Bill Abbate

Has there ever been more doubt and uncertainty in the world than today? Since doubt is part of the human condition, that may be hard to ascertain.

But why do we doubt? Is there something behind our doubts? Can any good come from them?

Let’s take a closer look at doubt and what it entails.

Belief and doubt

Behind every doubt is a belief or disbelief. Behind belief and disbelief are our thoughts. The beliefs generated by these thoughts can weaken you, creating doubt, or strengthen you, creating confidence. It is no mystery beliefs give strength or take it away. Before continuing, let’s consider some questions to help us better understand belief and its effect on our lives.

  • What beliefs do you hold that cause you to doubt?
  • Have you ever thought about altering or eliminating your beliefs to change or eliminate doubt?
  • Would you prefer to live with your doubts or go to work on them, turning them into strengths?

How would you answer the above questions? If you want to go to work on your doubts, keep reading because it is absolutely possible to alter or eliminate beliefs that work against you!

First, let’s look at both sides of the belief coin — doubt and confidence.

Two types of beliefs

Everyone has two types of beliefs. Beliefs either strengthen or weaken you, creating confidence or doubt.

The two types are known as self-empowering and self-limiting beliefs.

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

Self-limiting beliefs generate doubt and fear. When you lack confidence, you can feel fear. It is well-known in neuroscience fear causes the mind to narrow its focus and can severely limit your ability to reason. It can shut you down and keep you from moving forward.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a switch we could flip to change doubts to confidence?

From where do these beliefs come?

Beliefs naturally come from your thoughts, which make up your life.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD)

The actions you take each day result from your thoughts and the beliefs you hold.

For example:

  • Being diligent in your work can come from believing it is the right thing to do.
  • When tempted to be unfaithful in any way, underlying beliefs either permit or prevent you from acting on the temptation.
  • Whether you are a good spouse, parent, friend, or colleague comes from what you believe about others and yourself.
  • The exercise of self-control, or lack of it, results from your beliefs.

Many other examples in life stem from what you believe that results in your actions, who you are, and how you appear to others.

And so it goes throughout life. Thoughts, beliefs, actions.

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

How others see you and how you see them is affected by what you believe and how it comes through in your life. How could it be otherwise?

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs.” James Allen (1864–1912)

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 grows. When you feed a self-limiting or self-empowering belief, it becomes more powerful in influencing 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! It can free you as little else can.

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

How can you do this?

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

I once believed I would never be able to speak in public. Because of an incident in my childhood, I had so much doubt in myself that even the thought of speaking in front of a group petrified me. Talk about a self-limiting belief!

While it took some time to change this belief and replace it with the self-empowering confidence I needed, I finally accomplished it. This single success before I turned 30 taught me I could overcome almost anything. The steps I used to overcome the dreaded fear and doubt of my ability to speak in public were to:

  1. Identify and name the doubt and fear
  2. Understand the belief supporting it
  3. Work to overcome it

In my case, I was strongly motivated. I knew my career would stall if I could not overcome this self-limiting belief that generated so much doubt and fear in me. Because of the sense of urgency I developed, I enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking. I also started reading as many books on the subject of presenting and public speaking as I could find. There was no Amazon in the early ’80s, so I spent plenty of time in our public library.

Within a matter of months, I went from sweating profusely and a nervous, jello-kneed mess to becoming far more confident and less fearful. With practice over time, I rose to the top of my profession. I do not question the direct connection to overcoming this self-limiting belief, resulting in a self-empowering belief that conquered the doubt and fear of public speaking.

While you can tackle a significant self-limiting belief, you may want to start with something smaller for a quick victory to instill confidence in yourself.

Following are a few ideas you may wish to consider working on if you find doubt is keeping you from moving forward because of your self-limiting beliefs:

  • Stepping up at work to take on more responsibility
  • Joining and becoming active in an association, group, club, etc.
  • Volunteering for something that stretches you
  • Becoming more compassionate, empathetic, expressive, self-aware, etc.
  • Building relationships
  • Asking for a raise, a date, a hand in marriage, etc.
  • Going back to school or after that degree or certification
  • Public speaking
  • Low self-esteem
  • Procrastination

This short list is only a few of the many areas of opportunity you can find to overcome self-limiting beliefs. What others would you add?

Imagine the power of eliminating a self-limiting belief and replacing it with a self-empowering belief. The change can impact your life in a way that little else can!

Try the following exercise to start on your journey to overcoming your own self-limiting beliefs.


The first thing required to overcome any self-limiting belief is to have a strong enough reason. The greater the reason, the more your sense of urgency becomes to overcome the doubt, increasing the chance you will follow through.

Sure, it will take some courage, but with a strong enough reason, the courage will be there.

Follow the steps below, and you can be sure to overcome any self-limiting belief and its doubts or fears.

  1. Identify and name the doubt you wish to overcome
  2. Build a sense of urgency by examining it from as many perspectives as possible. Identify every benefit of changing the doubt to confidence.
  3. Go to work on refuting the doubt and finding as many ways as you can to build your confidence.

This last step is critical. With a strong commitment and sense of urgency, all it takes is the work to make it happen. This work may include taking a course, training, education, reading and studying, finding a mentor or coach, and a good amount of practice.

What you are after is a mindset shift from doubt to confidence, from worry to a can-do attitude.

Find your reason to change, and you will undoubtedly accomplish it!

And don’t forget the most significant benefit — creating a life-changing self-empowering belief!

Final thoughts

Eliminating or changing a self-limiting belief takes work, but you will find it is more than worth it. A great way to ensure you overcome any self-limiting belief and its doubt is to find someone to work with, especially if they wish to tackle a similar belief and doubt. This can add some accountability for each of you, greatly enhancing the chance of success.

Why not go to work on at least one self-limiting belief and receive the benefits of overcoming it, especially when the outcome leads to creating a life-changing self-empowering belief? What do you have to lose other than a harmful belief, doubt, and possibly some fear? Give it a try, and be amazed at the good things it produces in your life and the lives of those you care for!

Comments / 1

Published by

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

Richmond, VA

More from Bill Abbate

Comments / 0