Recognising Self-Doubt at Work

The Seven Self-Limits

In the professional world, we all have a set of mental Self-Limits that unconsciously restrict what we do and say. Their purpose is to keep us safe – to stop us from saying or doing risky, stupid, or embarrassing things. But they can also have a really strong tendency to hold us back from reaching our full potential, especially when it comes to achieving goals and building effective working relationships.


Self-Doubt is one of these limits, and learning to recognize it is crucial for success at work.

We must become more AWARE of its impact, how it feels, and the inner self-talk that accompanies self-doubt in professional situations.

Here’s what Self-Doubt looks like in the workplace:


  • Self-Doubt causes hesitation, avoidance, procrastination, and can lead to the failure to complete crucial tasks or projects.


  • In the workplace, Self-Doubt feels like anxiety, insecurity, or uneasiness; it may manifest as a knot in our stomachs or a weight on our chests.


  • If you’re experiencing self-doubt at work, you might think, “I can’t do that [task]” or “I won’t be able to [succeed in this role]”

Overcoming Self-Doubt at Work

There are four steps to overcoming each of the Seven Self-Limits. First, practice raising awareness of it, noticing when it occurs to stop it from being an unconscious event. Then, Analyze why it’s happening; Accept when it might be useful; and decide what Action to take to continue progressing.

Try it for Yourself

Next time you notice any of the Impacts, Emotions, or Self-Talk mentioned above in your working experience, make a note of it. Keep practicing awareness because recognising self-doubt is halfway to overcoming it.

Stay tuned for more articles about overcoming each of the seven self-limits, using the menu at the top of the page.

Trust yourself

The Three Levels of Awareness

Awareness is the first step towards overcoming all of the Seven Self-Limits

We can practice raising our awareness of:

  • Impact – are we held-back, putting things off, too critical, too aggressive, etc? What happens because of the impact of our Self-Limits?
  • Emotions – are we anxious, angry, frustrated, bored, powerless, etc? What feelings are an indication of our Self-Limits?
  • Self-Talk – what criticisms, doubts, judgements, etc, do we say to ourselves?

Look out for the other posts in this series, which will cover each of the Seven Self-Limits, including:

  • Self-Doubt – When our confidence is too shaky
  • Shame – When we make unhelpful judgements or comparisons about ourselves
  • Self-Criticism – When we think that we have to be or do things in a certain way
  • Self-Sabotage – When our unconscious thoughts can stop us before we’ve even started
  • Guessing – When we unhelpfully guess at what other people think, feel or mean
  • Blaming – When we give away some of our power or authority by declaring that somebody or something else is the cause of something undesirable
  • Exaggerating – When we imagine it will all go wrong or be bad, every time

As well as the four steps to over-coming each of the limits:

  1. Awareness
  2. Analysis
  3. Acceptance; and
  4. Action