Jess Ann Kirby takes a hike on the Cliff Walk in Newport Rhode Island

6 Ways to Deal With Self-Doubt

It took me a long time to write this post, mainly because it was so hard for me to articulate how I was feeling and why. The past few months I just haven’t felt myself and I’m sharing this because I know there are a lot of you out there that have gone through or are going through the same thing. A feeling of unease, constant worry and stress about the future, lack of self-confidence, and a general unhappiness. It’s a little thing called self-doubt, and it’s a real downer. It can also sabotage your success, relationships, creativity and productivity.

If I’m being honest I don’t know exactly what brought it on, but I think it was a combination of things. Buying our first home was (and is) incredibly exciting and probably one of the biggest achievements for both myself and Craig, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility and stress (financially and otherwise). At the same time I was struggling with a bit of burnout and general lack of creative inspiration at work. I was stuck in a funk for months and only now can I finally say I worked my way out, and I have some tips if you’re finding yourself in a similar predicament.

Identify the Source

This was the hardest part for me. It basically took me writing this post to start to understand where my feelings of self-doubt were coming from. Once you know the trigger you can start to identify the why and pick apart those feelings. Try writing in a journal or if you prefer talking to someone find a person you can trust to help you get there.

Stop Comparing

Welcome to the rabbit hole of comparison. Ugh and Yuck. I’ve found myself doing this over and over again the past few months and it’s so bad. I am usually not one to do this type of thing and it’s a terrible habit to get into. I’d like to blame it on the nature of my work and business but I think we all do this at one point or another. Social media is a real mind fuck with this stuff too. Sorry for the language. Social media is the place where, for the most part, everyone put’s the best version of themselves. Most of the time it’s not telling the whole story. I know this because a huge part of my job is creating content to put on social media that is, if we’re being honest, not 100% truthful…

It’s imagery I’ve created that has taken time, thought, energy and sometimes hours of work. And yet I was still in a constant state of comparison, whether it was likes and followers on Instagram (how sad), a brand partnership or some other place my mind would take me. And then I remembered what I usually tell friends when they come to me with the same thoughts and feelings. You have no idea what’s on the other side of that image. You don’t know what that person is going through, how they got that collaboration, or that vacation, or that bag, or all of those followers, and it DOES NOT matter. The number of likes on a photo does not define anyone’s self worth. This doesn’t just apply to social media, it applies to life in general. When you stop comparing and start recognizing all the incredible opportunities, achievements, and good things in your own life it will open doors you never imagined.

Be Present

I got into this terrible habit of being on my phone ALL THE TIME. Guess what, I know I’m not the only one. Look around next time you’re in public and see how many people you notice are on their phones, it’s a lot. Nothing is more sad to me than going out to dinner and seeing an entire group at a table and everyone is on their phone. But this isn’t about everyone else, it’s about me and my utter lack of awareness. Craig isn’t a phone guy, he doesn’t care about his phone or Instagram, he never checks his voicemail or reads his text messages, so you can imagine how he felt when we’d go to dinner and I’d check my phone. Not cool and also, how rude. It took him bringing it up with me to realize how bad it was. Put your phone away and be present. Not just when you sit down at a meal but when you’re out for a walk, doing errands or just being lazy on the couch. Allow yourself to experience the world around you.

Take A Break (and Travel)

Everyone needs time off. I always make excuses for never taking a break. Working for yourself, taking time off is scary. Every minute I’m not working I feel like I’m either a) losing money b) missing out on an opportunity or C) not growing my business. The truth is if you don’t take a break you burn out. And that’s what happened to me. Then I was left in a shitty predicament of feeling uninspired, unmotivated and tired. Craig and I decided to take July 4th weekend off. No work at all. It was one of the best weekends we’ve had in so long. We rode bikes, went to the beach, hung out with friends, went to BBQs, and just enjoyed a few days not thinking about work. It was SO nice. Traveling is another great way to get out of a rut. You don’t have to go far. Take a day trip, visit a museum, go somewhere new to clear your mind and get inspired.

Connect With Those Who Lift You Up

It may sound surprising but I’m an introvert. I’m pretty good at pretending but I prefer being alone or in a very small group. I am re-energized by spending time solo. That said, there’s nothing like being with people who make you laugh and remind you of what’s important. Keep those people close and don’t worry about the rest.

Remember Success Is Not Immediate

It was this article Caylin shared in Click. Read. Love. that reminded me success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Achieving goals takes time. Don’t dismiss your accomplishments either. I have this thing where I downplay EVERY, SINGLE achievement. You can be humble and proud of your success at the same time. Enjoy the small (or big) wins, work hard, hustle and be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Have you ever dealt with self-doubt or are you currently? Let me know in the comments and please share any other helpful ways you’ve confronted it.

41 Comments

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  1. Stop comparing – love this one, this whole post really!

    Rebecca
    xx

  2. Natalie says:

    I can honestly say that I have been going through a self doubt phase for the past few months. So many changes this year (some for the better and others not). I find that reminding myself to stay present and live life to the fullest is the best way to clear these worries and stresses. Writing in a journal helps too! I loved this article-
    so refreshing, open, and honest!

  3. Balayage&bubbles says:

    Yes, yes and yes! Thanks for sharing! The social media world is amazing for so many reasons, but I really suffer from the constant comparisons. It’s always nice to hear someone else feeling the same way! Xoxo

  4. Brianna says:

    This is all too relevant to me right now, thank you for opening up and sharing!

  5. Maria says:

    I recently started having anxiety and that has definitely put me in a tizzy. It’s a major source of self doubt for me as of now. It’s hard to get better when you have negative thoughts. I have found that meditation, journaling, and being present really helps. Just by doing that, it helps me bring back positivity to my life.

  6. Maura says:

    I follow just 3 blogs daily, yours being one of them. If I compared myself to you I would be depressed – haha – but I overlook all that because you come through as genuine and not trying to be anyone besides yourself. Your posts are always full of inspiration and make it worth taking time out of my crazy day. And thanks for being honest. I needed to read this especially this morning. xx

  7. Becky Lancashire says:

    You’ve just written everything I’ve been feeling for months now. Glad I’m not alone! I really needed to read this.

    Thanks for sharing, Jess.

    Xo
    Becky

  8. Abby Capalbo says:

    This is everything, Jess! Constant struggle for sure! It’s nice to know I’m not just a crazy person but it happens to other folks too 😉

    xo, Abby

  9. Kendal says:

    Wow, I needed this post. Recently I’ve been feeling extremely doubtful of myself… thank you for sharing!

    Kendal // Life With Kendal

  10. Kate says:

    Oh boy, I needed this this morning! I am a classical musician, so self-doubt is basically my whole world. Lovely to be able to take a second to look in at it from the outside and see how ridiculous and damaging that mindset can be.

    Welcome back to your groove 🙂

  11. Mary Colleen says:

    So many good things in this post! For me, not comparing is always a daily battle, and a habit I am trying to make. I’ve turned off my Instagram notifications and take Sundays completely off from my blog and social media which has helped tremendously. Resting is super important, and like you, I need to make sure I recharge my Introvert batteries to keep creative and healthy. Thanks for sharing your struggles-I am a little new blogger and it encourages me that I’m not alone, and that self doubt is a struggle regardless of your successes. Thank you for the encouragement, always love your work,

    Mary
    https://www.themarycurator.com/

  12. Such a great post! I felt this way a while ago when all my friends (who were younger than me) were getting engaged, getting married, having kids, buying houses and here I was in an on/off 8 year relationship that ended up not going anywhere and me living back home. I have struggled with depression since a teenager so all of that was not helping and depression was rearing its ugly head again. But then I found someone (a friend I’ve known for 10 years–who what have though?!) and we are living together and will be getting engaged shortly! So all that comparing was just added stress for nothing! Now, I face it again since starting my own blog last year. I definitely reached a whole new level of comparing in this blogging industry! I just try to relax about it and not beat myself up so much if I don’t get a post out or an instagram pic up. It’s definitely hard but I have so much going on otherwise and I have to remember that I am only one person and that I will get there with my blog someday!

  13. Jen Kessler says:

    Ugggghhhhhhhhhhhh
    Thanks for sharing.

    I feel like i live this space solely and it is a heavy and defeated feeling. I know the gram is not showing 100% reality. I know it’s created content and that’s something I want to do (I’m in the beginning phases). It’s really hard as I’m sure you remember in the beginning because it seems like you have to be so involved with hashtags and tagging brands and blah blah blah just to get your work seen at all and it’s frustrating when you’re not seeing results or desired results.

    Another thing that helps is to not stay up late on IG. I’m not very good at it but when I put the phone down and not have it be the very last thing I do for the day, I feel more in tune with myself.

  14. Kristin says:

    Thanks for writing this! I have also been feeling similar thoughts and worries the past few months. It sucks but these are good tips – especially the comparing thing. I hate it but I always do it ugh.

    Kristin
    http://www.tweedandlace.com

  15. Beverly says:

    Love this post! The one thing that I can relate to is comparison! Comparison is the killer of joy. I have learned to stay in my lane and to look at others in their lane for too long!
    https://www.bevseyeview.com

  16. This is a wonderful post, Jess! Thanks for being so open and honest with us…obviously it happens to the best of us and it’s nice to know we aren’t alone in feeling self-doubt. I would never have known you were in a rut, though–your content has never stopped being inspiring! P.S. Just watched your kitchen tour and it’s SO beautiful. Congrats again on your new home!

    Meagan
    http://www.meagansmoda.com

  17. These are amazing tips, totally agree with them! Still, it’s kinda hard to follow some of these (for example, I can’t seem to stop comparing), but let’s keep our hopes up and keep trying, right? =)

  18. Maryal says:

    Oh, girl this is such a real, honest portrayal of what I think so many entrepreneurs go through. Especially creative entrepreneurs. Burnout, constantly working, constantly being in front of a screen instead of experiencing the world around us, etc. Thank you for sharing this – I so love that you took a break & that it recharged the batteries personally & professionally. I love following every part of your journey, so keep it coming!

    – Maryal

  19. Tracy says:

    As someone who has battled anxiety and depression and tried to hide it for many years, this post hit close to home. I have found myself attached to my phone way too much lately and comparing. What I remind myself daily is, this is my life and I need to live it the way I want…Caring about what others think of me is super stressful. Thank you for a wonderful, honest, and authentic post.

    No one is alone.

  20. Ansley says:

    OMG, yes!

    Needed. This. The whole thing! Thank you for being so real and open! This was so helpful!

    “I have this thing where I downplay EVERY, SINGLE achievement.”

    Same, sister. But not anymore! 🙂

  21. Erin says:

    I have seen several posts about self-doubt lately & im convinced it’s because I need them right now. I’m in the process of trying to start my own business & I almost constantly find myself thinking I can never succeed because there are just so many other successful people already doing the same thing but better than me. It’s hard not to compare, but I agree it is essential to stop. Thanks for the reminder.

  22. I’m having a little problem with my colleague. Your sharing is really helpful to me. Thanks so muchhhhhhh

  23. So relevant! thank you for sharing! I constantly try to remind myself there is room for everyone 🙂

  24. I CAN TOTALLY relate to this post! I’ve been doing this for a while too, and it’s been exhausting! Your tips are absolutely spot on, specially the cell phone thingy! My companion is always talking about how I can’t disconnect… There’s so much life were missing with our noses on the phone :/

    kisses and hope your self-doubt goes away :*

  25. Susan says:

    sounds a lot like depression.. been battling it for almost 4 yrs. found some classes on mindfulness and helped immensely.. teaches you a different way to look at life.

  26. I asked God yesterday “what do I need to do to rid myself of this feeling I’ve been having?” And 6 am this morning he placed your blog in front of me for the first time. Thank you so much for sharing this. You have no idea what a blessing this was for me.

  27. Comparing yourself to others is the worst thing to do because it can have such a negative impact! Just be and do you!

  28. Mary Babiez says:

    My favorite take-away is “connect with those who lift you up” All of your points are spot on, but everyone needs a cheerleader! On our own, we are prone to self-doubt, especially if you have a blog or a small business, either of which can be very competitive. My husband has been my cheerleader since I started my small business. He reminds me of the big picture and to focus on the accomplishments that I’ve made so far, even if I don’t always feel like I’m where I want to be. If you don’t have a cheerleader, find one. Spouse, friend, family member or business associate. You need someone who can help you focus on the positive when you’re feeling down. Reach out and be honest about how you’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  29. You got me when you mentioned the importance of being present. I’m guilty of using my phone as a cover when I don’t feel like connecting with others. Also, I’m totally with you about being an introvert who many consider an extrovert. I need that time to myself to re-charge. It allows me to better connect with others!

    xx
    Cindy

  30. Helen says:

    This is a great post Jess, nicely written and points well made. Comparison is a killer and so many of us do it so again, even without being mindful of it, we probably do it every day! Thanks for a nice read 🙂

    Helen | The Little Giraffe
    http://www.thelittlegiraffe.org

  31. This article was so incredibly helpful. I felt as if I was reading my mind while reading what you had to say!
    I rewrote every point you made and then created a list of my own worries, doubts and what is making me unhappy. Just taking time to think it through in the right mindset makes such a difference. Stop comparing could probably answer half of my problems. Thank you for sharing and thank you for encouragement! It’s good to remember even the small accomplishments are accomplishments. Now to plan a small vacay and to remember to enjoy the life I have in the moment!

  32. I love this! It echos my own thoughts & inner work as of late. Posts like this are also hard for me to write for the same reasons you mentioned, so I appreciate your vulnerability. Your tips are great – I’m sharing this with my readers!

  33. Emily says:

    I am so glad you shared this post. As a new blogger I relate so hard to what you say about comparison – it’s so true and this was a great reminder to stop. Xo

  34. CreativeCorporateType says:

    Thank you for this post. I wish I had found it sooner! It’s exactly where I am at right now. I have taken the past two months off of work due to migraines and, as you mentioned in your #metoo post, I suspected they were caused by something a little deeper than simply physical problems. I was feeling a sort of spiritual sickness, if you will. I’m in a comfortable and nice enough job at a company I have been at for 15 years, but it has begun to bore me and burns up so much of my energy just to stay there and try to go through the motions of doing my work. I know this might seem ridiculous (I am, I realize, extremely fortunate to have a job, and grateful to work with and for people I enjoy), but it just stopped working for me. Something has to change. So I have identified the source. But I have no idea what the solution is! I go back to work on Tuesday, and unfortunately the boss I love left the company to move closer to his family. So it is either a great time to change my existing job, or a great time to transition into something new. We shall see. It might even be time to develop some sort of creative project on the side. Who knows? Not me, not yet, but I am trusting the process. And writing, like you suggested, and *trying** to put my phone away. But I’m an introvert, too, and when I’m staying home and texting people I can rationalize that I’m “connecting,” even though I know it’s not true. So thanks for sharing your truth with us. I got a lot out of it.

  35. Ciara says:

    Girl.. this article is AMAZING! You literally have described everything I’ve been going through recently and how to overcome it in just one post. Very thankful for this, it really helped me out. I love your writing style as well!!

  36. Jill says:

    Just discovered your blog, and this post really resonated with me. Love your honesty. You have a stunning aesthetic as well!

    xo,
    Jill

  37. Victoria Townsend says:

    I just found this article and the fifth point about surrounding yourself with people that lift you up is important. I have ditched a few people i have know a long time because they are negative.