Ok, you have read every self-help book seeking solutions to stop doubting yourself, turned into confidence-boosting podcasts, and strategically placed sticky notes with positive affirmations on your bathroom mirror and workspace. Yet, despite these efforts, that nagging self-doubt and anxiety continue to linger, casting a shadow over your self-esteem and aspirations. It’s as if an invisible force is compelling you to stay within your comfort zone, to protect yourself from the pitfalls of failure, the sting of embarrassment, and even the surprising weight of success. Imagine turning down the volume on self-doubt and training your brain to quiet that nagging voice. 

But what if that persistent voice of self-doubt isn’t a sign of your inadequacy?

It’s not a character flaw or an irreversible condition. Instead, it’s a natural response deeply ingrained in our psyche—a survival mechanism rooted in our evolutionary history. The brain, especially the formidable brainstem, is wired to prioritize safety above all else. It interprets any deviation from the familiar as a potential threat, triggering self-doubt as a protective measure. It’s as if your brain says, “Don’t take risks; stay where it’s safe.”

Within this neurological stronghold lies a profound resistance to change, an inherent guardian of essential survival functions like breathing, heart rate regulation, and instinctual fight-or-flight responses. The brainstem acts as a sentinel, fiercely protecting the status quo to which we have grown accustomed. It instinctively recoils from any incoming information that threatens to disrupt our well-established patterns and habits—even those we dislike and want to change.

However, we do have the power to become more conscious and able to direct our unconscious mind. We can reprogram our subconscious mind by embracing mindfulness practices that unlock the realms of alpha and theta brain states.

In these altered states of consciousness, we can dig deep into the core of our self-doubt, uncovering the underlying beliefs that breathe life into it. As we diligently work within these states, a profound metamorphosis occurs. We gradually replace self-doubt with a newfound self-assurance that resonates far more profoundly than mere affirmations on sticky notes.

As we become more conscious of our endeavor to reshape our thinking, these notes evolve from mere intellectual reminders into powerful instruments of genuine transformation. They cease to be simple affirmations and become part of our mental rehearsal practice, creating new pathways in our brains that provide us with new ways of knowing and seeing ourselves.

Our negative thoughts may seem safe and familiar; however, they are, in reality, the invisible chains that hold us to a limited existence, preventing us from reaching our fullest potential.

The good news is that we have more control over changing this than we realize.

Three decades as a psychologist and 60 🤫  years of living, I know one thing with absolute certainty. If you want things to change, you have to change. It is as simple and as complicated as that. But the reward is getting the privilege of fully living this life—dreams, success, and joy included.

Here are three strategies to retrain the brain and turn down the volume on self-doubt:

Awareness: Start by paying attention to your self-talk throughout the day. Notice when self-doubt arises and how it affects your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Recognize that these patterns are influenced by the brainstem’s instinctual response to perceived threats to your well-being.

Example: You notice a pattern of negative self-talk whenever you face a challenging task at work. Instead of dismissing it as simply “how you are,” you recognize that it’s rooted in a fear of failure, triggered by the brainstem’s desire to protect you from potential harm.

Mindfulness Practice: Set aside time each day for mindfulness focus in the present with deep breathing exercises. These practices help calm the mind and create a conducive environment for accessing alpha and theta brain states, where the subconscious mind is more open to suggestions.

Example: You start a daily meditation practice, focusing on your breath and observing your thoughts without judgment. During these sessions, you notice recurring themes of self-doubt and begin to explore their origins with a sense of curiosity and detachment.

Reprogramming the Subconscious: Integrate affirmations and visualization techniques into your daily routine to reinforce positive beliefs and narratives. Consistency is key, so make it a habit to repeat these affirmations regularly and visualize yourself confidently overcoming challenges.

Example: You create affirmations such as “I am capable and worthy of success” or “I trust in my abilities to overcome obstacles.” You recite these affirmations each morning while visualizing yourself confidently tackling your goals. Over time, these practices begin to reshape your subconscious beliefs, replacing self-doubt with self-assurance.

Learn how to step out of self-doubt and change how your brain processes information to live like you are more than enough. Enough of this “not good enough” chatter!

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women smiling with confidence and looking over her shouder