Please, raise your hand if you’ve ever felt a growing desire to change something in your life, but didn’t because of a deep sense of self-doubt? Yeees, I know you have. We all have.
You have a strong desire to pursue something, but this overwhelming feeling of insecurity and destructive internal talk stop you. This voice inside tells you that you are not good enough. It kills all your creative power to come up with any solution or an action plan. It’s hard enough mentally to shift from your comfort zone to something new and unexplored — never mind coming up with the ways to do it.
Well, there is good news: it doesn’t have to be so difficult to build confidence and create a change. With the right guidance and some patience, you could easily face the unknown and start moving towards your desired reality. Yes, you can do it all without paying for self-esteem retreats or an expensive therapist.
In this blog post, I will guide you on how to notice the psychological patterns of doubt and get your self-sabotaging inner talk under control. When done reading, you will know exactly what you should do to shut your inner critic and pursue the change you want to make in your life. Ready? Let’s dive in.
The reasons for self-doubt
Before you start diving into the ways for shattering your self-doubt, you need to understand the reasons why you might have it.
There are lots of different causes of self-doubt. Psychologists have grouped them into the following three:
- The child copies the criticizing behavior of parents who emphasize certain negative aspects of the child — inferior intellectual abilities, appearance traits, as well as the parental expectations that the child hasn’t met. With age, this self-doubt internalizes even more with each perceived failure or aggression from the others.
- The surrounding people emphasize the negative things of a person’s life. This, in turn, conditions that person for the inaction (to prevent even more negative comments).
- People develop self-doubt if they pay big attention and memorize their own failures. Lack of confidence, the negative external opinions, destructive emotions, and passive social initiatives — all make self-doubt a very internalized personal trait.
As you can see, self-doubt is a fear-based element of your character. Just the way you have internalized it over the years, you can start unlearning these psychological patterns.
Know the 4 insecurity traps
1. Understand the pattern
Now as you know where the self-doubt comes from, it is important to understand how you might be unconsciously sabotaging yourself.
You might have self-doubt when you remind yourself that you have had failures in your life when you were criticized or mocked. Paying a lot of attention to your past failures will make you more reluctant to go towards your goal. You will be convinced that whatever you want to pursue is going to fail and you won’t even try making a step. You will get into “internal beefs” — find arguments against your actions and play them repeatedly in your head. There is no easy way of this pattern except for lots of inner work and the practical actions towards your goal.
2. Avoid looking for more imperfections
We have all done this — the moment you feel low on confidence, you dig deep inside for more things you find wrong about yourself. It’s like a teenager that constantly seeks out more faults in his or her looks or character. Don’t.
3. Stop glossing over the reality
Stop making the reality look more positive or appealing than it actually is. When you are asked how you are doing in X, instead of trying to cover up the negative parts, share that you are struggling. When someone points out the fault in Y — admit that you have made a mistake. This way, you will learn to be more confident around your vulnerability and sound more compellingthan if you whitewash the truth to make a positive impression.
4. Think of whether you are trying to copy others
You have to figure out why you want to achieve or change a certain thing. Is it necessary in your pursuit of happiness or it is a fear-based urge to become more like your idol? It is possible that you are simply trying to look more like someone else who to you seem ‘more successful’. You are copying behaviors and looks of others to be more accepted.
If the career shift you want to pursue or lifestyle change you want to make is a want rather than a need, working towards your goal will not be sustainable in the long run. You will find yet another job or your ideal environment example and will have to start your confidence journey from the beginning.
What are the steps to building up confidence?
Get clear whether the change is essential
Oftentimes we want to change something in our life because of a delusional idea that the grass is greener on the other side. The deeds or decisions of others seem more logical or right than your own, so you truly believe this is a right move to do. Re-confirming with yourself if things you want to change will make a difference in your life — emotionally or directionally — will be the first needed step to start building your confidence. And “unfuckwithability”.
Stop comparing yourself with others
After you get clear that whatever your desired change is a must, stop playing the comparison game. LISTEN TO YOUR OWN WORDS!!! The comparison is what slowed down most entrepreneurs from innovating in their startups. It prevented most of the people from success.
There will always be people who are ahead of you and who are behind you. It is not a competition because all people are different and have different starting points. The more you focus on what others do, think of you or tell you to do, the more you distract yourself from being integral with yourself and following your calling.
This sounds easy but really! try to concentrate on yourself and your idea of the future. It might be hard in the beginning because you are still building up your confidence. But it gets easier with time once you realize you are a unique individual with unique talents.
Learn to love yourself
Our expectations of ourself rise all the time with the crazy impractical societal standards to how we and our life should be. Social media doesn’t help with all the unrealistic depictions of an ideal life — we become obsessed with being perfect.
Yet perfection is an impossible goal. When you become preoccupied with the excessive standards you hold for yourself, you set yourself for psychological disaster and failure.
Learn to love yourself. It is one cliche advice, but it is not an easy thing to do. It is something learned and developed over time requiring constant reminders. I am not talking about the love for yourself where you think you are the best person in the room (that becomes rather a sign of arrogance). I am talking about the healthy part of your ego.
When you acknowledge that you are not perfect but beautiful with your imperfections, you start to accept yourself the way you are and become much more confident.
Celebrate your wins
Another important aspect of loving yourself is to celebrate your accomplishments. Past AND present. Big AND small.
Write a list of your past accomplishments and put it up on your fridge. Always remind yourself of the things that you have done well. Describe how you have overcome the challenges in the past.
Acknowledge small wins too — work- or household-related. They are still the reason to tell yourself you did a good job. You can even give yourself little rewards for small accomplishments.
Helped a friend to pick up furniture? Treat yourself to a favorite dessert.
Called your mother and said you love her? A great reason to acknowledge you are a good daughter or son.
Celebrations of the big or small wins will make you feel better about yourself. You will also become more motivated about the positive impact of your actions. The more things you tell yourself you have done well, the more you develop self-confidence. You will internally believe you are capable of things.
Develop a positive outlook
It is important to keep the end goal in mind. Focus on what’s happening today rather than on how long it will take you to get to your goal. This will help you stay optimistic. Remember the compound effect. The little positive steps today will lead you to the long-lasting change in the future.
Staying optimistic also requires you to catch when you are having negative or destructive thoughts. Once you catch thinking you are not good enough, try to swap it with a positive thought about yourself. If you are thinking of an event where you will fail, shift your focus away from all those bad things that might go wrong and towards what you might learn from them instead. It’s like recalibrating your goals downward and trying to see stressful events as opportunities rather than disasters.
Find a support system
Last but not least, you want to find the right people to lift you up. This means letting go of toxic people who in any way drag you down (discourage, mock or distract you) and connecting with people who are supporting and encouraging of your plans.
Talk to as many people you believe would like your idea. Think of the most optimistic, usual yay-sayers in your surroundings and reach out to them. The chance is big that they will become your best cheerleaders.
Wrapping it all up
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it will take time for you to call it quits with your self-doubt. You have to be very committed to working on your mental paradigm shift every day and embrace the difficulties along the way.
But you know what’s the best part? Now you know the reasons for your self-doubt and the ways you can unlearn those destructive psychological patterns. Soon, starting something new or stepping into the unknown won’t be so scary. 🙂
I would love to know about your techniques to overcome the self-doubt? Share in the comments below what was your scariest shift in life and how have you handled it.