Overcoming Self-Doubt. The 4 Hs That Get in the Way

If we define confidence as the willingness to try, then we know that building our confidence comes from taking action. It's not that we don't know what we need to do, it's that we don't do it. We puts things off, our inner critic tells us how useless and lazy we are and we develop self-doubt. This becomes a decision not to try. It's the opposite of confidence.

Our brains are wired to look for danger so it starts forming thoughts like, "what could go wrong if we take this action?" We become avoidant or fearful as a result. Around and around we go.

The good news is we can change these thoughts and this loop of self-doubt. We can rewire our brains. Feeling fearful, nervous or worried is normal. But confidence is not a feeling.

Let's look at some of the traps of self-doubt in order to rewire them.


When we are uncertain, we can wait, overthink or strive for perfection. Are you telling yourself all the ways this could go wrong? Are you distracting yourself with everything but the task at hand? Are you trying to perfect it before you really make it happen?

First, become aware of how you hesitate. What do you do and say to yourself? What needs to be perfect?

Next, use the 'progress principle'. Start small and use tiny incremental bits to move forward. Just pick one thing that matters to you that you can do that day. Maybe it's research one detail or buy a book or read one chapter. You can feel doubt, but still take action.


Hiding can look like focusing on a big dream, then feeling overwhelmed by it and then feeling paralyzed about what to do to achieve it. Or it could look like not standing up for yourself or asking for what you want or need. Or maybe you have a dream you are fired up about, but no plan for following through on it. It could also look like shrinking away from an opportunity or fearing you will look foolish, worrying about what others will think, etc.

Ask yourself: what is the underlying fear that is causing me to behave these ways? Does this really matter? Why? What are you doing instead of the thing you could be doing? And what do you really want?

Develop some goals along with subgoals. Then take some baby steps toward that.

For example, if I said I wanted to lose 100 pounds, that would completely overwhelm me. I may fear I can't do it, I'll never be disciplined enough, and so why bother.

But if I challenged my thinking a little I could decide to break it down. I could begin by picking a date to start. I could also pick one activity to start with, like walking for 15 minutes every day. I could decide that isn't enough time and won't make a difference but if I did the math, I'd realize I can walk almost a mile in that amount of time. And a mile every day is 7 miles a week and with 52 weeks in a year I would have walked 364 miles. And if the estimate of walking one mile = 100 calories burned then I could burn 700 calories a week. Now that's no drop in the bucket. So the first thing I can do to make sure I walk is put on my sneakers every morning as soon as I wake up. That is one baby step of action that leads me toward the next. Even I don't lose the 100 pounds, I'm doing a whole lot of compounding of my confidence in those 15 minutes a day!


Maybe you fear being hurt or judged so you become focused on the negative, focused on flaws. You make excuses as to why things won't work. You look for the evidence that you will fail.

What excuses are you using? What are you afraid will happen? What can you do to eliminate this possibility?

Choose to prove yourself wrong. Commit to a certain amount of time to try it. Find a solution instead of just complaining.


This looks like believing nothing ever goes your way, or you blame others for things not going well. Maybe you play a victim or depend on people for too much help. Maybe you don't believe you can do it on your own. You don't want to take responsibility for your life and try to make others attend to you.

First, where do you feel helpless? What do you believe makes you helpless in these areas?

Next, look at who you are dependent upon. Are they a rescuer, fixer, enabler, advice-giver, caretaker or guru?

Then, what are you afraid you would lose if you took responsibility for yourself?

What ways have you shown up for yourself in the past? How will your life be negatively impacted if you give your power away? Can you give yourself the love, attention and praise that you have looked for in others? What is one task you can do for yourself that you normally have someone to help you with? Celebrate when you have done it.

Remember, you can feel the fear and do it anyway. It's never about eliminating fear. It's about working it into the action. That's where the confidence comes in and the self-doubt disappears.

If you want a coach to help you work through these questions, please reach out to me.

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