In this article we will be talking of doubt-driven actions and how you can get rid of them to live a confident life.

Take a moment and think about your typical reactions to the obstacle in the road. At home or at work, are you the one to jump in and try to solve the problem or take charge? If your self-doubt arises, you would feel overwhelmed and probably give up without trying. Envision that your child has just told you that a huge project is due tomorrow and you are already swamped with your own paperwork. Do you size up what has to be done and then encourage your child to work independently until help is needed while tackling your own work? Although it’s a time crunch and you wish your child had started the project earlier, you recognize it’s still possible to get it all done by just digging in. Alternatively, does your doubt lead to panic? Do you think, “It’s too late now, it will never get done” and so quit before you start? People feel helpless when they doubt that they can handle something, even if they can.

Does your doubt lead you to typically concede to others, putting their needs above yours? Or do you balance your needs and theirs by choosing a path that accommodates all of you? Suppose you scheduled an appointment for a facial, chiropractor, massage, time at the gym, or coffee with a friend. It really could be any appointment that you were looking forward to. Then an overbearing family member or friend who always takes advantage of you calls and asks for a favor that would entail canceling your appointment. Do you politely let him or her know you are unavailable and then enjoy your day as planned or let the person know you will be free at another time? Or do you let doubt win, giving into your fear of not being a good person or not being liked and say yes when you want to say no?

The action you take in any given situation is driven by how you look at the scenario in question. When you feel down, you see the world through a dark negative lens, and you choose behavioral strategies driven by despair or hopelessness. You isolate, withdraw, or give up. When you feel angry and perceive an injustice, you find yourself responding defensively—with aggression, passivity, or passive aggressiveness. When you feel anxious, you have concluded that you are in danger and unable to handle the circumstances, so the action you take is to avoid or flee the situation. The danger may be social rejection, bodily harm, endless worries, or any number of other concerns. The belief that you cannot handle the situation, or cope, is driven by self-doubt and the discounting of resources within and outside of yourself that you fail to recognize. Th is perception of danger and the belief that you cannot effectively ward off the danger leads you to avoid or hide from a situation or fight a threat that may not be there.

Depending on the action or inaction you choose and whether you are able to accurately perceive each situation, your doubt is either affirmed or contradicted. Remember the obstacle in the road. If you choose to retreat, sabotage, or evade, your doubt will grow, but if you choose action, your doubt will subside. It is the choice of action—to proceed or not to proceed—that makes the difference.

How Making Rules Can Help You Avoid Doubt-Driven Actions and Live a Confident Life

Doubt leads people to set up all kinds of rules for themselves. These rules govern our actions. They are an internal operating program that helps you organize your world. Over time, doubt can add shortcuts that actually limit our thinking and, consequently, what we’re able to do. Usually these assumptions are in the form of if/then statements, internal messages from family members or significant others or self-imposed, rigidly held rules.

For example, if I believe that I am not smart enough, I might develop a rule that says I must be perfect all the time. Now with that rule, if I make any mistake or if there is a disappointment, criticism, malfunction, fiasco, or failure, then there is solid proof that I’m not smart enough. A typical rule that develops out of this doubt is the belief that if I do everything perfectly, then I am smart enough. If it were possible to be perfect all the time, there would be no problem and confidence would prevail. Because perfection is unattainable all the time and rarely definable, doubt is usually the winner.

John’s doubt lies with his perception of how likable he is by others. The family message he grew up with was that you’re only as popular as the number of friends you have. Another family rule was to keep busy and active playing outside with your friends. When John was a boy, he developed the rule that if he had someone to play with, he was likable and if he was alone with no plans, then he was unlikable. Because it is impossible to always have plans and life is busy, doubt is the winner, and John believes he is unlikable.

You can learn to identify your own rules and rewrite them, reducing the unreasonable demands you place on yourself. Instead of demanding perfection to feel good about yourself, accept that mistakes and shortcomings are what it means to be human. Th e goal is to make your rules flexible and obtainable.

Hopefully by now you know what doubt-driven actions are and how you can avoid them to live a happy and confident life.