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On Self-Doubt And Small Steps

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Rachel Eddins, one of my favorite experts to interview for Psych Central, shared a powerful story for a piece I’m writing on self-doubt:

For years her client believed she was unworthy, which held her back in many areas of her life. It was a story created for her by someone else. It was a story that followed her for her most recent predicament: She needed to find a new job.

When she and Rachel started exploring what she’d really like to do, her self-doubt started roaring — I can’t do that! and she felt stuck.

They decided not to make any decisions just yet. Instead, she would take the smallest step: She’d simply go online and read about career options.

As Rachel told me: “She could take this step while holding onto her fear and self-doubt.”

I love this story and Rachel’s suggestion, because it reminds me that self-doubt doesn’t have to stop us. It can whisper. It can roar. But we can act anyway — just the tiniest step. We can act while the fear lingers, while the doubts reverberate through our brains.

This might mean researching different types of potentially enjoyable physical activities while still holding onto the belief that exercise should be punitive for you.

This might mean looking at iTunes for meditation tracks while still believing you don’t deserve even a sliver of self-care.

This might mean signing up for a painting class while wholeheartedly believing you don’t have an artistic bone in your body.

This might mean writing one sentence of fiction a day while worrying that you’re a terrible writer.

This might mean preparing your favorite meal while believing you don’t deserve something so extravagant.

Think about something you haven’t acted on because your self-doubt has convinced you that you can’t or you don’t deserve it (but you really want to act). Write it down. Next, create a list of steps you can take to make this dream, need or want come true.

Then circle the smallest steps. Pick the one you’re most comfortable acting on. If you like, reduce it even more. Make it so small it’s tiny. And don’t worry that your self-doubt will want to come along. She’s invited.

But she can have the backseat, as you steer toward your first step. Because you’re taking the trip anyway.

What tiny step will you take toward something you really want?

On Self-Doubt And Small Steps

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). On Self-Doubt And Small Steps. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Sep 2014
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