Self-Doubt: It’s not a Little Problem

Recently I have come to see just how insidious self-doubt is and how it plays out. I once viewed self-doubt as something that was just there, that I accepted as a normal part of being a human being and that it was something that I couldn’t change.

I know there have been times in my life when I would feel the Truth of a matter ever so strongly. I knew exactly what had happened, what had played out and why – but I would not hold it. Instead I would hang on to something that was said about me, and it was this aspect that would have my full attention. From here I would be pulled into the black hole of confusion and doubt, swept to a place far away. I would so easily let go of the Truth that I had felt and would make things complicated, defer to another’s opinion or the majority view, become confused or upset, or even want others to feel it as I did, although they did not.

At times I found myself standing alone, where the Truth that I felt wasn’t confirmed by those around me and it was this aspect for a long time that I found most difficult. 

In the past few months I have been provided with many opportunities to feel the game of self-doubt in its true colours. These opportunities have been quite amazing in fact, but it was a situation between a group of people that provided me with the opportunity to observe and to understand in greater depth just how destructive self-doubt is in our lives. That was the light bulb moment that inspired me to give up the self-doubt game.

I was reading through a Facebook thread and noticed that initially some of the comments were very sure and certain – concrete in fact. Another person came in and planted ‘the seed of doubt’ – a person who is very much respected. As I read through the thread, I began to see how those who had commented initially became more and more wobbly and then other people commented in doubt as well. I was surprised at how easy it was for people to lose their confidence, their authority, their assurance in what they had initially felt. How easy it is for Truth to be buried when it comes to the surface, although it is never hidden for long.

Although for a lot of my life I have been a bit wishy-washy, never sure about myself, and searching for right and wrong instead of what is true, what I have come to know is that when I do feel Truth, I feel it in my body with an assurance and an unshakable knowing. 

Although there is often an opposing energy that comes into play at these times – to tip us over, to make things complicated and to bring in doubt – we must learn to back ourselves all the way and be mindful of our own false beliefs that are always at play.

One of the things that really stood in my way at such times is that I did not want to be irresponsible. I knew that I held hurts, and that at times those hurts tainted my view of things and so I quickly let go of my Truth. I did not want to be arrogant and hold on to what I felt was a Truth, just in case I was completely off track and was fooling myself. For instance, a situation that presented numerous times was where someone would verbally berate me, using particular words in their accusations. If they said I was controlling, for example, then I would bury what I felt was really happening in that moment and go into self-doubt.

It played on my knowing that in the past (or in my life) there were times when I was controlling in my behaviour and this was the very thing that would unravel me, as I began to unreasonably question and interrogate myself about whether I was being controlling again and not open enough to see it. My focus left the initial feeling or reading of the Truth and became all about me. It’s a tricky and underhanded technique, but on me it worked every time.

What I came to learn though is that Truth is a very solid aspect felt within ourselves – a place where there is no emotion, not an ounce. We must hold it firmly and if there is more to feel, life will simply present that to us and all we will need to do is be open for the ‘more’. This allowed me to honour my Truth, but allow expansion and greater understanding of any part of the situation that needed to be learned, should it be offered. In other words, if we don’t learn something in full the first time, there is always another loving opportunity offered, to have another go. This is the blessing!

If we don’t know who we are, if we don’t know that we are Love, then we are easily played with. If we feel we are not worthy, not gorgeous, not enough, not beautiful, not intelligent, not knowing, not graceful, not sexy – or if we simply do not appreciate all that we know ourselves to be – then we provide an opening for the game of self-doubt to play with us, enhancing the doubt in ourselves that already exists.

Honouring the Truth that we feel is not to be arrogant nor fight another with vengeance. It is about being open to hear what another has to say, to be honest about our own reactions, to consider and feel for its Truth in our body, and to be open to learn and understand what the situation offers us in our evolution. We must register the energy that is felt behind all that comes through us and to us. Whilst people can be very influential, charming in fact, and argue a good case, it is the energy in our body that is the marker of Truth.

Self-doubt flows out to affect not only ourselves, but others around us, people who have the tendency to play with self-doubt too. From this, I can see the level of responsibility that is offered. Self-doubt is not a silly little thing that we do and cannot stop – it’s a choice.

From here it is clear that staying steady in the tension, connected to ourselves, and backing what we feel all the way, has never been more important. Self-doubt is not a harmless little thing that we do – it has consequences; it opens the door to thoughts that are dripped in ever so quietly, only to spread through us and out to others too.

Self-doubt is not a little problem: it’s a big problem, and has big ramifications. Self-doubt is rife when we live a life from right and wrong, instead of what is true. It holds us back from expressing who we are, from voicing what we feel and from acting as is needed. A tiny seed of doubt can easily become a forest so thick that we cannot find our way, and that was once the nature of self-doubt for me.

By Maree Savins, Education Outreach Coordinator – Tertiary Education, Australia

Related Reading:
No Doubt
Self-Doubt, Ostriches and Clairsentience
The Importance of Expressing Truth

184 thoughts on “Self-Doubt: It’s not a Little Problem

  1. The moment we get caught in right and wrong we are already disconnected from the truth we know. For me truth is very clear it either is or it isnt, there is no middle ground. The moment I use the word should I do this or that I know that I am not connecting and effectively trying to please or appease something or someone outside of myself.

  2. The very fact that self doubt is in our live can, if we choose, affect everything. I know as I’ve shared before that it can be debilitating yet what I love is how you share how you’ve come to a way of living that means self doubt is not longer the master of you, but a choice and one that you (like all of us) are equally responsible for making. A big thing to accept.

  3. “What I came to learn though is that Truth is a very solid aspect felt within ourselves – a place where there is no emotion, not an ounce.” It is true, Truth just is, it needs no qualification because it is felt in every cell of the body. If I wobble and question what I know to be true, I immediately let self doubt in and I then feel I have to justify what I am feeling and this then feeds the self doubt. Self doubt is huge, it is not a small problem, especially in women, so it is great to nominate and weed out all the areas where self doubt can creep in.

  4. When we listen to our inner knowing, we are listening to an intelligence that goes far beyond our limited human perceptions. Self-doubt is just our human-ness attempting to put a spanner in the works so to speak, so that we don’t have to take responsibility for what we are innately perceiving.

  5. Maree, this feels so true; ‘If we feel we are not worthy, not gorgeous, not enough, not beautiful, not intelligent, not knowing, not graceful, not sexy – or if we simply do not appreciate all that we know ourselves to be – then we provide an opening for the game of self-doubt to play with us’. I can feel how important it is that we appreciate ourselves and our qualities and that this builds us and then makes it harder for self-doubt to come in.

  6. This is excellent. It’s so easy to wobble when someone questions us, but if we know the absolute truth in our body we do not have to wobble. Coming back to the body provides us with the solidness we need to stand by ourselves and the truth.

  7. Great blueprint for dealing with self-doubt ‘staying steady in the tension, connected to ourselves, and backing what we feel all the way’. When we connect to Truth we are part of the Plan and self and its companion self-doubt cannot enter. Our responsibility is to choose the energy we align to that does not allow self-doubting thoughts to infect us or influence others.

  8. Self doubt is making it about me and about right and wrong. It is a game I played many times as a way to avoid the power of living in my fullness. It can be there in an instant and ideas about how it or I should be or should be seen play an important part in this insidious game. Making mistakes or being seen as wrong has not been a strong point in myself, since I start to be less arrogant and more honest I acknowledge this is the way to grow, to take responsibility and let it go, to get on living in the love that is me and all of us.

  9. “A tiny seed of doubt can easily become a forest so thick that we cannot find our way” – Well said Maree. It’s a forest we fabricate ourselves, designed specifically to make us feel small and the doubt enormous when really the issues we criticise ourselves about are not often of any real substance.

  10. I have discovered that claiming myself has nothing to do with being right and that it is a fact of life that none of us are perfect. I think (of course I could be wrong ha ha) that a lot of self-doubt I had when younger was tied up with the whole right and wrong thing which has nothing whatsoever to do with truth or love. Truth and Love are what count.

  11. When our inner authority is compromised, giving our power to others is far more likely… and each time we do this it further erodes our ability to back ourselves.

  12. When I am feeling connected and still no doubt can actually enter. When it does it is a sure opportunity to reflect on the moment I disconnected from that stillness and why.

  13. When you are caught in right and wrong, the very moment that you surrender to your own truth and back it, it feels like you freed yourself from your own self imposed prison.

  14. I have found if I trust what I feel and also be open to listening to what people have to say, without judgement, the need to justify or convince anyone, I easily connect to truth and have more loving interactions with people.

  15. Maree, i have been discovering lately that when i take a photograph lately it is always the first one that is the best; the preceding ones become more contrived; less natural and more self conscious. In the same way when we are asked a question, there is the first impulsed response, so often beautifully expressed by young children and then there is the self doubt, the moments the mind begins to self interrogate and question, where we begin to calculate and measure our response.

    1. Yes, that is excellent, trusting your intuition works really well – sometimes it can be a reaction but we can learn the difference.

  16. Would the opposite of self-doubt be confidence? I experience two types of confidence – one is mental, based on thoughts and can be easily undermined by other thoughts – those of self-doubt. The other type of confidence comes from the body. There can still be doubt but it is harder for the doubt to have as big an effect.

    1. True confidence comes from our body and the way we move: when we are with ourselves, feeling what’s going on in and around us, it’s harder for self-doubt to creep in.

    1. This is great Kathleen, ‘self’ first is on the way to honesty, which is before we get absolute honesty.
      ‘It is about being open to hear what another has to say, to be honest about our own reactions, to consider’, to feel, ‘and to be open to learn and understand what the situation offers us in our evolution.’

  17. Self doubt also confuses others as they often see us and our potential much more clearly that do we ourselves so when we present this watered down version they become weary.

  18. Self doubt is dangerous indeed.. it can get to the point where the perception we hold of ourselves isn’t even true.

  19. A superb deconstruction of self doubt full of many pearls to consider. Your commitment to truth is inspirational. I love that you have exposed that when we are hurt, our perception becomes tainted so that we are blinded to or let go of the truth. It is beautiful however that with a commitment to it, life will lovingly present opportunities to remind you of what you have allowed yourself to wander from. A blessing that offers us another chance to be responsible and not let anything get in the way of it.

  20. “we must learn to back ourselves all the way”, what a great reminder that we are our own parent, lover, friend and colleague, we confirm ourselves.

  21. Once we start paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, it is quite incredible at just how much self doubt is behind many of our habits and patterns of behaviour. Your blog is a wonderful expose on the energy of self doubt, thank you!

  22. Self-doubt is part of self-abuse: it’s the dismissal and denial of what we can feel and know to be true, and overriding this with our right and wrong constructs from our mind. When we allow in those thoughts of self often enough, we erode our self worth and our confidence in what we can feel and know to be true.

  23. I love this blog, it resonates a lot with me and my experience of self-doubt, especially how I would undermine my feeling of truth because what if I was being arrogant, judgemental, controlling etc as I may have been in the past. But when I hold myself to these past actions, mistakes and situations I allow myself no space to move forward and choose differently.

  24. This is so helpful, Maree, as it shows me how I still allow self-doubt to take over in certain situations. I love what you say about ‘backing ourselves all the way’ and honouring the truth that we feel in the moment even if there is more to learn ahead.

  25. Self doubt feels self deprecating, self denigrating, and a way of avoiding the authority we each have and avoiding claiming in full our lived experiences, what we feel, what we instantly know. A game that when we play it gives everyone else permission too also play it.

  26. I used to think that there was mainly a right or wrong decision to make, and would spend ages with ‘what if ?’ doubting myself whether the choice was correct. More recently I feel into what is the choice about something that feels true to the body, and then i go with it. Sometimes it can be a lengthy process but as it develops, it becomes clearer sooner.

    1. I can relate Gill, doubting myself about my decision making has been a painful experience most of my life. Now I am also learning that the Truth is in my body and the feeling of absolute takes away those feelings of doubt. At times I do not always fully understand the messages from my body, but I am learning to trust that my body knows more than my mind.

    1. I agree Rachel, learning to clock and listen to those first impulses rather than choosing to ignore them has changed the way I relate to myself and therefore everything else.

  27. Could it be life is ‘about being open to hear what another has to say, to be honest about our own reactions, to consider’, to feel, and to be open to learning? Otherwise the lies that create the self doubt seeds, which are lived in our body and are perpetuated by our movements, so that their is no way we can see honesty because we feel the lies as a truth. Our movements are also our spoken words are they not?

  28. ‘…we must learn to back ourselves all the way and be mindful of our own false beliefs that are always at play.’ super interesting – i had not really considered that we could be the cause of our own self-doubt through our own ill beliefs.

  29. I am so pleased I read this today, I know I will come back to it as well, because what you have shared can seep into many corners and live unnoticed until you find yourself questioning something you originally felt to be true just because another person disagrees with you! It is a work in progress but I do see how the body is very clear about what is truth and what is not and trust that situations will come around to share with us if we have more to learn about a particular pattern of behaviour that is holding us back from living all that we are to simple be in all that we do.

    1. Yes, it is a work in progress, Lucy, but I love how this blog cuts through the game of self doubt and gives authority back to the body.

  30. I used to think self-doubt was something that was inside of me and was more something that was who I am, but know I know that it is something external and I have a choice as to whether I let it in or not.

  31. Self doubt is indeed a game, when I understood this it was far easier to get myself out of it when I felt it come in.

  32. It’s easy to spot the things that don’t belong, such as Self-doubt, when we don’t see the same in nature. When did you last see a bird never leaving a branch because it’s having self doubt issues about flying? When was the last time you saw a flower bend away from the sun because it became concerned it wasn’t doing it correctly? Sounds ridiculous but these are the sort of innate movements that we are doubting as humanity.

    1. Oh I love these simple examples you give here Michael. It makes it so very clear how very unnatural self doubt is, or in your words ridiculous.

  33. ‘we must learn to back ourselves all the way and be mindful of our own false beliefs that are always at play.’ – How true, the games that our minds are playing are relentless and it takes vigilance and true awareness to not be at it’s mercy.

  34. Reading just the first paragraph I have to ask myself what else do I consider as just a normal part of being a human being that I have let exist without question or focus on changing? What if it were not just possible but natural to live without anxiety, or competition or anger and frustration or even judgement? I know that I’m not perfect by any stretch but I also know that each of these I used to experience on an intense daily basis are now subsiding as I feel more appreciation of myself and others and a greater understanding.

  35. “Instead I would hang on to something that was said about me, and it was this aspect that would have my full attention. From here I would be pulled into the black hole of confusion and doubt, swept to a place far away.”

    This is a great image of what happens when we ‘travel’ with something that is not true, if we do not cut it early, it is like traveling into a big black hole that is far far away and it can feel like an arduous trek back to you.

    The trick is to cut it off as it happens, to see the tiny seeds as they get planted and pull them out of the ground, roots and all, so they cannot take root and send you to that black hole.

  36. What you delineate here Maree is a very common pattern amongst us of going into self-doubt: ‘One of the things that really stood in my way at such times is that I did not want to be irresponsible. I knew that I held hurts, and that at times those hurts tainted my view of things and so I quickly let go of my Truth. I did not want to be arrogant and hold on to what I felt was a Truth, just in case I was completely off track and was fooling myself.’ I is a false openness that has fooled so many of us.

  37. I have come to know.. that when I am connected to myself, when I am not all caught up in emotions or rushing away being too busy again for example…. then there is no room for self doubt. Self doubt only shows up when I have lost my connection. Self doubt is not me or my natural part of being. Self doubt comes about when I have aligned to another form of energy and I am running on auto pilot. Read my blog on auto pilot and you will understand. https://truthaboutuniversalmedicine.com/2013/05/31/connection-choice-energy-are-you-the-pilot-or-is-autopilot-running-you/

  38. It is well worth surrendering and allowing life to naturally unfold rather than seeking to control or manipulate an outcome.

  39. Very true Maree, self doubt if left alone to grow and fester, can indeed become a huge problem. I know for me I was so full of self doubt in my younger years, I would not always honour what I felt and this created the opening for so much doubt to enter, which is just not nice for anyone.

  40. At times I found myself standing alone, where the Truth that I felt wasn’t confirmed by those around me and it was this aspect for a long time that I found most difficult. I can very much relate to this, second guessing myself or going into doubt and making myself wrong, thinking the other person would know more than me. When the self doubt came in, it linked in with my need to be nice, good, and do the right thing. all of which are an absolute illusion and not part of love. When I doubt myself, I’m forgetting in that moment the power of my own absoluteness love.

  41. Yes, it is astonishing how we can hold ourselves in judgement for past choices and do not trust our inner knowing, giving ourselves the chance to choose in truth this time.

  42. Wow Maree I have seen you evolve into a power-house writer – truly inspiring me to write. In fact I felt to write a blog on a subject which I have not felt for some time..
    Self-doubt is an emotion that is a reaction to the truth. For it to be a reaction truth has already been felt. The trick is to know this and take those steps back towards the truth that has already been felt. If those steps are not taken you will be ‘taken’ into the depths of being hard on yourself or bashing yourself. We always have a choice, or, better still we have truth already there to claim and express as-our-truth.

  43. There’s no doubt about this aspect of self-doubt: it takes a strong sense of self to hold our ground when strong, practised and respected voices chime in. And it’s a fine line between knowing when to not hold back, and ensuring we don’t veer into the type of conversation that de-rails a group or project.

  44. Doubt has been for long time my friend in life, but it has not brought me any more than a life filled with sorrow, lack of self worth and void of love I craved so much. I found that it was my disconnection from this love, that I missed so much, that disconnection from the love that naturally resides in me, made me doubt in the first place and in fact turned my life the other way round as it naturally can be.

  45. It was observation of a situation that then let you see the effects of self-doubt – behaviours that made no proper sense, that inspired you to make these life changing shifts. A great example of the power of observation.

  46. Self doubt can be so insidious, that it can catch us out very quickly if we do not stay focussed and connected with knowing who we are. By constantly returning to this inner knowing, it becomes much easier to remain steady and not be influenced by anything that may attempt to make us ‘think’ otherwise.

  47. I was sort of brought up with everything being about right and wrong with little feeling put into it, and there was always a bit of a thin line between the two which could be bent a little to serve a different purpose, so there was always the seed of doubt but, as we know with truth it is absolute.

  48. Maree, it feels really important for us to appreciate ourselves – our unique qualities and lived experiences that we bring to the world, rather than focussing on our perceived flaws or something we think we may have done wrong; ‘if we simply do not appreciate all that we know ourselves to be – then we provide an opening for the game of self-doubt to play with us’

  49. This is such a powerful description of how we are ‘pulled into the black hole of confusion and doubt, swept to a place far away.’ For that is how it happens and we choose that for ourselves for whatever purpose.

  50. As someone who has greatly contributed to the general pool of ‘self-doubt’ we as women so frequently subscribe to I can speak from some authority that it is an entirely false and illusionary state of being. It has been my greatest excuse to not step up or live the magnificence I was so capable of… and I see this apply to every woman I meet who expresses self-doubt, just as I did, and still sometimes do. Cornering it as a falsity is very helpful however, rather than entertaining it as a deeply held personal issue that has merit and substance.

    1. Well said Jennifer, When we really call out the falsity that self doubt truly is, and give power to the truth of all we are, it starts to have less of an apparent hold over us. That is they key I find, and as serial self doubter in the past, to give energy to the truth instead, and swing the balance back again until it looses its momentum.

  51. It shows we need to broaden the definition of medicine to be seen beyond just our physical and emotional ailments and pains but our broader state of being. In affect by seeing medicine as we currently do we are accepting that having self doubt is normal when in truth it is just as impact-full as something like cancer
    Just with different outcomes.

  52. Maree – A deep appreciation of the depth of your expression that is coming through in several blogs written by you and being published at this time – they are all deeply inspiring and on topics that are relatable to by all.
    Thank you for the reflection your bring here.

  53. An awesome expose of self doubt Maree, I really loved reading it. Yes, self doubt is not a little harmless thing and it is seemingly contagious. We have a responsibility just as you say to not profligate it.

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