One of the most common misconceptions about highly successful people is that once they reach high level of success, the work is over and they don’t doubt themselves any longer, like we do. The reality is, successful people have to deal with even higher amounts of self-doubt, they are simply better at managing it.

Whenever we decide to move to a higher level of our lives, we’re always plagued with self-doubt. Unfortunately, many of us will avoid going to another level just to escape the discomfort that come with it.

On this episode of Life Coach School, we get into the nitty-gritty of the negative thoughts of self-doubt, why they occur and what we can do to prevent them from stopping us in our tracks. Tune in to hear some actionable advice and arm yourself with some amazing tools to combat this “beast” that often inhibits our chances of making our dreams become true!

What you will discover

  • Why very successful people seem like they never doubt themselves.
  • The reason why most of us avoid going to another level of our lives.
  • Why we avoid writing down out goals.
  • How our opinions of obstacles breed self-doubt.
  • Step-by-step process you can use to minimize your self-doubt.

Featured on the show

Episode Transcript

Welcome to The Life Coach School podcast where it's all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. Now, your host Master Coach Instructor Brooke Castillo.

Hi, everybody and welcome to episode 22. I was just tripping out on this the other day. It means that I have recorded a podcast for you all 22 times in a row. I'm so thrilled with the emails and the comments and the feedback I've gotten from all of you on the podcast. I just really, really appreciate you guys taking the time to do that and I'm really excited about how much you're loving it. It makes it fun to sit down and do it every time. Episode 22, we are going to talk today about self-doubt. I feel like I've been talking about this so much lately because it seems to come up all of the time. It seems to come up with my students, it comes up with my clients, it comes up with my weight coach clients, it comes up with myself.

It's a lot of what I do with my self-coaching practice and some of you asked me about that self-coaching practice and what I do. I just want to offer here that I sit down and really record my thoughts and have a look at them and I do coaching models on my own thinking and I see what I'm creating. Then I also get coaching and a lot of my classes I offer up my own situations and my own struggles as coaching to be coaching on by my students and by my clients. I really I'm involved in my own mind and I do manage it very carefully and whenever I'm in severe emotional turmoil which happens, I sit down and really do that work on myself because it's almost intolerable for me now to just let my mind be running around without supervision.

Because it just creates so many problems within my body and within my life and the results that I get. One of the things that I struggle with a lot is self-doubt. People will say and I think this is so interesting they'll say, "It doesn't seem like you have any self-doubt. It seems like you're very confident." I think that I am confident and I think one of the reasons why I am able to generate confidence is because I do my work on self-doubt but it doesn't mean that self-doubt doesn't come up for me. I think that's one of the misconceptions that people have about anyone who's successful. I think there's this idea that once someone is successful then they are all done with insecurity and they are all done with self-doubt.

We look at people even famous people we think because they are making so much money and because they are doing so well in their lives they can't possibly have, they can't be plagued with the kind of worry and self-doubt and frustration that I am. I think that's completely untrue. I have been doing a lot of study on myself with self-doubt and working with my clients. One of the things that I have decided is true is that whenever you evolve, whenever you decide to go to the next level of your life you're going to be plagued with self-doubt. I think that it's part of the deal and I think that that's why a lot of people don't pursue evolving.

They don't want to keep growing, they don't want to put themselves out there because they don't want to have to deal with the discomfort that comes, that self-doubt that comes with each new evolution. They try and hide and when I say they I mean me. I mean there are so many examples of this in my own life where I really tried to taken escape route away from having to deal with my own self-doubt and with my own frustrations with myself. I just didn't want to do it. I didn't want to have a goal that was so big that it brought up all that crap again and again and again. What I found was that all of those escape route just lead to a different flavor of misery but it still didn't take me into that.

There's this pull that I have, this desire pull that I feel like leads me to the destined life that I have. I think that there is this idea that if we're on the right path and if we're going towards our destiny, if we're following our desires and we're honoring our true wants and our truths that it will feel like rainbows. It will feel like a popsicle on a hot day. I'm just here to tell you, I really feel like I'm living that life and very rarely does it feel like anything but a lot of effort to overcome that negativity within me and I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that we feel like we're entitled to have an easy life and I'm not sure where we picked up on that idea.

I think that we're entitled to have the strength to overcome our obstacles to achieve greatness within ourselves. People say that, "That's such BS. Nobody needs to be working that hard, you're just ambitious." I don't think that's true, I think that there is this sense of pride that you get from overcoming your own crap and working through it and arriving on the other side of it only to start it again. You do get better at it and so every new goal that I write and think about this for yourself. If you don't write goals for yourself, why is that? Why don't you write goals? Is it because it brings up all of your self-doubt and your frustration and your fear?

That's why you don't want to set goals because you can't deal with those emotions? If you do and those emotions come up for you, I'd like you to think about that as a natural progression that that's what's supposed to happen. When I set a goal for myself it's supposed to feel like a challenge, it's supposed to feel like self-doubt. From there, I can do the work to overcome that to become the person that I really want to become. Okay? On top of that, it's really important to remember that self-doubt is a choice. I used to have a yoga teacher and she always used to say, "Doubt your doubt." I love that, I love that like if I'm so good at doubting maybe I should just doubt my doubt.

Doubt my self-doubt and it feels very real when we're having it and it feels like it's something that's come over us but it really is something that we are creating with our minds. What happens is we set those goal and all of a sudden our mind just goes wild. You can't do that, what do you think ... Who do you think you are? You're not capable of that. Your brain wants to stay in this comfortable pattern of efficiency even if the efficiency is creating negative results in your life the brain wants to be efficient. When you start pushing yourself that's when the brain kicks in and says, "It will never work. It's never going to happen." Just notice that that's what it's going to come up.

It doesn't mean that you're not creating it because you are. It's like a natural reaction to growth, okay? It's what self-doubt is, is it's basically thoughts that don't support us in our capabilities. When I say capabilities I mean the capabilities that we can develop and the ones we already have. I believe that our ability to grow is only limited by our self-doubt. Our ability to grow is really our ability to move beyond our own doubtful thinking. I thought about this for a long time so I want to make sure I don't gloss over it. I want to make sure you really just heard that. If you want to grow into the next best version of yourself, whatever that looks like for you maybe it's more money, maybe it's a thinner body, maybe it's better relationships, right?

Then, are you able to face those doubts? Are you able to overcome them? Most people and I am really committed to this and believing this. Most people set goals for themselves or don't even think about setting goals for themselves and they let self-doubt kick their butt. They get to self-doubt, they get to the obstacle and they completely run the other way and they defeat themselves by their own self-doubt. What are you capable of? Think about that, how do you answer that question? How do you know what you're capable of? I would say it's the things we are willing to repeatedly try until we increase our capacity to do them.

I was just coaching someone today and she was telling me that she was really frustrated with her coaching business because she's not making any money. I asked her why she wasn't making any money and she said nothing seems to work. I asked her how many things she had tried and she said less than five and I think it was probably closer to two. Those two things that she tried really required her to overcome a lot of self-doubt just to do those two things but then she really let it kick her butt afterwards because those things didn't work out the way that she had wanted them to. I asked her, I said, "Would you be willing to try 50 things before you came to the conclusion that you're not worthy and that you're not effective and that you're not capable?"

The things we are willing to repeatedly try until we increase our capacity to do them, how many times did it take you to learn something new and think about walking like if you've given up after the first two times of trying to walk you would still be on your butt. Then as we get older we just think, "It should only take one try. If I do it in one try and it doesn't work then forget it. If I go on five dates and I don't find the man of my dreams or ten dates or twenty dates and don't find the man of my dreams then I'm just going to give up dating." If I can't get a client in my business within the first week then I probably shouldn't be a coach.

Just notice that, notice how you doubt yourself or here's one of the examples of how self-doubt looks is, "There are no man out there for me. There's no men I'm going to be able to date." That's self-doubt, right? We call it like we're just doubting the universe but really that we're just doubting that there's anyone that we're going to find. We're doubting our ability, our capacity to find someone we would want to spend the rest of life with. The coaching industry just isn't supportive of what I want to do, okay that's certainly not true because there's a lot of coaches out there killing it right now. You're just doubting yourself and your ability to be a successful coach.

Notice how the flavor of it advocates it but really it's on you. You're doubting your ability. If there's another person that can do and have what you want then your doubt is self-doubt. You're doubting yourself. Our opinions of the obstacles between us and our desired result is what determines how much self-doubt we have. When you think about your goal and you think about what you want to achieve and what is your opinion of the obstacles between you and that. Right? If you want to lose 40 pounds, what are the obstacles to losing 40 pounds? Right? Overeating, going out to eat, fast food restaurants, getting too hungry, eating when you're bored, what are your obstacles?

Then, what is your opinion of each of those obstacles? When I ask that, really what I'm asking is what is your thinking about those obstacles. If you think it's going to be impossible for me not to stop at fast food on the way home, right? That opinion is breeding self-doubt. If your opinion is, "Yes, that will be an obstacle and yes I will face and yes I will deal with it and I will understand it. I will have compassion for it and I will not act on it, I will be in control of my mind and my feelings and my actions." That is going to breed commitment and determination to achieve what it is you want to achieve and it's always a choice. You can always commit, you can always commit to self-doubt or you can commit to your commitment.

You can commit to your goal. It's always a choice. Self-doubt is a pretty knee jerk reaction for most of us. Here's another thing I was talking about today which I think it's interesting. I think as we've evolved as humans, in the past we haven't really had a choice. It wasn't like we could sit there and have someone attacking us or an animal attacking us or be in one of those really dangerous situations and go, "I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this. I don't know if I'm going to be able to outrun this. I don't know if I'm going to be able to survive." Right? We just didn't have time. We didn't have a luxury of sitting around and thinking about what we were capable of, we just either got to work or we didn't and if we didn't we died. Right?

Now, we have so many options, we have so many escape routes for ourselves. One of the things I suggested to this client I was working with was, what if you remove all your escape routes? What if you didn't give yourself so many choices to indulge in self-doubt? Right? What if you just went all in? I'm going in and I know that self-doubt will come with me but I will not entertain it. I will not engage in it. I will listen to it, I will understand it but I will not let it be the boss of me. I am in charge. Okay, this really is an important concept, what is your opinion of the obstacles in front of you? Here's another question to consider when it comes to self-doubt.

What do you think about yourself when you think about yourself? What do you think about yourself when you think about yourself? Right? When you think about obstacles in front of you, when you think about the challenges that you have in front of you and your dreams, do you think you're up for it? Do you think about yourself in a really positive committed determined way? Do you think about yourself in terms of self-doubt? How much do you engage in the self-doubt? Do you remind yourself that confidence is a choice and that self-doubt is a choice? Now, really think about this, when you choose confidence, when you choose to believe in yourself, when you choose to have courage and to know that there's fear.

To know that there's a lot of thoughts that are being threatened when you evolve to the next level. Are you willing to use confidence to fuel you through that? Do you give in to self-doubt and inaction and reaction? Dreams exposed are doubts, that's why it's so amazing to have dreams. I meet a lot of clients who have stopped the dreaming and the reason why is because they don't want their doubts exposed. I say, why wouldn't you want your doubts exposed? Because once you expose them then you can change them. Once you expose them then you know of them and you can see them for what they are which is just thinking about yourself.

Self-doubt is just a thought you're having about yourself, right? The way that you become more confident is by choosing to believe thoughts where your opinion of yourself and your opinion of your doubts are strong and motivating and determined. Here's a process I want you to consider when it comes to self-doubt. First, you have to recognize your self-doubt thinking. It's not easy because self-doubt will trick you into thinking that it's true and that's reality and you're just being realistic. Okay? A way to recognize it is right now think about something you really want, okay? Think about maybe a body you want, an ability you want to develop, maybe you want a large practice of clients, maybe you want a husband, maybe you want a child.

Whatever it is you really want, think about it. Now, immediately once you start day dreaming about it and thinking about having it, your brain will be like self-doubt, self-doubt, self-doubt. Those thoughts will come up. Do not be confused. They are just thoughts, write them down. What are the thoughts that come up? Write them down. Every single one of them. You'll be so amazed, right? When I think about I want to have 5,000 people, 5,000 people sign up for one of my classes. My brain just goes, "This won't work and this won't work. This will be hard. There's not that many people, remember that one person said that they thought life coaching was this and then there was that other ... " It just comes up, there it is all my self-doubt comes flooding to the surface.

I cannot accept it or I can write it down. Recognize it for what it is, self-doubt thinking. Then, notice what you feel and do when you think this way. When you believe this thoughts, when you attach them, what do you feel like? Then, what do you do when you feel that way? Really pay attention because if I have an idea, okay I wanted 5,000 people and then I have all these thoughts like, "That will never work. It's too challenging. Seems like a lot of work, seems hard. I don't really need to do that. I'll just do something else. I don't know ... " right? When I write it all down and then I feel when I read those thoughts I just feel discouraged. I feel doubtful, right? I'm filled with self-doubt and then I take no action and I react to other things that happen, right? I react in a way that brings out more self-doubt for me. Okay?

Then at that point, once I've recognized that pattern that's my point of power and that's when I can decide if I want to continue to attach to and believe those thoughts or if I want to change them. First, I have to recognize that they are thoughts and then next I get to decide if I want to keep entertaining them. Think about this, do you want to believe that you can't be successful of losing weight? Do you want to believe that? Because you are believing it and you're choosing to believe that because you're not choosing to believe something different. I know it doesn't feel like a choice, it feels like it's just true but it's not.

It's a self-doubting thought that you're attaching to and believing that you have a lot of evidence you have created for. Is it a thought you want to keep on thinking? Do you want to think that you can't leave your current job? Do you want to think that your spouse is difficult? Do you want to think that you're not capable of achieving what it is that you want to achieve? Do you want to think that? It is a choice and you have to decide if you want to attach to and believe those thoughts. Please don't skip this step, don't think, "It's obvious, of course I don't want to believe that." You have to decide you don't want to believe it.

Then, you need to ask yourself, what do you want your opinion of yourself to be. What do you want to think about when you think about yourself? What do you want to think about when you think about your dreams? What are you going to choose to focus on? What are you going to choose to tell your mind to think about it? Because each obstacle, each obstacle in your life is going to be an opportunity to doubt yourself or evolve yourself. Now, if you don't have a lot of obstacles in your life it's because you're not dreaming big enough. It's because you're probably hiding because you don't want to have to make that choice between self-doubt and evolving.

Now, here's the thing, paying attention to your mind, making conscious decisions on what you want to believe and what you want to think requires effort and we want to not exert effort. I don't know why but we feel entitled to easy, we feel entitled to someone coming along on a white horse and saving us. We feel entitled to somebody doing it for us. We feel entitled to it being easy straight but that doesn't make us stronger, it doesn't make us better, it doesn't help us evolve. The way that we evolve is by changing the way that we evolve into the best version of ourselves is through effort. You can't evolve by sitting, watching reruns. That's not going to happen.

You're just replaying patterns in your brain and they are not even yours in that case, right? Are you willing to make the effort to pay attention and notice your patterns? Notice what the effect of those patterns are. Are you willing to decide if you want to continue to do that or if you want to deliberately think something different? Are you willing to decide what you want your opinion of yourself to be? Ask yourself these question, do you want to evolve into the next best version of yourself. Do you want to continuously do that and grow? I think this is a question that we lose after college. Maybe even further after that, maybe after our first three promotions.

So many of the people I talked to from their early 40's all the way to their 60's have stopped thinking in that way. When you talk to younger people, they are always thinking about their future, right? "I can't wait until I go to college. I can't wait until I get married. I can't wait till I have kids. I can't wait until I get this promotion. I can't wait to ... " They know that there's going to be a lot of challenges, they know that there's going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of growing, a lot of evolving, right? Then I talked to people in their 40's and 50's and they are not thinking in that same way. They are really focused on their past and they are really focused on what they've already done. They are not focused on the challenges in front of them.

I hear a lot more of, "I don't have anything to look forward to." Their opinion of themselves becomes much more negative. Right? Filled with self-doubt whereas when we're younger it just seems like the young people that I talked to are much more filled with hope and determination and commitment and we need to regenerate that for ourselves as we get older. Right? We need to think about our futures in terms of, are we going to have a future created with self-doubt? Are we going to have a future that was created with commitment and determination? What got you all the stuff you have in your life that you currently love? What got you there? Was it apathy? Was is commitment and determination and self-love and having a high opinion of yourself. Believing in yourself.

Confidence, when we generate that feeling for ourselves with our thinking inspires action and the more action the more we do in the world, the more of a legacy we leave. I think a lot of times when I talk about leaving a legacy people think of that has to be some Oprah style legacy. I don't think that has anything to do with that. I think it has to do with your contribution to yourself, your imprint on your life when you look back on it. Will you have done what you wanted to do? Will you have taken the action you wanted to take or will you have spun out in self-doubt? Right? Because self-doubt creates inaction so if you aren't doing much in your life right now and you know if you're not, what is the reason, the real reason behind that?

Is it because you're filled with self-doubt? If you are filled with self-doubt, what are you making it mean? Because like I mentioned on the first part of this call, self-doubt does not mean that something has gone wrong and in fact self-doubt usually means that you're stretching yourself, that you're asking more of yourself. Right? Usually when we try something new we're like, "I'm not sure I can do this." Right? At that moment, are you going to say, "So I'm not even going to try?" When you've tried it three times and it hasn't worked, are you going to then say, "Okay, that didn't work. I'm not going to do it." Are you going to know that self-doubt will always invite you to quit, will always invite you to have a low opinion of yourself.

Will you know that self-doubt just means you're growing? It just means that's coming up because that's what you get to overcome on your way to getting exactly what it is you want. It means you're evolving and growing and asking something of yourself and challenging yourself and bringing up all the self-doubt, all the stuff that's holding you back. The bigger your goals, the bigger that self-doubt is going to be and that's a beautiful thing because when it comes up you can own it and then you can change it. On the other side of every accomplishment you have so much more confidence and that confidence, that feeling of confidence can be used as fuel to overcome your next full evolvement that will of course promise to have self-doubt.

Because if you fully believed that you could do something you already have it. The only thing keeping you between what you want and what you have now is the belief that you can't have it. If the belief that you can't do it. Right? The only thing preventing you from that belief is self-doubt. Right? It's always going to be the obstacle out in front of you and the only question is are you going to get better at overcoming it so you can go and do even bigger things in your life? Are you going to get better at giving into it and taking no action and reacting to it? You're going to get better at one or the other. There is no other alternative.

You're either going to get better at getting into self-doubt and taking no action or you're going to get better at overcoming it. I want to invite you to know that self-doubt is something that is part of your evolution, it's part of the process and I want to invite you to get really good to commit at getting really good at overcoming it. Answering the question, what do you think about when you think about yourself. I want you to think about how amazing you are, how capable you are and if you can't get there that you are really working on overcoming the self-doubt thoughts that prevent you from having the confidence you deserve.

I really hope that you listen to this as many times as you need to to truly understand that self-doubt does not mean something has gone wrong. It means you're growing, it means that you are in the process of overcoming and becoming the person that you truly are meant to be. Self-doubt does not mean turn around and go home. It means you're on the right path. Have an amazing week everybody. I'll talk to you next week. Bye-bye.

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