One of the biggest challenges we can face in our lives is self-doubt. It interferes with our daily work, personality, and life. Thus, knowing its root cause and its actual causes are important. In this article, we are going to talk about the causes of self-doubt so we can have a better assessment of our lives.
The main root cause of self-doubt is actually the act of comparison. It may be comparison to others such as we think someone is better than us and we have no chance of being like that individual, or comparing ourselves to the past which might come from traumatic experiences.
All of the other causes of self-doubt stems out from comparison. Comparison and self-doubt are not inherently bad as we will discuss later in the article. We are now going to discuss more on this topic as we tackle all of the causes of self-doubt.
What is the root cause of self-doubt?
The root cause of self-doubt is comparison. Every cause of self-doubt usually stems out from the act of comparison. It may be comparing ourselves to others who we think are better than us, or the act of comparing ourselves to our past which brings up questions to our self-worth.
As we now know the root cause of self doubt, we first need to know what self-doubt is really for because it has been with us and has helped humanity survive.
We will discuss a little bit why self-doubt is not an enemy. It can be our friend.
However, too much of every thing is bad and too much self-doubt is really bad.
Self-doubt is actually good in the sense that it is what our ancestors have used in order to save us from harm. Imagine our hunter-gatherer ancestors with no self-doubt.
Reasons Self-Doubt can be a good thing:
- Self Doubt helps us Assess the Situation
- Self Doubt can be a big source of Motivation
- Self Doubt is a Sign of Awareness
- Self Doubt Helps us understand our Boundaries
- Self Doubt can Keep you on Track
It is dangerous as without any self-doubt, our ancestors will attack animals that are way stronger than them unarmed.
Furthermore, self-doubt can become our motivation. When we face challenges, self-doubt can become a big thing to conquer and once we conquer our disbelief in ourselves, other life challenges can be a breeze.
Also, it is a sign of awareness as you will know that you need to improve yourself in order to face life’s challenges. Thus, it helps us understand our boundaries and keeps us on track
But we can not discuss all of these in detail here, I just want you to know that it can be a good thing.
I made an in-depth article regarding the topic of when is self-doubt good and when it is bad. It will discuss how can it be a source of our strength, and how we can avoid making it our weakness. It is a good article to read together with this article: Is self doubt a weakness or strength?
So if you have self-doubt. It can be a good thing. But we are discussing in this article the causes of Bad Self-Doubt.
That is the reason why you need to know the causes and the root of self-doubt. Because unhealthy self-doubt can bring a lot of disaster to your career and life.
Now, let us discuss comparison as the root cause of self-doubt.
Usually, it is the comparison to others and ourselves that keeps us in doubt. This is a big problem especially if self-doubt starts ruining our life and career.
Too much of everything is bad especially self-doubt.
This might come from childhood when you are being compared to others by your parents, or you are being compared in work with the best employee by your boss.
This is bad because once self-doubt gets inside our lives, it can cause us to not do the moves necessary to improve ourselves.
Another reason for comparison as a cause of self-doubt is when we start comparing ourselves to our past. It might be comparing to a successful version or ourselves or comparing with an unsuccessful one.
For example: When we achieve great success in life, we can start doubting ourselves because we think that we do not deserve any praise for our work. This is because we are comparing ourselves to our past which might have no ability to do those achievements.
This ruins your experiences in life and will be very harmful.
Another is when you’ve failed in life. This also have a significant impact on our self-esteem leading to self-doubt.
That is why you will see people who were once successful losing their self-esteem which ultimately bring self-doubt.
This is like a cage that they won’t even try bringing themselves back up again.
That is why comparison is the root cause. Almost every thing about bad self doubt can be traced back to comparison.
But how do you know if you have self-doubt? Sometimes it is lingering within ourselves and is waiting to strike us when we are down. The easiest thing to do is to do self-reflection. I have made an article discussing how to do an effective and simple self-reflection habit or practice which will be extremely helpful for you. It is worth reading: How to develop the practice of self-reflection
What are the causes of self-doubt?
Now that we know the root cause of self doubt, we have to tackle its causes. This is to make sure that we cover everything you need to know about the causes of self-doubt. I listed 10 causes because I have to cover as much as I can so you can have a proper assessment.
Here are the causes of self doubt:
- Comparison is the root of self-doubt
- Low self-esteem (Feeling of We don’t deserve things)
- Past Experience and Mistakes
- Immense Stress
- Childhood Experiences
- Criticism from Others an Ourselves
- New Experiences and Challenges can cause self-doubt
- Getting Used to Reassurance
- The Fear of Failure
- Self-Centered Family Members
We are going to discuss all of these one by one so you can have a better understanding on why these are causes of self doubt.
1. Comparison is the Root of Self-doubt
As discussed, it is comparison that is the root cause of self-doubt. Almost every form of self-doubt came from the comparison of yourself to others or your comparison to your past self.
However, there are times that the cause of your self doubt will be hard to root to comparison. So the others listed here are the causes of self-doubt which are the stems.
Thus, if you feel like you have these causes or reasons for your self-doubt. There is a high likelihood that the cause of your self-doubt is bad rather than good which has been described above.
2. Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem is a direct cause of self-doubt. This is because we can’t believe in ourselves if we do not have faith in our own abilities. This usually comes from us comparing our past self to our present self which is usually different because people normally change.
Low self-esteem needs a little bit explaining.
Self doubt may came from our low self esteem.
This is usually because of the feeling that we don’t deserve things we have.
Some people call this the impostor syndrome but to make it really simple to understand. It is when we think that we do not deserve the things we have in life.
This might be that we just have a promotion and we think that we are not qualified for this position. Or you are praised by your co-worker but you don’t think that you are qualified for such praise.
This cause of self doubt leads to us not enjoying the moments of success.
Low self-esteem is actually a big factor in doubting our own abilities.
3. Past Experiences and Mistakes
Past experiences is one of the common causes of our self doubt. Because we’ve failed before, we do not trust our own abilities anymore.
Mistakes are a part of life.
I has committed lots of mistakes. I have made lots of mistakes including not taking care of this website because I think I’m incapable of reaching my goals.
But after knowing my real goals, I started to fight my doubts and just do my best.
I just do my best every day knowing that it is the only thing I can do.
There might be instances where I feel doubt, but I just forego it and just create more content for you guys to see.
This is because I once doubted myself that I can’t make content for this website.
As for mistakes, it might come from your parents who scolded you when you were young. Or your boss scolding you for doing a poor job even if you did your best.
Remember that the past is a means for us to make our future better and should not be the other way around.
4. Immense Stress
A little stress is good. It releases hormones that keeps us awake and deal with tasks in a more focused manner.
The result of this is usually better compared to not being focused.
But too much stress is bad. It might turn to the feeling that you are doubting your abilities because you’re always stressed out.
Try some helpful stress relievers such as treating yourself after working hard. It is a good practice. This releases stress and once it becomes a habit, you might even start loving your work since there is a reward for your hard work.
Remember not to make stress get the most out of you. You should try to control it.
Although sometimes, we are the ones creating our own stress. Thus, as I said we need a proper assessment. Have a self reflection. If you want a more thorough guide to self-reflection, here is a guide I’ve made which involved not just how to make a good self-reflection, but also tips to make it effective: How do you Reflect on Personal Development or Growth
5. Childhood Experiences
There are many instances where I’ve heard a very enthusiastic student studying and attentive to class suddenly lose their confidence and doubt themselves when their teacher scolds them.
Childhood experiences can be a big impact in our lives.
This can also happen in our home where our parents might scold us for being not enough or comparing us from other kids.
This in turn makes us compare ourselves to other. The bad thing is that what if the person you are comparing yourself upon is more experienced than you?
This becomes a downward spiral where you don’t want to improve yourself because of self doubt, and your self doubt increases because you are being left behind.
The solution is to let go of these past experiences and start a new life.
6. Criticism from Ourselves and Others
Criticism from our own selves and others is a major cause in the emergence of self doubt. This is because criticism is a form of comparison. Comparison is the root cause of all forms of self-doubt. Thus, self-doubt is greatly affected by criticism regardless of the source.
There are so many instances where criticism gets the most of us. We start criticizing our own abilities and we lose our trust in ourselves.
Not only that, our environment can also be a cause of criticism.
Imagine your friend or boss criticizing your work. It might be the reason why you are feeling so down.
To combat this, learn to let go of criticism. Accept them as constructive if possible.
If not, do not bother.
7. New Experiences and Challenges can cause self-doubt
When I was starting to build this website. I had lots of doubts about my abilities.
First of all, I am a former lecturer but I am by no means a writer.
I remember that it took me 4 hours just to write my first article which is 800 words long. I was stuck for a very long time.
This led to me doubting my ability to make a blog.
Fast forward 3 years after and I started to make this website bigger and bigger each day.
I took a 2-year break from writing because I doubted my abilities. But now, I just want to give my best in every article I make.
I want to give the information people need and this is why you are seeing this article.
New experiences can be scary. You might create a new business, you might move to a new place. All of the things that we have no idea about can be scary.
But sometimes, we just have to take the step and not look back.
8. Getting Used to Reassurance from Others
Sometimes, there are people that gets their confidence from others such as their friends or parents. They always go to them to seek for advice or whatever they want to seek.
The problem here is after asking numerous people who always give reassurance to their friends, I got the same answer.
They hate it.
They don’t like their friends going to them just for reassurance. Ultimately, this leads to the person leaving their friend because they just feel that they are being used.
It will also be disastrous to the person who are relying on the other one for reassurance of their friends for confidence. This causes them to lost their self-esteem.
That is why one of the key fundamentals is to actually learn how to self-motivate. Learn to give reassurance to yourself that you can do it.
This makes you independent and people tend to stick when they see that you are independent.
9. The Fear of Failure
How many times have I lost sleep because I am doubting myself and my plans for my future.
The fear of failure will get to you and affect your self esteem.
Self doubt happens after that.
But you know what, you can just learn to live with your doubts.
For me, I still have the fear of failure, but I just make sure that I have fun along the way and do my best.
10. Self-Centered Family Members
There are many instances that a child does not look up to their parents and do their best not to be like them.
This is a perfect example.
For example, a child have self-centered parents, they start to think that they never want to have that much self esteem.
It is good not to be very self centered. But the problem is if they do it too much.
This can results to them disregarding any type of confidence they have because they don’t want to be self-centered.
I repeat. Things are good in moderation.
If too much self-centered is bad. A little bit is good.
It keeps us going even if the tides are against us. It keeps us fighting even if we are at the disadvantage.
It’s what kept champions maintaining their legacy. It’s the hustle that successful people did.
They all came from trusting themselves even if others did not care for them.
That is why it is important to have a little bit of self-centeredness. But just not overdo it.