What is self-doubt telling us?

Jan 9, 2018 | 3 Principles, Business Coaching, Executive Coaching, Personal Development

Are those nagging, doubtful feelings telling you about your abilities, or something else?

What creates self doubt?

Let me start this by asking you a question…  Why do people experienced self doubt?  Is it because of:

  1. Their abilities and the circumstance in question?
  2. Their thoughts?
  3. Both?

95% of people who read this will answer “3. Both”. How do I know this? We all have a deep knowing that our thoughts affect our feelings, so when someone points to this it feels true.  Thoughts and feelings both being generated from within.  Yet it looks like our circumstances and abilities are also playing a part.  This is the illusion of the human experience and we are conditioned to believe that this is the case.  But it only happens one way.  Self doubt is created from within.  Bear with me on this…

We all know that the earth orbits the sun, don’t we?  Yet it looks like the sun orbits the earth doesn’t it?  It comes up on one side of the horizon and goes down on the other.  But if I posed the same questions, the answer cannot be ‘both’ can it?  So why would it be for the human experience?  if self doubt was from abilities/circumstance, then it would always be the same 100% of the time. Yet we could have an experience on one occasion and feel self-doubt, and on another occasion feel confident.

self doubt

What creates self doubt – thought or the circumstance?


What does Self Doubt mean?

The ‘problem’ (so to speak) with self doubt is that people take it seriously. They believe that their doubtful feelings are some kind of instinct warning them that they might fail, and so they really shouldn’t do the thing they are doing.  Or they really need to be careful that they don’t get found out that they aren’t actually any good at what they are doing.  Or they need to work really hard to get better at it, and apply mental techniques to overcome this feeling.  However this isn’t what self-doubt is telling them at all.  All the feeling of self doubt is doing, is alerting them to the fact that they are experiencing thought about their abilities in that moment.  The thought is neutral. It is not the truth, or relevant, it’s simply a construction from within.  It is not an instruction.

We all experience thousands of thoughts a day, many of which we dimiss as irrelevant or nonsense immediately.  Like the thought I had about which of my cousins is the most normal…. Irrelevant AND nonsense!  So I didn’t make anything of it – other than it being an interesting illustration of the fact that we have plenty of thoughts all the time that we don’t need to take seriously.  Thoughts of doubt about your ability are no more signficant that my musing on which of my cousins was the least quirky (we’re all pretty weird by the way).

All that self doubt means, is that you are thinking.  You are experiencing thought in the moment.  Your thoughts have gone a bit wayward, so the doubtful feeling is a kind message from your body to let you know that you have temporarily forgotten how able you really are.  It’s your body’s way of letting you know that you have got caught up in thought, and thus you are blocking the path of your innate ability and intelligence.

self doubt thoughts

When experiencing self-doubt, your thoughts are blocking your wisdom.

What should you do about self doubt?


You weren’t expecting that answer were you?  And why would you!  We exist in a society where ideas around positive thinking techniques are pervasive in the field of self help, so no doubt you were expecting me to suggest something that you need to do to change how you feel.  The truth is that the way that you feel will change on its own.  That’s how your psychological immune system works.  It’s a self correcting system.  We move from a state of being caught in thought and ‘bound up’ to a state of free flowing energy and wisdom.  Self doubt is simply telling you that you are bound up.  Caught in thought.  All you need to do is know that the system will correct itself.  If you try to do something about it, you are trying to fix what isn’t broken and you will stay in the bound-up self doubting state for longer. Affirmations do not work in the long term!

Self doubt is telling you 100% that you are thinking and 0% about your abilities.  Do nothing about it and soon enough your self doubt will have been replaced with a different experience.  The system is perfect and the problem is out of your hands.  What a relief!

Want to explore this further?

That’s what I love to hear!  I do coaching with individuals or groups on this inside out understanding.  Please get in touch to have a chat – no obligation, let’s just see how we get on.  Or you may be interested in attending one of my events.  See my Eventbrite page for what’s coming up.

Want to know more about how I can help? Drop me a line or give me a call. A successful coaching relationship depends upon a great rapport, so it’s important to talk. I want to get to know you, see inside your world and we can assess how we’d go from there!