Self-doubt takes a real toll on your life, especially on self-esteem. Knowing the source of self-doubt makes it possible to recover from it and strengthen your self-confidence and self-worth in the process.   

Here are some common sources of self-doubt.

Learned Behavior and Limiting Beliefs in Childhood

Parents and caregivers that struggle with self-doubt often end up passing it along to their children. It’s even worse when abuse is involved.

Parents who are stuck in self-doubt have a hard time envisioning a better life for themselves and family, which creates limiting beliefs in the minds of their children. 

The issue isn’t so much that parents want to keep their kids from thinking big or dreaming, they just don’t want them to get their hopes up, so they say. It’s about being “realistic,” they claim. 

Their kid might want to be the next Stephen King, but they discourage them by saying that most writers don’t make any money and ask, “Wouldn’t you rather be a doctor or lawyer instead?”

Worse yet, they might discourage their child from following dreams that they don’t know much about or that seem too expensive. And, so their child doesn’t even try, all because of their parents, or caregivers, personal lack of success and understanding. 

Because of self-limiting attitudes and beliefs, most kids rarely break free from the socioeconomic class into which they were born. But for those who do, it was because they believed in a brighter future for their life and took action to make it happen, despite the naysayers and lack of support; they chose to believe in themselves – and not what others believed was possible or impossible for them.  

Bad Experiences from Painful or Toxic Relationships

Bad relationships are a common source of self-doubt. And it isn’t just romantic relationships we’re talking about. It can be a relationship with your parents, a friendship, spouse, or difficulty with a child. 

And then there are toxic relationships. These relationships are plagued with lying, trust issues, manipulation, and control, or where one partner puts the other person on a pedestal to the detriment of their own mental and emotional well-being. 

It’s hard to be confident when you’re in an unhealthy relationship with someone telling you everything that’s wrong with you or why something is impossible for you. Constantly being criticized, belittled, demeaned, controlled, lied to, or manipulated, can quickly fill you with self-doubt.

Toxic Work Environments

Work environments can become pretty toxic. It can happen with any job, pay grade, or career. 

A negative, insecure, easily threatened boss who is too demanding or unfair can make life miserable. Just one bad performance review can trigger self-doubt and impact your career, making you feel trapped.  

Sometimes good people get stuck in bad work situations with bad bosses. Although it’s difficult, we need to learn from the situation and keep growing, becoming better and better despite how we’re being evaluated or told. 

Being Sheltered

Some well-meaning parents go too far with sheltering their kids from failure and disappointment. Being overly sheltered as a child can make “real life” seem overwhelming as an adult, causing fear and anxiety. 

For an overly sheltered child, criticism and failure can be tough to handle, making them question their value and self-worth. 

It’s important to envision success for your life and celebrate small wins to build self-confidence moving forward. Unlocking your best life can kind of be like learning to walk all over again for the person raised by over-protective parents.  

Your Zip Code

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to let where you were born to define you – and not in a good way, either. Your zip code doesn’t matter either, whether it’s affluent or in a place with few resources. Either way, it’s easy to believe that your environment determines your destiny. 

Perhaps you were born into a family of physicians or a family with a thriving business, and they expect you to carry on the legacy. Or, you were born into an environment with few opportunities and therefore believed that living a great life where dreams come true isn’t possible. 

Just because most people don’t break free from the situation they were born into doesn’t mean you can’t. 

Keep your eyes open to possibilities- choose to believe amazing things are possible for you. 

Live your life. 

Follow your dreams. 

Make the most of your life. 

Take chances—risk failure. Believe. And take inspired action to make it so. 


Anxiety is having feelings of fear, worry, dread, and uneasiness, usually over a relationship, situation, or event. Anxiety can be so bad that it triggers panic attacks. 

If you think you might suffer from anxiety, please see your doctor about your symptoms. Vitamin deficiencies can cause anxiety. If your health care provider suspects that’s the cause of your anxiety, they might order blood tests. Or, if your health is fine, they might recommend a therapist for further treatment.  

Get the help you need so you can break free from your current situation and limiting behavior. You don’t have to suffer from anxiety. 

Established Habits and Patterns

Sometimes we have self-doubt because of habits we learned during childhood or from experiencing failure and traumatic experiences in adulthood. 

Life can be going great, but something traumatic happens like a car accident, an illness, or the death of a loved one, which sends you into depression or down a dark path. One unhealthy choice leads to another. 

Although it won’t be easy, you have the power to interrupt those patterns and choices. You don’t have to live a life of darkness, failure, or limited opportunity. 

As best as you can, step back from the emotions of the experience to get more objective about the situation. It’s called practicing emotional awareness, where you approach the problem rationally. It’s a reflective process where you see the truth about yourself and the situation by being observant instead of reacting emotionally. 

You will gain clarity and be empowered to take any necessary action to transform the situation into an experience that makes your life better in some way. 

Final Thoughts

Do you struggle with self-doubt? If so, what might be some possible sources? Does it come from limiting beliefs and behavior learned in childhood, bad experiences, painful or toxic relationships, toxic work environments, where you were born, anxiety, or established habits and patterns?

Knowing the source of your anxiety helps you to take decisive action and deal with the situation. You will increase your self-esteem and confidence and start having more success in your personal and professional life. 

There are more reasons to believe in yourself than to doubt yourself, which we’ll cover in our next post. 

Photo by Daniel Minárik on Unsplash

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