the way. They took action.
Originally published at jeffthewriter.com.
Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.
Image courtesy of Randy Jacob.