Updated: Dec 23, 2020
What is the biggest thing that keeps people from success, achieving their goals, and overcoming fears?
In my opinion, it's self-doubt, self-defeating talk, and lack of confidence. My personal story includes a lot of self-doubt over the years. A huge lack of confidence. I’m 33 right now and I’m just now getting to the point where I really believe that I can overcome and achieve things I once thought were impossible and I don’t let my insecurities get in the way as much as before. Trust me they still pop up from time to time, but I’ve learned that overcoming our doubts and insecurities takes a lot more than just some motivational quote. It takes action. It takes diligent and on-going practice to defeat those thoughts. You’re not going to haphazardly get rid of self-doubt. You have to defeat it with intention. Training your mind to transform from that way of thinking to another.
Self-doubt keeps us shackled, anxious, fearful, depressed, insecure. All of these horrible negative emotions that cripple us from moving forward and doing the thing we’ve set out to do. If you’re a Christian, maybe God has a calling on your life that you have yet to start because you seriously doubt your abilities or that you can be used to fulfill something great.
If you’re extremely overweight and facing serious health issues because of it, maybe you’re scared and doubting your ability to lose that weight because you’ve let yourself get too far and it seems impossible. Or maybe you’ve tried and failed many times and you just don’t see that you can stick to a plan.
Self-doubt is not a stranger to anybody. We ALL experience it some time or another. So really this message can be applied to anyone, because we all have doubts and fears right? No one has fully arrived in all their endeavors or at least no one can say that they never struggled with doubt getting there. It’s no respecter of persons. It comes for us all in different ways because everyone’s situations, lifestyles, and childhood are unique. And that’s why you have to be the one to decide to defeat the self-doubt and self-defeating talk. No one can do it for you.
So without further a due, here’s the 1st step in overcoming self-doubt...
1. IDENTIFY THE THOUGHT (and what it says about you as a person).
Think about what you’re thinking about.
We humans tend to just allow thoughts to come in and we run with them, never challenging them or thinking about their implications, their effects on us, etc. But just because you have a thought, doesn’t mean it’s truth.
And it also doesn’t mean that you have to live by it or accept it. You can reject it if it does not align with your values and beliefs. For the Christian, this is so pertinent. We know that we are sinners and that our thoughts are what lead to our sinful actions. It all starts in the heart. So, think about what you’re thinking about.
Example; If you are on a diet plan and you start feeling anxious because you’re going out to eat with your friends and you’re scared to eat something that you consider bad because it might ruin your progress. You get there and you join everyone in eating dessert. Then the guilt sets in right after.
Stop and think what you’re thinking about. What does this feeling or this thought imply about you? For this scenario, I think it could imply that you have to lose weight because if you don’t, you’re no good. It could say that you have no self-control so you might as well not even try anymore. It could say that you ought to be ashamed of yourself for giving in to a temptation. Because when a thought enters your head, there are implications that force you to believe something about yourself.
I hope this is making sense to you and speaks to you. Have you had a thought like that , that led to self – berating and punishment? So, let’s just say the feeling of guilt sticks around, this girl thinks she’s awful for giving in to eating dessert, and now she punishes herself by doing 2 hours of running or some other cardio. Now the guilt is saying, you have to earn what you eat. Maybe it’s telling you to restrict your food and be perfect to be acceptable. Are those thoughts accurate? No way! Those negative thoughts are what lead to our emotions of anger, depression, guilt, and low self-esteem…
So right now, think of the most recent time you had a thought that led to some kind of negative reaction or action. Any thought at all that you know held you back from progressing. It could be a weight loss thing, a business thing, spiritual, relational… maybe you often think “I’m not disciplined enough to get anything done” or “I can’t reach goals that I set because I’m just not capable of doing what it takes”… whatever it is, think of the most recent or the most important one you can think of and write it down. And this is a practice I really want you to start doing often. When you have a negative thought about yourself, write it down somewhere. Because you cannot combat those thoughts unless you are fully aware of them and their consequences on your confidence levels and self-esteem.
Here's my example: When I started my business, I was really excited, had so many ideas, raring and ready to go. When I launched, it felt like a total flop. I was thinking I’d have all these people interested and ready to join me in getting fit. But that didn’t happen. Over the course of that week, I had so many thoughts. But one that stuck out the most was that no one wants to hear what you have to say. I was thinking there’s no interest in me. I’m not special or I don’t have anything to offer that people want or need. Why am I doing this. And I almost let it stop me. In the first week! How ridiculous is that?! But the most important thing to do first, is to identify that this is a thought that could make or break my future success. I identified it as a breaking point. A thought that could push me to keep going past my insecurities or halt me in my tracks and leave me feeling like a hopeless failure. AND, if I believe it, the thought also implies that I’m a failure, that I have no abilities or talents that will do any good, and that I can’t complete the things I set out to do. That’s what that particular thought says about me as a person. I’ve identified the thought and I’ve contemplated what it implies about me.
2. Consider the source (Where is it coming from or who told you that?)
Now that you’ve identified your thought that leads to self-doubt, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, etc., ask yourself where it came from. If you doubt that you can figure out how to meal prep to meet your goals because you think I’m not disciplined or smart enough…. Who told you that? When did that enter your mind. And I can tell you, most of these self-defeating thoughts originate in childhood. It’s created early in life probably through negative interaction with family or a self-imposed standard that is impossible to meet. It’s not realistic!
I know that for me, just as ONE example out of many, because my dad left when I was 2 years old and had little to do with me any point after, I believed that if I was good enough or had just done something to make him want to stay, he’d have been there for me. I knew he had other children and raised one in particular and I thought that I just must not have been what he wanted. And that little lie implanted in my head as a child led to a whole slew of more lies, insecurities, and negative thoughts about who I was.
My life was marred by my insecurities which led me to desperately prove to people that I was worthy. That I mattered and I could make them happy. That’s when the people pleasing started. I would do anything to make someone approve of me even if meant suffering in the middle of my efforts. But guess what, that was a lie.
It was planted early. And I ran with it. It’s not truly my fault, I was a child and I didn’t fully comprehend the situation or the why behind my father’s actions. It just is what it is. But as an adult, I knew it was time to face those insecurities head on because they were holding me back in a big way.
People are shaped by their past, but at some point, we have to get in the driver’s seat and say it’s time for me to take control of the thoughts that I let into my head. You don’t’ have to be passive! You should be aggressive and on the offense with these thoughts, because if you don’t, I’m telling you, it will run your emotions, your actions, and your entire life.
So where did the lie come from?
As a Christian, I believe what God says … that Satan is the Father of all lies. There’s a reason he was given that name. All he knows to do is lie and deceive and that is his biggest and most successful tactic. That’s why I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our mind is truly a battlefield. There is a war against our minds, and if we take the time to slow down and truly pay attention to the scene, we’ll begin to notice all these little lies that lead us to believe horrible things about ourselves and other people. So yea, I believe that a lot of times it’s the enemy of our souls. But I also believe that sometimes he simply plants the seed of doubt, and then we just take hold of it and create a whole new set of lies about ourselves.
So those thoughts about I can’t lose the weight because I’m not as disciplined as so and so… where did that come from? At what point in your life did you start believing that you are not capable of disciplining yourself. That you lack the skills? Question it ladies. Don’t’ just buy it. Don’t accept it and move on. Fight it!!! Would God tell you something like that? Absolutely not! So WHYYYYYY are you believing it? Do you believe God? I’m going to assume you say yes… so start acting like it. Believe Him when he says you can do ALL things through Christ and you have power over the enemy (which means you have power over his lies). You have a choice. Do I accept this thought? Hmm well let me see if it something that God would say about me. If it’s not, don’t let it in. Stop letting fleeting thoughts ruin your perception of the beautiful and awe inspiring creation that you are. I could do a whole episode on #2 but I’m going to stop there. So let’s go back to the exercise I had you do where you wrote down a negative thought about yourself. Now, think about what you thought. Where did it come from? When did it start? Start digging deep here. When did this lie originate and who do you think told it to you. Was it a family member, a friend, just an event that made you believe this lie? You’ve identified the thought, now consider the source.
Back to my example...
So now, back to my lie that I told you about…. “no one wants to hear what I have to say”. Hmm. What a thought. I had the thought because things didn’t look like the way I thought they should. So I immediately had the assumption that I wasn’t meant to do this because no one needed or wanted to hear what I had to say. Did God say that? NOOO! Why would God tell me to keep quiet in my quest to uplift others and talk about faith, fearlessness, and all the amazing ideas HE gave me. Obviously, this thought came from the enemy. He wants me to shut up. He’s the one that doesn’t want me opening my mouth and helping others. He hates to hear Christians rising up and speaking about faith and God. So I identified the thought. And then I identified who is the likely culprit that gave me that thought.
3. Question the evidence of its validity
Is this thought valid? What evidence do I have or can think of that proves this thought is true? If you can’t think of anything that gives you solid proof that your thought is true, throw it OUT! Don’t dwell on it or accept it. Push back, fight it, and replace it with a thought that IS true.
So when I started my business and I had the thought that no one wants to hear what you have to say, I identified, considered the source of it, and thought why would I think this is true? Has anyone ever told me they don’t want to hear my thoughts, my voice, and that they don’t want my help. Nope, not that I can think of. Is it true that what I have to say is not important… has anyone said Hey, what you have to say is stupid and unimportant? No… so I have to decide whether I’m going to accept the thought or reject it based on the evidence. I have no evidence… so the logical thing is to reject it. Which leads to the next step…
4. Look for evidence against it
We not only want to question if the thought is valid, but start searching for evidence that proves it wrong. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (ESV).
What does this really mean? First you have to know that in order to destroy an argument, you have to be equipped with truth right? Or else you can’t win and crush that debate.
And as Christians, we don’t rely on our own understanding as we see in Proverbs 3:5.Our biggest concern is aligning our thoughts and our mind with God and to take every lie and destructive thought into captivity, so that we begin to take on the mind of Christ and not consider what we or others think, feel, or say as the ultimate truth.
We have to take every thought, every imagination that goes against the truth of God captive. And it’s not just thoughts related to temptations, it’s also thoughts that deny the person we are in Christ. It requires asking God what He says is truth and then casting out any thought that doesn’t align with His words.
Here’s some example to counter a thought that is a lie: If the lie is I’m not smart- counter it with evidence like “I've always done well in academics, there’s no evidence for that thought” or if you did something that doesn’t reflect your intelligence… counter it with “feeling stupid doesn’t mean that I’m actually stupid” right? We all do things that are not smart now and then.. but that feeling doesn’t’ make it true. If it’s something that you’ve heard about yourself.. you can say “ Just because someone said it… does NOT make it truth”. Whatever counter you come up with… make sure it’s effective for you. If those statements don’t effectively counter the lie for you.. state things in a way that make the truth easier to believe. Your counters should be realistic.. not just positive thinking right? It has to be truth not just happy feelings that you’re trying to convince yourself to believe. It also needs to be specific!
So, back to my example. What evidence can I find against the thought that no one wants to hear what I have to say…
I began to think of the times that friends came to me to vent and then give them advise because they valued what I had to say. I thought of the times people read my social media posts or read my blog and said, “ I needed that word this morning, thank you”. Those are just a couple of examples of the times people DID want to hear what I had to say. There’s evidence right there that what I thought in my mind was a complete lie.
5. Claim what is true NOW!
It’s not enough for you to just identify the thought and throw it out, because those thoughts are just going to keep coming back attacking your identity and character. To overcome these lies, you have to rid yourself of old habits and create new ones. It’s going to take practice and rehearsal. You have to be determined to want to believe the truth and its going to take some time.. but if you want to truly come out of the darkness that is your negative beliefs, you have to claim truth over and over.
You’ve established what the thought is, where it comes from, that it nots valid based on xyz, and now you have to turn the tables and start claiming what is true in opposition to this thought right? Because when we proclaim something, and begin to tell ourselves this truth over and over, we start to believe it. It’s easy to believe a lie because we’re human and that’s just our tendency. But sometimes the truth about ourselves is so hard to accept and that’s when you really got to fight.
You have to start claiming that you are who God says you are. Because it’s one thing to believe in Him but not believe Him right? Do you believe that what He says in His word is actually true? Because most of the time, we don’t act like. We let our thoughts make us feel defeated, unworthy, helpless, and powerless. BUT that is NOT what God says. So if you’re living you’re life this way, then you don’t believe Him.
Let that sink in… you love God, you believe that He is good, that He is who he says HE is, but you have a hard time believing who he says YOU are. Why? Because that’s what the enemy DOES. That’s his job. To attack your identity. Make you feel defeated and worthless because he doesn’t want ANY kind of good for you. He is literally attacking you from every angle in the sneakiest ways… but mostly through our thoughts and our identity.
So, back to my personal lie… I established that my thought of people not wanting to hear me was a lie from the enemy, I have evidence that it’s not true and I actually have evidence that refutes the thought entirely. Then I had to start claiming the truth. God has given me the ability to teach, coach, uplift, and encourage. Those are his gifts to me and I am commanded to use my gifts to bring HIM glory. God gives me insight and wisdom because I ask for it. He says I am worthy, that I’m an amazing creation, and that I am safe, protected, loved, empowered by HIS spirit. Those are truths and I have to wake up every single day reminding myself of those truths. And that’s what you have to start doing.
This isn’t just a frilly message of self-love. This is a message about the war going on inside of you that is as real as the day is long. It is a real battle going on in your mind… between the Spirit that lives in you and the enemy that literally wants to destroy you. And God says hey, I’ve given you the tools, I’ve given you abilities, talents, blessings, promises , my word, my Spirit… all to help you in this fight. If we just lay down and disregard what he’s given us to use in this battle, then we’re at fault… we can’t say God has given up on me if we’re not willing to use what he’s given us. and we’re going to lose that battle.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 says “FIGHT the passivity in your mind by being alert, self-controlled, calm, and wise! Don’t just let your random thoughts which are not usually random in fact, don’t let them run your emotions and the rest of your thoughts. Because how you think will determine what actions you take. You want to take actions that are bold and brave, wise and good. Not that keep you held captive to fear and anxiety and self-doubt.
Don’t let the enemy get the best of you with his lies… I know you don’t want to live a life of defeat… but we can truly have victory over our minds and our thoughts by proclaiming God’s truths about us and about others. We can be CONFIDENT because of who he says we are. Because he’s given each and every one of us skills and talents. But if you constantly deny them because you’re believing a lie… you’ll never see the amazing things those abilities of yours can do for you and for others.
To wrap this up, I do have a free resource to offer you! Just go to bridges2barbells.com/resources and you can get access to a list of daily affirmations, the self-esteem inventory, and an overview of the 5 steps just mentioned today!
I hope you have a great week identifying who you are and overcoming those battles in the mind of self-doubt and insecurity. Let’s be intentional about building confidence!