Whatever your rank or station–whether you’re an unpaid intern or the CEO of a powerful multinational firm–at some point you will have moments when your confidence falters and you doubt yourself.
Self-doubt is a powerful enemy.
It can strike anywhere in the workplace, in your life, and in your leadership, with a troubling and persuasive voice that can hold you back from seizing opportunities, making decisions and taking risks. Learning how to defeat it is crucial for success. As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
Here are 13 powerful ways to eliminate self- doubt:
1. Start with awareness
Self-awareness is a critical step in overcoming self-doubt. The more you know about yourself, the better you can understand what is holding you back and the more empowered you are to do something about it.
2. Find the source
Spend some time digging deep and looking for the origin of your insecurities. It may even be rooted in a reasonable and healthy sense of caution that has taken a bad turn. Understand where negativity is coming from so you can eliminate it from your mind and being.
3. Learn your triggers
The things that trigger you to feel self-doubt and other negative emotions are messengers from the unhealed parts of who you are. It takes both compassion and analysis to identify your triggers so you can manage them–the first step in taking control over self-doubt.
4. Look for patterns
We all tend to do things in familiar ways. What’s safe? What’s worked before? The more you can understand not just specific triggers but the complete context of your self-doubt, you can begin to pick up on patterns, analyze your past behavior, and make adjustments to build on what is working and eliminate what isn’t.
5. Rework your mind
Start reworking your mind to replace self-defeating thoughts with positive affirmations. Start really listening to your self-talk and intercepting negative messages before they take hold. Counter them with reminders of your positive traits, goals and accomplishments. Keep a list if you need it to help you remember them.
6. Find your motivation
Another way to counter self-doubting thoughts is by connecting to your purpose and inspiration. Remember why you’re doing what you do, and recommit to giving it your very best. Find your motivation within and watch how you eliminate your self doubt.
7. Stop seeking outside approval
When you have to be validated by others you are handing off your personal power–which makes you question your confidence even more. It’s a vicious cycle. Ask for advice and listen to those you trust, but remember that you’re the one who will live with the consequences of your decisions. Make them boldly and don’t look back.
8. Invest some time in positive affirmations and confidence mantras
Replacing negative messages with positive self-talk is one of the most important things you can do to eliminate self-doubt. It may feel awkward at first, but a daily recitation of some positive affirmations can truly help.
9. Seek counsel
Being able to talk to someone you trust–a coach, mentor, or trusted friend–can be a powerful tool in changing your perspective. Just saying it out loud can help you reduce the power of negative thinking. Talking it through can also help you identify your triggers, see your patterns and find the source.
10. Don’t make excuses
If you experience much self-doubt, you have likely become very familiar with being able to rationalize your emotional state in a way that excuses you from doing what you need to do. If those excuses are getting in the way, you need to eliminate them immediately.
11. Practice compassion
While it’s often easy to extend compassion to others, very few people are able to manage their self-criticism with self-compassion. Being compassionate to yourself can give you peace of mind and will help you with your mental and physical state as well. It’s a gentle but powerful and sometimes fierce practice that can really make a difference.
12. Be driven by your values
In quick-moving stressful situations–exactly the time when self-doubt waits to strike–you can stay in control with the simple act of checking in with your values. Being driven by your values can pivot the way you make decisions and carry yourself through situations.
13. Stop waiting for perfection
Perfectionism is a natural trait, but there’s no better way to feed self-doubt. Instead of overthinking things that may never happen, give yourself permission to get started even if you don’t know the outcome.
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today,” said Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The most important change you can make is to put to rest the voice in your head that tells you you’re not deserving, not smart, enough, or not good enough.