These 7 Quotes Will Help You Blast Away Your Self-Doubt
“Doubt is a virus that attacks our self-esteem, productivity, and confidence”
Quick show of hands: How many of you have a story that has sat in Drafts for weeks because… you’re just not quite sure… if it’s good enough to publish?
How many of you have wanted to ask someone out, but never got around to it because “they’re way out of my league”?
How many of you have stopped short of applying for a job you want, instead making up a list of reasons why you’d never get hired?
Self-doubt is the great denier of human potential. So many books have been written but never read, so many songs have been composed but never heard because their creators thought “it’s not good enough” or “it’ll flop” or “people will laugh at me.”
It’s time to hear from the experts. Below are 7 quotes from people who have overcome self-doubt in their own lives. With each quote, I have included an action plan so you can squash self-doubt in yours.
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” — Caroline Caldwell
Now there’s a saying that belongs on a T-shirt… WHOA, that exists!
In 2015, artist Caldwell placed this message on an advertising space on a train. It quickly went viral, shared more than a million times on blogs and social media. The message stems from her belief, as expressed on her website, that if you want to live in a world you like, then you have to help create it.
Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world; therefore, if you don’t like yourself, the chances of you creating a world you like are slim to none.
Having an enemy, even if you have to invent one, and focusing attention on that enemy can be a powerful motivator. Re-read the quote. Who benefits from you remaining mired in self-doubt?
Does your doubt date back to high school, when you lacked the confidence to assert yourself? Who benefited from you remaining in the shadows? The so-called cool kids, that’s who. So make a mental enemy of the cool kids, and imagine that when you’re crushing doubt in the action plans that follow, you’re crushing them as well.
Perhaps you want to leave your company and find a job with better pay, better hours, better working conditions. However, you haven’t bothered to job-hunt due to the fear that no one would hire you. Who benefits from that? Your company. Pick your boss, the CEO, the least-likable person in middle management, and make them the symbol of everything you want to leave behind.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” — Carrie Fisher
The actress best known for portraying Princess Leia hit upon an important secret here. The ego likes familiarity. It doesn't like it when you try new ventures, because, for all it knows, you could die.
That’s why you have to accept that it’s perfectly normal to be afraid and then do it anyway. The ego will learn that you didn’t die. Do whatever you fear several more times drive the lesson home to the ego. The ego will change its message to “This is something we do” — and if you’re going to do something at all, might as well do it well!
When you fear things won’t turn out well if you do the thing you want, where are you in your mind time-wise? You’re in the future. You’re imagining failing, being humiliated, being reminded of your lowly station in life at some time to come.
The antidote is to come back to the present. Observe that fear — you can’t observe yourself and be anywhere but the present — then let that feeling go. Once you get comfortably rooted in the magical moment known as Now, act. Fear does not exist in the present.
“You are all you need / You are all you need / And that is everything / So don’t hesitate / There’s no time to waste / You just do it, do it for yourself” — INXS, “Listen Like Thieves”
“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” — William Shakespeare
I love this. Leave it to The Bard to come up with a brilliant metaphor. This is something I have been doing for a while, giving human names to feelings, to parts of myself and qualities I possess.
For example, I have long said that the best friend a person has is their intuition. Optimism is another friend. Gratitude? A friend, for sure. Hard work and consideration for others are most definitely friends.
Doubt, though? It’s a part of us that stands in our own way. It prevents us from becoming our best version. “Traitor” is as good a name for it as any.
In most countries, treason is a capital offense… so make that traitor walk the plank whenever he presents himself! Do the very thing your doubt is trying to stop. Imagine the splash of doubt hitting the chilly waters of the sea as you ask for that raise, submit to that publication, ask that crush out. Relish opportunities to kill doubt over and over again, like a character in a video game, until you’ve won and it’s gone for food.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh
The paralysis of analysis, as explained by one of the great painters of all time. It’s not that you can’t paint; it’s that you resist the act of painting. Resistance is a feeling that arises out of fear.
This one is really simple. The opposite of fear is love. Therefore, to eliminate doubt and fear that prevents you from stepping into your best self, all you have to do is love yourself.
Go back to the concept of being present… because, really, Now is the only moment there is. Therefore that best version of you, the version that has already painted the masterpiece, exists in the Now, not in the future as you have been conditioned to perceive. Send love to that best version — and feel the love you get back in return.
“Doubt is a virus that attacks our self-esteem, productivity, and confidence. Faith that you and your life are perfectly unfolding is the strongest vaccine.” — Sean Stephenson
OUCH! Comparing anything to a virus in this day and age is a low blow — yet doubt deserves it. It has earned every bit of its bad reputation. Doubt is a robber, taking away the very qualities that facilitate you living up to your fullest potential.
The great thing about beliefs is that you can try them on, just as you might try on a new outfit at the clothing store.
Let me introduce you to a belief that has served me extremely well over the years: Your soul, the part of you that is God-in-you, draws to you exactly the right people and situations at every point in time. That includes people and situations you might be tempted to label as “bad.” See the gift in everything.
Try on that belief for size, and you may find that in doing so you’ve administered the vaccine Stephenson talks about, eradicating doubt much like Jonas Salk’s vaccine eradicated polio.
“There is perfection in everything. Strive to see the perfection. Need nothing. Desire everything. Choose what shows up.” — Neale Donald Walsch
“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” — Colin Powell
Force multiplier is a term used in military settings. It’s a condition or set of conditions that allows a unit to perform as effectively as a unit of much larger size would in the absence of said conditions.
Powell is absolutely correct: Approaching any undertaking from a mindset of optimism will yield much greater effectiveness than going in with doubt and negativity.
I like to make what I call a meditation sandwich to instill optimism in a place where there was previously doubt.
Think of two tasks you perform confidently. You’re going to imagine doing them, complete with the sights, the sounds, the smells, and most importantly the feelings you feel as you’re doing them.
In between them, though, you’re going to imagine doing the desired task with the same level of confidence, again with all the sensory stimuli. Once again, you’re going to imagine the awesome feelings that come over you.
Put yourself on a week-long diet of meditation sandwiches and see if your doubt doesn’t wither away.
“Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.” — Alvin Price
Our schools teach our children what the quadratic formula is. They teach our children what mitosis is. They have our children memorize the definition of countless words they will never use in real life.
And yet, almost no school curricula teach children not to doubt themselves. Almost no official program teaches children to love themselves and approach the world with confidence.
So as parents, it’s up to you.
Every chance you have to instill in your children that anything they dream, they can achieve — do it. When they try something and fail, tell them that you don’t think any less of them — in fact, you admire the fact that they tried and tested their own limits.
This is an action plan with a bonus for you: What you give others, you give also to yourself. When you raise your children to have very little self-doubt, you may find your own doubts fading into the background as your children inspire you with their fearlessness.
Don’t have children of your own? Look for opportunities to be a mentor in your community. There are always plenty of kids who need a role model who can show them how to blast doubt clean out of the ballpark.
Let’s keep in touch! Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. Do you have self-doubt that applies particularly to writing? Here are a couple of my articles that can help with that.