Are you afraid of failing? Do your insecurities and fears prevent you from making decisions in your life — even small, everyday decisions — and keep you from accomplishing your goals? Fear of failure can paralyze you, keeping you from trying anything new or even remotely risky for fear of embarrassing yourself. Does this sound like you? If so, you’re not alone. Let’s face it: We all suffer from insecurity and self-doubt at one time or another. No one likes to fail. It’s how we deal with the self-doubt and, indeed, the failure that makes all the difference.
What Is Self-Doubt?
Self-doubt is an insidious feeling that makes you believe you’re not good enough, strong enough or capable enough to succeed. It diminishes your belief in yourself. The power of self-doubt is destructive. When you don’t believe in yourself and constantly question your abilities, it can be difficult to accomplish your goals. Those insecurities keep you from facing the challenges in life. If left unchecked, self-doubt can keep you from making the changes you need to get and stay healthy.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt
Feelings aren’t facts. You need to objectively examine your feelings and determine why you think you aren’t able to achieve a certain goal. Then look at the reasons why you think you are able to achieve it. By taking a realistic look at your capabilities, you will decrease your doubts and improve your confidence.
It takes effort to eliminate self-doubt in your life, but it’s important to do if you want to create a productive, happy and healthy life. Here are seven steps to help you erase self-doubt.
- Develop a plan. The road to achieving and maintaining recovery is filled with challenges. Start with five small goals you would like to achieve and what you need to achieve them. Developing strategies will make reaching your goals a little easier. As you progress and achieve your small goals, you can add larger, long-term goals to the list. A plan will help you stay focused and grounded, making you feel a little more in control.
- Take it one day at a time. This may seem in direct opposition to tip #1, but it’s not. While both short- and long-term planning are important, taking each day as it comes makes it easier to be positive about your ability to reach your goals and more accepting of any failures. Everyone makes mistakes. By keeping your perspective, you will realize one mistake is just that — one mistake — and it doesn’t spell catastrophe. Additionally, breaking your plan down into daily “chunks” will make you feel more capable of achieving your goals. Finally, by celebrating even small successes each day, you will continue to build confidence that you can stay on track and erase those feelings of self-doubt.
- Build a support system. Find the people who recognize your abilities and will help you to succeed. You know who your supporters are. Talk to them about your fears and self-doubt. Enlist them to build you up by talking to them about the good they see in you. This will help you silence your inner critic. In the same way, identify the people who tear you down and avoid them. People who diminish your efforts by filling your life with negative thoughts are to be avoided at all costs. They will sabotage your efforts to pull yourself up. They are not your friends.
- Face your fears. Be honest with yourself, then sit down and make two separate lists. First, list all of the reasons you think you can’t do the task ahead. On the second list, write down all the reasons you think you can. Writing the list out in this way creates a visual that will help you stay on track and eliminate, or at least diminish, your negative thoughts. Plus, chances are you will see far more reasons to believe you can do the task than reasons you can’t.
- List your strengths and weaknesses. Literally sit down and make a list of 10 of your strengths and 10 of your weaknesses. It may seem difficult at first to come up with 10 strengths, but think back to what others say about you. You take care of stray animals or you help your colleagues when they encounter particularly difficult projects. All of these are important pieces of your personality and should be celebrated. Comparing your weaknesses against what you do well shows in black and white that you’re not all bad, as you might often feel. Additionally, you may see you are able to set goals and improve upon some of your weaknesses.
- Exercise each day. A strong correlation exists between good mental health, good physical health and regular exercise. In fact, research indicates that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days each week will alleviate stress, anxiety and even long-term depression. The physical health benefits include increased cardiac health, healthier weight, improved muscle mass and increased coordination.
- Think positive thoughts. Research shows just thinking positive thoughts can improve your mood and increase your self-confidence. Sounds easy, right? But when you’re riddled with doubt, thinking about anything positive or happy can feel impossible, so start small. Think about recent successes, big and small, that you’ve had in your work life and personal life. Start with simple things like letting the mom with the cranky toddler go ahead of you in the grocery store checkout line and receiving positive feedback from your boss about a recent project at work.
Self-Doubt and Low Self-Esteem Go Hand in Hand
The feelings of not being good enough, smart enough or attractive enough and believing you can’t accomplish your goals or meet the expectations of others feed off one another. By raising your self-esteem, you also go a long way toward eliminating self-doubt and moving forward in life. Stop worrying about what people think about you. Contrary to what you may believe, personal growth comes from within, not from those around you.
How to Improve Self-Esteem
The following ten steps can help you derive personal growth from within and strengthen your self-esteem:
- Identify your challenges and act to manage them. Understanding what you’re up against will put you in a better position to manage and overcome your challenges. As you do, your confidence in yourself and your abilities will grow.
- Tune out your inner critic. Everyone has one. People who achieve success have developed ways to tune out that internal criticism, focusing on possibilities rather than failures. Knowing that everyone feels inadequate at one time or another will make it easier to push that voice down and away.
- Get rid of unrealistic expectations. When you set unrealistic goals, you frequently miss reaching them and then feel like a failure. Challenge yourself, certainly, but make sure your expectations of yourself are reasonable and realistic.
- Help others achieve success. Supporting the efforts of those around you in reaching their goals will make you feel needed and useful. It will also increase your support network by adding people who will in turn want to help you. Filling the gap in household chores so your spouse can devote more time to training for a new job or stepping up to help a coworker complete a task on time will pay off in the short-term as well as the long-term.
- Avoid the negative. People who surround themselves with strong, positive influences tend to internalize those positive influences.
- Be kind. Grand gestures are not necessary — small random acts of kindness will be enough to boost your mood and your self-esteem. In fact, in a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, researchers found that helping others can alleviate the impact of stress. Small acts of kindness and the ensuing gratitude will make you feel better about yourself and more positive about your life — even if only briefly. Better yet, making a habit of it will bring frequent bursts of positive feelings and improve your overall sense of self worth.
- Ask for help when you need it. Now it’s your turn. No one lives in a vacuum, unaffected by those around him or her. Sometimes it takes courage to reach out, but knowing your family, friends and coworkers are willing to help you will boost your self-esteem and improve your self-confidence. Most people want to be helpful and useful, so it’s just as much a benefit to your friend as it is to you.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It doesn’t matter if those around you appear to be in better circumstances. You don’t always know what challenges those around you face. Instead, compare you to you. Are you doing the best you can? Are you happier, healthier and more productive than you were yesterday? Last week? Last month? Last year? Use your own life as the yardstick with which to measure success and forget what everyone else is doing. Remember, this is your life, your journey, your path.
- Do the right thing. Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right thing is, but making good choices in how you spend your time, who you associate with and how you lead your life will usually result in a path to self-improvement and personal growth.
- Do SOMETHING. If you find you are paralyzed with self-doubt and insecurities, just make a decision and act. You can adjust your course after you set sail. It will feel good to get things started, and taking action will give you the confidence to continue making the necessary changes to keep things moving along.
Building up your self-esteem is a process that requires realistic optimism. By combining optimism with realistic expectations, you have a greater chance at happiness because you temper your optimistic outlook with a dose of reality and are therefore more likely to achieve your goals. Research has shown people who are both optimistic and practical tend to be more successful than pessimists who become bogged down by negative thoughts or typical optimists, who tend to be unrealistic in their expectations. Realistic optimists, however, are healthier, happier and more successful, according to research done by Sophia Chou, an organizational psychology researcher at the National Taiwan University.
It’s Not Easy Being Me
Everyone experiences feelings of worthlessness on occasion, but by focusing on life’s positives and minimizing the negatives, you can get past it. Positive thinking can have a positive impact on your physical well-being as well as providing mental health benefits. It can decrease stress, alleviate depression, improve your health and enhance your coping skills.
Don’t allow poor self-esteem and rising self-doubt keep you from meeting life’s challenges head-on. You have it within yourself to eliminate those feelings of inadequacy, depression and worthlessness. Maintain a positive outlook and focus on what you can do instead of worrying about what you can’t, and you will find ways to rise up, overcome and succeed in life.
These tips to improving your self-esteem and eliminating your self-doubt will help you build a stronger, more positive outlook on life. It’s not easy, but by working at it, you will soon be on the path to personal growth.
It’s OK to Seek Professional Help
If you find that you continue to struggle with self-doubt, your lack of self-esteem is interfering with your daily life and becomes debilitating or mental health challenges continue to restrict your personal growth, it may be time to seek professional help. A professional therapist, counselor or specialist can help you determine if you suffer from low self-esteem and unimportance and if you are turning to self-destructive behaviors to avoid or cope with reality. Professional counseling can help you understand your behavior and put some of these tips and others into action to help move you into a healthier, more productive lifestyle.
JourneyPure Emerald Coast Can Help
Do you continue to struggle with no end in sight or find yourself sliding back into negative thinking that leads you down a self-destructive path? When you need help for yourself or a loved one, contact the professionals at JourneyPure Emerald Coast. We treat addiction, mental health and trauma simultaneously in the whole person through the use of a fluid and comprehensive assessment process. We start with a staff of the very best clinicians and provide support, training and continuing education to allow their focus to remain on the client. Our strong treatment teams build a structure around our clients using methods that require in-depth assessment and review.
We develop an individualized plan to meet each client’s needs. For more information, contact us today, and let us help you begin your journey to recovery.