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10 Powerful Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt So You Can Move Forward in Life

10 Powerful Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
William Shakespeare

Self-doubt can be a troubling and persuasive voice that holds you back.

It holds you back from seizing your opportunities.

It makes getting started or finishing things harder than they need to be.

Sure, it can sometimes be useful as it helps you to soberly see your current limitations or simply recognize a half-baked or bad idea. But mostly, it holds you back in life.

So how can you get around that, how can you overcome those times of self-doubt so that you can move forward once again?

In this article I’ll explore 10 tips and habits that have helped me to decrease that destructive inner voice.

1. Say stop.

First, when your inner doubts bubble up, be quick. Don’t let them spin out of control or grow from a whisper to a stream of discouraging sentences. Instead, talk back to that doubtful part of yourself.

In your mind, say or shout something like: No, no, no, we are not going down that road again.

By doing so you can disrupt the thought pattern and stop that inner self-doubter from taking over.

2. Look to the past and awash yourself in the memories.

Be real with yourself and ask yourself:

How many times when I doubted myself or feared something would happen did that negative thing come into reality after I still took action?

The answer for me – and probably for you too – is not very often at all.

Self-doubts are most often just monsters in your head that your mind may use to keep you from making changes and to keep you within the comfort zone.

If you look to the past and see how well things have gone many times despite those self-doubts then it become easier to let go of them or to ignore them and to focus on the more likely positive outcome and to take action.

3. Talk to someone about it.

When you keep your thoughts on the inside they can become distorted, exaggerated and not very much in line with reality or reasonable expectations.

This is very much true when it comes to self-doubting thoughts.

So let them out into the light. Talk to someone close to you about your self-doubts.

Just letting them out and saying them out loud can often help you to hear how exaggerated these thoughts have become. And by talking about those doubts with someone that is supportive you can get a change in perspective.

4. Start keeping a journal.

Keeping a journal can be a helpful habit for many reasons. When it comes to self-doubts it can help you to:

  • Keep a realistic record of your life. And help you to remember the positive things, the successes you have had and how you have overcome obstacles if you are prone to remembering things with a negative slant.
  • Gain clarity more easily. It is often easier to alleviate fears and doubts and to gain clarity if you have an issue laid out on paper or in a computer document rather than if you try to go through it all in your mind. By making lists of pros and cons, going through your thoughts and emotions and similar events from the past and by writing down different perspectives on the issue it becomes easier to find solutions and to see your challenge in a clearer and more level-headed way.

5. Remember: people don’t care that much about what you do or say.

When you worry about what others may think or say if do something then the self-doubt can quickly become stronger and you get stuck in inaction and in fear.

When that happens remind yourself that the truth is that people don’t really care that much about what you or do not do.

They have their hands full with thinking about themselves, their kids and pets, jobs and upcoming sports matches and with worrying about what people may think of them.

6. Get a boost of optimism.

Let someone else’s enthusiasm, motivation and constructive optimism flow over to you. Spend 20 minutes with a an audio book, a podcast or a book that gives you that. Tim Ferriss’ podcast has helped me with this recently and have over the years often listened to audio books by Brian Tracy to get this boost.

This quick 20 minute session can greatly help you to shift your self-doubts into optimism and into thinking constructively about your challenge.

7. See a setback as temporary.

When you have a setback then it is easy to start doubting yourself and what you do. To start seeing this current setback as something that will simply be your new normal.

This way of looking at things can trap you in thinking that there’s no point in continuing to take action.

So instead:

  • Remember: You are not a failure just because you failed. Setbacks happen to everyone who take chances. It is simply a part of living life fully. Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t. So don’t make a failure into this huge thing or into your identity.
  • Ask yourself: what is one thing I can learn from this setback? Use the mistake or failure to your advantage and to move forward once again in smarter way.

8. Sharpen your skills.

If you, for instance, often get self-doubt before a presentation in school or at work then sharpen your presentation skills. Read a few books about it and practice at home in front of a mirror or in front of a friend. Or join Toastmasters to get the experience or knowledge you need.

Then you’ll feel more confident, competent and relaxed in such situations.

9. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

A common way to handle self-doubt is to get angry at yourself and your lack of motion forward. To try to beat yourself up as a way to get yourself to move forward.

That does not – in my experience – help that much.

I have found that being kind and constructive when feeling self-doubt is a better choice. So I use kind and understanding words towards myself but I also ask myself:

What is one very small step I can take to move forward in this situation?

Then I take that very small step and start to step by step move towards where I want to go.

10. Remember: You can course-correct along the way.

Trying to plan every move you will make on a journey towards a goal or dream can become draining and lead to quite a bit of self-doubt. And it it usually don’t work that well anyway since the best laid plans often start to fall part a bit or need some change when they are confronted with reality.

So do a bit of rough planning and then start your journey.

And remember that you can always course-correct along the way towards what you want. Empowered by the new knowledge, experience and feedback you will get as you keep going on that path.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lina December 24, 2015, 1:05 pm

    I’ve been reserve your emails about 4 weeks ago and I can’t tell you how much helpful your emails ,especially when I read it at college.
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    I hope you can go forward ?

  • Tsegaye Bonsa December 26, 2015, 1:06 pm

    How are you? I am fine.
    Happy new year Henrik.
    The advise you have given me has enhanced my personal life.
    Thank you.
    God bless you and your family.

  • Chayanika December 26, 2015, 7:31 pm

    Thankuu so much fr this…actually I think I am suffering from depression but I am not among those who give up! I wont and your blogs help me make it possible and easier thankyou so much:)::);)

  • Pat December 26, 2015, 10:06 pm

    A great post with excellent strategies to overcome self doubt. My favorite strategy is to remember most people don’t care what we do or say since we place more pressures on ourselves than others.

  • Mercury December 27, 2015, 1:38 am

    If there’s one thing I need it’s a boost of optimism… so I’m definitely gonna check out Tim Ferriss’ podcast! To be honest, I would check it out even if I didn’t need some optimism because I love Tim, but I had no idea he has a podcast!

  • the best university December 29, 2015, 2:02 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Nick Stokes December 29, 2015, 4:40 pm

    Thank you for the article Henrik! It was a nice read. This is a great starting point for all those that are suffering from disturbances such as depression and anxiety.

  • lily December 29, 2015, 7:17 pm

    Hiya Henrik,
    I have just now started a blog and im writing a post about positivity this post has given me so many ideas and id like to thank you brilliant post. Your post has inspired me and the way I think about things thank you!

  • sherill January 19, 2016, 4:05 am

    Hi, Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips to help decrease that destructive inner voice. There are times that we get carried away with these inner voices that we hear and it is ruining our lives. No 7 resonates well with me, “Setbacks happen to everyone who take chances. It is simply a part of living life fully”. Really great and encouraging !

  • Dharmalife January 19, 2016, 11:24 am

    Pretty Good Article !!! Would like to read more and the way you have explained here it superb , motivated lot from you article , keep up the good work !!!

  • Ruchira January 21, 2016, 3:55 pm

    Great Article.. I loved it and it is really helpful to everyone. Self-doubt seizes us from grabbing golden opportunities coming your way. And to avoid self-doubt this article will help out in a really great way.

  • Mayara January 23, 2016, 6:25 am

    Absolutely wonderful article. Every single one of the points you have touched upon are extremely important when trying to overcome self doubt. Thank you for this!

  • Scott Jasper January 23, 2016, 1:01 pm

    I love Tim Ferriss. I have been following him for like 10 years! He is amazing. I love his human guinea pig approach.

  • Errol January 23, 2016, 8:31 pm

    Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive And Believe It Can Achieve – Napoleon Hill

  • sakshi February 3, 2016, 11:55 am

    The tips are wonderful to apply. I also believe in letting go of things and wrote something on it. It may help other, so sharing the link.


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