Overcoming self-doubt

As we begin the New Year, many people are making plans for the changes that they would like to see in their life this year. Usually, those plans are built off of things that either went wrong or did not go quite as well as hoped for during the previous year.

Already there has been an increase in gym memberships, an increase in the purchase of products such as gluten-free foods, people indulging in self-help and motivational content, and people attempting to make changes in their social circles.

However, every year it seems that a lot of people fall short of their desired goals and outcomes a couple months into the new year. This often leads to self-doubt.

When things do not go the way that we expected them to go, we find it easiest to blame ourselves internally. Externally, we often point our fingers at others, but internally we are usually doing a self-check to figure out what we did wrong for the situation to not occur the way that we intended.

What we are doing here is protecting our self-concept (our knowledge, assumptions and feelings about ourselves). This is why understanding self-doubt is important as we set goals for ourselves moving forward.

What is self-doubt?

Self-doubt is a state of uncertainty regarding the truth or reality of any situation. Self-doubt is like a virus of the mind. Once self-doubt infests your thought process, it leads to harmful thoughts and feelings.

Also, once our self-doubt infests our thoughts and emotions we begin to lie to ourselves. When we lie to ourselves, we make ourselves vulnerable to making destructive choices, developing harmful habits. It keeps us stuck.

We often have doubts about our personality, physical appearance, socioeconomic status, relationship status, and our future. Life is filled with unexpected tasks and challenges that leave us questioning many elements of our life.

Three tools to counter self-doubt

  1. Be honest with yourself: The first and most important tool to have is being honest. It is more important for you to be honest with yourself than with anyone else. If you cannot be completely true to yourself and cannot trust anything from anyone else, keeping it real with yourself becomes most important.
  2. Take a risk: Taking a risk and getting out of your comfort zone is important because it allows you to gain more experience. Our ability to expand our understanding and knowledge of the world we live in allows us to grow and expand our understanding of self. Go out and experience new things.
  3. Accept the outcomes: Everything is not going to end in a positive or pleasing result. This is a function of life. Sometimes things just suck! This is okay. Sometimes we have to experience something less pleasing to understand what we truly want and or need.

You have the power to change

In brief, your self-concept is important to the progress of your life and the well-being of others that surround you. Our own personal impact is solely based on us and how we feel. Self-doubt will disrupt our happiness and level of success.

Long-term neglect of our self-doubt leads to other troubling elements such as self-defeating thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Often we are unaware that we are even experiencing these things as we move through life. By applying the three tools — being honest with yourself, taking a risk outside of your comfort zone, and accepting the outcomes — you are one step closer to overcoming self-doubt and being a much happier person.

Overcoming self-doubt takes action, dedication and focus. The power is in your hands, heart and head.


Brandon Jones M.A. is a mental health practitioner. He welcomes reader responses to Brandon@jegnainstitute.com or follow him on Twitter @UniversalJones.