10 signs self-doubt is holding you back in life

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Self-doubt is a silent killer. 

So many people are undercut by self-doubt without even realizing how much it’s harming the course of their life. 

These are the top signs self-doubt is holding you back in life.

1) You second-guess yourself a lot

One of the worst signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that you constantly second guess yourself

The simplest of decisions become a big internal debate. 

You even think back to old decisions and second-guess the past. 

“If I hadn’t taken that job or dated that guy, what if my life was way better right now?”

The truth is:

When we second guess ourselves we weaken ourselves. 

There’s nothing wrong with rethinking your decision-making process and assessing choices you’ve made. 

But constant second guessing is a waste of time. 

We also have a tendency to second guess how things would be so much better if we had or hadn’t done something differently, but statistically there’s just as much or more chance they’d be worse! 

2) You get stuck in the victim mentality 

Next up is that you get stuck in the victim mentality

Second-guessing and doubting the path you’ve taken in life leads you to seeing all the ways that life and other people have not given you what you deserve. 

That hurts. 

This is understandable, but the problem is that the effect begins to multiply and create a negative feedback loop. 

Before long you find yourself more disconnected from society and social events and feel even more victimized. 

This path never leads anywhere beneficial. 

3) You doubt your own talents and ability

Next up in the signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that you doubt your own actual talents and abilities. 

Even when presented with objective proof that you’re skilled at your job or an amazing musician or an inspiring person, you downplay it.

Inside yourself, the negative voice telling you you’re nothing special and are a piece of crap keeps up its whining. 

You feel sure that even those things you are skilled at aren’t important or you’re surely not as good as the “really good” people who seem so much better than you. 

This type of self-doubt can become nothing short of an inferiority complex!

This brings up the next important point: 

4) You think people praising you are just flattering you to be nice

Part of the self-doubt comes in when you are praised by others, including those close to you.

If you find yourself doubting the truth of what they say or sure that’s just empty flattering, it’s one of the most worrying signs self-doubt is holding you back in life.

Even the most encouraging person may also tire of reassuring you that you are good enough and are impressive in various ways. 

This is the real tragedy of low self-esteem is that other people can only tell you the positives you see, but they can’t force you to see the truth of them or internalize your own value. 

5) You think about the future and dread what it will bring 

The next of the signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that the future terrifies you

We all get scared of the future at times, of course. 

The great unknown is a kind of intimidating concept!

But it can also be exciting and full of promise. 

The reason that people with low self-value tend to dread the future is because they are locked in a passive state. 

You should feel like the future is something you will imprint yourself upon, a space in which you will act, create and live. 

But all too often, self-doubt tells you that the future is something that will happen to you, bending and shaping you in whichever direction in turns. 

When you think like this about the future it’s no wonder you feel scared!

6) You stay in jobs that treat you poorly and pay very little

Next up in the unfortunate signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that you put up with terrible jobs and pay because you believe you can’t do better. 

The idea of applying to new jobs somehow strikes you as remote and unlikely. 

The usual reason for a block of finding new work is a lack of self-belief.

After all, sending out your CV and a cover letter requires a bare minimum of self-promotion and self-confidence along the lines of “hi, it’s me, I’m great and I will do an amazing job for you!”

When you don’t feel that in your bones, employers sense that. 

Plus you end up just staying in whatever job you ended up getting anyway, leading your superiors to often treat you poorly and not give you a raise. 

7) Your inner monolog is full of negativity and self-sabotage 

Let’s be honest:

The inner monolog many of us have is not great. 

If you find that your inner voice is telling a story in which you are a loser, a fraud, ugly and sad, then you need to turn that around. 

Instead of “reinventing” your story in your head or in your beliefs, reinvent it in the world around you. 

Start getting active and achieving things. 

You’ll notice a concurrent rise in your sense of self-worth and your inner monolog. 

8) You feel like other people possess some ‘secret’ to success that you missed

Next up in the signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that you feel like others around you have some “secret” to their success and motivation that you’re missing. 

When you hear people say things like “believe in yourself” it sounds like totally empty advice. 

What good would it do to believe in yourself? You wonder this and it makes sense, because if you truly believe your self is broken or low value why would you believe in that. 

This is why I advocate taking action in the real world to undo self-doubt rather than just “think” or “feel” your way around it. 

Everyone has doubts, but those who seem to have a “secret” generally have only one secret:

They have gained enough momentum in their actions to not be a slave to their temporary thoughts and emotions on a daily basis. 

9) You don’t ask out people you’re attracted to because you feel sure you’d be rejected

Next up in the sad signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that you deprive yourself of romantic opportunities because of believing you’ll be rejected. 

It’s not just that you’re “scared” of being rejected.

It’s that some part of you really believes there is no point in trying because you’ll be rejected and disappointed either way.

You express interest in someone and get turned down? A waste of time, a heartache. 

You express interest in someone and they accept? You go out, start to like them, get your hopes up and then they get to know your real, flawed self and ditch you. Even worse waste of time and heartache!

This can be a real trap.

It’s true we need somebody who accepts us despite our flaws, but it’s also true that it’s often not our problems that drive others away but our reactions and unstable relationship to our flaws and problems that drive people away. 

It’s a fine but very significant distinction. 

10) You pretend to agree with popular ideas, tastes and trends because you doubt your ability to walk your own path

Lastly in the signs self-doubt is holding you back in life is that you go along with what seems popular even when you don’t like it. 

You listen to the music that your peers or coworkers do. You watch the movies, tell the jokes, follow the spiritual paths, ideas and ideologies that are popular, use the substances, go to the same places on vacation. 

But deep down you don’t like the path you’re following and the crowds of mindless masses all around you. In fact you hate it. 

Deep down your sense that your current lifestyle or place isn’t where you belong won’t leave you, and sometimes it maybe even keeps you up at night. 

This inner intuition deserves to be listened to. 

Taking some time for introspection and contemplating where you want to go in life is very valuable and worth the trouble. 

Don’t let self-doubt tell you that what you want is strange or isn’t popular enough to pursue! 

The truth is: 

You got this 

You have the power within you this very minute to start turning things around. 

If self-doubt is holding you back in life, don’t despair. 

It happens to us all at some points, and those walls can be busted down. 

Self-doubt tells a familiar story of low value and dependency. 

It tells you that you’ll never be good enough and that you should settle for what you get. 

Self-doubt makes you live in fear and reaction instead of power and action. 

The truth is that you have the power to begin turning this around right now and proving those doubts wrong

10 characteristics of a highly productive mindset

9 habits that distinguish cultured people from the rest