The Difference Between Self-Doubt and Second-Guessing

Self-doubt and second-guessing.

Two ways you end up confused, afraid and lost.

These two experiences are part of our day-to-day lives, making things a whole heap more challenging, but dealing with each of them requires some different strategies.

So instead of lumping self-doubt and second-guessing together, here's the difference between them and how to handle them.

The difference...


Self-doubt is wondering if you’re enough.

I’m not ready for this. I can’t do it. I’ll only fuck it up. What if I'm not good enough?

Self-doubt is happy to point towards times when things didn't go to plan as evidence that you might not be good enough or capable enough.

It fundamentally questions your worth, value and "enoughness".


Second-guessing is wondering if your actions are enough.

Did you take the right job? Did you move to the right city? Are you dating the right person?

It endlessly challenges your decisions in the effort to make sure you make the perfect choice, sending your thoughts into a spiral of wondering which course of action is "right", otherwise you'll screw it all up.

Dealing with self-doubt and second-guessing isn’t a one-time thing.

They're sneaky, in that they creep up on you without you ever knowing, and the next thing you know you're either feeling small and afraid, or neck-deep in paralysis and "stuckness".

So let me boil things down real quick.

To deal with self-doubt...

Ask yourself one of these questions:

  • What would I do if I was already good enough?
  • What would I do if I was at my best—that feeling of being connected, flowing and alive?
  • What decision can I make that honours what matters most to me?

To deal with second-guessing...

Ask yourself one of these questions:

  • If I knew I could deal with whatever happens, no matter, what choice would I make?
  • What's my gut telling me that I might not be hearing?
  • What's a way for me to simplify this choice and have it be easier?

It takes practice

Self-doubt and second-guessing need consistent and deliberate practice to keep at bay, a practice that starts with simply noticing when these things bubble up, and ends with interrupting them with a different thought. A better thought. A thought that serves you better.

Ready to start practicing?

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