Do you know what absolutely sucks? Doubting yourself when it’s completely illogical.
But until a couple of months ago, that’s what I always did! I doubted myself even though I’m smart, ambitious, have loving friends and family and am, by most accounts, on the ‘right track’. Even though there’s plenty of evidence that I’m good enough, I could never quite bring myself to believe it.
And thanks to all of your emails, I know you guys can relate! So now that I’ve started to figure this out for myself, I thought I’d share where my real progress have come from (no self-confidence boosters or ‘fake it til you make it’ involved).
Just a little warning though – what I share in this post has taken me years to figure out. Which isn’t to say you won’t have had an epiphany by the time you’ve finished reading this, but I do want to be clear that this kind of deep personal work usually takes a little bit of digging. So take the time to reflect on what I share but don’t please don’t think there’s something wrong with you if it doesn’t click immediately.
Also, if you’re new to the personal development world – welcome! The things I talk about in this blog post are a little more advanced than usual, but if you’re up for it then stay with me until the end and take what you’re ready to take. I’ve also included a few resources to help you learn about some of the things I talk about in this post.
Ok, let’s get into it! Here’s how to overcome self-doubt:
Step 1. See that self-doubt comes from your thoughts
The first step to overcome self-doubt is to acknowledge that self-doubt comes from your thoughts.
Unfortunately, no one takes us aside in school to teach us that it’s actually our thoughts that create our feelings, not how much money we make or the kind of job we have or whether we’re a homeowner or what other people say about us. And because no one teaches us this, the vast majority of us grow up believing that in order to feel better, we need to change the world around us.
By far the most powerful lesson I’ve learned in my personal growth journey was one first taught to me by Brooke Castillo through The Life Coach School Podcast. And that lesson is simply this: your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions and your actions create your results. So if you want to change how you feel, all you need to do is change how you think (which is simple, but not easy).
Now, I know that if you haven’t been introduced to this concept before then you’re not going to believe it’s true. You have a lifetime of evidence to prove otherwise! When your circumstances change, your feelings do too. And we have thousands and thousands of thoughts per day – there’s no way we can possibly be aware of every single one of them!
But I want to ask you to just give me the benefit of the doubt for a minute. To consider that maybe it’s not your circumstances that create your feelings, but the thoughts you have about your circumstances that do (which is why people can react so differently to the same events). And that even though it is impossible to be aware of every single thought you have (I agree with you on that), that maybe it is possible to direct some of the thoughts you have to new places.
So with all of that said, the first step to overcome self-doubt is to acknowledge that your feelings of doubt are simply coming from your thoughts. That’s it. Your doubt is coming from the story you’ve created in your mind about yourself and the world around you.
And the reason it’s so important to acknowledge that your self-doubt is coming from your thoughts is because the thoughts you have about yourself don’t automatically change when you become successful and achieve your goals (which is why even someone like Emma Watson can still struggle with self-doubt).
The only way to become more confident is to change the way you think. And luckily, that’s within your control.
Step 2. Find your story
The second step to overcome self-doubt is to find your story.
It’s human nature to attach meaning to the events that happen around us. And in my own personal growth journey, I’ve started to uncover many of the unconscious (and unhelpful) stories I unknowingly attached to the events in my childhood.
My mum was sick for most of my childhood and died from breast cancer when I was 11. And I, being a human, attached meaning to it. There were lots of different things that I could make it mean. But the meaning I unconsciously chose was that I was different, that there was something wrong with me and that I need to keep everyone around me happy or I might be deserted again.
You can see when I write it out like this that that doesn’t make sense. My mum died because she had breast cancer, not because there was something wrong with me (and even if she had committed suicide it still wouldn’t mean anything about me). But the story I created were so unconscious that it felt like reality. And so the I’m Not Good Enough story began.
I hid myself and people pleased to try to compensate. Despite a lot of evidence that I was loved, smart and a good person, I still didn’t believe I was good enough. I said things to myself that I would never let anyone else say to me and no amount of success could appease me.
It was only a couple of months ago that I saw my I’m Not Good Enough story for what it is – a story. Thanks to the work I’ve been doing in Self-Coaching Scholars, attending The Landmark Forum in November 2017 and filming myself talk about my personal growth journey everyday (which has a nice way of speeding up the process), I’ve started to see that this whole I’m Not Good Enough Story is purely my creation. I’ve had vulnerable (i.e. scary and uncomfortable AF) conversations with friends and family about how I truly saw myself and they were shocked. And for the first time I truly started to grasp that I’ve been good enough all along.
To start to relate to yourself differently, you need to find when your I’m Not Good Enough story started (warning: it will be hard to spot because your I’m Not Good Enough story probably feels like fact – but have a go anyway).
When did you start making things mean that you weren’t good enough? Something happened in your life and you made it mean that you’re weird, you’re different, you don’t believe or something’s wrong with you. Maybe that event was stereotypically traumatic and maybe it wasn’t – a death, a divorce, a disaster, a throwaway comment from a friend, a rejection, a laugh. Whatever it is, there was a moment when you decided I’m Not Good Enough. And from that point forward, that story has been running your life.
You might not be able to pinpoint the very first time you had that thought and that’s ok. Just come up with one example of something that happened when you thought there was something wrong with you.
Step 3. Create A New Story
The final step to overcome self-doubt is to create a new story.
All you need to do once you’ve thought of an instance where you had the thought that you were different is to identify the facts of the situation. And I mean the FACTS, not your interpretation of them.
Get out a pen and paper and write out what happened in a completely neutral way, with no emotion and no assumptions about what anyone was thinking or why they did what they did. Don’t use the words ‘because’, ‘she thought’, ‘he thought’, ‘I knew’ – none of that. Just I did this, she said that. Once you’ve got the facts, consider the idea that they’re neutral. Remember – nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.
At some point in your life, you created a story about yourself. And now you can see your story (and hopefully have a laugh at how ilogicial it is), you have the option now to create a different story about yourself.
So there you have it – how to overcome self-doubt! Remember again that what I’ve shared in this post has taken me years to figure out, so don’t worry if you can’t figure out what your ‘story’ is right away! And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments!