It is crippling. It seeps in at the most inopportune times. Just when you psych yourself up and are feeling like you can’t be stopped, self-doubt creeps in. It feels like someone just popped a balloon. You slowly deflate, and you begin to question what it is you are thinking.
Usually self-doubt occurs when we are trying something new that we are not accustomed to. When you are inspired by something and think to yourself, “Wow! I want to do this, too,” but then you think about it more or tell one or two people about it, and suddenly your confidence is shattered. Perhaps you receive a reaction that is less than encouraging. Or perhaps you start to get a little scared of putting yourself out there and trying something new.
Self Doubt: Your Brain’s Protection Mechanism
It happens to all of us. But here is what lies behind self-doubt: protection. It is your brain’s protection mechanism. It is powered to keep you doing only things that you are used to and are familiar with. An alert goes off when you begin doing something unfamiliar because your brain wants to protect you from the unknown. It is built that way. Your brain has the same reaction to a bear approaching you as it does to trying something new you haven’t done before. That’s not the only time we feel this feeling.
You know that feeling you get right before you do something you are excited about, but haven’t done before? It might be traveling to somewhere you’ve never been or trying an activity you haven’t tried before. You get the same self-doubt and anxious feeling then, too. Think about this for a moment. The feeling you get before you do something exciting and before you try something unfamiliar are the same feeling! Your brain doesn’t want you to feel discomfort or anxiousness. But if you are reading this, then you already know that we don’t grow without being outside of our comfort zone.
The Cycle of Self-Doubt
Self-doubt looks a lot like a wheel that keeps spinning. You start out with a piece of inspiration. Maybe you see someone else doing something life-changing, and you think wow. I could do that. So you start researching. You nurture this dream of yours and keep it to yourself because right now it is your baby. It is too new to talk about with confidence so you silently obsess over it.
And then when you get the courage, you tell one or two people about this new desire that lives in you. And maybe it always did. Something happens as you start to get brave and tell others. You get a reaction that is not as passionate as your thoughts and feelings towards this thing. And suddenly you go from inspired and self-assured to second guessing and self-doubt.
Then the dialogue begins. Is this even what I really want? Who do I think I am? Why did I think that this could be me? That I would ever be good at this?
And then it’s easy. Easy to quit. Easy to turn around and go back the other way. Easy to cast your ideas aside and keep going on with the path that is comfortable and safe. It’s easy if you listen to that voice and believe it. But that voice isn’t you. And that voice is only right if you let it be.
You aren’t living your truth when you do this. When you spent so much time feeling excited and researching, and then you abandon the idea, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
Push past those boundaries. Stop limiting yourself. You are worth so much more than you are letting yourself be.
So how do we overcome the self-doubt and grow from it? How do we move through that feeling instead of stopping in front of it and turning back? The key is in your mindset.
Your mindset can change everything. It can change the way you feel. It can change your approach to new and different situations. It can change your thoughts. There is one method that has had a huge impact on helping me to change my mindset. I’m not perfect. I still experience self-doubt, but the method below is so powerful in changing your fears and doubts. You WILL notice a change if you practice this method daily.
7 Powerful Steps to Overcome Self-Doubt
The most important way to overcome your self-doubt is to rewire your brain! But what does that mean? You can literally rewire your thoughts and change the way you feel in the process. The 7 steps below give a clearer picture of how to go about rewiring your brain so you can overcome self-doubt. This method is so powerful!
- Recognize when you are having a negative thought. You need to be aware enough of what is going on in your mind that you can say to yourself, “I am having a negative thought right now.” Without this awareness, you won’t get far. If you feel like your awareness isn’t there yet, then meditation is essential. Try a simple 5 minute meditation daily to become more intune with awareness.
- Once you realize you are experiencing this negative thought, write it down.
- Turn this negative thought around! Look at what you have written, and write the opposite below it bigger and bolder. Maybe you wrote down, “I can’t start this business because I am not smart enough.” Change it to, “I am so smart and have all the skills necessary to become a successful business owner.”
- Take what you wrote down a step further and write it as if it has already happened. “I am a successful business owner because I am so smart and was made for this!” You have created a positive affirmation!
- Now cross out the first sentence you wrote that was your negative thought or tear it out of the page and get rid of it! It no longer serves you. You have formed the new thoughts you want to occur above.
- Now USE this affirmation and refer to it often. Whenever you catch yourself thinking that negative thought, pull out the affirmation and read it. Better yet, say it aloud! I like to keep mine on a note in my phone so I always have it with me.
- Lastly, make a commitment! Say this affirmation to yourself daily. Hold some meaningful space for it! Each time you practice with this affirmation, you are rewiring your brain. You are making that neural pathway more familiar, which will make your brain more comfortable and cause that self-doubt to stop. When you say the affirmation to yourself, close your eyes. Feel it as if it is already happening. Visualize what it would look like. This is so powerful, and it feels really good! Feeling the affirmation as if it is occurring continues to make that pathway more familiar to your brain. Write your affirmation down daily to continue to strengthen this neural pathway in your brain. Make this affirmation something that you access in different ways (say it aloud, write it down, read it, visualize it, etc.) to get the greatest benefit from it.
Practice the above steps whenever you find yourself with a negative thought. Once you create your affirmation, practice with it daily. You can meditate on it, just verbally say it aloud, visualize, or whatever you desire to fit into your routine. If you make them a part of your life, your mindset WILL change. Your self-doubt WILL back off. You WILL build confidence and create positive habits that you can use for anything! You can have multiple affirmations you refer to for different areas of your life, or you can choose to have one that you focus on. Make these steps work for you and adjust as needed.
Have you used positive affirmations before? What is your favorite way to incorporate them into your life? I would love to hear from you.