We've all got that little niggling voice in our heads that says things like 'that's wayyyy out of your league' when we browse new job adverts or 'well, you got help from loads of other people, so it wasn't really down to you' when we're praised for our brilliant sales results this quarter.
Self-doubt is constant and there's a pre-conception that successful people in every field are successful because they don't doubt themselves.
This isn't even close to being true; self-doubt doesn't discriminate and it pops up everywhere - in fact, some people you see on TV and public life could probably do with doubting their actions a bit more, but that's another story. Successful people manage to conquer their self-doubt by using it to their advantage and second guessing yourself can actually be a way of checking yourself to stop you from wrecking yourself.
You've got Company
First of all, it's important to note that you aren't alone.
Sometimes when you're pacing up and down before a big presentation or tapping your fingers manically on a table before an interview, you can feel very, very alone. The weight of self-doubt can feel crippling and even more so if you begin to beat yourself up for feeling self-doubt in the first place.
You aren't alone, everyone experiences self-doubt and if you don't then you're a wizard. Isolating yourself in your world of self-doubt isn't healthy; break out the bubble and talk to people about how you're feeling, they'll often have a completely different perspective that can help you. Distract yourself and face your self-doubt head on; bring it.
One of the biggest drawbacks of social media is that it offers a small snapshot into people's lives that's often amplified to look amazing.
Remember that dude from school who you've haven't seen in 10 years but you know has just got a new, shiny car and a promotion... forget him. There will always be people that look like they're bossing life and doing better than you, but you have to remember that it's not the full story.
If you find yourself getting seriously down or impacted by floods of 'life milestones' people are reaching, try to cut down your time on these sites or re-emphasize to yourself that it's just a tiny insight into someone else's life - and for all you know, it could be a colossal mess.
Focus on You
Here's the truth. You will, never, ever be able to control what other people think of you. So, what's the point in worrying about it? It's completely counter-productive to worry what others think because 99% of the time, you'll never know or find out.
Obviously, there's a limit to this idea; if you're exhibiting super destructive behavior and your family is worried, that's legit. But, when we're talking about what someone thought of your assertive email... who cares.
Rise above worrying about others and focus on your own goals.
Surrounding yourself with an echo chamber of people isn't always effective because you hear the same ideas and perspectives as your own repeated back to you. Part of living a stimulating life is about debate and hearing different experiences. But if you're around people that, whatever you do or say, are critical of you, grind you down and add to your self-doubt then simply, get rid.
If the debate isn't healthy and their grievances with you and your ideas are personal then they're not supportive. Being supportive doesn't have to mean agreeing with you on everything, it means having a positive, kind way of bringing out the best in you and being there for you.
Setting long-term goals that seem outlandish won't help you in the long-run. Yes. It can be good to dream big and ambitious, but they have to be realistic and attainable dreams. Otherwise, you might criticize yourself for never reaching them. By setting smaller, short-term goals, you'll achieve them more easily and increase your confidence, which in turn will allow you to feel more positive about reaching long-term goals.
Every now and then it's worth sitting back, getting out a notepad and jotting down some of the positive things you've achieved. No matter how small you think they are, they're all achievements.
This can give you a reminder of how well you've done and everything that's got you to this moment. Listen to and note down positive feedback too - and crucially, remember it. Checking in with yourself regularly is a good way to boost your self-esteem and give yourself a pat on the back.
This advice is definitely a case of 'easier said than done' and conquering your self-doubt is something you have to work incredibly hard to shake. Be comfortable, set attainable goals, listen to positivity, appreciate all you've done and don't be distracted by things you cannot change. You aren't alone and there are lots of people to listen.