Dealing with Self-Doubt


Those who have studied it know that success correlates with confidence — a fact that’s easy to intuit. Those who are more confident are more likely to take risks, and to brush off failures. Simply, they are more likely to persist.

Another body of evidence suggests that identifying as a woman correlates with self-doubt.

(We're thinking that has something to do with culture, not biology or gendered personality traits.)

Anecdotally, that correlation is also easy to see: Think of all your incredible friends and collaborators who have second-guessed their incredible work... or their ability to perform that work.

We feel pretty confident in saying that self-doubt has happened to all of us. So, here’s how we deal:


Your self-criticism may have started as a rational fear, which is healthy and fair. We should all consider consequences before we act. Somehow, though, that one sour thought then snowballed into a mood. 

So, shut it down. Feeling insecure or unprepared is normal, and you should attempt to rewire that internal conversation. Remind that little voice in your head about everything you have done and all of the times you've picked yourself up after failure.

It's safe to say negative self-talk begets negative self-talk until your brain is so far spun out that you’re talking about things that aren’t true. When you get here, it's time to consider the facts.


Facts are your friends. Are you really the worst x in the world because you did y? Or do you just feel that way today?

Because here’s another fact: Some of us have a tendency to self-doubt more than others. And that's OK. Know that and act accordingly.

And if the fact is simply that you messed up this, or that you didn’t do as well as you had hoped in that, take a pause. You are human (imperfect), you are accomplished, you are worthy, you are beautiful.

If that mantra doesn't work, we suggest befriending Google to research your doubts. Do you feel like you're underperforming at work? Mismanaging your business? Screwing up a relationship? Do a little research on those problems. No matter what you're going through, 10/10 times someone else has done it, too. And they survived!

(There's a reason Googling "mistakes at work" churns up these results.)

Phone a Friend

Friends are great because they come armed with aforementioned facts. Phone one when you're down—a good one that’s at the ready with all the reasons why you should practice a little self-compassion.

You’re Not Alone

If you’re feeling schlubby, unaccomplished or like a failure, know that we’ve all been there.  Even Beyonce.


Once your self-doubt is in check, move right along. Keep going. Feeling shame about doubt will only send you into a spiral. And persisting in the face of failure will give you confidence.

Go get 'em!

Jane Claire HerveyComment