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Do you ever find yourself questioning your abilities, your worth, or your character? Self doubt is a master at creeping in and making us second-guess ourselves. If you tend to fall into this trap, learning how to overcome self doubt will help you challenge your negative thoughts.
Our mindset is mainly what’s responsible for our feelings of self doubt. Recent research suggests that beliefs about ability are correlated with self doubt.
So keep in mind that overcoming self doubt is all about making a conscious effort to adjust our beliefs and challenging our negative thought patterns.
This post is all about how to overcome self doubt.
What causes self doubt?
Self doubt can be caused by a number of things, but here are some common causes that might ring a bell:
- Past experiences or memories
- Your childhood upbringing
- Your habits of social comparison
- Fear of failure
Past experiences or memories: If you have traumatic or unpleasant memories of times where you felt inferior or inadequate, these can impact your beliefs for the future and manifest fear.
Your childhood upbringing: If you were raised in an unsupportive environment or had parents and siblings that frequently made you feel “less than,” this can impact your self-esteem.
Your habits of social comparison: If your first impulse when you see someone is to compare their success to yours, their body to yours, their lifestyle to yours, etc., you may have a habit of social comparison. This can certainly trigger self doubt and cause your mind to race about all the things you should do to be “better” or “more like them.”
Fear of failure: If you’re anxious about the potential to fail at anything you attempt, this causes insecurities and is a major breeding ground for self doubt. If you’re more fixated on the possibility of failure than the possibility of success, this is a sign that you may be struggling with overcoming self doubt.
Ways to Overcome Self Doubt
1. Re-evaluate the rationality of your thoughts
Catch yourself when you feel a thought of self doubt coming on. Take a moment to consider if the thought is rational and warranted, or if it’s just the result of insecurity.
Sorting your thoughts and beliefs into rational vs. irrational categories can help you recognize negative (and even inaccurate!) thought patterns.
If you’re able to recognize that an idea has no logic behind it, that is a great first step in overcoming self doubt!
2. Reframe negative self talk
The next step in how to overcome self doubt is to reframe any negative self talk.
For example, let’s say you think to yourself, “I’m not as good at my job as my coworkers. I’ll definitely be passed up for the promotion over them.”
Instead of committing unproductive social comparisons against your coworkers, flip the script in your head to focus on your positive qualities and reasons that DO make you worthy of the promotion.
And yes, there are times where our peers are “better” at some things, in some ways. Perhaps they’ve been working at the job for longer than you, so they simply have more experience in their role.
But just because someone has more experience or skill in one area does not mean they blow you out of the water in every area. So instead, work to focus on your strengths and positive qualities. Let these shine through.
Did you know that I offer a printable mental health journal that will help you exactly with reframing negative self talk?
As someone who’s always looking for ways to manage stress and turn my negative thoughts into rational ones, I knew just how important it was to create a resource that will actually help you understand your inner-dialogue and coping habits.
Go check it out and see the printable mental health journal for yourself!
3. Work on finding your sense of purpose
Finding your sense of purpose, or an area where you “naturally” thrive and can connect well with, helps so much in fighting self doubt.
Working passionately and purposefully at something is a huge confidence booster and can help big time with your sense of competency and faith in your abilities.
If you’re in a position where you’re just going through the motions and don’t feel a purpose behind what you’re doing, it’s hard to feel confident because you aren’t doing anything that you deem meaningful.
We tend to feel most competent when we’re working on something we truly care about. This is why finding your purpose–something that you can spend a lot of time on–will really help you to overcome self doubt.
4. Work to limit social comparisons
If you haven’t been able to gather it already: social comparisons are THE WORST in fueling self doubt.
Breaking the habit of comparing others to ourselves and our internalized standards is extremely difficult. Social comparison is a fundamental aspect of human cognition and is linked to our cultural practices.
But, for example, if you know that scrolling through Instagram only makes you feel worse afterwards, then make it a point to reduce the time you spend on Instagram.
Also aim to shift your comparison mindset to one of admiration. Instead of, “ugh, her abs are so toned, if only my stomach looked like that!” reframe that dialogue to something like, “wow, her abs are so toned! Good for her!” and leave it at that.
Although it’s easier said than done, remember that you can recognize admirable qualities in others without having to turn the conversation back to yourself.
5. Remember that people aren’t analyzing everything you say or do
If you tend to be socially anxious, you know this is a hard one. It can feel like all eyes are on you, as if everyone around you is watching your every move.
Even though, truth is, they usually aren’t!
Have you ever looked back on a social interaction and cringed at something you said, or wondered if you said it in a weird tone that came off the wrong way?
Chances are that whoever you interacted with didn’t give your words a second thought! But we can get so wrapped up in worrying about how others perceive the things we do and say, even when there’s no need.
Other people are usually too wrapped up in their own business to pay that much attention to the little details.
6. Remember that setbacks are temporary
Remember not to let one setback impact how you view yourself as a whole. One failure is not, and never will be, indicative of your overall success or ability.
You’ll be able to move past whatever setback you encounter, so just remember that setbacks are temporary. Be careful not to let a temporary setback turn into a slippery slope of doubting your entire self worth.
7. Read positive books regularly
Fill your mind with positive material that will improve your mental health and self esteem!
There are so many fantastic personal development books out there that can teach you all about how to overcome self doubt and improve your habits and mindset in general.
Here are my favorite recommendations for books to overcome self doubt:
What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles (best for #3: finding your purpose)
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Get Out of Your Own Way by Mark Goulston & Philip Goldberg
8. Challenge any feelings of impostor syndrome
“Impostor syndrome” is self doubt in a nutshell and then some. It’s doubting your skills and accomplishments with a persistent fear that you’re a fraud and don’t deserve what you’ve achieved.
Horrible feeling, isn’t it?
If you relate to this, you need to challenge these thoughts and feelings by questioning them. Ask yourself, “what evidence is there that I’m a fraud?” “What evidence is there that I don’t deserve my accomplishments?”
This plays back into the same theme we discussed earlier of re-evaluating the rationality of your self doubt thoughts!
9. Remind yourself that you’re capable
On that same note, you have got to change the overall tone of your inner dialogue to remind yourself that you ARE capable and worthy of your accomplishments.
You are capable of getting that degree, or that job, or that thing. You are capable of achieving your vision of success.
Do some thinking back to times where you questioned if you were capable of something and then it turned out that you were.
10. Give therapy a try to overcome self doubt
Lastly, I recommend therapy to ANYONE. You do not need to be struggling with severe mental illness to benefit greatly from psychotherapy.
Therapy is beneficial even for the simple act of talking through life’s daily stressors with someone who can give you professional insight. At the very least, you can learn how to approach your problems in ways you may have never considered before.
I highly recommend giving something like Online-Therapy a try for a convenient, affordable, and evidence-based therapy option.
Online-Therapy.com is a fantastic option and SO much more comprehensive than some other popular online therapy organizations (no kidding, you get a complete toolbox of support with resources like worksheets, journaling, and an activity plan in addition to your therapy sessions.)
You always want to look for an organization that offers CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and Online-Therapy prides itself on using it.
Go check them out and receive a 20% discount at this link!
Do you feel like you have a better grasp of how to overcome self doubt now?
Any mindset change is never easy, but following these powerful steps is a great start in identifying your thoughts of self doubt and working toward challenging them!
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