“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”William Shakespeare
Deep down, you know what you’re meant to do with your life.
You’re dreaming of writing that book, starting that business, taking a year off from work to travel the world.
But, just as soon as the idea pops into your head, the doubts come crushing in, too.
“Who do you think you are, Stephen King?”
“What if you fail and end up homeless?”
“How will you get enough money to travel, and what if you get sick while you’re stranded in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language?”
Self-doubt is paralyzing.
It cripples you with the worst case scenario that could happen if you take the leap.
It makes you believe you don’t have what it takes to make your dreams come true.
It fools you into thinking it’s keeping you safe. In reality, it just robs you of your dreams, of the life you know deep down you’re meant to be living.
Why Do You Experience Self-Doubt?
Self-doubt is one of the tricks your Inner Mean Girl (that’s how I call my Inner Critic) uses to keep you stuck in your comfort zone.
Think of your Inner Mean Girl as a younger sister who doesn’t want to see you hurt.
When you’re thinking about making a change – maybe it’s starting a new relationship, moving to a foreign country or switching career – your Inner Mean Girl gets scared.
She tells you that cute guy is out of your league because she doesn’t want to see you cry if he doesn’t feel the same way about you.
She doesn’t want you to move to a foreign country because she doesn’t want to see you struggle with loneliness.
She doesn’t want you to switch career because she doesn’t want you to be disappointed if you fail.
Your Inner Mean just wants to keep you safe. Because, deep down, she doesn’t believe you deserve to have the life you’re dreaming of.
If you don’t believe you deserve something, you won’t go for it.
How Do You Develop Self-Doubt?
Have you ever watched a baby as she learns to walk?
She’s not afraid she’ll hurt herself if she falls down. She’s not wondering if she has what it takes to learn to walk. She’s not running worst case scenarios in her head.
She just stands up, takes a first step and off she goes. When she falls down, she gets up and does it all again. Before you know it, she starts running around the house.
There was never any doubt in her little mind that she could learn to walk.
Those doubts will come later. As that little girl grows up, she’ll pick up messages here and there that make her doubt her abilities and her self-worth.
Maybe she failed a couple of math tests and her teacher told her she’s no good with numbers. And now that she’s dreaming of starting her own business, her math phobia and fear of dealing with revenue/expenses spreadsheets is holding her back.
Maybe she had a crush on the cutest guy in her class and her friends told her she’s not pretty enough for him to notice her. Now she’s thinking of a career as a flight attendant, but she’s afraid to be rejected for her looks.
Maybe she was so nervous when she gave her first presentation at her new job, she stumbled her way through her speech and her colleagues made fun of her. Now she believes there’s no point in going after a promotion cos she isn’t manager material.
Her lack of math skills, physical beauty and public speaking ability aren’t facts. They’re stories she made up about herself in her mind.
The same is true for you. You made up stories about yourself based on what happened to you in the past, the mistakes you made and other people’s opinions of you.
As you grow up, these stories fuel your self-doubt and hold you back from fulfilling your life purpose and live the life you’re meant to live.
How To Overcome Self-Doubt And Move Forward With Your Life
You’re the writer of your own story. You get to decide who you want to be and what to do with your life.
Here’s what’s helped me rewrite my own story and overcome self-help doubt:
1. Tell Your Inner Mean Girl To Shut Up
Whenever your Inner Mean Girl rears her ugly voice, say something like, “No! No! No! We’re not going down this path again. I know you’re scared, but I’ve got this.”
Don’t wait until her whisper turns into a deafening tirade of your failures and inabilities (which are only in your head). Do it straight away, before she has the chance to make your thoughts spiral out of control.
Saying “NO!” disrupts your thought pattern and brings you back into the present moment. Bye Bye, Inner Mean Girl!
Have no idea how to tame your Inner Mean Girl? I’ve got you covered. Click on the image below to download the “Silence Your Inner Mean Girl” cheatsheet to turn your inner critic into your biggest supporter.
2. Look At Your Past Successes
If telling your Inner Mean Girl to stop doesn’t work (it’s ok, it takes practice), remind her of all the things you’ve accomplished in your life.
The good grades you got at school. The foreign language you’ve learned. Your skills at cooking/sewing/whatever. The job interviews you passed with flying colours. The friendships you’ve made.
Your Inner Mean Girl has the annoying tendency to focus only on your past mistakes – and then blows them out of all proportions to scares you back into your comfort zone.
By reminding her of all the things you’ve accomplished in your life, you (and her) realise you’re capable of more than you give her credit for.
Go for it, gorgeous!
3. Stop Comparing Your Behind-The-Scenes To Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels
In the era of social media, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others and believe you don’t have what it takes to achieve their level of success.
Everyone’s raving about how many clients have signed up for their coaching programme, the exotic holiday they went on and the freebies they’ve receiving from brands.
You? You’re struggling to get that first client, haven’t gone anywhere exotic ever and have so few followers, no one is sending you anything.
It’s ok. The people you’re admiring were once where you are now. No one wakes up in the morning with a fully-booked coaching business. They build that slowly over the years. It’s just that you never get to see the gritty bits.
Remember that next time you’re comparing yourself to others. Everyone is on their own journey.
Focus on yourself and your own goals. You’ll get there.
4. Make A Decision And Move Forward
I know it’s scary to make a decision without having everything figured out.
You want everything to be perfect. You want to make sure you’re making the right choice. You want the certainty of success.
Truth bomb: nothing is perfect, certain or guaranteed.
The only thing you can do is make a decision and move forward. If it’s not the right one, you can change it or course correct it in the future. Nothing is set in stone.
If you’re overwhelmed, start with baby steps. Ask yourself, what is the smallest action you can take today to move towards your goal?
For example, if you want to start a coaching business, you can simply call 3 friends and let them know you’re in business and accepting clients. Do they know everyone that could be interested?
Now do it.
5. Trust In Yourself
Did you notice we tend to trust everyone but ourselves?
You believe your teacher when he tells you you’re not good at math. You believe your friends when they tell you you’re not pretty enough. You believe your colleagues when they tell you you’re not cut out for that promotion.
What if you believed in yourself instead?
Truth bomb: if you didn’t have what it takes to make it come true, you won’t have that desire or dream in the first place.
Dreams and desires are the voice of your intuition. They show you what you’re meant to do with your life and point you in the right direction.
You have to trust your intuition. You have to believe you’re on the right path and that you’ll end up where you need to be – even if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing or how to make it happen.
You’ve got this.
Over to you, now. How do you overcome self-doubt, so you can move forward with your life? Share your stories and tips in the comments below.