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7 hacks to conquer self-doubt

by Ron Poblete

ROGER (not his real name) hosted events for a living. He was very funny and personable. People liked working with him. He could turn up a crowd. You could say, he was the life of the party.

But he wasn’t always this good. The first time he hosted was a disaster. It was so bad the organizer practically threw the envelope containing his talent fee at him and couldn’t even look him in the eye. Self doubt and the voice in his head got the best of him, he recalls. He cried in his car, ashamed of himself and for letting people down.

Dr. Margie Warrel in a 2017 Forbes article explains that “(We) get into a psychic wrestling match with a little voice in your head that chips away at your confidence and dials up your doubts.”

Am I good enough? Good looking enough? They might think I’m too fat, too old, too this, too that. These internal conversations come to you at the most inconvenient or worst, the most important time in your life.

 “That was a low point in my life. Wanted to give up. But it made me a little angry and came back with something to prove,“ he said.

Roger eventually got over it. It took time but he did the graft. Working at it gig after gig. Before he knew it, he was sought after.

Asked how he did it, “When I got the chance to host another event, I just relaxed and told myself how awesome I was.”

According to Dr. Warrel, there are six ways to overcome such a debilitating experience.

1. Embrace doubt as part of being human

Doubt will always be part of our mental make up. It is sort of a survival mechanism preventing us from falling flat on our face. Acceptance as they say is key. Once you understand it, you’ll be able to control it. 

2. Doubt your doubts

There is always the opposite side to your negativity. Instead of always asking Why me? Ask yourself instead, Why not? More often than not your doubts are far from reality. Allow yourself to instead think of the alternative.

3. Write down your doubts

Write down your doubt statement. In a notebook or diary, divide the page into two columns — first column is your evidence about the doubts about yourself. Then the second column would another evidence that you are not what you doubting about. If there are more evidence on the second column, ask yourself “How could my mind allow such disbelief?” If there more overwhelming evidence of your self doubt, ask yourself, “How can I learn from this?”

4. Call out your critic

Impostor syndrome is the idea that you are not even worthy to be doing what you’re doing. The sometimes overwhelming feeling that puts pressure on yourself because you think you’re a fraud. Dr. Warrel suggests that you name your own worst critic and try to write your critical self as part of the process.

5. Make your mission bigger than your fear

Telling yourself that it matters or it’s make or break that you need to rise above puts you in a headspace needed to overcome doubt. Putting doubt down empowers you to perform at your peak levels. Athletes use mental exercises to attain peak performance. 

6. Build a tribe of believers

It is very important to surround yourself with positive people. That is why high achievers enjoy the company of others like them. Confidence inspires confidence. You have the choice to put yourself in an environment that cultivates success.

7. Train the brave, daily

BJ Fogg at Stanford University suggests taking “bite size” actions in improving oneself. He says doing this instead of “bigger behaviors” can create “dramatic shifts that last”. Keep at it. Consistency is very important to reach lasting changes in one’s mental outlook.

Roger learned things the hard way. He wouldn’t change a thing. However, listening to him tell his story sure gave confidence to people who like him had doubts.



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