Dealing With Self-Doubt

How to recognize self-doubt and the 4 practices to rebuild confidence when it inevitably wavers.

Sally Clarke
3 min readJul 16, 2022


Hiking Ha’ikū, 2018

Since my return to the Netherlands eight months ago, my confidence has returned, too. My trust in myself, others and the world at large has expanded. This resurgence feels natural and nourishing, like a dry, drought-stricken river regaining its currents and flow.

Then, last week, my confidence wavered. A log blocked the river; rainfall at higher elevation dwindled. The flow didn’t fully disappear, but it slowed. And it was immediately apparent.

Signs I’m doubting myself

I grasp for external validation.

To some extent, we are always in search of external validation. Humans are social creatures and it’s natural for us to seek acceptance from those we love and admire. However, when I’m lacking confidence, my sense of self-worth loosens. No longer centered on my own self-love and self-acceptance, it starts to hinge on how I think others perceive me.

Does she think I’m stupid / ugly / incompetent?

Does he think I’m doing this wrong?

Do they think I’m enough?

I withdraw my curiosity.

Rather than checking in on the thoughts, intentions or needs of those around me, I stop enquiring. I make assumptions. Never a good idea.

They didn’t email back; I made a mistake.

That message was kind of short; she’s mad at me.

I’m not smart enough for that; I shouldn’t bother.

These assumptions are often wrong and inevitably add fuel to the fire of my self-doubt. They empower the negative voices to continue their ranty, mean narrative, further stunting my confidence river’s flow.

I look to others to tell me what to do.

There’s a difference between seeking guidance and healthy counsel from trusted advisors, and wanting someone else to take charge. When I’m confident, I listen to my intuition and trust my wisdom. When I lack confidence, I don’t want to take responsibility for my own decisions…



Sally Clarke

Co Director of Human Leaders. Wellbeing & burnout author, expert, coach, writer & speaker. Global adventurer. she/her