How do we get rid of self-doubt?

08 March 2017 - inspiration

If self-doubt is plaguing your mind, know that you’re not alone. Even the most confident person in the room is sometimes a prisoner to self-doubt. It makes us feel afraid, anxious or frustrated. However our self-doubt manifests, it isn’t the easiest feeling to process and let go of because it usually stems from a place that is deep within us.

Alan Watts (1915-1973), a British philosopher, speaker and writer, was perhaps best known for his incredibly thought-provoking and uplifting lectures on personal identity, the nature of reality and the meaning of life. Through those topics, he illuminates the root of our anxieties and encourages us to look beyond those feelings.

Here is a video of one of our favourite speeches of his in which he speaks about choice. He uses the metaphors of clouds and water to illustrate how we can perceive choices in order to rid ourselves of self-doubt and anxiety.

This 3-minute video consists of an excerpt of his speech. His full speech (below) is definitely worth a read. 


"You do not know where your decisions come from up, they pop up like hiccups. And when you make a decision, people have a great deal of anxiety when a making decision. Did I think this over long enough? Did I take enough data into consideration? If you think it through, you find you never could take enough data into consideration, the data for a decision for any given situation is infinite. What you do is you go through the motions of what you will do about this, but worriers are people who think of all the variables beyond their control and what might happen.

Choice is the act of hesitation that we make before making a decision; it is a mental wobbling. And so we are always in a dither of doubt, as to whether we are behaving the right way or doing the right thing, and lack a certain kind of self- confidence. And if you see you lack self-confidence you will make mistakes through sheer fumbling, if you do have self-confidence you may carry get away with doing entirely the wrong thing.

You have to regard yourself as a cloud in the flesh, because you see, clouds never make mistakes. Did you ever see a cloud that is misshapen or a badly designed wave? No, they always do the right thing. But if you would treat yourself for awhile as a cloud or wave and realise you can't make a mistake, no matter what you do, even if you do something that seems to be totally disastrous, it will all come out in the wash somehow or other.

Then through this capacity you will develop a kind of confidence, and through confidence you will be able to trust your own intuition. This is the middle way, of knowing it has nothing to do with your decision to do this or not, whether you decide you can't make a mistake or don't decide it, it is true anyway, that you are like cloud and water. And through that realization without overcompensating in the other direction, you will come to the point of where you begin to be on good terms with your own being and to be able to trust your own brain. Every path is the right path. Everything could have been anything else. And it would have just as much meaning.

We are like clouds and water... Each decision we make is like a white cloud in a vast sky, every choice a wave that began in the centre of the ocean.

I was born a worrier. I can picture myself contemplating how and when I should exit the womb for weeks before making a move. I still struggle with making decisions. What if this happened or that happened? What if I make the wrong choice? My mind drowns in the great depths of what ifs, the sheer number of possibilities, and I become paralysed for hours, sometimes days, even weeks. I put off life changes for years. I ignored my passions for half a decade. All out of fear—fear of making the wrong choice.

Our inability to make choices is further confounded by the amount of choices that exist in a world that is constantly getting bigger. Let's say, I want to buy some jam. There are 50 different varieties of jam, preserves, no sugar added, organic, colors, flavors, makes. Shelf after shelf of jams, endless options for one decision. We live in choice overload, with our groceries, our work, our retirement plans, our investments—it is endless. Some are small choices, some are big life choices. Should I marry this person? Should I quit my job?

But what if we embraced the idea that as long as we make choices from a place of trust and confidence, every choice is the right choice? When choices come from the heart, rather than the analysing mind, even if things turn out to be disastrous, we will still feel good because of where our choice was born.

But how do we get there? Well...we have to practise flexing our choice muscle from a place of trust. We choose, we feel, we reflect and then we integrate. We don't choose, analyze, scrutnize and then judge. Slowly, we begin to trust ourselves and our choices. And then the choices become easier as we build strength and resilience in ourselves.

As we get stronger, our choices feel lighter and we are less affected by the "wrong" choice. We begin to see how the "wrong choices" often circle back in a new form that is astonishing and surprising. We notice the "mistakes" often lead us to the right choice in the end.

Lately, I find myself thinking a lot less, making choices from a deeper place, and enjoying my life a lot more. I look at each choice as a delicious cake. Sometimes, I make huge mistakes and I turn into a sloppy three year old who destroys her choice cake. But, it's fun; cake is all over the place, crumbs on the floor and icing on my cheek. Even if the cake dumps onto the floor, it's still cake. And cake is good!

We are like clouds and water, perfectly shaped, perfectly formed with no mistakes.

This is the heart of it all. This is the beginning and the end.

I embrace my cloudness, I embrace my inner ocean wave. I embrace my cake.

I embrace all that I am and all that I am becoming.”

We know the journey of building self-confidence may feel very challenging at times. Take it slow. Share your feelings and journey with a friend. Or if you’d like to share your thoughts with fellow worriers, email us at We’d love to hear from you.

- The Mindful Company Team

Photo credit to BBC.