How do you overcome self-doubt?
What’s the best way to leave your comfort zone?
But, you can’t… because you’re trapped by self-doubt and fear.
It feels like something is literally blocking the door to everything you’ve ever wanted.
You want to take action to achieve your goals, but you just can’t.
So, what is self-doubt?
And more importantly, how do we overcome self-doubt? This is my story of how I faced my fears and sang in front of 30,000 people. Read on to find out how you can overcome your own self-doubt and do what scares you.
What is self-doubt?
Self-doubt destroys our confidence, limits our potential, and causes us to feel like we don’t have a chance of succeeding.
It’s the little voice in your head that says things like, “I’m not smart enough or qualified enough to apply for that job”, or “I could never have enough confidence to stand in front of a room and give a speech”, or “My boss won’t think my idea is good so I won’t share it.”
I’m sure you’ve experienced this voice too. It’s the voice that creeps in after you make a decision. It’s saying, “Are you sure that makes sense? Do you even know what you’re talking about?”
Self-doubt stops us cold in our tracks. We end up doubting our decisions, questioning our knowledge and abilities, and comparing ourselves to others who seem to have it all together. When we allow that voice of self-doubt to come into our brains, it usually wins, and we end up giving up before we even begin.
But what if you found a way to ignore the voice of self-doubt and refuse to let it in? What would overcoming self-doubt feel like and what would you be capable of doing? What kind of goals would you set for yourself?
This is how to overcome self-doubt, so you can achieve your goals and finally do what scares you.
My Moment of Overcoming Self Doubt
A few years ago, I realized I was capable of overcoming self-doubt after singing in front of an audience of 30,000 people. Normally, something like this would make my stomach drop! Sometimes I even get nervous or red in the face just from speaking up in class. So how was I able to sing in front of 30,000 people?
Using some of the techniques I’m going to share with you, I shoved self-doubt as far away from me as possible! I refused to let it in, and I took action anyway, despite my fear.
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Self-Doubt Couldn’t Stop Me
It all started because I had won a scholarship from the Boston Red Sox along with tickets to a baseball game at Fenway Park. In my email to thank them, I mentioned that I’d love to sing the national anthem for that game.
I honestly did not even expect to get a response. But they responded, and asked me to send an audition video. And I almost didn’t do it! That voice of self-doubt came creeping in and started saying things like, “Who do you think you are? There are so many singers out there way better than you!” and “You could never perform in front of that many people. What if you mess up?!”
But my dad convinced me to just record the audition video and see what happens. He reminded me, “The worst that could happen is they say no!” So I did. I sent the video in and a few days later received a response saying I could do it!
Fear Couldn’t Stop Me Either
I felt SO terrified and excited at the same time. But from that moment on, I refused to entertain the idea that I might forget the words, or hit the wrong notes, or fail. I did not allow myself, not even once, to listen to that self-doubt voice in my head.
So how I did I do it? I started reframing my “what if” statements, stopped comparing myself to others, gave my brain evidence that I would be able to do it, started visualizing, and more. I will explain all of these techniques below!
What Causes Us to Doubt Ourselves?
Where do the self-doubting thoughts even come from?
All the Fears
We doubt ourselves for a lot of different reasons, many of which come from a place of fear. We have fear of failing, fear of being judged, fear of not being smart enough, and fear of the unknown.
There’s actually a really good, scientific reason why we experience fear and it’s to keep us safe. Self-doubt and fear are our brain’s way of trying to protect us from potential danger. When we sense ourselves moving out of our comfort zone, our brain starts to sound the alarms for potential danger. And that’s when the self-doubt voice starts to creep in.
Our brain isn’t intentionally trying to sabotage us and hold us back in life. It isn’t intending to give us crippling anxiety that leaves us too scared to take action. Our brain truly wants to protect us, but it can’t always tell the difference between real danger and perceived danger.
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According to Psychology Today, some neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because we have the ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds. We get scared because we imagine what might happen if we take action.
So in order to overcome self-doubt, it’s your job to reassure your brain that you’re not actually in danger. This will help you think clearly and make decisions that aren’t based only in fear.
Negative Past Experiences
Negative past experiences, like hurtful comments or embarrassing moments from our past, can contribute to the self-doubt we feel today. I’m sure you can think back and remember a time someone laughed in your face or made you feel like you weren’t good enough to do something.
I can remember a few times people making comments that I wasn’t a good singer. I even had a singing teacher say I’d never be able to hit high notes! These moments can carry through to our adulthood and be hurtful reminders that make us doubt our abilities.
I had a professor that once said, “It takes 9 pieces of positive information to negate 1 piece of negative information.”
In other words, it takes 9 positive experiences, such as receiving compliments, to override ONE negative experience, like receiving a hurtful comment. This is huge because it means often times, the negative experiences carry the most weight in our memory.
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That’s why it’s so important to truly absorb and appreciate the positive information we receive in our daily life, which can help us overcome self-doubt.
Next time someone gives you a compliment, try your best to truly accept it and express gratitude for it. So often, we brush off compliments and don’t believe they’re true, but are quick to believe negative comments. Overcoming self-doubt will be so much easier if you try to appreciate and remember all the kind things people have said to you.
Perfectionism is another common reason we doubt ourselves. We don’t feel like we’ve learned enough, or practiced enough, or have enough confidence to do something. But the truth is, you’ll probably never feel like you’ve reached a point where you’re ready.
There comes a point where you need to stop waiting for the right moment to apply for the job, or start a blog, or share an idea you have. The right moment is never going to come, so it’s best to take action now. In a year, you’ll have wished you did.
And if you wait until you feel confident to put yourself out there, you’re probably never going to feel confident enough either. Confidence comes after we do things that feel scary, not before. According to Forbes, confidence is built on accomplishments. When we achieve something, whether it’s big or small, we build up confidence and self-esteem.
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If I would’ve waited until I felt “ready” to sing the national anthem in front of 30,000 people, I never would’ve felt ready. You’ve got to face the obstacles and do what’s scary first, and the confidence and personal growth will follow.
Comparing Ourselves to Others
Comparison is a huge reason for self-doubt. We think other people are more qualified, smarter, more confident, have more skills than us, and the list could go on. But even the smartest, most qualified people won’t be successful if they don’t take action.
You can use this to your advantage! Am I the best singer in the world? No way! There are tons of people that could have done better than me. But I’m the one who took action, and that’s the difference.
“There are people less qualified than you, doing things you want to do, simply because they decided to take action.”- Jack Ma
How do I Overcome Self-Doubt and Trust Myself?
#1. Reframe Your “What If” Statements
When we experience self-doubt, it’s common to start thinking about everything that could go wrong. Remember all my “what if’s” before I auditioned for the national anthem?
“What if I make a fool of myself?” or “What if I forget the words?” or “What if I start shaking and everyone can tell I’m nervous?”
It’s so easy to drive ourselves crazy imagining everything that might go wrong. But how often do those horrible, “what if” statements actually come true? Not too often if we’re being realistic.
So instead of imagining yourself failing miserably, what would happen if you started imagining yourself succeeding? Instead of thinking, “What if this all goes wrong?,” start thinking, “What if this all goes right?”
So I started thinking things like, “What if I look and feel confident standing on the baseball field?” and, “What if I hit every note and the audience erupts in cheers”?
It’s a simple mindset shift that’s really helped me overcome self-doubt and have the courage to do things that scare me. I go more into detail about this in my article, How to Overcome Negative Thoughts and Be More Positive. I also have an amazing free workbook to help you.
#2. Give Your Brain Evidence You Can Overcome Obstacles
Have you ever been in a difficult situation that you didn’t eventually figure out how to manage? Chances are, even when major problems or difficulties have come up in your life, you’ve been able to overcome them.
Whenever you feel that self-doubt creeping in, remind yourself of everything you’ve overcome in the past. Give your brain specific examples of times when you did something you didn’t think you could do.
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There were plenty of times in the past where I felt nervous to perform, but pushed through that and was able to give a great performance. I kept reminding myself that I’ve done it in the past, so I could do it again. I think the more evidence you can remind yourself of, the more likely you’ll be able to overcome self-doubt and feel confident to do things that feel scary.
#3. Accept that Sometimes You Will Fail
Failing is essential for growth and it’s the best way to learn and move forward. You’re not going to find the success you want if you don’t mess up a few times at first.
Singing at Fenway wasn’t my first performance. I had played guitar and sang in front of audiences dozens of times. And not every performance was a success. There were times I played the wrong chord, or forgot the words to a song, or wanted to cry after getting off stage because I felt like it had gone so badly.
But those failures have taught me really important lessons. I learned how to laugh off my mistakes and continue moving forward. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses. Without ever having failed, I don’t know that I’d feel as prepared to sing in front of such a huge audience.
So embrace your fails and know that as long as you’re failing, you’re at least trying!
#4. Surround Yourself with Positive and Supportive Influences
Having positive role models and supportive people in your life can really help you overcome self-doubt. Without my dad encouraging me to submit the audition video, I’m not sure that I would’ve done it! And for that, I’m so grateful for him.
Other ways to find support and encouragement are by reading personal development books, listening to inspiring podcasts, and following social media accounts of people you admire.
If you have a goal to get fit, find somebody who’s fit and learn from them.
You are not alone in this journey of life and there are so many inspiring people to learn from.
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Why You Should Take Action Despite Self-Doubt
You have a unique voice, a unique perspective, and unique ideas. There is someone out there that you could help or inspire if you’re able to overcome self-doubt and take action towards your goals and dreams.
It can feel really vulnerable to put yourself out there do something scary. You’re sharing a part of yourself and your abilities, with no control over how others will react. It’s going to feel scary and uncertain at times.
But if you feel yourself being called to a certain path in life, you are called to that for a reason. We only get one life to live and it’s better to try, then to never know what you’re capable of overcoming.
Printable Mindset Reset Workbook
Do you need to identify and overcoming self-doubt? Do you need a champion mindset? Get your FREE Printable workbook, with ten questions to help your mindset.
Overcoming self-doubt may not be easy, but it’s better than limiting yourself and never knowing what could’ve happened if you dared to take action.
I’ll end with this quote;
“You are braver than you believe. Stronger than you think. And loved more than you know” -A.A. Milne (From the book, Winnie the Pooh)
How do you overcome self-doubt?
More About Guest Contributor
Ashley Rachel is the founder of the blog, Lovely Holistic Living, where her mission is to help others create stress-free and balanced lives with simple living. Ashley is a grad student working towards her degree in mental health counseling and believes taking a holistic approach to mental health is incredibly beneficial. She specializes in self-care, mindfulness, and personal development.
Last Updated on November 3, 2020