Overcome Doubt

Bill Abbate

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It is no mystery to most of us that our beliefs can give us strength or take it away. I have three quick questions for you:

  1. What are you doing about these beliefs?
  2. Have you ever tackled the beliefs that steal your strength?
  3. Have you ever attempted to strengthen those that make you strong?

Not only is it possible to do these things, but it is much easier than you may realize!

Let's look at both sides of your beliefs, including what creates doubt and weakens you and what creates confidence and strengthens you.

We are complex creatures with complex minds. You can see and hold perspectives in your mind without putting those thoughts into words. You can also experience your thinking as an internal dialogue. The question is, do you recognize this? Are you awake to it? Do you realize your mind has different parts that often manifest themselves in internal chatter?

Because everyone has these internal voices, we all "talk to ourselves" in our minds. When you understand this, you can begin observing how your internal voices relate to what you consciously and unconsciously believe.

"For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible." Stuart Chase (1888-1985)

Two types of beliefs

Let's look at two types of beliefs everyone has – self-empowering and self-limiting.

Self-empowering beliefs come from confidence. Believing you can do something opens your mind to new experiences and opportunities. Your beliefs empower you to move forward and create whatever it is you wish to make of life.

Self-limiting beliefs come from fear and doubt. When you lack confidence, you can feel fear. It is well known in neuroscience that fear causes the mind to narrow its focus and can severely limit your ability to think rationally. It shuts you down and keeps you from moving forward.

Self-empowering beliefs and self-limiting beliefs have multiple voices that want to be recognized and heard. To control them, you must first acknowledge they exist.

From where do these beliefs come?

"The outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs." James Allen (1864-1912)

When you understand your internal voices, you can easily distinguish the parts of yourself. These parts can think or speak as a father or mother, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a son or daughter, a friend or acquaintance, an older or younger man or woman, a boss or employee, and so forth.

Depending on what's happening, one or more of these voices will influence your thoughts at any one time. They will determine what you say or don't say, both internally and aloud. They influence your behaviors (what you do or don't do.) Each internal part of you defines what you believe about yourself.


As an older man, there are times in life when my "fatherly voice" comes forth, often to show care and compassion. Serving as an executive for many years in business, my "executive voice" may come into play, influencing my thoughts, words, and actions, especially in meetings.

At times, negative voices vie for my attention. One, in particular, will say things like, "What gives you the right?" or "How in the world do you think you can do that?" I named this fearful, Doubting Thomas part of me my "critical voice." Sometimes it pops up and says, "Don't make a fool of yourself!" This voice is a self-limiting belief.

"Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe." Mark Victor Hansen (1948-present)

I also have positive voices in my mind, and I am constantly at work cultivating them to become a larger part of me. When I go out for a run as part of my exercise routine, I say, "This is good for me." When I enter a race, I've developed a part of me that says, "I can do this."

There are times when I get ready to speak in front of a group, and I hear myself saying, "You're going to be great." Of course, good preparation helps, so I study to know my subject well. I welcome what I call my "voice of confidence." This voice of confidence is a self-empowering belief.

My "voice of confidence" did not come naturally. I developed it over time. When I was younger, I would get in front of a group and be so nervous that I would nearly collapse at the knees if not for a lectern to lean on. How well I remember those times!

Back then, what dominated my thoughts was my self-limiting belief rooted in pure fear—the thought that I would fail and look foolish. I'll admit, it was horrifying to me.

Public speaking can be the stuff nightmares are made of to some people.

Watch what you feed!

One of the most important lessons you can learn regarding self-limiting and self-empowering beliefs is the belief you feed will grow. Whether you feed a self-limiting belief or a self-empowering belief, it can become more powerful in its influence on your life.

Don't make the mistake of feeding what limits you by running or hiding. It can take some work, but overcoming a self-limiting belief can change your life!

Feeding your self-empowering beliefs can add much to your life. As you feed them, you will also find they can help you weaken and overcome self-limiting beliefs.

How can you do this?

"Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around." Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

My public speaking "critical voice" shrank with practice and a shift in mindset. Over time I replaced it with my "voice of confidence." As I continued working on this voice of confidence in many areas of my life, it changed radically. Sure, the old negative voices linger at times. But now, I can see them, call them out, and even thank them for trying to protect me. Then I allow them to fade away while consciously bringing forward the part of me with greater confidence and positivity.

I now know these negative thoughts were parts of my younger self, doing their best in their immature way to protect me. In doing so, they perpetuated doubt and self-limiting beliefs. Their influence and control over me have forever changed dramatically. I now take control away from these limiting beliefs and continue working on strengthening my self-empowering beliefs as they serve me far better.

Final thoughts

I leave you with a short exercise to strengthen your confidence and reduce doubt in yourself. Don't rush through it. Give it some careful thought. Look at the following list and identify all the positive things spoken into your life. To strengthen the effect and add even more value to the exercise, ask someone you trust and respect to work on it with you. I guarantee you will both love the result!


Answer the following question, listing as many things as you can for each individual:

"What positive things have each of the following said about you?"

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Fellow Students
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Family
  • Other individuals (friends, acquaintances, teachers, coaches, mentors, bosses, etc.)

Journal or otherwise capture each positive result. Use the list you generate to identify and strengthen your self-empowering beliefs to enhance your life.

Now, go, take on the day with confidence, and build the life you desire!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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