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How to overcome self-doubt?

Photo by Pablo Guerrero on Unsplash

We often doubt ourselves more than anyone else in this world. It feels like you are anchored by your own fears and kept you constricted from chasing your dreams.

How many times you’ve doubted yourself? How many times you had these amazing dreams and then ended up not pursuing as you thought that you are never enough. We often overthink a lot of things and think that all the eyes are looking and watching all the things that we are doing.

This phenomenon is called the “Spotlight effect”.


According to Psychology today, spotlight effect refers to;

“…the tendency to think that more people notice something about you than they do. Dozens of studies in social psychology have supported this phenomenon…”

This is the result of being too focused on ourselves. We often think what others are thinking about us but contrary to this, they are also being too focus on themselves.

“We all are the center of our own universes. This is not to say we are arrogant or value ourselves more than others. Rather, our entire existence is from our own experiences and perspective. And we use those experiences to evaluate the world around us, including other people. But other people not only lack the knowledge of, for instance, the stain that you have, but they are the center of their own universes too, and in turn, are focused on other things!”

We are all victims of the spotlight effect, have you remembered thinking too much on what others will say with what you we were wearing? Maybe for some this is not really the case, but for most people, they give it more effort to dress well and present themselves better for the other people.

This is critical in understanding how our brain works and how we can overcome doubting ourselves. Our brain often thinks too much which later hold us back in doing what we must do. Almost in every case you are thinking way too much that what actually happened, trust me on this!


The Spotlight effect creates this type of decision making, this is solely based on what you feel at the moment and that’s fear.

According to James Clear, fear-based decision-making is;

“…when you let your fears or worries dictate your actions (or, in most cases, your lack of action)”

For example:

“I’d wanted to start my online business but what if I fail in doing it?”

“I’d wanted to start blogging but who would read my blogs? I’m not that interesting and I don’t know how to write”

“I’d wanted to go to the gym but what if people will laugh at me because I’m too fat or skinny”

I know most of you, if not all, had these thoughts before. It was very common for everyone that our decision is significantly being affected by what we fear the most. We wanted to do something extraordinary but fears that other people will invalidate it, and even our own self tells that we are not worthy of something that we wanted.

Now, how many times you’ve made your decision out from your fear? It usually stops you from doing something and that’s the one that is stopping you from growing. What we fear the most are often the things that will make us grow, and that’s outside of your comfort zone.


1. Stop making excuses

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort

Self-doubt is the rationalization of our brain to think that something is not worth pursuing. It is like your brain is forcing you not to do something as it will not make you anything better. This is our defense mechanism. One way to eliminate this is by doing the “5 second rule”.

Mel Robbins has popularized this technique to overcome your fear;

The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal or a commitment, use the Rule…There is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind killing it. It’s a 5 second window. And it exists for everyone…”

This technique allows you to do something before your brain starts creating tons of excuses in not doing it. It was a great way to keep yourself moving and doing something rather than be paralyzed by your own thoughts. As she said, it is very simple but it is not easy. You have to push yourself in order to overcome those thoughts.

You can further read the science behind this rule and why it works here.

2. Think that no one really cares

“In reality, no one cares, they’re just curious.” – Anonymous

The truth is no one really cares in what you are doing or what you are wearing. It may sound too absurd, but this way of thinking allows you to do something more. This can’t be a reason for you not to do your best but for you to think that if you did something bad they will soon forget about it, so might as well do your best to make it a little memorable for other people.

Whenever, you must do something that you fear, always think that other people don’t really care and just do your best.

3. Practice self-compassion

”Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: There’s a reason they all start with self. You can’t find them in anyone else.” – Rob Liano

Self-compassion is different from self-esteem and self-confidence. Harvard business review was able to clearly explain the train of thoughts on this;

“…self-compassion is a less familiar concept than self-esteem or self-confidence. Although it’s true that people who engage in self-compassion tend to have higher self-esteem, the two concepts are distinct. Self-esteem tends to involve evaluating oneself in comparison with others. Self-compassion, on the other hand, doesn’t involve judging the self or others. Instead, it creates a sense of self-worth because it leads people to genuinely care about their own well-being and recovery after a setback.”

How many times you’ve given yourself a pat on the back? We are often our own worst enemy. When you practice self-compassion you are doing the following:

  • You are accepting that you have weaknesses and can improve it.
  • You are moving forward instead of loathing at your own shortcomings.
  • You are cultivating your own authenticity

There are tons of benefits on how self-compassion can help you. But being nice about yourself helps you be more open to new experience and not be fearful if you fail. You will have a broader perspective about failure and failing will never meant so much than what your brain is telling you.

4. Failure is always about not taking action

“Falling down is an accident, staying down is a choice.” – Anonymouse

You will only fail if you stop taking actions, self-doubt is normal and it is happening with everyone in this world. But remember that not taking any action has higher risk than trying and failing. Inaction will always result to regrets and self-doubt is the enemy of action.

Remember that the moment you decided not to try something is the same moment that you already failed.


At the end of the day, our greatest enemy is ourselves. Self-doubt kills more dreams than those who failed. We are often being eaten by our own thoughts that lead us to accept mediocrity and be as “normal” as we can be, while thinking at the back of our mind “What if I did that, maybe my life would be better…”.

How long will you doubt yourself? Or how long will you keep yourself from chasing your dreams?

The following are the related references that you can read:
1. 8 Ways highly successful people overcome self-doubt by American Express
2. Give yourself a break: The power of self-compassion by Harvard Business Review
3. How to overcome your demons by Mark Manson
4. 5 Thoughts on Overcoming Fear and Self-doubts by James Clear
5. What is the True meaning of Failure?

3 replies on “How to overcome self-doubt?”

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