“I just don’t know if anyone really wants to hear what I have to say. I don’t feel confident that I am qualified to offer these services — or that anyone should be interested.”

Rachel was a 30-year-old yogipreneur grappling with self-doubt about taking her workshop and retreat business to the next level. We needed to relaunch her website, start up a monthly newsletter, establish a consistent social media strategy, and develop a stellar brand identity. We had our work cut out for us, but first, we needed to move through Rachel’s own internal blocks.

We couldn’t get anywhere until she got out of her own way.

Rachel shared her misgivings with me during our second meeting as we began to discuss creating a content calendar for newsletters and social media posts. “I’m just not sure anyone is interested,” she confessed, “or that I have anything worth sharing.” Her insecurity was palpable through the two-dimensional Zoom window.

I was a brand consultant, not a coach, I thought. Yet it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to deliver meaningful results unless we addressed my client’s paralyzing doubts first.

Rachel’s body language and tone shifted drastically as I asked her to share about the success of her first workshops and the lives she had touched in her yoga classes. Voice firm, head high. Beneath the doubt and misgivings was a self-assured core of certainty: her work had value, it was of benefit, and there were people out there who wanted and needed to hear what she had to say and know about what she had to offer.

When doubts resurfaced during our work together, we would come back to that essential knowing: this matters.

Believe in Yourself First

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” — J. M. Barrie

No one will ever believe in us as much as we can believe in ourselves (with the exception, maybe, if we’re lucky, of our family, friends, or partners). Even so, we need to be our own best cheerleaders in the face of the inevitable failures, rejections, roadblocks, and doubts along the path of the fearless creative.

What’s more, if we don’t think our business/book/art/fill-in-the-blank creative project is worthwhile, how can we expect anyone else to buy-in? Or, to rephrase that, if we truly believe in the value of our work, our audience, clients, or participants will pick up what we’re putting down — sooner or later.

If only saying the words would make it so. I’m no psychologist, and motivational speakers usually make me slightly nauseous, so don’t expect too much of a pep talk here.

The best advice for which I can personally vouch is simply this: fake it ’til you make it. Start this journey with all the bravado of a Greek hero(ine) — reluctantly, but inevitably, because the gods are breathing down your neck, and you have no choice.

We don’t have a choice. We, humans, are creative in essence. We can let it move through us, or it will find a way to break out, probably in less beautiful ways.

Sometimes, action has to come first, and belief follows. As a tween, I used to practice my self-confidence in front of the mirror. Somewhere along the way, it became real and effortless. I acted confident long enough, and my brain jumped on the bandwagon and believed it.

Words and actions can shape our worldview, so start acting and talking like you believe in yourself 100 percent. I hope it will become your deepest truth somewhere along the way.

Don’t Just Read About It, Be About It.

Reading about doing stuff is not enough. If we want to do something, we have to actually do the things.

Transforming Doubt

  1. Make a list in your journal or on your computer or phone of at least 10 (it can be more) doubts, fears, or limiting beliefs about yourself or your work. (e.g., “I don’t have enough experience on Xyz.” “I don’t have anything worthwhile to say.” “No one will want to buy it.”)
  2. Now, in a new column or on a fresh page, rewrite those doubts as positive statements, transforming them into encouragement or motivation. (e.g., “I have trained/studied extensively in Xyz, and I am ready to share my knowledge.” “I have a lot of meaningful things to say, and someone needs to hear them.” “Someone out there is waiting for the gift that only I can offer.”)
  3. Choose a few positive statements, the ones that make your heart race, or give you goosebumps, or feel like a “yes” in your belly. Copy them onto Post-it notes to leave on your desk, fridge, mirror, or anywhere else you will see them frequently. If it feels good, repeat them aloud whenever you need a boost.
  4. Come back to this practice anytime in the creative journey that you find yourself getting in your own way.

How do you work with self-doubt and transform it into self-belief? I would love to read about your go-to strategies in the comments!

Originally published in elephant journal.