Where does self doubt come from

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

To do it or not to do it

Where do self doubts come from?
Why do you sometimes lose faith in your abilities, skills or in your self?
And why in many cases you find two conflicting voices in your head?

I am pretty sure everyone has been there before. Self doubts are characterized by having two voices in your head saying opposite things. While the first voice might be trying to encourage you to take a certain action the second voice might be putting you down and trying to prevent you from doing it.

One popular example of self doubts is when shy people try to start a conversation with strangers or even when they decide to say something in the presence of people they don't know well.

But the important question here is, shouldn't your subconscious mind be working on your side?
And why is it trying to stop you if this goes against your own benefit?

Where does self doubt come from

Let's explore together the sources of self doubts.

  • 1) Wrong beliefs that you acquired earlier In the Ultimate guide to becoming confident i said that self confidence is nothing more than a set of beliefs you have about yourself. If for any reason the wrong belief was acquired then this belief will certainly prevent you from from trusting yourself when doing some activities. If this belief was strong enough then it will inhibit your actions completely while if it was weaker then you will experience a lot of self doubts
  • 2)Poor past experiences: Poor past experiences is one of the common reasons that lead to self doubts. The human mind was designed to help us humans avoid pain. And since rejection is considered one type of pain we tend to avoid activities that might involve rejection. Now if you failed to do something in the past then your mind will always want you to avoid that experience not to repeat it once again. See How your past affects your present
  • 3)No experience at all: When i talked about building self confidence i said that total lack of experience can certainly result in self doubts. After all self confidence is built as you succeed in doing things you have never done before but before doing those things it's totally normal to experience some self doubts
  • 4)Past discouragement: When a child constantly gets discouraged by its parents then the child will probably develop lots of self doubts. Now when that child attempts to do something the self doubts might show up
  • 5) Past criticism: Strong criticism can result in letting a person develop self doubts. When a person attempts to do something they will remember all the related criticism they received before. Self-critical people also get self doubts because they usually treat themselves harshly when they fail. See The effect of criticism on children

What to do about that

As you just saw a certain amount of self doubt is normal but once those doubts exceed a certain limit then probably you need to take some actions.

One of the biggest mistakes people do when they have self doubts is that they avoid doing the tasks they were about to do. This only increases self doubts, adds one more failed experience to their minds and makes it even harder for them to do that thing later on.

To end self doubts you need to move forward and succeed in whatever you were trying to do. If you failed again then you must learn how to see things correctly in order not to acquire new false beliefs as a result of this failure.

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