In this post, I’m going to describe the strategies that I’ve used to let go of self-doubt and build my confidence.
So if you want to let go of self-doubt, build your confidence and believe in yourself more, then you’ll love this new blog post.
Let’s dive right in…
1) Observe your mind and know when to say stop
If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing self-doubt bubbles up frequently.
And we all know that negative thoughts can spiral out of control quickly.
So before it goes down that path, when you feel doubt bubbling up for you, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and decide to put a stop to it.
Don’t let it go on.
By stopping what you are doing and paying attention to what you are thinking, you give yourself a chance to change your thoughts and feel better.
Doing this forces you to observe your mind and recognize when you’re thinking negatively.
This was crucial for me. Until I consciously became aware of what’s going on in my mind, I didn’t realize how many negative thoughts were cycling around my mind on automation.
So take the time to stop and observe what’s going on. Don’t get angry at yourself when you notice negative thoughts and you can’t change them. That will only make them stronger.
Instead, acknowledge them and try to focus your mind on the present moment.
Remember, the first step to changing these negative thought patterns is being aware of them.
Spiritual Master Osho has some great advice on what observing the mind means and how to go about it.
In this passage, he explains the importance of recognizing that you and your thoughts are separate, and the benefits that arise if you’re able to do this:
“Become an observer of the currents of thought that flow through your consciousness. Just like someone sitting by the side of a river watching the river flow by, sit by the side of your mind and watch. Or just as someone sits in the forest and watches a line of birds flying by, just sit and watch. Or the way someone watches the rainy sky and the moving clouds, you just watch the clouds of thoughts moving in the sky of your mind. The flying birds of thoughts, the flowing river of thoughts in the same way, silently standing on the bank, you simply sit and watch. It is the same as if you are sitting on the bank, watching the thoughts flowing by. Don’t do anything, don’t interfere, don’t stop them in any way. Don’t repress in any way. If there is a thought coming don’t stop it, if it is not coming don’t try to force it to come. You are simply to be an observer….
“In that simple observation you will see and experience that your thoughts and you are separate – because you can see that the one who is watching the thoughts is separate from the the thoughts, different from them. And you become aware of this, a strange peace will envelop you because you will not have any more worries. You can be in the midst of all kinds of worries but the worries will not be yours. You can in the midst of many problems but the problems will not be yours. You can be surrounded by thoughts but you will not be the thoughts…
“And if you become aware that you are not your thoughts, the life of these thoughts will begin to grow weaker, they will begin to become more and more lifeless. The power of your thoughts lies in the fact that you think they are yours. When you are arguing with someone you say, “My thought is”. No thought is yours. All thoughts are different from you, separate from you. You just be a witness to them.”
2) Remember, there is no right or wrong
Some people lack so much self-confidence that they question the decision they’ve made weeks after they’ve made it.
I’ve been there, and it isn’t a fun way to live life.
Did you know that humans on average, can have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 negative thoughts per day? Pretty remarkable, right?
But here’s the real kicker:
According to neuroscience, the brain is not designed to create happiness. It’s actually designed to survive, which is why we may have so many negative thoughts and constantly question our decisions.
But you need to realize that it’s impossible to always make the right decision.
There are so many variables and unforeseen circumstances that you can’t possibly figure out whether any decision is correct.
So many of us experience crippling anxiety over the process of making decisions.
We ask ourselves whether we’ve considered all of the available information.
But it’s impossible to consider everything as there is an infinite amount of information available.
The point is this:
If you have self-confidence, you’ll get away with doing the wrong things, anyway.
According to Alan Watts in the brilliant video below, a great strategy to learn to back yourself is to regard yourself as a cloud in the flesh.
Because clouds never make mistakes. Have you ever seen an imperfect cloud?
If you treat yourself as a cloud, you’ll realize that you can’t make a mistake no matter what you do.
In this way, you can develop your self-confidence and your ability to trust your intuition.
Watch this Alan Watt’s video. It is incredible advice (it only goes for 3 minutes).
3) Ask, “What are the chances?”
When you are feeling doubtful, think about how many times in the past that your doubt came to fruition regardless of whatever it is that you are worried about.
Through some reflection, you’ll come to find that your worries are not founded. It’s better to just bet on the times you didn’t mess up.
The truth is, what we worry about usually never happens. I know that to be the case for me.
Self-doubts and worries are usually created by an over-anxious mind that focuses on the downside.
If you look at the past and realize that your worries never come to fruition, you’ll be more easily able to focus on the present moment and what you can do right now.
Also, looking into the past will help you see that worrying really serves no purpose, particularly when you have no control over the situation.
The Dalai Lama says it best:
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
4) Talk it out with a friend.
If you aren’t able to make sense of your thoughts and feelings on your own, talk to a friend or family member who will give you the space to talk things out.
There’s no point in talking to someone if they aren’t going to understand where you are coming from so choose your talking partner wisely.
As we mentioned above, when our thoughts are kept to ourselves, they tend to become distorted and overly negative.
So to get your mind back in line with reality and reasonable expectations, speak your thoughts with someone else.
When you heat it out loud you might realize how far-fetched and ridiculous your doubts sound.
And by talking over your doubts with someone else they can support you in helping you to see reality for what it is.
5) Write down your thoughts or talk to someone about it
This is probably the most critical strategy that has helped me.
Over the last year, I’ve written down my thoughts once a week on everything that has been going on in my life.
I’m the kind of guy who finds it hard to express my emotions, so journaling has been an excellent outlet.
It’s helped me clear my mind, understand my emotions and figure out what’s essential in my life.
In the Harvard Health Blog, Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH says that when people write about what’s in their hearts and minds, they better make sense of the world and themselves:
“Writing provides a rewarding means of exploring and expressing feelings. It allows you to make sense of yourself and the world you are experiencing. Having a deeper understanding of how you think and feel — that self-knowledge — provides you with a stronger connection to yourself.”
Because when we keep our thoughts inside, they end up becoming distorted and not in line with reality.
And you and I both know that negative thoughts can spiral out of control quickly.
So let them out. Try to understand them.
By expressing yourself to someone (or by writing it down), you’ll structure your thoughts and see them for what they are.
You can start to see how exaggerated those thoughts have become.
This study in 2017 found that expressive writing helps reduce error-related negativity.
Clearing your mind of your worries will enable you to see reality for what it is, and help you understand that these thoughts of self-doubt haven’t got a basis to stand on.
Here are 3 reasons I’ve found journaling to be helpful:
1) It helps you express your thoughts. This will structure your thoughts and get them in line with reality. It will help you gain clarity.
2) You’ll keep an accurate record of what’s happening in your life. As we mentioned above, our mind can often spiral out of control and focus on the negative. But by keeping a journal, you’ll realize that there’s a lot in your life that you can be thankful for, and there’s a lot of things that you’re doing that you can be proud of.
3) When I’ve mentioned before that I write down my thoughts once a week, many people ask me how I go about it.
I tend to just freestyle about my goals, the issues I’m facing and what’s important in life.
But I realize that this isn’t for everyone. So keeping a journal of day-to-day events makes it easy to figure out what to write about it as it will get you in the rhythm.
6) Don’t compare yourself to others
It is easy to get caught up in doubt when you see how great other people are doing.
If you find that you are feeling down or self-conscious about yourself after cruising social media, get off.
If you see what other people are doing, stop looking at their life and look to your own for evidence of great things.
On Facebook, you only see people’s highlight reels. After all, why would someone share anything negative about their life on Facebook?
Theodore Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy and research has suggested that you’re more likely to lose joy when your comparisons take place online.
This is because you compare your normal life to other people’s highlight reels, which just isn’t in line with the reality of their life.
And in the end, there’s no point comparing yourself to others. We all have different circumstances in life.
Spiritual Master Osho says that instead of caring what other people think about you, you should instead look inside yourself:
“Nobody can say anything about you. Whatsoever people say is about themselves. But you become very shaky because you are still clinging to a false center. That false center depends on others, so you are always looking at what people are saying about you. And you are always following other people, you are always trying to satisfy them. You are always trying to be respectable, you are always trying to decorate your ego. This is suicidal. Rather than being disturbed by what others say, you should start looking inside yourself…
“Whenever you are self-conscious you are simply showing that you are not conscious of the self at all. You don’t know who you are. If you had known, then there would have been no problem— then you are not seeking opinions. Then you are not worried what others say about you— it is irrelevant!”
“When you are self-conscious you are in trouble. When you are self-conscious you are really showing symptoms that you don’t know who you are. Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not come home yet.”
“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”
7) Remember, people don’t care what you say or do
So many of us are concerned with how we appear to others. It’s like we judge ourselves through their eyes.
I’ve been a lot like this, and I’m guessing that you have been too.
But what we need to realize is that most people only care about themselves. They’re more worried about what’s happening in their own life. They’re not focusing on you and what you’re doing.
8) Don’t take things personally
If you feel like the victim in your own life, you need to stop and think about how you let other people impact your outlook on life.
For example, if someone makes a snide remark about you, logic would dictate that it’s a reflection of their own self-worth.
But in many cases, we think illogically about these things and feel like we are being attacked.
In fact, research by a Wake Forest University psychology professor found that what you say about others says a lot about you.
“Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality”, says Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest and lead author of the study.
“A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively”.
So if you take these results to heart, there is literally no point in taking things personally.
What people say about you clearly says more about themselves than anything to do with you.
9) Change your perspective to be more optimistic
Self-doubt is negative. So why not choose to be more optimistic?
I know, it’s easier said than done.
But if you recognize every time you have a negative thought and you consciously try to change it to be more positive, you’ll start to rewire your brain to naturally think more positive.
A great way to train your brain to be more positive is to reflect on your day before you go to sleep and think of 3 positive things that happened that day.
Whether it’s a great workout, a friend buying you a coffee, or a phone call with your parents, just scan your day and write down what made you happy. Even the smallest things are worth writing down.
In fact, many studies recently have found that people who consciously count what they’re grateful for tend to be less depressed and happier in general.
According to UCLA, expressing gratitude (being thankful and appreciative) literally changes the molecular structure of the brain.
Thrive Global describes how gratitude can boost feel-good chemicals in the brain:
“In the study the researchers measured brain activity of participants experiencing different emotions, and found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus. In short, just like Prozac, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.”
10) Remember, you’re not a failure just because you failed
When you experience a setback, it’s easy to get sucked into negativity.
“I’m hopeless. “I always fail.” “I’ll never try anything new again.”
You don’t need to think like this. Failure is a necessary stepping stone to success. Without failure, society wouldn’t have achieved anything.
It takes effort and grit, but it’s important to embrace failure and see it as an opportunity to learn.
I’ve done that with this website, Hack Spirit. It was a failure for a long time. It didn’t get any traffic. But I stuck at it and worked on different ways to reach a wider audience.
Now, Hack Spirit is currently getting over 2 million readers a month.
Now, most of the things I tried didn’t work. But I embraced failure and learned what worked and what didn’t. I didn’t tell myself that I suck and that I should stop trying.
I learned from my failure, and in the long run, I’m happy that I did.
11) Improve your skills.
Becoming good at something, even if it’s just a hobby, gives you an enormous amount of confidence.
So find something you like doing and practice it.
Maybe it’s tennis. Perhaps it’s knitting. Whatever it is, work on it and have fun with it.
In no time, you’ll be competent in your new-found skill. And as a result, self-confidence will flow your way.
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