Doubt is Acceptable

Inaction is Not

Q: Whenever an opportunity presents itself to me, either at work or in a social situation, I doubt myself to an extent that it has sabotaged some potentially great things in my life. What can I do? -Bettina


A: Bettina, doubt is normally a fantastic part of our human psyche, because it helps us assess situations to avoid physical or emotional pain. It is kind of a safety valve for us when assessing an opportunity. For some of us, doubt can quickly grow out of control and either paralyze us or slow us down enough that we miss an opportunity. On the flip side of the equation, if you jumped at every opportunity that came along, you might make some less-than-ideal decisions.


Healthy doubt keeps you safe, while unhealthy doubt robs you of taking advantage of good opportunities. The source of your doubt may be somewhere in your childhood (a parent or other influence installing a belief around being cautious), but that is the realm of working with a psychologist, which you may want to look into if you are curious. In the meantime, you can prepare yourself for the next time doubt wells up in you and potentially hinders you.


This can be done through meditation, or simply sitting down and thinking about this exercise. Consider consciously that doubt can keep you safe, so be grateful that it is present within you. At the same time, think of it like an overly sensitive smoke detector that you are often fanning innocent smoke away from. Prepare for the next situation of doubt and plan for it by consciously making an advantages and disadvantages list for the opportunity at hand. If the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, then go ahead. If the disadvantages win, stay put. After that situation passes, you can look back and ask yourself if that process worked and how you might tweak it for the next time. In this way, you are conditioning the mind to work for you instead of against you.


With practice, you will make a shift in how doubt influences your behaviour and allows you to make better and better choices throughout life.



Combining over 30 years in the field of self-development, Rod is the CEO of the Certified Coaches Federation, one of the largest coach education companies in the world, and a speaker, coach and author. For more information on the Certified Coaches Federation, visit and for more information on Rod, visit


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Categories: Emotional Health & Wellness