Overcoming Self Doubt

How to tackle the yes, buts…

Overcoming self doubt is a challenge we all face from time to time. We tend to have negative beliefs about ourselves which make us doubt our ability to get on and do things. Sometimes they loom so large that all your career change motivation seems to drain away. So what can you do about it?



You are not alone!



First and foremost, realise that you are not the only one who feels like this. We all tend to think that everyone else is supremely confident, but in reality we all share those 2 o’clock in the morning moments when everything feels overwhelming. It is at these moments that all the negative and limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves come to the surface.

Finding ways of overcoming this self doubt is something we all have to struggle with.




What are limiting beliefs?



We all hold a set of beliefs, a kind of script, that give us a framework for our lives. They shape the way we respond to situations. Many of these are held unconsciously and yet they still have a powerful influence. Some are positive, but many are negative and they limit us and make us doubt ourselves.

What do they look like? Here are some examples. Do any of them ring true for you?

  • Life is hard
  • I must follow the rules
  • Other people are the cause of all my problems
  • Anything less than the best is failure
  • People must like/approve of me
  • I must do what is expected of me
  • I must be in control
  • I must always get things right
  • I’m not good enough

Limiting beliefs are often stated as absolutes, containing all or nothing words like 'must', 'always' and 'never'. Your limiting beliefs are usually the source of your self doubt. They hold you back and make it difficult for you to make changes in the way you live your life.



How to identify your limiting beliefs


When working on overcoming self doubt, you need to know what you are working on. Here’s a method that can help you work out what some of your limiting beliefs are.

Take a sheet of paper and down the side write each of the following 5 times:

  • I am…
  • I must…
  • Work is…
  • People are…
  • Life is…

Then complete each of the sentences quickly. Don’t think about it too much. Just write down your first instinctive responses.

What did that turn up for you? What rules are your beliefs imposing on you? How are they holding you back from making the career change you want?



Overcoming self doubt and negative beliefs



The best way of overcoming the self doubt that comes from these negative and limiting beliefs is to actively challenge them and then look for positive alternative beliefs to replace them.

So take one of your limiting beliefs and ask the following questions...

  • What evidence is there for this belief? Do the words like must, always and never really apply?
  • In what way is this belief unhelpful to me in my life? How does it hold me back?
  • What would be a more helpful, alternative belief eg one using sometimes rather than always.
  • What evidence do I have that supports this more helpful belief? What resources do I have to make sure I build up more evidence like this?

Use these questions to dispute the negative beliefs you have identified. Then whenever you get a sense that the old 'rules' are stopping you, consciously apply your new alternative beliefs instead. 

If you find you struggle with self confidence issues on a regular basis, then you might find the resources at Confidence World useful. Why not take a look?

Overcoming self doubt is not easy and you will need to work hard to continue to challenge what may have been a lifetime’s habit of doubting yourself. But once you have identified your limiting beliefs you can start taking conscious and active steps to overcome them.


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