Your past experiences and mistakes; your childhood; comparing yourself with others; fear of failure or success; the uncertainty and insecurity of facing challenges, each of these are common causes of self-doubt.
Whether it’s in our careers or the things we want to achieve in life, we all experience moments of self-doubt. It can be helpful, forcing us to do more research, preparation, and planning. The problem comes when self-doubt gets out of control. Before you know it, you’re stuck in an ever-whirling vortex of anxiety, causing you to panic and jam on the breaks too hard and too long.
There are ways you can conquer common causes of self-doubt and care for your mental well-being.
Try these 3 simple strategies
1) Be in the now
The common cause of self-doubt either take you to the past, where you reflect on mistakes and make comparisons, or into the future and the insecurity of ‘what ifs’. Stay in the present moment. Focus on and solve whatever is happening now. Focus on the positives.
2) Take a break and a shot of optimism
Whenever you feel negative or unsure of yourself, take a moment to relax and shift your focus. It can help you get a new perspective on your situation and jolt your brain out of negativity.
Here are some simple tricks.
- Engage in positive affirmations and self-talk: “I can do this” or “It’s just another chance for me to learn.”
- Have a list of energy-boosting quick fixes: sing, go for a walk, exercise, call a friend, pat the cat.
- Visit your happy memory jar, or tik tok and Instagram images that make you smile.
- Have a box of healthy snacks to which you can go.
- Make a list of things for which you’re grateful, shifting you toward a more positive state of mind.
Listing your achievements and wins is a good habit to get into. (You can also use your achievements – the little wins you have every day - to remind yourself of what you are capable.) Try an app like PepTalkHer to keep track of your achievements, and review them regularly.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You’re really not meant to do everything yourself. Independence is good to nurture and develop but friends and family are there to support you as you would them. Asking for help is a positive act.
Ruby’s 9-day self-doubt reduction plan
Days 1-3 Jot down three things you’re grateful for each day and describe how they make you feel.
Days 4-6 Think about the times you feel unsure and stressed. Jot down the where, when, how, what, why. For example, did you find yourself ‘making comparisons’, ‘thinking about past experiences’, ‘worrying about what-ifs’? Briefly describe the feelings you had and what triggered them for you. Think about how you might solve the issue and move on. Your solution could be as simple as putting it aside and deciding, ‘it’s unimportant right now’.
Days 7-9 Write down how and what you did to overcome any self-doubt you experienced. Doesn’t matter what your coping method was, write it down. (For example: maybe you chose to go for a run or walk. Maybe you engaged in positive self-talk; started the task; or chose to meditate on the now.)
Review your plan and when you feel doubt creeping in, think about the coping strategies that have worked and bring them into play.
Self-handicapping - trying to explain away your self-doubt with negatives about yourself – is a tactic many of us use to shore up our self-esteem but it perpetuates self-doubt. As you can probably guess, it’s not a helpful strategy in the end.
In our Lunch & Learn series of webinars with Meggie Palmer, CEO of PepTalkHer, we looked at practical ways to beat self-doubt, including tracking achievements, negotiating like a pro and taking a business from start to grow. View our Lunch & Learn webinars for more ideas.
Part of looking after yourself means understanding your finances and how you might deal with money issues, for example debts or a financial emergency. It probably doesn’t feel relevant sitting down to consider your finances when things are going well but it’s often the best time to do it because you’ll have the strength to deal with financial self-doubt. Being on top of your money is part of maintaining control of your life. Financial wellness is part of feeling well.
Put yourself in control of your finances and banish any doubts you may have. Identify if you have a healthy budget and where you can make changes to the way you manage your money to get that budget on track. Look at your spending and saving habits. If you think your debt level is getting a bit unmanageable, do something about it now rather than later.
Free financial counsellors can help you look at your situation, explain your rights and obligations and explore options if you’re not coping financially. To access free financial counselling, go to the National Debt Helpline or call on 1800 007 007.
If you find financial terms get in the way of you moving forward, we have some great jargon busting videos you can watch.
Online mental health resources are available if you need help dealing with anxiety which can be made worse when we feel our finances are getting on top of us.
Mental health services
The Black Dog Institute provides online and clinical support for people experiencing mental health and well-being issues. The organisation’s Online Clinic has been created by clinicians and is based on research. The free mental health assessment tool is suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who is worried about their mental health or wants a better understanding of their mental health. Find out more about what is involved. For people under the age of 18, Black Dog Institute’s Bite Back Mental Fitness Challenge is a free, self-guided online wellbeing and resilience program for people under 18 years old.
Beyond Blue and Headspace have a number of resources you can explore. For those under 18 years of age, Headspace has a youth focus and online tools aimed at helping younger people.
Lifeline can be contacted for support online, and by phone on 13 11 14.