How I Overcame Self-Doubt & Started Living the Authentic Life I Always Dreamed About

We all experience feelings of self-doubt from time to time. Often, we don’t even realize that these feelings have crept up on us and soon, a tiny little voice in our head is telling us how imperfect we are, how we’re going to fail and how all our past experiences are perfect examples of why we just can’t do something!

Girl, Stop!

These tiny voices, as small as they are, can at times incapacitate and cripple us, making us believe that we can’t do more than we set out to. As a result, we stop doing anything that could potentially help propel us in the direction of our goals.

If you’re constantly living with self-doubt, find it hard to live with courage and always seem to second guess your decisions, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re going to look at self-doubt in a little more detail and ways in which you can overcome self-doubt.

What is self-doubt and how do I identify it?

Self-doubt is better defined as feelings of uncertainty about one or more aspects of yourself. It’s a voice inside your head telling you that you’re not good enough. It’s a form of second guessing and to some extent, a lack of confidence regarding yourself and your ability to do certain things. These thoughts often hold you back from succeeding and achieving your true ability.

Here’s the thing though… self-doubt is not a rare phenomenon. It occurs more often then you think and often when we’re not confident in our own abilities.

There are three major forms of self-doubt that you should know about: 1) Imposter syndrome, 2) self-sabotage and 3) indecisiveness. 

Imposter syndrome – this is the illogical fear of others seeing you as a fraud or undeserving of your accomplishments.

Self-sabotage – this form of self-doubt refers to undermining yourself, your values and your goals.

Indecisiveness – this entails struggling to make big or small decisions for fear of making the wrong decision.

What causes self-doubt?

There are many factors that contribute to a person doubting themselves. These factors can range from narcissistic people in our lives to past experiences to fear of failure to our very own inner critic. Let’s look at these in greater detail.

Narcissistic influences

Having unhealthy or narcissistic people around you often tend to influence your viewpoint. These individuals always have something negative to say or expect something to go wrong in every situation. This often influences your own mindset and causes you to become too modest or unconfident and, in turn, question your own actions.

Past experiences

Our past experiences often shape who we are and how we see others and the world around us. These past experiences and setbacks often leave us with some form of self-doubt, thinking that the same outcome will occur again.

Fear (fear of failure and fear of success)

There are two forms of fear – that is the fear of failure and the fear of success. The fear of failing and not being able to achieve what you did in the past versus the fear of not being to replicate past successes often holds us back and causes a huge amount of self-doubt. 

How to know when you’re doubting yourself?

Here are four easy signs to help you identify that you’re doubting yourself.

  1. You struggle accepting compliments from others and you rarely give yourself credit for the things you’ve accomplished.
  2. You constantly seek reassurance from others.
  3. You question your ability and whether you’re capable of carrying out certain tasks or activities.
  4. You never feel like you’re good enough.

How to Identify Self-Doubt?

Understanding the different forms of self-doubt helped me pinpoint exactly what I was struggling with. It’s crazy how self-doubt can show up in different forms and different ways at the most unexpected of times but understanding which form of self-doubt I was dealing with, helped me find easy ways to deal with it. For example, sitting around a boardroom table always used to give me some form of anxiety because I was a lot younger than many of my colleagues. I questioned if I ever had any value to add to those conversations because how could someone (a woman), so young and with just five years of experience know more than an older male with 25 years of experience? Right? Wrong!

I now know that was a form of imposter syndrome. If I look back to all those meetings and what others were saying, I think I would have added more value than some of the other people speaking around the table and helped the company achieve faster, more cost-effective solutions.

Being able to identify the form of self-doubt you are experiencing helps compartmentalize what you are feeling and helps you deal with it in the right way. So you can take action when quickly and when the time is right, and not miss opportunities.

How to overcome fear and self-doubt?

Now that we understand what self-doubt is and how to identify it, here are some easy steps to help you overcome it.


The fear of making a mistake is a big one but remember when you were younger? It was okay to make mistakes! We laughed them off, picked ourselves up and tried again. Mistakes are how we grow and how we improve ourselves. It’s how we improve our skills – one small step at a time.

Somehow, the older we got, the more conscious we became about making mistakes. What will people say? What if I look silly? What if people laugh me?

Hey! Gorgeous! What if we forget about all those insignificant people and just live our best life where we grab every single opportunity and experience?

What do you think would happen then? How would you feel?

Practice using affirmations

Affirmations have been one of the best things I’ve introduced into my life. It might sound like a silly thing to do, but trust me, verbalizing positive sayings about where you want to be, and what you want to achieve as if it has already happened is so empowering. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say three positive affirmations, as if they have already happened. You’ll start looking at yourself differently. Trust me on that one.


Think back to your past achievements. This is a great way to remind yourself of what you’re capable of achieving. Sit down and make a list of all the great things you’ve done and the times you felt proud of yourself. Let that be a reminder of what you’ve done and of the strength and capability you have inside of you.

Reflect but don’t dwell

Self-reflection is a great tool to boost your confidence, but there is a fine line between self-reflection and living in the past. Use your list to remind you of what you’re capable of but don’t dwell there. Focus on the lessons learnt, get your confidence boost and then move to the present so you can achieve bigger and better things.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Measuring yourself against others, whether it be a colleague, a family member or even someone on social media can certainly bring up feelings of self-doubt. Don’t do it!

Easier said than done, I know, but you’ve got to remember that everyone’s life is different and someone doing well at something does mean you’ll never succeed. Instead use it as motivation of where you want to be. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on YOU and the steps you need to take to get to same place or go even further.

Screen your thoughts

Sometimes our own thoughts can be our limiting factors. Negative thinking is unfortunately a habit that many of us experience and it often, unknowingly, leads to self-doubt. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a step back and question how accurate those thoughts really are. Ask yourself, do these thoughts help me or do they limit me? Take a step back for a moment and regroup. Often realizing you are having these limiting thoughts helps you to stop and change them there and then. Practice using your positive affirmations in moments like these.

Surround yourself with positive and supportive people

I can’t stress to you how important this step is. Ever heard of the saying, if you sleep with the dogs, you’re bound to get fleas?

Now apply this to everyday life – if you surround yourself with negative people who are constantly looking for the bad in situations, who constantly make you doubt in your abilities and who constantly bring some form of negative energy to your life – well it’s almost guaranteed to rub off on you too. It’s unfortunate that some people just won’t support you and constantly bring negative energy. It’s a fact of life, but remember, they are not on your level. Leave them to fight their fight.

Here, at Life of Shal, we’re all about spending time with people that is good for our mental health! Choose to be around people that make you feel good, build you up and encourage you.     


Journalling has been one of the biggest game changes for me. At first, I started it as a hobby because I literally have lists for everything. I thought it would be a great way to hold all my lists in one place and release some creative energy, but I never realized the benefits journalling would bring!

Your journal is all about YOU and what you want to record so that you can stay on track with your life and your goals. Whether it’s a list of what you’re thankful for, a list of what you want to achieve in one month, three months or six months from now – journalling is a great way to bed down everything in your head and visualize what you want to get done and what you’re feeling.

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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