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Overcome Self-Doubt

  • f you have self-doubt, you may have difficulty confidently stating your level of competence.

  • Unconscious ways you might deal with self-doubt include self-handicapping, overachieving, and imposter syndrome.

  • Strategies to help overcome self-doubt include cultivating self-worth, building on your strengths for growth, and using positive self-talk.

Source: Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash Do you struggle to feel sure of yourself? Do you often question your beliefs or attitudes? Or do you often wonder if you've made the right decisions? Then you may be experiencing self-doubt. Self-doubt is a state of uncertainty about the truth of anything about ourselves. It could be about our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, opinions, decisions, self-views, or any "truth" we hold in our minds. Overall, we may feel that we’re not stable, and we may question our self-competence (Braslow et al., 2012). If we are someone who has a lot of self-doubts, we may vacillate when judging our abilities. We may expect poor performance and sometimes expect excellent performance. In other words, we have difficulty confidently stating our level of competence (Braslow et al., 2012). Do You Have Self-Doubt? Here are some questions (Oleson et al., 2000) you can ask yourself to see if you’re experiencing self-doubt:

  • Do you feel unsure about yourself?

  • Do you lack confidence in the outcomes of your efforts?

  • Are you uncertain about your level of competence?

How We Generally Deal With Self-Doubt Because self-doubt is such an unpleasant experience, we often deal with it in automatic and unconscious ways—some of which can be good and others bad. Here are a few of these ways:

  • Self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is a defensive strategy that helps us blur the reasons for our mistakes or failures. Using drugs, alcohol, and procrastination are examples of self-handicaps that enable us to blame our struggles on something other than our incompetence. Unfortunately, this strategy often leads to worsening self-doubt.

  • Overachievement. Overachievement is a strategy that helps prevent mistakes and failures. If we are self-doubting, we might not believe that our regular efforts or competence alone will be enough to succeed. So we put in a tremendous amount of effort. Unfortunately, we still might struggle with self-doubt because we have no way of knowing whether the extra effort or our competence made us successful (Braslow et al., 2012).

  • Imposter syndrome. is not an accurate reflection of our underlying abilities. We've done well, but we're afraid we can't keep up or compete with other people at our level. We might credit our success to timing, or good fortune (Brasl

ow et al., 2012).


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