Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 8, 2020

How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It)

How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It)

We’ve all been there. At some points in our lives, we question whether we are doing well enough or are capable of facing all the uncertainties that might come up as we grow older. We experience feelings of self-doubt around decisions and choices we made or simply feel that we’re not good enough.

Self-doubt occurs when we lack confidence or feel incapable of doing things we need to do. People who doubt about themselves experience uncertainty around things they can’t control or worry about things not going according to plan.

A certain level of self-doubt is good because it indicates that you understand what you need to improve in order to do a better job. However, persistent fear and self-doubt can hugely affect your life in a bad way.

In this article, you’ll find out why self-doubt is holding you back from happiness and success and what you can do to overcome it.

How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck

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 start to panic.

You panic about whether you are capable of doing a great job. You worry that failing to perform well will become a big joke at work. You spend time stressing over every single decision you make 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 leads you toward procrastination. You delay your work and feel unmotivated.

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 that you will have the feeling of “I can actually do better than this.”

What causes self-doubt? Let’s find out!

Advertising

5 Common Causes of Self-Doubt

There are plenty of reasons behind self-doubt. We’ll go through some of them here.

1. Past Experience and Mistakes

Past experiences can have a huge impact on how we react, especially if you have had bad experiences before, like being in an abusive relationship or being fired without a concrete justification. Our mental health can take a huge hit in these cases.

Past experience can shake and rattle our beliefs. However, continuing to reference past experiences without learning from them is just a waste of your bright future!

If you struggle to let go of the past, check out this article for some practical tips.

2. Childhood Upbringing

Our upbringing plays a big role in shaping our habits and personalities.

If you were raised by parents that constantly told you that you were not good enough or were natured by schools that judged students heavily on their grades, you might have already internalized the habit of questioning yourself.

3. Comparisons With Others

It’s not unnatural 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 think that we are not doing as well as they are.

When you’re comparing too much with others about what they have and what you lack, you’ll start to lose yourself.

4. New Challenges

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

Advertising

5. Fear of Failure / Fear of Success

Take Elizabeth 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 could replicate her success.

Even among successful people, previous success can become our biggest fear because we might think that’s the best we can deliver and that we will never produce anything that’s equally good.

This is an especially tricky area for women. One study pointed out that, in comparison to men, women “associate success with more negative consequences”[1].

How to Overcome Self-Doubt

What can you do to overcome self-doubt and be confident again, no matter how tough things are?

1. Ground Yourself and Say Stop!

Once you discover there are negative voices running inside your head, try to stay in the present moment and focus on the positives.

Try to prepare something positive you can go to whenever you feel negative or unsure of yourself. Ideas on what you can prepare:

  • A list of counter arguments, things like “I can do this” or “It’s just another chance for me to learn.”
  • A jar that contains happy memories
  • A file that contains all the photos that make you smile
  • A list of quick energy-boosting activities you can do
  • A box of healthy snacks that you can always go to

2. 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 shift 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.

If you need an optimism boost, try make a list of things you’re grateful for. This will naturally shift your thoughts in a more positive direction.

Advertising

In one study measuring gratitude, hope, optimism, and life satisfaction, “Gratitude was determined as the most predictive variable for well-being”[2]. That’s a pretty great reason to practice gratitude!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

While it’s important to work on ourselves, it’s also a good idea to get support from your loved ones, including family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

They can be your partner, family members, friends, mentors, supervisors or even a coach.

Getting advice and reassurance from others can also improve our self-confidence and keep us motivated.

The 21-Day Challenge on Regaining Self-Confidence

I have this one great approach that has successfully helped me to build my confidence and overcome self-doubt.

I write things down, and it’s 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, which helps me develop ways to improve myself.

By writing down things that I am grateful for, I start to appreciate myself more and focus on what I have instead of what I am lacking.

I even stop comparing myself to others because, by looking at what I’ve written, I remind myself that I’m happy with my own life.

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

Advertising

Days 1 to 7: Write 3 Things You’re Grateful for Each Day

Review them at the end of the week, and you will soon realize that the more you write, the more you will see there are actually a lot of things that can make you happy.

Days 8 to 14: Write Times You Feel Unsure About Yourself and Reasons Behind Them

At the end of the week, you should be able to identify your biggest fears 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.

Days 15 to 21: Write Steps You’ve Taken and How You Feel

No matter what you’ve done to overcome self-doubt, write them down and recognize yourself!

We all need motivation along the way, and no matter how small the steps you have taken, they indicate that you are one step closer to what you want to achieve!

Doing so not only motivates you, but it helps you to stay on track with your progress.

Final Thoughts

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.

Try to get out of the loop as soon as you can and spend time on improving yourself. Self-doubt doesn’t have to hold you back.

More Tips on Overcoming Self-Doubt

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 20 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good 50 Life Purpose Quotes to Give Meaning to Your Life

Trending in Mental Strength

1 Feeling Like a Failure? 10 Simple Things to Help You Rise Again 2 What Motivates You to Succeed in Life and Keep Moving Forward? 3 I’m Stuck! 7 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Stuck in Life 4 Feeling off Track in Life? Here’s How to Stay True to Yourself 5 The Secret of Success to Achieving Anything You Want Revealed

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 24, 2020

Feeling Like a Failure? 10 Simple Things to Help You Rise Again

Feeling Like a Failure? 10 Simple Things to Help You Rise Again

The idea of feeling like a failure grips us at our most vulnerable internal place—our inner sense of self-esteem and self-love. Although intuitively we know that in reaching high, we are guaranteed some degree of failure, when we fall short, that knowledge offers little or no consolation.

When we fail at something, all too often we think globally rather than in temporary terms. We think that we not only failed, but that we are failures. Feelings of unworthiness drag us down, leading to missteps and setbacks, defining us rather than merely offering feedback and educating us with useful information moving forward.

The good news is that we can build on our failures on the road to success.

Even if we know that failure is surmountable, it does not change the way we feel about ourselves when we experience it. Failure can take a toll on our self-esteem and feelings of self-love, diminishing our sense of optimism about our future.

So how can we feel better about ourselves? Below are 10 acts of self-love to try when you are feeling like a failure.

1. Forgive Yourself

The ability to forgive is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to ourselves to help us recover from our regrets and missteps.

Instead of beating yourself up for not knowing what is so obvious now, see yourself as a work in progress and give yourself the gift of forgiveness. You can’t see into the future, so you can’t plan every step to perfection. Give yourself a break and allow room for mistakes.

Advertising

Try a loving-kindness meditation to prepare yourself for forgiveness. This will open your heart up to the possibility of accepting your mistakes.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion[1] is perhaps the most important element of self-esteem and resilience. It used to be thought that achievement and success—rising above the norm—was the road to high self-esteem.

However, that road to self-esteem is far too conditional and assures that anyone at or below the norm is not as worthy or special. Self-compassion gives all people—high achievers as well as lower achievers—the assurance that they are worthy of love anyway, with no conditions.

3. Stop Judging Yourself

Suspending the labels you put on yourself is an act of self-love. Instead of calling yourself “a failure,” be more specific and less global[2].

Feeling like a failure? Talk yourself up!

    Feeling like a failure does not have to define you and your worth. Change your self-talk from “I’m a failure” to “I could not get things to work out this time” or “I made some mistakes and will use this experience as stepping stones going forward.” Label the experience for what it is instead of labeling yourself based on one mistake.

    4. Turn Your Failures Into Goals

    Instead of saying “I failed at my marriage,” you can say “I had trouble communicating in my marriage and am learning to communicate better now.”

    Advertising

    The first statement is anchored in the past that cannot be changed, while the second has an eye to the future and is more empowering of what you can do now. If you can identify what caused your past failures, you can work to develop goals based on those shortcomings.

    5. Give Yourself a Hug

    Instead of letting your inner critic have full reign, how about just giving yourself a hug?

    Science has suggested that hugging increases production of oxytocin, one of the feel-good hormones, which may also help reduce stress and depression[3].

    We all need hugs sometimes—especially from ourselves! If this feels like too much, give yourself a mental hug by writing down five things you like or love about yourself. This will give you the same sense of warmth and acceptance.

    6. Imagine Yourself as a Young Child

    Keep in mind that no one thinks of children as worthless or unworthy of love or happiness. And the truth is that we possess the same worth that we had when we were born.

    Sometimes we need to look behind the scars and wounds to see that preciousness and innate worth is still inside of us.

    Thinking of yourself as a child may also shift your mind and allow you to offer more forgiveness. Try to realize that you are still like that child, growing as you move through life.

    Advertising

    7. Switch Your Mindset From Victim to Victor

    When you’re feeling like a failure, you see yourself as a victim of the past instead of focusing on your resilience and ability to spring back.

    After all, it’s not how many times we are beaten down and fail that matters. What really matters is how many times we get back up and try again, each time a bit wiser. Try to leave the victim mindset behind[4] and view yourself as a victor after overcoming failures to move on to something bigger and better.

    8. Become More Mindful

    Mindfulness is not just about meditating or breathing deeply and quietly in isolation. Rather, it is staying fully in the present in our daily lives with non-judgmental awareness in whatever you do.

    When you are mindful, you stay rooted in the present instead of looking back at your past missteps or feeling anxious about the future. As the saying goes, “Today is a gift, and that’s why they call it the present.”

    9. Calm Yourself with a Calming Box

    Sometimes we need something tangible to sooth us when we are feeling like a failure. As a therapist, I would sometimes have my clients create a self-soothing box to help them cope in stressful times.

    Using actual objects that serve to distract and self-soothe can provide soothing touchstones.

    A journal, a stress ball, or a polished stone to remind you of your self worth are all examples of things that can be placed inside a calming box and used to soothe you when you’re feeling down.

    Advertising

    10. Connect With Others

    When people feel like a failure, all too often they isolate themselves, closing themselves up instead of opening up to others, but this is a fast way to damage your mental health.

    Seeking social support is one of the best choices you can make when you feel like a failure. Getting another person’s perspective will help you stop the tunnel vision that distorts your self-view.

    Asking for help and having the courage to open yourself up instead of closing yourself down will pave the way not only for avoiding loneliness, but it will also deepen your connections with others.

    This short TED Talk with Robert Reffkin offers some tips on how to create stronger connections to enhance your life:

    Final Thoughts

    These 10 tips to stop feeling like a failure will serve as a springboard for a resilient and full life. Instead of focusing on the failure that comes with falling short, be proud that you dared to pursue your dreams with courage and enthusiasm.

    We must stop thinking in all-or-nothing, global ways, so that our mistakes and failures become stepping stones for success rather than millstones around our neck.

    Use failures to help you move closer and closer to success.

    More Tips for When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

    Featured photo credit: Ethan Sykes via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next