As I think about those feelings of self-doubt, I can’t help but wonder about the triggers. While the lack of normalcy in the world today isn’t helping, self-doubt isn’t new in my life. I wonder if my confidence has grown as I’ve aged. Am I more likely to experience self-doubt in times of stress?
Some people are working on a new skill during this time, while others are focused on surviving the chaos. I’m trying to work on myself and the first step is understanding. Self-esteem is built over time. Here are seven areas to consider when identifying self-doubt in your own life.
Limiting beliefs refer to those beliefs learned earlier in life that make you feel stuck. Perhaps they are learned from parents who were unable to see beyond their own circumstances to the idea of something better and bigger. In an effort to be realistic, parents might try to set limitations on what is possible. Instead of reinforcing their children’s dreams and the idea that anything is possible, they reinforce a reality that they know.
Having a dream isn’t about one’s ability to achieve that exact thing, but about the belief in something bigger and a desire to pursue more. Without the belief that something more or better is possible, there is little drive to work hard and dream big.
No matter what the circumstance, I find myself incredibly aware of the language I use around my girls. I truly want them to believe that they can do anything. I know their dreams will change with time but I want them to believe that anything is possible. It’s about setting your mind to something and working towards it.
Bad work environments and experiences
Bad experiences can increase feelings of self-doubt. When something doesn’t go as planned, it is easy to blame yourself and doubt your abilities in the future… especially when it comes to work.
Oftentimes, we believe that the grass is always greener elsewhere. But inevitably, not all experiences turn out as expected. Whether dealing with feelings of failure, an actual failure, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of fit with the organization and its culture… all of these experiences can increase feelings of self-doubt both professionally and personally.
We feel so much pressure to succeed and look good for others that these feelings can feel impossible to overcome. Especially when the primary source of evaluation is the highlight reel of social media. It’s important to find the opportunity in failure and bad work experiences whenever possible. While this might be easier said than done, it’s important to know and accept that sometimes, bad things happen to good people. AND these bad things do not define you. Instead, learn from mistakes and seek to do better in the future.
Lack of life experiences
Something self-doubt is the result of inexperience. It’s natural to want to stay in your comfort zone and if you weren’t pushed in life, your comfort zone might be small. A lack of life experience can manifest as a fear of trying something new, anxiety about the future and even, an unwillingness to try.
A lack of life experience, as well as experiences with failure, can create and fuel feelings of self-doubt. When failure is the result of trying something new, it becomes harder to try again. It’s easy to feel discouraged and to want to play it safe, because everything else is unknown.
Overcoming a lack of experience is simple and possible. It’s about gaining new and different experiences. The good news? You can start simple. Join a book club, pursue a new interest, and gain a skill… the options are endless and the risk level is whatever you choose. So start small and try something new. Quick wins will help you regain confidence and grow your threshold for trying new things, even if failure is the result sometimes.
Sometimes self-doubt is simply the result of the habits you have. These established patterns may have developed in childhood or later in life. No matter when or how they developed, habits can be hard to change because they require little thought or effort to execute.
But that doesn’t mean it is not possible to change. Perhaps in times of stress, you turn to food for comfort and feel self-doubt that you will ever be able to put your health first. Or maybe you yell at your kids when you are overwhelmed and lack confidence as a mom. No matter what the situation, it is possible to change. To transform unhealthy habits and stop the cycle of self-doubt. It’s about starting.
The ability to change is about looking inside yourself and knowing that you can change. The process to move beyond self-doubt starts with confidence in yourself… even if it’s just the confidence to take a small step.
When I begin to doubt myself, when I get caught in the trap of comparison, I find comfort in the idea that my children have no point of comparison. I am what they know and love, despite how I feel about myself. I know that acting with confidence is important for them and what they aspire to be. So I aim to do more and better for them, because I want them to know and believe that anything is possible. And even when it feels hard, that doesn’t mean you stop trying.
How can you fight the cycle of self-doubt? What’s a small step you can take today?