I wondered about writing this post. I debated about the topic; wondering if it would be captivating and catchy enough, and wondering if I would be someone who could make a positive contribution and help people reach their full potential.

I mean this is what I do every single day. I help people reach their full potential whether that is helping business students find their career path, speaking on social reciprocity so people can master a much needed art, or using LinkedIn to help people find their voice, own their space, and thrive on LinkedIn. I make it a top priority, to use the gifts I have been graciously given, and work hard at perfecting what I do, but I never seem to be able to do anything alone. My buddy, self-doubt, continues to follow me along the way and never as a silent bystander.

Many people have told me that they wish they had the self confidence that I have and continuously ask how they can attain it. Sometimes, I feel like it is my little hidden secret; always hoping that they don’t recognize that I have to work to take off ‘my jacket‘ every single day. “My jacket” represents my self doubt; sometimes thick and heavy and other times lightweight but always there. So, many times, I wished that I could take that jacket off for good until I realize a light weight spring jacket can always come in handy.

There is no doubt we all want to kick doubt to the curb because it reeks havoc in our lives; it takes up time, it triggers anxiety, it’s sticky, it makes us feel uncomfortable, and it’s so hard to let go of. In fact, it is impossible to get rid of so, the best we can hope for is to lessen its grip.

Once I learned how to lesson the grip of self-doubt, I was able to frame it in a positive way. I even started to embrace the idea of productive self-doubt. Looking back, many times my buddy, self-doubt, pushed me to to think differently, behave differently, question myself more frequently, consider alternative options, reflect more, and come up with innovative and creative alternatives

This healthy form of self-doubt is like the true friend who pushes you through self-doubt , even when you feel uncomfortable to do something; nothing like the toxic friend who is unhealthy to have around and better from a distance.

We must realize when self-doubt is a buddy, or a faux friend, and know when to keep it around. Unhealthy self-doubt will hold you back, lesson your motivation, trigger the feeling of unworthiness, feed on your self-esteem, and add unnecessary weight. Healthy self-doubt, on the other hand, will push you into action, help trigger your creative spirit, and push you out of your comfort zone.

20 signs that you are holding onto healthy self-doubt:

  1. You question yourself
  2. You embrace your successes and hard work
  3. You accept compliments
  4. You question and plan more
  5. You dive deeper into introspection and perform better
  6. Your glass is always half full
  7. You seek and accept feedback and constructive criticism
  8. You take a positive approach to reaching goals
  9. You believe in yourself
  10. You ignore the IM in IMPOSSIBLE
  11. You see doubt as a signal to improve
  12. You are flexible, persistent, and open to alternatives
  13. You constantly self-examine
  14. You focus on your own journey
  15. You improvise and create possibility
  16. You ask for help
  17. You don’t excessively procrastinate
  18. You do not look for approval from others
  19. You are kind to yourself
  20. You set boundaries and accept limitations

20 signs that you are holding onto unhealthy self-doubt:

  1. You negatively criticize yourself repeatedly
  2. You have an “I can’t” mentality
  3. You focus on the IM in IMPOSSIBLE
  4. You constantly compare yourself to others
  5. You do not see hope
  6. You constantly self -sabotage
  7. You avoid
  8. You have an immense amount of fear
  9. You “should” all over yourself
  10. You feel like an imposter
  11. You deny your worth and success
  12. You do not positively process compliments
  13. You look for constant assurance and approval
  14. You do not like criticism or conflict
  15. You are much harsher on yourself than with anyone else
  16. You isolate
  17. You feel a real lack of motivation, energy, concentration, or excitement
  18. You feel indecisive, worthless, shameful, and insecure
  19. Your behavior and performance is impacted in a negative way
  20. You glass is always have empty

We can turn unhealthy self-doubt into healthy self-doubt at any time. The next time someone tells you, or you happen to be having a chat with yourself, you are standing in your own way, do not be so quick to shut everyone up. The only way to replace that heavy jacket with a much lighter one, is to muster up the courage to let go of the the extra weight.

As humans we were given the gift of doubt not the burden of doubt. However, we all have to learn how to make doubt work for us knowing that confidence can always win over self-doubt as long as we put our power in the right place. Always remember that when you hear, “you can not do it” then, simply remove the heavy jacket, exchange it for the lighter one, and confidently say, “I am ready for anything!”



  • Shelly Elsliger

    President Linked Express and Chief Kindness Officer (CKO)

    Linked Express

    Shelly uses LinkedIn to empower and inspire people to tell their amazing stories, while maximizing their professional branding potential and social influence on LinkedIn, making sure to add some fun, passion, and kindness along the way. She is the President of Linked-Express, a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), recognized as a Woman you Need to Know by the National Women Speakers Association, a Forbes Writer, a Women of Inspiration Winner 2019, and on the list of globally recognized LinkedIn Training Experts.  Shelly is a thought  leader in the field of social reciprocity and the Founder of the #DecidetobeKind movement on LinkedIn; a global movement to stand up against bullying on LinkedIn.   Her MOTTO: "Instead of waiting to be noticed first, be a Leader in your space-Lean-In, Listen-In, and Link-In!"