We all struggle with self-doubt. We all wish it would go away. We all blame it for sabotaging us as we pursue our biggest goals.
The funny thing is…
Despite our obsession with the subject, most of us don’t know what self-doubt truly is.
We think it’s a feeling. A nagging sense of inadequacy. A haunting fear of failure.
And while that may be how we experience self-doubt, the feelings are side-effects of a deeper, correctable issue.
In this post, I’m going to teach you a simple framework for identifying the sources of self-doubt in your life. Then, in the next post, I’ll give you strategies for replacing self-doubt with the confidence you need to boldly chase your goals.
Where the feeling of self-doubt comes from
Most people believe their feelings are the products of their circumstances. If a friend gives you rude feedback on your idea for a new business, you feel sad or angry. If your book proposal gets accepted by a publisher, you feel happy.
But the truth is a bit more complicated. As counterintuitive as it might seem, feelings do not come from your circumstances, and I’ll prove it to you.
Imagine going for a hot air balloon ride with a close friend. If you believe hot air balloons are a safe and reliable way to enjoy a great view, you’ll feel relaxed, exhilarated. After a while, you might even feel bored.
But if your friend believes hot air balloons are death traps, ever a gust of wind away from a fiery tailspin, she will feel differently. Fear, regret, anger at you for dragging her along — these are the feelings that will torment the poor soul while her fingers cling to the basket.
Same circumstances. Different feelings.
How can this be?
Our feelings aren’t the products of our circumstances. They’re the products of what we believe.
The feeling of self-doubt is no exception. Which means…
If you want to overcome self-doubt, you must identify your limiting beliefs and change them.
How to identify your limiting beliefs
Most limiting beliefs look something like this:
I could never accomplish this specific goal because _________________________________.
I can’t relax on a hot air balloon because I don’t believe they’re safe.
I could never be an entrepreneur because I’m not smart enough.
I could never be a public speaker because I’m an introvert.
I could never write a book because I don’t have any experiences to write about.
I could never make a difference in my community because my last attempt failed.
While limiting beliefs might look reasonable on the surface, many of them are completely false. So let’s take a look at your limiting beliefs, and see if any of them are causing you unnecessary self-doubt.
What are your limiting beliefs?
I’ve decided to write this post in two parts because if you skip this first step, the next step won’t help.
So for now, grab a sheet of paper and write “I could never ______________________ (write the goal you want to accomplish) because _______________________________ (write your reasons).”
Here’s the assignment:
Step 1: Come up with 10 reasons you don’t believe you can achieve the goal you’ve written down. It’s by digging deep that we identify our greatest saboteurs.
Step 2: Do the exercise again later this week, when your brain has had more time to process this concept. Better yet, keep your paper handy and record limiting beliefs as they appear.
Take this week to get clarity on the beliefs you need to change, and next week we’ll get to work changing them.
One last thing…
If you feel comfortable, share some of your limiting beliefs in the comments. I’ll choose a few to use as examples in next week’s post.