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Nine Lies Your Self-Doubt Likes to Tell You

Catch these lies and respond to them quickly to keep moving forward.

 Maridav/Deposit photos
Sylvia Plath called it the "enemy to creativity."
Source: Maridav/Deposit photos

It blinds you to your own potential.

Shakespeare called it a traitor that makes us "lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt," and it most certainly can hold us captive if we’re not careful.

Though a small and healthy amount might prevent us from acting out of unregulated impulses or behaving in a conceited fashion, too much can lead to what Fritz Perls called analysis paralysis.

I’m talking about self-doubt.

Here are nine lies that your self-doubt likes to tell you and some rational responses to set you free:

1. You've never done it before. What makes you think you can do something you've never done? You don't know how to!

Response: Even though I’ve not done it before, it doesn’t mean that I cannot do it. I may not know how to do some parts of it, but there are parts I do know how to do; someone may know how to do the parts I can’t do, or I can learn. I’m unlikely to learn if I don’t try.

2. You have too many bad habits, like procrastination, disorganization, overwhelm, or getting stuck.

Response: My behaviors don’t define me, and I always have the choice to move forward. Just because I’ve sometimes exercised bad habits, it doesn’t mean that I cannot gain momentum on this goal. I can break my tasks down into smaller tasks, take breaks, get help, and reorganize myself as often as needed.

3. The fact that you have self-doubt, instead of self-belief and self-confidence, means that you likely shouldn't do it.

Response: There’s no logical reason I should have to feel self-confidence at this point. I can still act, even when I have self-doubt; self-doubt can accompany me on the ride if I don’t let it drive.

4. Past failure or success has been too painful or uncomfortable. Potential failure or success are therefore too scary, so don't even try.

Response: Though past failures or success have been painful or uncomfortable, I learned a lot, and therefore feelings of the past do not have to dictate my choices today. If anything is painful or uncomfortable, I’m likely to be even better at coping with it, since I’ve been through much already.

5. What you produced is not yet perfect or not yet enough.

Response: There is no such thing as "perfect," and whether something is "enough" varies based upon opinion. As such, I can just do the best that I can and let the chips fall where they may.

6. Others may not like what you produce.

Response: I cannot predict the future, nor can I read people’s minds. I cannot control what another person may or may not like. I can only control doing my best, so I may as well get started. If I get feedback that another doesn’t care for when I produced, I can improve upon what I’ve produced based upon that feedback.

7. You don't have enough information. You need to read more books or take another class.

Response: Is it true that you need to read more books or take another class? You may have all the information you need in order to complete your goal.

8. You're not capable, you suck, you are a loser, etc.

Response: It is best not to label one's self. Even if there have been some disappointments, we cannot label ourselves based upon unitary dimensions, since we are multidimensional and ever evolving. I might be capable of more than I know, regardless of how well I've performed to this point, so I may as well try. Just because I’ve done something poorly at times, it does not mean that everything I do is bad, or that I can fully label myself as incapable, sucking, or a loser. It’s time for me to start capitalizing on my strengths rather than harping on my past weaknesses.

9. Your successes are only a fluke or luck.

Response: This fails to give me proper credit for the behaviors that I’ve done well in order to create success. I can remember each effortful step that I took. Most success comes from a series of effective actions and persistence. It is very unlikely that it is a fluke.

What other lies does your self-doubt tell you? Please share in the comments below!

Note: If you are overwhelmed and in need of a professional, it is much better to get help than to struggle alone. Much can be done to help. From behavioral techniques, like thought-stopping and redirecting your behavior, to cognitive techniques, like restructuring your beliefs and practicing mindful awareness of the present moment, an REBT or CBT therapist might be able to customize a plan that will help you.