Self-doubt can be crippling and seem impossible to escape.
No matter what you do or where you go, there’s that voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough.
But that voice is wrong. That self-doubt can be conquered and shown the exit door forever.
This is my promise: in the 8 steps below, I’m going to show you exactly how to overcome self-doubt once and for all.
1) Write down your self-doubts
First of all, write down your self-doubts.
You know them well-enough, since they’ve likely followed you around most of your life.
You’re not handsome. You’re ugly.
You’re stupid, you’ll never amount to anything in your career.
You’re too emotional, too unstable, you’ll never make a good romantic partner.
You’re weird and strange. Nobody really wants you around.
As Radiohead sings in their 1992 hit song “Creep”:
“I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.”
That song wasn’t a huge hit that still gets significant airplay by accident. Millions of people feel exactly this way and get pushed to the brink of giving up on life because of feeling unwanted and rejected by other people and life.
So think of your self doubts and don’t be shy.
Write them down!
2) Identify the roots of some of these self-doubts
Where did these self-doubts come from?
At first it might seem like a stupid question: they’re just there. You just have these feelings, these strong doubts about your worth and potential.
But sit and meditate with this for longer.
You’ll often start to hear the voice of a parent or authority figure from the past, maybe a childhood bully, an abuser or an ex lover who did you wrong.
Your self-doubts didn’t come out of nowhere, just like your confident traits didn’t appear magically.
They were created and formed in certain contexts and experiences that you had, experiences that were valid and which helped shape you.
You don’t have to deny the pain or mistreatment of the past to identify these roots.
You simply have to have curiosity and dedication. Trace these roots back to their source: the poison tree that’s growing inside you.
But this poison tree actually has a fruit on it that can transform into a life-giving nutrient. It’s just up to you to take the toxic ingredients and change them into something else.
How do you do this?
It’s actually pretty simple:
3) Find something you love doing and do it
In order to overcome self-doubt once and for all, you need to find something you love doing and do it.
This doesn’t mean drugs, sex, or going out every night to get blackout drunk, although those may figure as parts of your life.
Something you can do refers to something active into which you launch your energy, thoughts and heart.
It could certainly be sports and exercise, study, your job, a painting hobby you’ve taken up or many other things.
Anything you’re actively doing which is bringing meaning and some kind of deeper fulfillment to your life fits the bill here.
You’re not going for a temporary high or an escape from self-doubt.
You’re going for an actual “thanks for your opinion, see you later” to self-doubt.
You’re heading off to do your own thing and letting that self-doubt rest in place for a while while you do something you love and go out sailing, or build a cabin off grid in Scotland.
The world is your oyster. But you have to act.
Which brings us to point four.
4) Prove your doubts wrong through action
Many self-development articles will recommend mantras, meditation and emotional work to get over self-doubts.
That may work for some, although I don’t know anyone where it’s helped much.
What does actually help is action.
There is zero substitute for action and doing things in the real world, no matter how many psychologists, gurus or religious leaders try to tell you otherwise.
While it’s true you should never worship materialism or the physical world and its glories, what you do in your practical daily life matters a lot.
You can’t prove self-doubt wrong by out-thinking or out-feeling it.
You can only prove it wrong by outdoing it. Literally.
In terms of deep self-esteem, actions will always speak louder than words.
Your self-doubts will back off as you prove them wrong through action.
Nobody likes you? Well is that you who just volunteered for three months and made 20 new friends? It looks a lot like you to me!
You have no career future? Well, is it you who just opened a small brewery downtown after seven months of grueling work? Sure looks like you!
You’re ugly or nobody is attracted to you? Is that you hitting the gym daily and feeling great and getting some very nice looks from people you’re attracted to when you’re out in public? Hell yeah that’s you!
You: 1, Self-doubt: 0.
5) Reinforce this with repeated action
Your actions that show for certain that your self-doubts are wrong can’t just be one-offs.
This isn’t about having one great day at the gym or one great date and just relaxing back in bliss.
Actions become infinitely more powerful the more they’re repeated, which is your next step.
You start hitting home runs repeatedly.
You start maximizing results in every area of your life.
You start doing all those things you always assumed were beyond your reach.
And guess what?
They’re not beyond your reach at all, you were just being held back by your mental narrative and the monkey mind.
No matter how deep the self-doubt is rooted, you’re here wondering how to conquer self-doubt because you already have the fire in your belly to completely conquer this beast.
If you truly believed your self-doubts you wouldn’t be here.
6) Read and watch inspirational heroes
Next up in the top ways to overcome self-doubt once and for all is to read and watch inspirational people.
There are folks out there who have done things most of us can’t even imagine.
Some are famous, some are unknown or completely normal outwardly.
That frail elderly guy down the street who nods at you when you walk by may have survived a Prisoner of War camp.
That young woman who walks nervously past you in the grocery store may be raising three kids alone after surviving a horrific abusive relationship and finding a way to move on.
We are surrounded by everyday heroes and also larger-than life heroes.
Take the story of Sławomir Rawicz, who survived a Soviet gulag camp to walk 6,500 kilometers (4,000 miles) to British Mongolia through the worst conditions imaginable and emerge alive on the other side.
Never give up!
7) Surround yourself with people who see your strengths
The next of the key ways to overcome self-doubt once and for all is to surround yourself with people who see your worth.
This may be family, friends, work colleagues or those you meet through activities and doing hobbies.
These don’t have to be your bosom buddies, but they should be folks who fundamentally respect you and see your value.
Being around people like this slowly chips away at any inner narratives that are self-doubting or undermine you.
When the people around you see your value and reinforce that, the inner voice that tells you you’re nothing starts to fade out more and more.
Who needs it, anyway?
Of course you should never rely on external appreciation to make up for your inner sense of value, which needs to be developed using the other tips in this article.
But having folks around who believe in you is certainly a big boost.
8) Kick down the pedestals you’ve created for others
Many of us subconsciously adopt a posture of submissiveness from a young age.
We believe we come second or should please others to be approved of and accepted.
There’s no way to overstate how damaging this is to our wellbeing and future development.
It’s good to respect others and look up to some of them. But you should never idolize people or put them on a pedestal.
These pedestals need to be kicked down one by one.
Look at the ways you have idealized people in your life and start seeing them more as real people instead of just icons or ideals.
Even your heroes I talked about earlier, read up on the mistakes they made and their struggles.
Nobody deserves to be on a pedestal! And putting them there weakens you and increases self-doubt.
Yes I can
You have more power than you realize.
I promise you that.
Self-doubt is sabotaging you, and it doesn’t need to be in your life.
A realistic understanding of your weaknesses and shortcomings is one thing, and is absolutely essential.
But doubting your value or skills cuts you off at the knees before you ever get a chance to run.
Using the tips above I am confident you will put self-doubt behind you forever, and the next time that sneaky inner voice tells you you’re not good enough you’ll laugh out loud.