Why do we doubt ourselves?

I’d like to tell you a story about someone I know.  It may turn out that you know her too.

Laura is a young woman with a lot of wonderful skills yet is currently out of work.  We all know that looking for work stinks but, luckily, in Laura’s case opportunities are arising.

Laura has knowledge that other people would love to know themselves.  She has talent and she has dedication.  I look at Laura and think:  Now who wouldn’t want to hire her?  She’s fantastic.  It appears to me that others who know Laura also think the same thing.

Through my work we have offered Laura an opportunity and I know she is going to accomplish it with flying colours.  Others are starting to offer her bits and pieces of work too, and still others have more ideas for her as to how she could put herself out there in an entrepreneurial way. 

But Laura looks at us and says: “Wow, you guys are just so confident in me!” with a hesitation that makes me think that we may be more confident in Laura than she is in herself.  How do we make her see how wonderful she is?

I was chatting at work today about Laura with someone else who had this to say: “Why is it that we women have so much more confidence in others than we do in ourselves?”  And why indeed?  Why is it easier to see the skills that others bring to the table yet have blinders on in terms of our own?

Ask me about my friends and I can rattle on for hours about their best attributes.  Jocelin is an amazing goal-setter and ‘do it’ person; Trish is a fantastic theoretical thinker.  Tara M is a great idea generator and Winnie has an exuberant personality that makes people want to be her friend.  Elaine isn’t afraid of a challenge and Michelle B is always willing to try something new.  Christa is so full of zest that she’s a joy to be around and Tania always appreciates the beauty in life.  Shelley sets lofty goals that would scare the pants off of others yet accomplishes them with ease and Lori is interminably positive.  Tara G has a natural talent for fashion and Michelle P is a wonderful Mom.  Jill makes me laugh and Sharon is a genuine woman that isn’t afraid to show others who she really is.  (And those are just a few of the amazing women I know!)

But being good at something and being confident in that something are entirely two different things, aren’t they?  How many of these women do you think truly realize their worth in the ways I’ve mentioned?  Would they have said the same things about themselves?  On the flip side, would I be able to accurately name all the good things they see in me?  I’m not sure I could.  (And I almost said there that “hopefully” they see good things in me…another loss of confidence!)

I don’t know how it became natural for us to doubt what we can accomplish.  I don’t know how we can see so clearly where others have amazing skills yet can’t fully appreciate where we ourselves excel.  All I know is this:  don’t we all know a “Laura”?  Aren’t we all a “Laura” ourselves?  How do we move beyond our doubt?  How many things could we ourselves accomplish with flying colours if only we’d believe that we could do them?


†Not her real name.

8 thoughts on “Why do we doubt ourselves?

  1. Beth,

    Great for you. This is an insightful blog post that I hope many, many women will have the benefit of reading.

    The strange part is that I was literally in the middle of writing a post for my blog on the subject of “praise” and the strange relationship our culture seems to have with it. I thought I would take a brain break and check Twitter – and look what I found.

    Nice job Beth. I’m about to RT your post and I’ll continue to check back to see what you’re thinking.




    • Lauri, thank you immensely for visiting, reading and commenting. I look forward to getting to know your blog as it sounds like we have shared interests. Nice! Hope to see you here again.


  2. Wow – thank you for this post! You are absolutely right and I think we all need to step back and reflect on our skills and talents more often. I love reading your blog and often find myself thinking about your posts days later. You’ve inspired me with your Year of New posts over and over again….and I will certainly retweet and share this post with all the amazing women in my life too! Thanks Beth!


  3. Ah, yes. Self-doubt. Isn’t it a pain? So many times in my life the tipping point between my success and failure has been someone stopping to remind me that I’ve got what it takes. And maybe that’s what matters most – that the people who surround us are supportive of all that our hearts might desire, and that we’re willing to listen to them when we’re unable to listen to ourselves, or when we simply need some practice. Thank you, Beth, for this reminder. You are one of these very special people.


    • What you say is so true. It always surprises me when people have friends that don’t support them, lift them up, or encourage their desires and wants – no matter how ‘crazy’ they sound. We all need friends who do the wonderful, exact opposite. You are among them!


  4. Beth,

    I sure like your brain – it’s a treat when you stumble upon people who are singing from the same song sheet as you are!

    I’ve just read your response on my blog post about praise and have replied to you. Thanks so much for offering your thoughts!

    I’ve added your blog to mine as one of my favorites!

    Congrats on all your well-earned kudos on your blog – you deserve it!



  5. Hi Lauri,
    Thank you so much for adding me to your favourite blog list! I agree that it’s nice to find kindred spirits – whether online or in person, it’s a treat. I have started reading your blog as well and will return again and again I’m sure!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s