Have you given up on an idea, a dream, or an opportunity because of self-doubt?
Self-doubt is an obstacle to success. It prevents you from achieving what you want.
But more importantly, doubting yourself means a lack of trust in yourself. And that’s a sign that you don’t love yourself enough.
“Trust lies at the core of love; there can be no true love without trust.”
The above quote doesn’t only apply to an intimate relationship. It also applies to our love relationship with ourselves.
You don’t tell yourself, “I love you, but I don’t think you can do it. So you better give up.” Instead, you encourage yourself, “If this is something you aspire to do, I’ll support you the best that I could.”
Giving up your dream is the same as giving up on yourself. If you truly love yourself, allow yourself to do your best despite your perceived weaknesses and obstacles.
But Who Doesn’t Have Self-Doubt?
It’s true. Everyone has self-doubt.
Celebrities such as Will Smith, Meryl Streep, and Tina Fey have imposter syndrome. Athletes and politicians have self-doubt too although it might not be in their best interests to reveal to their competitors.
Entrepreneur, writers, artists, teachers, speakers… everyone. Me!
Sometimes, I feel like a fraud but that’s okay because a healthy dose of self-doubt is fine.
Self-doubt isn’t a problem as long as it doesn’t stop you from moving forward.
As a writer, every time I’m writing a new book, I feel uncertain about my book. I’m not sure if it is good enough. I’m not sure if people would read or buy my book. What if no one buys?
But that’s okay. There’s no way for me to predict how many books I can sell. The only way to know is to write them, market them the best that I could, and evaluate the result. Excessive worrying won’t help me sell more books. So why worry?
If you believe that no one is going to read your book and you think you shouldn’t write it, then you are going down the wrong path.
Everyone has self-doubt, but we can choose not to let it affect us.
I know no matter how bad my self-doubt is. Ultimately, I’ll still write. Because I choose to do so. You can choose not to let your insecurities affect you too or at least reduce it.
Overcoming Self-Doubt: 6 Ways to Deal with Self-Doubt
1. Take simple action steps.
One reason why people have self-doubt because they fear that they can’t do it. To eliminate self-doubt from your life, don’t set enormous goals and feel overwhelmed by them. Instead, break your overall vision into small, simple action steps which it’s easy to do. That will help you build your confidence.
Remember to get up a mountain, you need to take one step at the time.
It might seem impossible to reach the top. But if you start by taking one step at a time, you will gain momentum and eventually get to the top.
2. Stop comparing yourself with others.
Another reason why we doubt ourselves so much is because we have this tendency to compare with other people. When we see other people who are better than us at something, some of us may feel disheartened that they couldn’t be as good. Others give up because they are afraid to lose.
The world doesn’t need another Stephen King, but it needs another horror writer.
To stop doubting yourself, stop comparing yourself with others. It doesn’t matter if there are already people who are successful in what you want to do. The world doesn’t need someone better. They need someone with another voice or perspective.
Take me for an instance. I write not because I have the best English or am the most knowledgeable in my field. I have a limited vocabulary but that’s all I needed to express my thoughts and insights. It makes my writing direct and easy to understand. And because I’m from Singapore, my perspective is somewhat different from those self-help writers in the US and that makes me special.
Use whatever you have. And not be bothered about what you lack. There’s no need to compare yourself with others. You can reach an audience that successful people couldn’t reach.
3. Take success lightly.
One reason why self-doubt has such a big impact on us is that we are too focused on being successful. We don’t wish to fail, so we are cautious with every move we are making.
I had this problem previously too. Whenever I had a decision to make, I would ask my mentors, my brother, and search the Internet for advice. Instead of trusting my own intuition, I would doubt myself, procrastinate, and seek external validation.
To be successful, let go of success.
Take success lightly. It’s not life and death. Previously, I had this grand vision to help the animation industry. Anything less than that would mean I’m a failure. I was so afraid to fail that I couldn’t move forward. I kept coming up with new ways to improve the industry instead of doing anything tangible.
Now, I’m just writing one book at a time. If one book fails, write another. Simple as that. There’s no need to take success so seriously.
If you want to conquer self-doubt, you need to take success lightly.
4. Allow yourself to make mistakes in front of others.
People who doubt themselves aren’t just afraid to be wrong, they are afraid to be discovered that they are wrong.
Let go of the notion that you have to be right all the time.
There is actually no shame in being wrong. I learn this when I was giving private tuition to my students. When I first started teaching, I was afraid to get the questions wrong or not know how to solve a problem. Then, I realized I don’t have to know everything. Sometimes, it’s better for me to make mistakes so that I can show my students it’s okay to make mistakes. We can always learn from our mistakes.
Stop aiming for perfection. Accept your mistakes and forgive yourself. When you aren’t afraid to make mistakes, self-doubt is not needed anymore. To get rid of self-doubt, simply allow yourself to make mistakes.
5. Cover all the bases.
Some people have self-doubt because they are unprepared. As a private tutor, I know I would get anxious and doubt myself whenever I didn’t prepare enough for the lesson.
When you have insecurities, address those insecurities. Prepare, prepare, prepare! That will naturally reduce your self-doubt and increase your confidence.
However, don’t over-prepare.
If more preparation doesn’t help you feel less anxious, it’s time to stop.
Sometimes, self-doubt has to do with under-preparation. But sometimes, it’s psychological. It’s easy for non-fiction authors like me to over-research on their topics. Because we are afraid to get our facts wrong or not cover all aspects of the topic.
But I soon realized it’s impossible to cover everything. There is a lot of information out there and it keeps getting updated. My perspective will change as I learn and grow. So there’s no need to spend so much time on research.
6. Start shipping.
The best way of overcoming self-doubt is to start shipping. Nike says, “Just do it.” Seth Godin says, “Go make something happen.” It’s all about making a decision to start.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint,
then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” ― Vincent van Gogh
You don’t have to be 100% confident to ship your work. Start even though you feel uncertain. The voice will get smaller as you progress. Don’t wait till the voice is gone before doing something. Because the voice will never go away.
And learn to ship regularly. Don’t work on your projects for years and not complete them. You will get better at overcoming your self-doubt when you face it regularly. I love writing blog posts regularly because I had to wrestle with my self-doubt every week. Every time I have doubts, it’s an opportunity for me to overcome it.
So what are you doing this week to overcome your self-doubt?
Featured Photo Credit: Lost In Thought / vonderauvisuals