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  • Writer's pictureAli McNab

Confidence and Self-Doubt

Confidence! Such broad concept, it can mean something different to each of us. But what actually is confidence? What does Confidence mean to you?

According to the Oxford Dictionary confidence is:

"the trust in one's abilities, qualities, and judgement"

It therefore stands to reason that when we doubt our own abilities, qualities and judgement our confidence drops.

The link between Confidence, Self-Esteem and Self-Doubt:

Self-confidence, Self-esteem and Self-doubt are different things!

Self-esteem relates to the way you feel about yourself, how you value your own worth and ability, the pride and self-respect you have in yourself. A huge impact on Self-esteem is how you compare yourself to others!

Self-confidence relates to your external experiences i.e. your relationships and how you experience your interactions with others and with situations.

Self-doubt relates to your trust and faith in yourself (your skills, abilities, appearance and behaviour). It is present in everyone’s life to some extent. It can be healthy at some level, reminding us that we’re not always right. It can cause a fleeting hesitation before you do something, or it can be more long-term and debilitating stopping you from progressing or achieving what you want to achieve.

Self-confidence can be learned and developed whereas self-esteem is deeply entwined with our personal beliefs and views and therefore far harder to change. Unhealthy levels of self-doubt can contribute to low self-esteem and knock our confidence.

Building confidence

Understanding what is driving your self-doubts, and how to contest them can increase self-esteem and set a strong foundation for self-confidence to grow authentically creating trust and reliability that will lead others to believe and have confidence in you.

This isn’t easy; self-doubt can be deeply ingrained. But if you are willing to take action, make mistakes, learn and grow then change can happen.

The triggers of self-doubt and how to tackle them

Trigger #1

When your ingrained beliefs and view of yourself produces negative thoughts and feelings telling you that you are "not good enough".

Tackling Trigger #1:

Choose better thoughts! Allow yourself to know that you are capable and that if you try this you might fail, but you will learn from that failure which will inform your next step towards success. When you notice these negative thoughts and feelings arising imagine it is your inner-saboteur talking and ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your inner-saboteur leading you to believe about your own capacity, abilities and behaviours?

  • How do you show up (internally and externally) when you hold this belief?

  • What would your inner-coach say about your capacity, abilities and behaviours? How would it respond to the judgements of your inner-saboteur?

Listen to your inner-coach! Draw on your self-compassion to help you nurture your positive self-belief. Question your self-doubts and replace them with these more positive thoughts. Provide yourself with evidence to truly think, feel and know that you can do it, that you have as much worth, right and capacity to succeed as the next person.

Trigger #2

When your values do not align to what you are trying to achieve.

Tackling Trigger #2:

Identify and understand your personal values and recognise where they may be compromised in what you are trying to achieve. Depending on the importance of this value to you; either understand and accept that this is the case (awareness itself often allows us to move on), or change the thing you are doing so it is more aligned to your values.

Trigger #3

When we are unclear on where we are trying to get to - leading to procrastination

Tackling Trigger #3:

  • Create a clear vision and achievable plans to get there. Focus on the small steps (see previous blog on procrastination).

  • Try a visualisation exercise: Imagine yourself at a point in your future. Describe what is going on for you at that point in time and explore how that feels and looks, who's there, what you are doing. Below are links to 3 life-visioning exercises to guide this process - choose the one that you feel most drawn to:

Trigger #4

Trying to do it all on your own

Being alone with your internal thoughts and inner-saboteur can make it harder to listen to your inner-coach. Our inner-saboteur tends to shout louder!

Tackling Trigger #4:

Ask for help, bounce ideas off others, talk about it, create networks of support, speak to a coach!

When you say the things that are going on in your head out loud to others who are prepared to listen you hear it differently. The chaos of thoughts in your head begins to fall into some form of order, direction and focus becomes clearer and motivation grows.

Remember: Changing your personal beliefs is not easy. It is a journey and you may still wobble a bit. Allow yourself to be OK with some element of self-doubt, recognise it as a coping mechanism and listen to what it is telling you.


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