In William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, the Bard wrote, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Despite being more than 400 years old, it speaks the truth: self-doubt sucks. So how do we overcome self-doubt? Here are five things to do every morning to help you focus on the positive and keep negative thoughts at bay.
1. Write in a Journal
Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a novel. But when you wake up, make a note of the things you're grateful for and the things you’ve accomplished. (Even if it’s just “I finally went to the grocery store yesterday, so I don’t have to spend money on a $12 salad for lunch.”) Voicing the positive aspects of your life puts everything into perspective, and often makes you realize there are a ton of great things that are sometimes overshadowed by doubt.
2. Don’t Rush Your Routine
Ever notice how you doubt yourself way more when you’re stressed? Yeah, that’s a thing. Mindfulness is a fantastic way to reduce stress and, in turn, quell self-doubt. Slowing down reduces stress and calms your mind and body. When you stop rushing through everything, it’s easier to think clearly and maintain an optimistic outlook. A simple way to put this into practice is to try mindful eating. The first step? Put down your phone or computer and focus on actually enjoying every single bite of your food.
3. Save Your First Instagram Scroll for Mid-Morning
According to a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, a group of people who pledged not to log onto Facebook for a week reported being happier than a group who used the site as usual. We’re not saying you should quit social media altogether, but consider waiting until later in the day to scroll through your Insta feed. (But if you notice that you always feel edgy or stressed after looking at your friends’ vacations and fun nights out, it might be worth cutting social media out cold turkey.)
4. Repeat a Short Mantra
We don’t mean a mantra in the transcendental meditation sense, but find a couple of words of encouragement you can say to yourself each morning. It can be as simple as “You got this,” or “I’m a total badass.” Adopt a brief pep talk for whenever doubt creeps in. The more you say it, the more you’ll believe it—trust. (Need a mantra? We have some ideas.)
5. Embrace It
No matter how hard you try to push it away, that sinking self-doubt feeling can come creeping in when you least expect it, like when you get a promotion at work. This is just a fluke, your mind might try to tell you. Soon, everyone will find out how incapable I really am. "Most people don't talk about it," says psychologist Suzanne Imes, PhD, who coined the term "imposter syndrome." “Part of the experience is that they're afraid they're going to be found out.” Try to remember that everyone feels this way sometimes. And as hard as we may try, eliminating doubt entirely can be tricky. The key is to acknowledge it and move on. Instead of letting it control your actions, recognize that it’s there—and that a certain amount of self-doubt is completely OK.