How to deal with self-doubt: Confident people’s secret


When I was about to leave everything in Sweden and move to NYC, these doubts popped up in my head:

  • But what if I don’t make any friends?
  • What if I don’t like it there?
  • What if I don’t make any money?
  • What if I have to go back to Sweden and everyone sees that I’m a failure?

Here’s what I’ve come to learn about self-doubt:

  1. Everyone has it.
  2. Everyone who’s ever succeeded with anything has felt like this and followed their dream ANYWAY.

Life is about doing things DESPITE the feeling that we might fail.

Isn’t it crazy to let life be dictated by a negative voice telling us it won’t work?

And we go “Oh, yeah, you’re right, negative voice. I’ll ditch all my dreams because it might not work”.

I’ve developed a tactic to overcome this voice.

How to overcome the voice of self-doubt

I learned that there was only one way to deal with self-doubt:

I had to accept that those thoughts were there, but CHOOSE to act despite them.

I could have an internal dialogue like this:

“David, this isn’t going to work. There’s no point trying”.

“Ok, I understand that you think that way, voice. I’m going to at least TRY anyway”.

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I call this doing despite doubt.

I saw a documentary about Jim Carrey the other day. He revealed that his father always hoped to make it as an actor in the USA.

But he decided to take a safer path and stay in Canada, working as an accountant and raise a family.

However, he lost his job at 51. After that, he became bitter.

Jim said:

“Not only was he compromising to raise a family, but when you compromise AND you fail, it really hurts. It hurts even more than failing at what you love.”

You know what else I’ve noticed?

It’s easy to get caught up in what might go wrong. In other words, the DOWNSIDE to doing something.

I’ve taught myself to think as much about the UPSIDE to doing despite doubt.

When I worried about what could go wrong with being better socially, I learned to think as much about what could go right.

I visualized myself a rich social life, having loads of friends, always someone to do fun stuff with and the life I’d always dreamt of.

I even wrote down what my dream life would look like.

That made me realize that the upside was way bigger than the downside – that doing despite doubt was worth it.

fear in social situations

Pancake brunch with friends here in NYC.

Now, I’m curious to know: What would the upside to doing despite doubt look like for YOU?

Let me know about a specific thing in your life right now where you doubt yourself!

By writing it down, just like I did, it becomes clearer if it outweighs the risk of failing.

And what’s your conclusion – does doing it outweigh the risk of failing?

I’m excited to read what you’ll write down!

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (13)

13 thoughts on “How to deal with self-doubt: Confident people’s secret”

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  1. Oh David! I love your articles and emails; they are so enlightening and always speak directly to me. I hate to say this, but you need a proofreader. Aside from that, you are perfect! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Thanks David,I can say that the OFC has really wiped out my nervourness am able to talk to strangers(Only to talk about something which general).I am many times scared to talk to ladies thinking that i will run out of things to say

    Reply
  3. Hi David, hope you are well. This your latest advice has just come at the right time as I start a new job on Tuesday and feel anxious about whether of not I’m going to be able to do the job, but I have to give it a go and try.

    Thank you.
    Ms Judie Jacobs

    Reply
  4. The thing i doubt myself in is to talk first or just trying to start a simple small talk or conversation. I always think what im about to say would just backfire and that people would judge me about it.

    Reply
  5. I wanted to go into art – like visual art – but i eventually ended up in social science, i felt i wasnt capable of becoming the Leonardo Da’vinci of our time and that the pay is huge.
    But now i am interested in graphics art and programming, i would love to work with apps, but what if am not good at that too, the industry requires constant learning and re-learning.
    I want to start a business, but am not convinced of anyone. Please David any advice? Thanks for reading ?

    Reply
    • Oops sorry I read that wrong my mistake buddy!! But I’m sure you will be good at anything you try u just might not like it. And if u don’t like it it is harder to excel at something but u won’t know until you try!

      Reply
  6. Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences,each of which is so like the ones I have and facing.
    At this moment while I am writing this, I have just finished an exam and the results of which will be released in another 5 minutes. I am so scared to check it, I doubt about my capabilities. While this is an exam for a course I want to pursue, I also have a job that I recently received confirmation.
    It’s the job of a professor in a college. This is a rather radical shift from the kind of job I have always been doing. I am so doubtful whether the students will be receptive of my teaching. Whether I will not strike a right cord with them.
    Yet your strategy teaches me to look at the upside- so here is how it should look.
    I am teaching well.
    The students love my teaching methodology.
    They are like friends.
    They are helpful as I am new.
    Together we discover new avenues of the subject.
    The college authorities congratulate me on my teaching and I get a raise in a few months time.

    Reply
  7. Sometimes I feel so lonely when I’m at home doing my studies. I feel like I’m quite an egoistic person, not very open and friendly, who has some fears inside, but tries to look cool outside. Thoughts like these can get in my way any time. Also I
    it’s hard for me to concentrate on m6 goals. Btw, David, appreciate your content so far.

    Reply
    • I know how u feel I am a friendly person who attracts the wrong people.I feel so lonely after my partner died I know people but not one personal friend thanks

      Reply
    • Hey Vasyl, your comment reminded me of myself. I am a student too and I understand the pressure of studies as well as the goals. I have too spent lonely days with at my home and my books in front of me to dig your face in…and just nothing else. But you know, I then realized I was missing myself outand thought I could do something for myself! Like I could adopt a pet (its really fun..they make us feel enlightened!) or just something else I liked. Yup, I too felt like that egoist person but I just dropped that down and took my mind to something else. Just try it dear, when you do something which makes you happy and instead of thinking yourself as wierd..find some time to do something you like. I liked to draw sketches (anime..yeah) and liked to cook (even if it would go uneatable) but I did so..and it helped! Just go do some sketches or go for aerobics or you might learn kung-fu in your free time..it helps a lot. Really! I think thebest way is to adopt a pet or if you have one just talk with it about your problems.. even if it won’t listen, you would feel good. TY..(My comment went too large, I see.)

      Reply

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