Neil Gaiman, the author of Stardust, said, “I thought of an idea for a story about a small boy who wandered into a graveyard and was raised by dead people. Then, deciding I wasn’t a good enough writer, I didn’t write it.”

But he did eventually publish it as The Graveyard Book, which went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Everyone experiences some form of self-doubt during their lives. Our inner critic raises some questions whenever we set out to do something.

We are often plagued by questions like ‘Am I good enough?’, ‘What if I do something terribly wrong?’ or ‘Do I deserve this?’. These may be determined by internal factors (such as lack of confidence) or external factors (for example, someone who discourages us from succeeding).

Self-doubt is part of the human experience. It’s inevitable and crops up from time to time. You may be afraid to speak up in a business meeting or ask for a raise because you believe you’re not good enough. These are common examples of self-doubt. Most of the time it’s our mental roadblocks that stop us from seeking and exploiting opportunities.

If you’re worried that your self-doubt thoughts will stand in the way of your success, you only need to understand where they’re coming from and how to overcome them. Let’s look at the meaning of self-doubt and some ways to overcome it.

What Is Self-Doubt?

Self-doubt is a mental state that might make you feel incapable of doing something. This can include taking initiative at work, standing up for your rights or even doing something extraordinary like starting your own business.

It’s driven by a lack of confidence and at times, past failures. If you were ever unsuccessful in your career, you may feel discouraged and believe that you don’t have what it takes. For instance, a writer whose manuscript has been rejected by multiple publishing houses may give up on their story altogether.

This is not to say that you can never overcome your self-doubt thoughts or find ways to deal with it effectively. If you’re motivated and have clear intentions, you can even turn your inner critic into your biggest motivator. Read on to know how you can do this.

How To Overcome Self-Doubt

From successful business leaders to famous artists, everyone has brief spells of doubting their capabilities. They feel like they’re just actors playing a role rather than believing in their hard work and success. This is known as impostor syndrome—a common psychological phenomenon that’s based on self-doubt.

Impostor syndrome makes people feel like frauds—like they’ll be exposed and everyone will find out that they’re inadequate. It’s common to feel like you got your job by fluke or it was only by chance that you scored well on a test.

Stephen King, the author of Misery, Cujo and It , said, “I’m afraid of failing at whatever story I’m writing—that it won’t come up for me, or that I won’t be able to finish it.” He worried that his writing would be considered nothing but junk. Today, he’s an acclaimed author credited with some of the highest achievements in the field of literature.

If you leave your self-doubt unchecked, it can hinder you from making progress in your career. Here are some ways to overcome it:

  1. Understand That It Exists

Ignoring the problem is never the solution. You can only address your self-doubt when you acknowledge its presence. Instead of sweeping it under the rug or dusting it off as something you can’t possibly come to terms with, it’s better to deal with it. Downplaying your abilities and believing that you can't do any better will harm you in more ways than you may realize.  

  1. Learn to Work with Your Inner Critic

You shouldn’t try to completely silence your inner critic or your inner voice. Your inner voice may try to push you down and throw your faults at you, but shout out a firm ‘NO’ at it. Work with your inner critic and identify what it’s trying to say and where it’s coming from. It’s simply a manifestation of your thoughts, doubts and worries. If you can solve this mystery, you will be in charge of your mind. 

  1. Surround Yourself with People Who Motivate You

Another way to overcome self-doubt is by surrounding yourself with the right people. You should seek people who have a positive influence on you—the ones who push you to do your best. It’s easy to adapt and get influenced by anyone if we stay with them long enough. So, finding someone who influences you to be your best self can make you realize your potential.

Many things are out of our control. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that life is unpredictable. Under such circumstances, it becomes even harder to stay motivated and challenge ourselves further. Harappa Education’s Embracing Change course will teach you how to adapt to change and how not to interpret your mistakes as failures. It’ll help you learn to become resilient in the face of adversity and deal with setbacks effectively. 


Explore topics such as How to Deal With Insecurities, How to Stop Procrastinating & How to be Mentally Strong from our Harappa Diaries section and overcome self-doubt.

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