doubt self doubt self help

Doubt is a head trip – doubting ourselves, doubting what we deserve and doubting what is real. When we feel a lack of control, when the outcome is uncertain, or even when we latch onto a vague remark, that’s when self-doubt rears its ugly head. It’s a fluttering in the chest and an unsettled stomach; it’s a major headache and a gust of wind sending us into a dust-filled spiral.

Doubt is a form of armor, I’ve deduced. When I start to doubt myself – my capabilities, my relationships, my character – I formulate questions or negative statements in my mind to protect myself from hurt or disappointment. Because if I’ve thought of it first, I am prepared. Disappointment won’t come as a surprise, I tell myself, because I have made the doubt a part of my truth.

I am sick of it.

I am sick of doubt, and how utterly exhausting the process is. I’ll feel the fluttering in my chest and start to devise little tests, tiny ways to see if what I am receiving is deserved or if I am really properly suited for the task at hand. I do it all the time. And I know I am not alone in this.

It’s like essay writing in a high school English course: we create supporting evidence for the thesis statements that pop into our minds. We doubt that we are good enough for someone, so we place them on a tightrope and look for signs that it’s “just not right.” We’re offered a new job or responsibility and jump to the what-ifs at the opposite end of success. If we’re looked at in that way or talked to in that tone or described as merely “nice” instead of “amazing,” the question arises: Am I good enough?

It’s so simple to say things like “Don’t worry, be happy!” or my personal (and least-effective) favorite, “Haters gonna hate!” But the truth is…I will never advocate to just “get over it,” because I know that feeling exists for a reason. With doubt comes a drought of self-worth – but every drought is accompanied by a fantastical rain, so why should it be any different when it comes to our souls?

As uncomfortable as it can be, we need to let doubt run its course yet simultaneously and consciously work through it. And by learning how to deal with those pangs of self-doubt, their duration and impact will naturally become less and less. We do need to experience it all – but if we allow doubt to fill our minds with every possible outcome as a means of protection, we miss out on growth and experience. We shield ourselves from hurt, yes – but then what? The thrill of joyful success morphs into mere relief. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to live my life simply “relieved” that there were no bumps in the road.

Doubt is a matrix in which lies the root of our purpose. We doubt what we’re best at and what makes us unique. And so when we start to doubt, it’s simply a sign we are losing our footing in who we are. We are not grounded.

When you feel yourself jumping ahead, dissociate from the situation at hand. Feel the doubt and the instability, then act on the polar opposite. A mentor recently taught me a trick that I deem nothing short of genius. Ask yourself: What makes you feel most grounded and at your best? Is it talking to friends or family? Watching movies? Singing in the car, baking a pie, simply strolling and soaking in the eclectic architecture around you? Whatever it is, do it. Do it now, for at least ten minutes straight. And I promise you, by the end of those ten minutes you will feel that there is no one better to be than who you are in this very moment.

I am slowly learning to shed my armor, and realizing that the only protection I need is a good sunscreen and a wide umbrella. I’m planting my feet and realizing that the more certain I am about what makes me feel good from the inside out, the less I allow doubt to deplete my self-worth. Because it’s been tapping into my reserves and sucking me dry for way too long.

My spirit is about to be awakened once again, and I can’t wait. Grab your umbrella and join me.

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  1. AMEN! Thank you Katie!. Well thought. Well articulated. This is a subject that has recently become on the forefront of my mind lately, and I have become aware of it. I have become aware of it by myself.. without my coach or reading anything else. So thank you for sharing a similar perspective that backs-up the way I feel about doubt. MAJOR Saboteur! In my whole life, THREE people have doubted me. I mean three people that actually meant something to me.. I have no idea how many others have doubted me and I don’t care at all about that. But when the people you think are your biggest supporters doubt you.. UGHHHHH.. kick to the gut. They mean well and think they are playing “devil’s advocate” (okay.. think about that one.. really..). And I SO like your “genius trick” about identifying what makes you feel grounded and your best and doing it!. That is the best advice you can give anyone right there. That is what works! That is how to support someone going through something that is causing them doubt. If they are a friend, don’t play into their self-doubt. Remind them how much they rock and what they are good at and encourage them to go do just that and then the right thing will unfold (even if they were in fact on the wrong path). That is what I believe.
    You are AWESOME! Thank you!.

    Jill | 06.17.2013 | Reply
    • Can’t even begin to express how much I love your thoughts, Jill – thank you so much for sharing! Yep, “devil’s advocates” usually do more harm than good when the positives are not given just as much equal weight as those toxic “what ifs.” I am so glad you are not only rising above the doubt that’s been in your life, but actively moving forward through it. That is huge! So happy you took the time to share.

      Katie | 09.10.2013 | Reply
  2. I can’t tell you how much I needed this article. I suffer from self-doubt and impostor syndrome and I’ve never been able to put into words why trying to just “get over it” hasn’t worked for me. Being conscious of our feelings and letting ourselves understand them and use them to grow is such a critical skill (especially for women). I am so grateful to have stumbled upon a piece that articulates so perfectly how to do this and why it is important. I recently took on a new challenge and know empirically that I’ve been meeting each milestone and succeeding, but can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m just fooling myself taking this on and that it won’t amount to anything. Time to face self-doubt and grow into the confident woman I know I can be.

    Willa | 11.04.2014 | Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Willa. It’s true, simply being aware of our feelings and using that awareness to grow is an invaluable tool…one it sounds like you are cultivating for yourself right now. Best of luck in your new challenge – I am sure you will succeed with flying colors. I believe in you. xo, katie

      Katie Horwitch | 11.07.2014 | Reply

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