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What is Self-Doubt? Ways to Overcome It

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silence” Van Gogh

Do you doubt yourself? Unsure whether to speak about your ideas or opinions, for fear of them not being good enough? Have you ever told yourself not to do something or found that you have talked yourself out of something that you want to do? Found that it is easier to stay in the comfort zone rather than follow your dreams and goals? Give yourself harsh criticism, constantly thinking you could have done better? Always unsure whether you have made the right decision? Find yourself keeping busy rather than thinking about these things as it leads to uncomfortable feelings?


Self- doubt can manifest in numerous ways; causing and heightening anxiety, deepening depression, increasing procrastination, reducing motivation, triggering and prolonging feelings of low-self esteem and low-confidence, instigating difficulty with decision making whilst creating the idea that the sufferer has no control over their own life.This can really put a stop to us living full and vibrant lives; self-doubt relates to feelings of uncertainty in regards to your-self and can cause us to really hold back on expressing our true selves. Expressing ourselves can be talking about our thoughts and feelings but can also manifest in our physical everyday lives - being who we want to be.


These feelings of self-doubt can often arise before, during or after certain events or specific times in our lives, yet sometimes these feelings have a more constant effect, they appear daily and cause distress - mentally and emotionally - which in turn can affect behaviour and relationships.



Experience has left me with the understanding that these self-doubting thoughts are manifestations of emotions that haven't been dealt with or that have a root or entangled roots in the past. We so often run from feeling uncomfortable, instead of acknowledging these feelings we hide in our head, thoughts take us away from focusing on how we feel. If you can imagine thinking you are worthless, you then believe it - your mind is protecting you and in a sense getting you ready for dealing with the root feeling - which is you feel worthless. Feeling unworthy is a deeply unsettling feeling - the trick is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings, understand them and give them what they need. In doing this your thoughts will not need to protect you and will recognise your strengths.


“The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain.” Gabor Mate

There are tools you can use to help you overcome and manage self-doubt and in turn they will help build your self-confidence and self-esteem.


Practise self-compassion


Be kind to yourself. It is normal to make mistakes, in fact that’s how we learn. Being your own worst critic is often the case when you are struggling with self-doubt, but be mindful of how you talk to yourself - would you say these things to a loved one? Take a moment to acknowledge that you are trying to survive in a world that can be harsh, you are working with what you have and it’s ok to not know what you are doing - life does not come with a manual even if it feels like it does.


Don’t compare yourself


You are an individual with your own path. This will often lead to feelings and thoughts of self-doubt, we can only control our own road.


Be mindful of your thoughts


In trying to protect you from uncomfortable feelings, intrusive thoughts of a negative nature may cause you to question yourself and your actions. Try to be present and keep your thoughts positive.


Validate your own feelings


It is important to recognise your own strengths and to be kind about your weaknesses. Acknowledge you, tell yourself you are doing a great job, have faith in yourself. Self-recognition is just as good as getting it from someone else, even more important if you are struggling with self-doubt.


Seek help


A therapist can help you with getting to the root causes of your own self-doubt; especially if these issues are pervasive and causing difficulty in functioning. There are certain therapies like CBT that can aid you with useful techniques or there are talking therapies which can enable healing to begin from within.


The Wellbeing Therapy Hut wants to make therapy accessible for all, which is why there are a number of options for you. Whether you want to deal with things that are holding you back in the past or work on your confidence, our counsellors can help. You can choose from face-to-face, online, or over the phone.




Author: Charlotte Phillips - Her desire to become a counsellor began with a fascination into the human mind and human behaviour. Currently, Charlotte is studying towards Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling which involves practising an integrative approach.

Charlotte offers sessions online, as well as in Kingston or Epsom offices.



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