The Tyranny of Self-Doubt

When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac

There are not many obstacles bigger and more challenging for people on the road to success than the tyranny of self-doubt. It’s robs people of their ability to think clearly. It cheats them of their creativity and can paralyze them straight into the failure that they so greatly fear. 

Yes fear!

Fear is a tremendous source of self-doubt and it is a key part of a vicious cycle. More fear cause more self-doubt and more self-doubt causes more fear. Let’s look at some ideas to help eliminate both for our lives. 

First set goals and have a plan to achieve them. Knowing what needs to be done and how you intend to accomplish it goes a long way towards eliminating self-doubt. The more specific your plan the less “scary” it is so be specific. List start and end dates for each action required in your plan. Be realistic, do not set goals that cannot be achieved and know your sources of support. Things will not go exactly according to plan so build in alternatives for each step of your plan. 

Remember past successes, even small ones. One of the best predictors of what you’ll accomplish in the future in what you’ve accomplished in the past. Even people on something of a “failure streak” have successes in their past. That’s where your focus should be; on your successes. Learn from your failures, store that knowledge for later use but forget the failure. 

Get rid of the “victim” mentality. There is just no nice way to say this… most people full of self-doubt see themselves as victims. Victims of circumstance, of other people, of the economy, and sadly, sometimes even victims of themselves. The most successful people know this fact: Circumstances, people, and other “stuff” can make you a victim for a time but only you can make yourself a victim for a lifetime. When you accept full responsibility for your success, regardless of anything or anyone else, your odds of success go way, way up. 

Eliminate toxic people from your life. Toxic people poison your mind. They convince you that their failures are yours. They tell you, often repeatedly, that you “can’t,” can’t do it, can’t learn it, can’t think it, you just can’t. Their negative attitude is terribly contagious so stay the heck away from them. Instead find successful, positive people to associate with They will push you and inspire you. There’s no nice way to say this either but here’s a fact: your friends might be the nicest people in the world but if they have never experienced sustained success in their life it’s unlikely you will either. 

Do something. Doing almost anything is better than doing nothing. The longer you sit idle the more time you give self-doubt and fear to grow inside of you. Even if you attempt something and fail you’re still closer to your next success than if you had done nothing. Get going, move, mingle, network, TRY! 

The elimination of self-doubt comes from effort so make the effort and make yourself a success. 

11 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Self-Doubt

  1. Yes isn’t it peculiar, one would think that fear would dissipate or diminish as we get older (and wiser), given we experience it so often as we live our lives, …. yet fear remains one of the biggest factors that we face getting older and dealing with lifestyle, career, social and family changes.

    Not so sure we can (or even want to) “eliminate” fear however we should understand fear and self doubt and seek ways to mitigate fear using the points that Steve has outlined and move forward in our lives.

    • You make a great point, I wonder if fear ever completely goes away? I know wonderfully successful people who still experience fear and self-doubt.

      The one major difference between them and less successful people is that the more successful people moved forward despite their fear.

      I guess they call that courage. 🙂

  2. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later.

    Many thanks

  3. Steve your last point of emphasis, “Do something” is crucial for people to keep moving forward. We can’t wait to take action or fall for “paralysis by analysis”, taking action can often help us even if it is the wrong action. I have heard Dan Miller from “48 Days to the work you love” talk about this with people who loose their jobs. Depression can set in when we don’t get moving.

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