Defeating Self-Doubt

defeating self doubt
I had a totally different post planned for today, but there’s been something I’ve been struggling with, and I know I’m not the only one.


It is an ugly thing, isn’t it? It takes us from confident and trusting in God’s plan to feeling overwhelmed and yucky about ourselves.

Yesterday, I had a really fantastic meeting with someone about a potential ministry opportunity. During the meeting, I was excited. I felt good about God’s direction for my life. I got a wonderful compliment from someone I very much admire. I smiled the whole way home.

But then, as I sat on my couch last night, all of those icky feelings started to creep in.

What if I fail?

What if I’m not good enough? Godly enough? Sin-free enough?

What if I struggle and people call me a hypocrite?

The funny thing is, I’ve been feeling called to go a certain direction for months. God has given me these awesome affirmations that He is pulling me this way. And yet, when self-doubt creeps in, guess what I want to do first?

I want to override God’s plan. I don’t want to even pursue the opportunity. I start to question Him because fundamentally, I feel like I’m not good enough. I’m too flawed. That nasty voice says I’ll fail.

I know I’m not the only one. I know that some of you will be called to be on the worship team, but doubt about your musical skills or your faith will leave you paralyzed and saying no.

There will be some called to start a new outreach ministry, but doubt about your leadership and organizational skills will force you to stop the ministry before you even start.

So, those of you who are struck and struggling with self-doubt, here is what is helping me today.

First, you have to learn to identify the difference between the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the lies of self-doubt.

I’ve learned to embrace the prompting and gentle convictions of the Holy Spirit over the past few years. It’s not always comfortable, but it helps me to know if I’m going the right direction.

However, sometimes when I start struggling with self-doubt, I wonder, is this from God? Is he trying to tell me something?

No!  Today, I’m making sure I identify the difference between the Holy Spirit’s prompting and my own awful negative self-talk. I believe that the Holy Spirit does sometimes leave me questioning, “Did I do the right thing?” or “Am I acting in a way that’s holy?” I feel awkward, but then I reflect on His word, make sure to remedy the situation, and I feel better.

Self-doubt is different. It knocks over me like a big, mean bully. It’s what I’m struggling with this morning, where I’m stuck questioning myself over and over: “Who do you think you are? Are you good enough?” It makes my stomach hurt and I feel sick. It leaves me feeling helpless and worthless.

Instead of getting stuck in that negative self-talk cycle and assuming it’s a “sign” that I’m not making the right decision, I need to remind myself that those horrible feelings aren’t from the Holy Spirit, and that there are three helpful things to remember that help me defeat my self-doubt.

1.     God loves me and I am His child. There are numerous verses that talk about being a child of God. I especially love John 3:1a: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

As a mother, when my children make mistakes or mess up, I don’t hate them, I simply want them to make good decisions. I want to discipline them so that in the future, they ask themselves, “Am I doing the right thing?” Occasionally, after getting in trouble, my daughter will say things like, “I’m awful, I’m a screw-up.” That is the worst!  It breaks my heart. I don’t want her to criticize herself, I just want her to be more aware of her behaviors!

I imagine that God, as a perfect father, who loves us and created us so beautifully, cringes when He sees us stuck and criticizing and berating ourselves. Remembering that I am His beloved child brings me comfort.

2.     These awful feelings are not the truth. My husband often says that Satan doesn’t always have to destroy opportunities. All he has to do is whisper in your ear, “You aren’t good enough, who are you to think you can do this?” and if those feelings of self-doubt are strong enough, we will actively stop doing God’s will for our life. We say, “No thanks, God. I’m just going to mess this up, so why bother?”

In John 8:44b (NIV), Jesus talked about the devil. He warned those around him that Satan, “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Those feelings of self-doubt that have us questioning God and ourselves are not truth. They are lies from Satan, who delights in seeing us run away from God’s will. When I start feeling like I’m not “Christian” or “holy” enough to follow God’s plan for my life, I have to remind myself those feelings are not valid.

3.     I can defeat self-doubt by leaning on God’s strength. When I doubt myself, I feel overwhelmed. I feel weak. I feel weary from fighting those negative thoughts. I feel too tired to follow His plan.

However, I love that Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV) says: “He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

So instead of viewing this self-doubt as a “sign” to give up, view it as an opportunity to lean on God and receive His strength. He loves us and He will strengthen and guide us, even when we don’t feel good or strong enough.

The best part is that when I lean on God, He won’t just help me limp pathetically through this life. He will strengthen me to the point where I can “soar on wings like eagles.” That is a powerful image. Enough to help me tell Satan that sure, I may not be “good” enough, but with God’s incredible love and power, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV).

So banish that self-doubt and trust in Him. I know I’ll be repeating these verses throughout the day, and I hope you all who are struggling with self-doubt will as well!

~ Hilary

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