The specter of self-doubt can loom large over people, with second-guessing and a river of “…but what ifs” threatening to drown our resolve. And while doubt is a defense mechanism humans have to encourage assessing threats and minimizing risk, the sad truth is that self-doubt can be debilitating. Without us noticing it, self-doubt becomes a habit—turning self-preservation into self-sabotage. Questions like “can I do this?” or “am I worthy enough?” or “what if I fail?” stop us from realizing our full potential and hold us back from living a bold life.
When self-doubt becomes a habit, taming it will require an enormous amount of mental strength—and not everyone has that kind of strength to call upon. However, just like physical strength, mental strength can be developed with sound mental practices. Here are 10 mental exercises to help you discover how to start believing in yourself.
1. Recognize the habit.
Doing this is the first step toward overcoming self-doubt. As soon as you accept that your “self-doubting habit” is hindering your life, you can work your way toward self-improvement.
2. End self-defeating monologues.
Develop the habit of emphasizing your strong points. Remember, the stories that you tell yourself can become your reality. Declaring positive self-affirmation is a helpful step toward the objective of how to start believing in yourself.
3. Stop seeking approval and validation from others.
Be your own cheerleader and personal advocate, and pursue things that are right and good for you.
4. Don’t hesitate—do it.
Delaying a task or a goal will only worsen your feelings of self-doubt. Seeing that you have accomplished something, no matter how small, is a great confidence booster.
5. Develop a competency.
Every person has a gift. Find out what you are good at and be an expert at it. Knowing that you have something to bring to the table supports the objective of how to start believing in yourself.
6. Take it one step at a time.
Habits can be difficult to unlearn, and you cannot easily let go of them all at once. Start by tackling one self-doubting practice at a time. Use visual aids like quotes and posters to remind you to stick to your plan.
7. Stop engaging in a debilitative debate with yourself.
Mentally arguing with yourself strengthens the negative feedback loop. As the brain is wired to focus on what could go wrong, you will only exhaust your mental energy counter-blocking these thoughts.
8. Bank on your previous success.
See it as a jump-off point for the next step toward the aim of how to start believing in yourself. Eyeing new prospects can be daunting. In moments like this, self-doubt will sneak back at you. Use your previous success as fuel to jumpstart your next project.
9. Do things that make you happy.
Some find happiness in hobbies, while some find it by communing with nature. Each person may have different means of finding happiness. What is constant, though, is that joy inspires a positive outlook in life.
10. Surround yourself with supportive people.
When it is difficult to appreciate ourselves, having a group of friends who can remind us of our capabilities and achievements can make a big difference. You don’t have to be alone in your quest of believing in yourself.
Moving Forward Despite Self-Doubt
Mentally strong people seek ways to overcome self-doubt. For instance, President Abraham Lincoln pushed forward despite doubts about his abilities. Oprah Winfrey—media mogul and motivational speaker—also overcame her own personal doubts to achieve success.
As previously mentioned, no one is immune to self-doubt. When things don’t go according to plan, our self-confidence takes a beating. While it is fine to take a step back to assess situations, indulging in self-doubt for too long can be detrimental. The most critical step toward how to start believing in yourself is to move forward, despite self-doubt.