How to stop yourself from stopping yourself?

Abhishek Rathan Athreya
4 min readJan 3, 2018

There are multiple voices in all our heads, the most prominent one being the voice of self-doubt! It tells us that we aren’t good enough, it reminds us that we aren’t prepared enough, it convinces us that the circumstances aren’t favorable enough. Enough is Enough!

Self-doubt is a problem that all of us face, irrespective our age, background or occupation. It is such a common problem, yet we haven’t been able to come up with a solution for it. There is no solution to rid you of your self-doubt, but there are some ways to reduce its effects —

5 sentences

Every morning (yes, every morning) tell yourself 5 sentences (aloud) about how amazing you are. I’m sure you’ll have at least 5 sentences to say.

Your mind is fresh and easy to control in the morning. When you feed it positive thoughts it goes on playing those positive thoughts in the background. Your self-doubt will be severely weakened by these subconscious thoughts of your awesomeness!

5 seconds

Every time your mind slips into self-doubt, start counting back 5..4..3..2..1. The point of counting back is to make yourself aware. Once you are aware, gently (I mean it, gently) move to a different thought. This may seem like a drag in the beginning, but this rule will change you for the better. I promise!

Counting back from 5 is a world famous rule called the (you guessed it!) 5 second rule. There is an amazing audio book about it by Mel Robbins, do have at look at it. According to this book, the act of counting back from 5 ‘shocks’ your mind out of what ever you are doing. If you are slipping into self-doubt, shock yourself out of it with the 5 second rule!

5 challenges

I feel that most of our self-doubt stems from our lack of achievement on a day-to-day basis. For example, I would doubt myself less on a day in which I complete a challenging task at work. I’d be proud of myself, there would be no time for self-doubt. Building on the same principle, I propose the idea of ‘5 challenges’. All you have to do is 5 challenging tasks in a week.

Before you start dreaming about jumping off a plane or skiing through the alps, please stop! These challenges can be simple daily tasks. My 5 challenges for the week were —

  • Brush teeth with left hand — Done
  • Climb 8 floors to reach office — Done
  • Lift 10 pounds more than usual at the gym — Done
  • Take a cold shower for 5 mins — Scheduled
  • Read 10 medium posts a day — Scheduled

Each time I overcome one of these challenges, my self-doubt goes a step away from me!

5 improvements

Another common reason for my self-doubt is the constant feeling of performing poorly at a task. When I started writing Medium posts, I dreaded the process because I knew that I was performing poorly at it. The feeling of performing poorly on a Medium post compounded to the feeling of performing poorly in life. Yes, that’s how self-doubt works!

Instead of feeding myself negativity, I decided to change perspective. If I performed poorly at a task, I deemed it as a task that I wanted to improve on. My mind was saved from truck loads of self-doubt!

Every week, pick out 5 tasks you want to improve on. Once you acknowledge that the task is something you are hoping to improve on, your mind will find it difficult to start the process of self-doubt.

5 push ups

This method may be against conventional wisdom, but has worked for me in the past. During my fifth semester, low CGPA, poor physical fitness and non-existent self-esteem put me in a constant state of self-doubt. Then I had the Eureka moment. Each time my mind slipped into self-doubt, I stopped whatever I was doing and did 5 push ups. I was very unfit at that time and those 5 push ups were excruciating!

Little by little my mind began to link self-doubt to excruciating pain. Eventually the frequency of self-doubt decreased dramatically.

Despite the previous measures, if you still experience self-doubt, stop whatever you are doing and do something physical (preferably painful) — 5 push ups, 5 jumping jacks or a 5 mile job. Soon enough your mind will move away from self-doubt.

Bonus — You will get fit in the process!


You are that ONE person who standing between you are your goals! Your self-doubt is constantly pulling you down. Each time your self-doubt prevents you from conquering your life, use some (or all) of the above tricks to conquer the unconquerable!

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Abhishek Rathan Athreya

Self-Improvement blogger. Motivational speaker. Technology Enthusiast.