3 Lies Your Self-Doubt Wants You to Believe

If you're not careful, self-doubt can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted Mar 15, 2019

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Thinking things like, “I'm not smart enough to succeed,” or, “I’m going to embarrass myself in front of everyone,” can cause you to experience a flood of emotions, ranging from sadness to sheer terror.

If you’re not careful, those emotions can affect your performance and ultimately turn your self-doubt into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you’re doubting whether you’re worthy of more money, you might stumble over your words as you ask for a raise. You might inadvertently signal to your boss that you don’t actually believe you’re worth a higher salary.

Or if you’re concerned that you aren’t good enough, you might avert eye contact on a date. Then, when you fail to establish a worthwhile connection, your belief that you aren't good enough will be reinforced. 

The interesting thing about self-doubt is that it’s often made up of irrational, exaggeratedly negative thoughts. Yet that voice in your head which tells you that you aren’t good enough can be quite convincing. And if you believe those lies, there’s a good chance that your insecurities will hold you back.

Here are three big lies your self-doubt wants you to believe:

1. Everyone else feels confident.

When you’re about to give a presentation, step up to the starting line, or launch a new product, it’s easy to assume that you’re the only one battling uncertainty. After all, the people around you are likely to look like they have it all together on the outside.

But the truth is, all healthy people experience self-doubt. The people around you are also questioning whether they’re attractive enough, smart enough, or good enough to succeed, even though they might look confident on the outside.

Don’t let your self-doubt convince you that you don’t belong, or that you’re unprepared. Remind yourself that everyone, even people who have risen to the top, struggle to feel self-assured sometimes.

2. Your gut is trying to tell you this is a bad idea.

When you doubt yourself, you might be tempted to think, “This is my intuition telling me I shouldn’t do this.” But, self-doubt will talk you out of doing anything outside of your comfort zone.

When you take a risk, even a calculated one, there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. That doesn’t mean you have to let fear and uncertainty stop you, however.

While you shouldn’t ignore red flag warnings that you’re headed down the wrong path, self-doubt isn’t the same as intuition. The nagging voice in your head trying to convince you to give up will try to convince you that it’s your “gut instinct” telling you to stop.   

3. Doubt is proof you have no business moving forward.

Just because you think, “I’m going to mess up,” doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, or that you shouldn’t try. In fact, a little self-doubt is good for you.

Studies show elite athletes can use self-doubt to their advantage. Golfers who experience self-doubt outperform those who report complete confidence, because the doubters are hyper-vigilant. Similarly, students who experience a little self-doubt tend to score higher on exams than students who feel certain they’re going to do well.

Remind yourself that you can use your self-doubt to fuel your performance. A few nerves can help you try harder, study longer, or focus better.

Respond With Healthy Self-Talk

Your brain will try to convince you that you can’t succeed, because it doesn’t want you to step outside your comfort zone. If you listen to that voice which tells you that you aren’t good enough, you’ll never reach your greatest potential.

Separate self-doubt fact from fiction. Thinking, “I don’t think I’ll ever pick the winning lottery numbers,” is likely an accurate statement. But thinking, “I’ll never be able to advance my career,” isn’t necessarily true.

You don’t have to get rid of all of your self-doubts to succeed. You just have to stop believing the lies your self-doubt tries to tell you. Responding to self-doubt with a healthier inner dialogue will help you develop the mental strength you need to perform at your peak. 

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