Handling the self-doubt that comes from overthinking

We all face self-doubt at some point in our lives. We doubt that we are capable, we doubt we are strong enough, we doubt we are talented enough, we doubt that we are smart enough. It can lead to a vicious cycle of overthinking and dwelling on what we perceive as faults and failings.

When we choose to sit down with that doubt, we can put it in perspective. We can start to look at how much doubt comes from ourselves and work to address it.

Find the source of the self-doubt

Getting to the root of self-doubt is not always easy or a straight-forward path. It means wading through all the thoughts going through your head. But, figuring out the source allows you to address it.

Some of our doubt may be from imposter syndrome, we feel like a fraud and that we lack the skill and talent to be doing what we are doing.

It can make us feel that we have not accomplished enough and that we do not deserve what we have achieved.

Other doubt we have can stem from becoming aware of things that would be helpful for us to learn or improve.

We see that others are able to do something we do not yet know how to do or we see they are at a higher level of skill then us. Instead of seeing this as a chance to learn, our brain convinces us we are not good enough.

Talk it over with yourself

Talking out loud to yourself can be a helpful way to think through things. Being honest with ourselves and how we feel can be freeing. It means we do not have to ignore how we feel or try and force ourselves to feel something different. We are allowed to feel what we feel, but it is equally as important to not become our emotions. 

Being honest about doubt can feel that we are admitting defeat or that we actually are not good enough. But our thoughts are not always the truth. To get towards the truth we must acknowledge where we are right now.

It can be hard for us to get out of our own heads when it comes to self-doubt. It is difficult to bring ourselves back down to a realistic level of where things actually are. When you talk, think of how you would talk to someone else. You would likely not just take their subjective view that their self-doubt was founded in fact, you would work to gather information to see the whole picture. Talking to ourselves as if we were another person can help us get a more objective view of how things are.

Write it down

Putting your self-doubt into words allows us to visualize that doubt and put it out in the open. It can help us differentiate between doubt caused by us underestimating ourselves and doubt caused by a lack of experience or knowledge.

We may have an emotion or thought (such as “I don’t feel good enough”) before we can fully put into words why. Sitting down and working to put your doubt and the reason for the doubt into words allows you to work on next steps.

Things to remember

You are allowed to give yourself credit

Too often we play down our accomplishments or achievements. We can and should give ourselves credit for all that we have done and how far we have come. 

Let this be the permission you need to give yourself credit.

We can feel like an imposter or fraud when we acknowledge that we are good at something. We may feel that because there is still more for us to learn we cannot give ourselves the credit of saying we know something. We may also feel that because there is always more we could do that we do not deserve to give ourselves credit for what we have accomplished. But, there is always more that we can learn and more for us to do, that is not a failing but a fact of life. Acknowledging this is important no matter how skilled or knowledgeable you are. The knowledge you have, the skills you possess, and the things you have accomplished matter and deserve credit.

It’s a continuous process

There will continue to be times in our lives when we feel doubt. There will be new hobbies, new jobs, new tasks, new situations.

Self-doubt should not be an indication that you are not good enough but a signal to check in with yourself.

Take some time to think about why you feel this way and work on a plan about what to do next.

Being able to bring some logic or standardization to your thoughts around self-doubt means you have tools you can use the next time it rears its ugly ugly head creeps in.

Everyone feels self-doubt – You are not alone

As with many things in life we can feel that we are the only one experiencing something or the only one who has had to work hard to learn something new. As humans we can be very good at acknowledging others accomplishments while ignoring our own.

We don’t often talk about self-doubt with others as we might fear judgement, we may worry people think we are unfit, or we don’t want to feel vulnerable. But it is a very human thing to feel.

Wherever you are in your life, know that someone in a similar position has felt self-doubt.

We see only a small part of other people’s lives and often believe others are living a better, more stress-free, and put together existence than we are. Our mind makes the assumption that others have more confidence, talent, and skill than we do, but that simply is not always the case. We are basing this assumption off of only a small amount of information. We use this same skewed view on ourselves where we have a lot of information but often don’t acknowledge it.

What we can learn from self-doubt

Self-doubt can help us see areas where we may want to improve, but we first need to realistically acknowledge where we are.

If a co-worker does a good job making a document or giving a presentation, we may see that and begin to doubt our ability. We may feel that we would not be able to do what they can do and thoughts can flood our brain telling us that we are not good at our job. 

When we see someone else has done something well, we should not see this as us not being good enough but as a chance to learn. Our doubt is not an indication that we cannot also do things well, it may simply be that we do not have the experience or knowledge to do what they have done.

Knowing what we don’t know helps us grow.

We should use it as an opportunity to realistically see where we are and what our ability is and see what else we can learn. Within our hobbies we often see people who have been practicing for a long time and some things may come more naturally or easier for them, at least that is what we perceive. But they have had years of experience to make mistakes and learn.

No one was born being able to do all the things they can do now, they learned them over time.

Having self-doubt because you have more to learn is not something to be ashamed of. Being at a level of self-awareness to be able to acknowledge you don’t know something is an incredibly valuable skill.

We should all strive to make mistakes, learn, and keep going.

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