I was listening to a podcast the other day where they talked about how self-doubt and limiting beliefs affect the way we show up in life. Limiting beliefs are created by the voice in our head — our thoughts. Because our brain is so quick to look for what might be wrong in an attempt to protect us, it has also become very efficient in limiting our esteem, confidence, self-image, and self-acceptance.
Have you ever been driving down the freeway and notices the ruts from all the cars wearing a groove over time? The effects of heavy vehicles driving in the same spot for extended periods of time changes the surface of the road. Our brains, in a very similar way, get ruts or grooves worn into its memory. The repeated thoughts we have wear a pattern until it becomes difficult to resist the direction they are taking us.
Self-doubt is one of those crippling thought patterns wearing deep grooves into our brain. It’s natural for our brains to pick up on negativity, so natural it’s something we all experience. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to believe in someone else’s ability over your own? We are all susceptible to the inner voice in our head, and just because it’s often louder than any other thought doesn’t mean any of us are doomed to live with self-doubt forever. There are plenty of strategies and tips that can help you crush self-doubt and limiting beliefs from your life.
Trace the Roots of Self-Doubt
Before you can do anything about it, you need to find out what’s causing your self-doubt. Is it fear? Is it not having enough knowledge? Is it a lack of self-confidence? Spend a little time thinking about why exactly you feel that you can’t do this. Try retracing the source of your doubt. It may stem from an abusive childhood, an unsupportive spouse, or a toxic friendship.
This first step is crucial. Don’t skim over it — finding a solution won’t work unless you get down to the root of the problem. Be honest with yourself and dig deep.
Don’t compare your life to someone else’s. Not only does it create jealousy and steal our joy, but it also leaves you feeling inferior only decreases your confidence.
Instead, try comparing where you are now to where you have been before. Maybe you’re not where you want to be, but are you closer than you were a year ago or five years ago? Comparing your present to your past is a great way to see how much you’ve grown and achieved.
Remember Your Path Isn’t Set in Stone
While life doesn’t have an edit button, you do have the ability to change it when you want. If you don’t like the path you’re on, you’re allowed to press edit.
If you’re a planner, like me, you may have noticed how often those plans don’t always work out the way we envisioned them, and it’s okay. No matter your path, as long as you’re learning and growing, self-doubt has a harder time carving its way into you.
Silence Your Inner Critic
Another tough part of self-doubt is our inner critic. This inner voice can be helpful in how it helps us choose our words a bit more carefully and be cautious in making big decisions. But your inner critic can also smother creativity and fuel all kinds of self-doubt. If you’re giving too much free reign to your inner critic, it might be time to put a muzzle on that voice of self-doubt.
The first thing I do is acknowledge my inner critic and how it is only telling me part of the story. I challenge those automatic thoughts with new ones.
If my inner critic says: “You’re not good enough to do this.” I respond with: “What if I am?” By challenging those thoughts with new possibilities, I can bring those ideas of self-doubt to a halt. And if my inner critic says: “But what if you aren’t?” I just say: “I guess I’ll have to try it to see.”
Don’t get me wrong. Your brain — the source of your inner critic — is designed to keep you safe. But if the negative feed is playing and replaying in your mind, it begins to have a negative effect on your life. Practice questioning the voice in your head, learn to say no and follow your heart instead.
Your self-doubt doesn’t have to control your life anymore. You can thank self-doubt for trying to keep you safe. Then take back your power and make decisions based on your goals and dreams, instead of your fears.
Keep a Journal
This is one of my favorite tools to overcome self-doubt. Keeping a journal helps you recognize your accomplishments, and fuels your sense of confidence and purpose. Even writing about the difficult and trying experiences in your life can have a positive effect. Journaling about your self-doubt and how you’ve pushed through can be a powerful cure.
Be honest, open and focused on deliberate action you’ve taken and what you want to believe about your circumstance. Use your journal to evaluate different perspectives of your situation and possible solutions. Write about what you are learning and how you are growing.
We can search for gratitude in every single event in life. Even the worst things can be turned into a lesson to help over the next hurdle. People who have overcome some of the hardest trials – death, crime, illness – all have one thing in common: it’s their ability to see the positive and be grateful.
Celebrate Your Wins
People with low self-confidence often struggle with acknowledging their accomplishments. Instead of simply letting your wins pass you by, celebrate them. I love to use my Creating Positive Habits Journal to recognize my daily wins.
When you reach a milestone toward a big goal or complete a difficult job do something fun. You could go for a pedicure, treat yourself to your favorite meal, or see a movie. By celebrating your success in a memorable way, you’re less likely to doubt yourself in the future.
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It takes consistent work to boost your self-confidence and crush feelings of self-doubt. Remember this is not a one and done type of mentality. While your confidence will grow, there will always be new challenges to tackle and overcome. Whenever you feel yourself slipping back into self-doubt, focus on a confidence-building activity. Consistency will help create new pathways in your brain allowing you to act instead of reacting to doubts.
In the comments below, share three recent wins. Something you’ve done well and are proud of.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck