When I tell people that I’m an online writer with a community of thousands of people across the globe, most assume I’m a superhuman who has all her shit together.
But the reality is that I’m constantly battling my self-doubt, just like anyone else. Being and appearing confident is part of my job, yet, there’s always that little voice in my head reminding me of all the things I could do even better. And I know I’m not alone because experts assume that up to 80% of all people doubt themselves and their abilities.
In the past years, I learned that a lack of confidence or a little self-doubt doesn’t mean that you need to crush your comfort zone or fake it till you make it.
Instead of fighting these negative emotions, we can learn to live with them in peace and embrace them as crucial parts of our journey. As David Schwartz once stated:
“All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. Those people you know who radiate confidence, who have conquered worry, have acquired their confidence, every bit of it.”
Ask Yourself Whether You Believe What You Think
Sometimes, we don’t doubt ourselves but put too much importance on the doubts of others. That’s especially true when we’re trying to make significant decisions such as a career change or a big investment.
Are you sure you want to quit your job to become a writer? Isn’t that too risky? What if you fail? What if someone else is better than you? What do you even have to say? Why should anyone read what you write?
Let’s be honest: Ignoring negative comments and opinions of our loved ones isn’t easy.
And most of the time, their opinions quickly turn into our views, especially when it’s an opinion about our personality.
Sometimes, we know that we’re good at something and believe in ourselves, yet, we still question our abilities because of other people’s doubts.
That’s why it’s helpful to detach yourself from other people’s opinions and focus on you.
Quite often, we chose to listen to these external opinions because it’s the easiest thing to do.
If your mum encourages a decision and it turns out to be the wrong thing, you can say it was her fault, which is way easier than admitting your own mistakes.
But the reality is that you need to live with the consequences of your decisions, no matter if you listened to your inner voice or your mum.
No one else will ever wear your shoes and walk your path, so they’ll never be able to fully understand your situation anyway.
And the only way to live a genuinely satisfying life is by staying true to your values and decisions, even if others disagree with them.
In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware summarizes the five biggest regrets of people who are close to death. One of them is I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Whenever you doubt yourself or your decisions, stop for a while and ask yourself whether these are really your thoughts or if you’re relying on the opinion of someone else.
Maybe you don’t need to change yourself but your environment. Believing in yourself is much easier if you’re surrounded by people who lift you up instead of tearing you down.
“You can’t control people but you can control who you surround yourself with. Choose to surround yourself with people who believe in you and great things will happen.”
— Robert Tew
Do Less, Attract More
You can change the way you think, feel, and behave by changing your environment and the information you consume every single day.
If you’re surrounded by inspiration and empowering content, you’ll automatically feel more confident.
I start each of my days by reading an inspirational book for at least 15 minutes.
When I sit at my desk to start the workday, the first thing I do is watching an energizing video by Ben Lionel Scott.
During my workday, I constantly see inspirational quotes on my wall.
While I’m cooking, I either listen to positive, uplifting music or podcasts.
The display of my phone represents my vision board, so I get reminded of my goals each time I look at it.
The only app notifications I receive on my phone are empowering affirmations.
Long story in short: I’m constantly surrounded by good vibes and inspiration.
And no, that’s not “toxic positivity”. That’s taking control of what you experience in your life.
If I can choose between feeling miserable or happy, I’d always choose the bright side because life’s too short to be worried and upset. And feeling energized is easier if you make small decisions that help you raise your vibration and mood throughout the day.
Embrace the Doubts
For the majority of my life, I believed confidence equals the absence of fears and doubts. Today, I know that’s not true.
You can feel the fear and still believe in yourself. It’s not either-or. You can have both.
We all have doubts, yet, we often try to cover them up because we think that’s how it’s supposed to be. But the truth is that accepting and embracing your emotions is the most comfortable way of living with them.
If you always try to outplay your doubts, you’ll fail to build genuine confidence and inner strength.
By suppressing our emotions, we allow them to become even bigger and take control over our lives. What you should do instead is embracing difficulties and the fact that you’re a human being with a range of emotions, not a robot.
Once you embrace your doubts, dealing with them becomes easier because you can focus on solutions instead of faking your confidence.
Whenever I feel triggered or not ready for a particular situation, I stop for a while and take some deep breaths.
If possible, I share my emotions with a friend or my partner. By accepting that I feel uncomfortable, I’m taking control of the situation.
“You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
― Louise Hay
Stay in Your Zone of Genius
Believing in yourself is so much easier when you’re doing things you’re good at.
You can’t expect to be confident and feel great when you’re forced to do things you dislike or suck at.
But if you can spend the majority of your time doing things that light up your heart and soul, you’ll automatically feel better and more satisfied, just because you know you’re doing a good job.
What are the things you can do so well that time seems to stop?
What are the things that others find difficult but you find easy?
Whenever possible, you want to work on the things that put you in a flow state.
Positive psychologists describe flow states as a mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
In your life and career, you want to make sure you’re spending most of your time on the things you’re good at.
Otherwise, you’ll either suffer from boredom or from anxiety, which are both dissatisfying feelings.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Get Out of Your Own Way
The majority of your self-doubt is based on what you tell yourself about yourself.
You’re in a constant conversation with yourself by thinking about everything you do, say, achieve, or fail to do. So it pays off to be more careful about all these thoughts and stop sabotaging yourself.
Being confused is okay, feeling insecure is okay, and even not knowing how to solve particular problems is okay. What’s not okay is putting yourself down.
If used correctly, your doubts can turn into your biggest strengths and help you learn more about yourself.
But you need to ensure these doubts and negative thoughts don’t hold you back. You need to get out of your way or, even better: pave the way for a more positive and energized life by consciously changing your thoughts and actions.
Being and doing your best is so much easier if you have specific goals and a long-term vision in mind.
Whenever you feel discouraged, remind yourself that you’re not alone. In fact, most people feel that way most of the time.
Yet, you don’t need to accept it as your natural state and can indeed work on believing in yourself.
Life is more fun and much easier if you cheer on yourself instead of tearing yourself down. And as Joe Namath once stated:
“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things. “
You probably won’t get rid of your doubts overnight, but you can indeed build your self-worth one step at a time by following these five rules:
Ask yourself whether you really believe what you think or if other people’s thoughts and opinions are sabotaging you.
Do less, attract more by surrounding yourself with natural sources of inspiration and encouragement.
Embrace your doubts as a natural part of your journey.
Stay in your zone of genius and spend the majority of your time doing things you’re good at.
Get out of your own way and start being your own cheerleader.