7 Ways To Trick Yourself Into Not Sucking So Much

Self-doubt sucks. It saps us of energy before we even do anything, robs us of motivation before we've even failed. It sneakily encourages us to give up before we even try, damning us more effectively than failure ever would. "You miss all the shots you don't take," a man once said, not really understanding how statistics or shooting works. But his idiocy does at least illuminate an actual truth: Losers don't shoot.

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Nice chest pass, dork.

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You need to shoot. Whether it's a business presentation, sporting play, or sex ritual, you have to believe in yourself and follow through if you want to succeed. And I, for some reason, want to help. After weeks of accosting confident-looking people on the bus and in public washrooms, begging them to reveal their secrets, I've compiled the following list of advice on how to silence your internal demons. Although you'll never stop other people from questioning you (and we do, we do it all the time) you can at least stop questioning yourself so much, and get out there and start actually missing shots instead of not taking them.


Compare Yourself To Worse People

Fundamentally (and I'm not talking about severe psychological disorders -- that's a whole other subject), self-doubt is simply expectation management. You feel bad about yourself not in isolation but in context with those around you. You can see that your peers and teammates and lovers apparently know what they're doing, and you feel bad that you don't. Well, stop it! Remember, you don't have to be the fastest runner around. When the bear comes, you just have to not be the slowest.

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"Darling, am I at least not the worst you've ever had?"

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Start mentally comparing yourself to the biggest dipshit idiot in the office, the guy who fucks up everything, the guy who's almost certainly going to be fired next. You're way better than that fool! Yeah, this big presentation isn't going to be so bad. Everyone will be laughing inwardly at that walking stool sample, not your stuttering presentation.

And if that feels cold and cruel to you, just remember that he's probably combing his hair with turds somewhere and comparing himself to you.

Be Amazing

This is so obvious that most other advice purveyors forget to mention it: You'll have less self-doubt if you're rad.

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"This will be one quarterly accounts update they won't forget."

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If you're awesome and always right and never miss, no one will be more aware of your incredible capabilities than yourself. Self-doubt will simply never be a problem for you, and if a tiny little whisper of it does appear one day, you'll be able to crush it simply by flexing your powerful buttocks.

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"This will be another quarterly accounts update they won't forget."

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So be better at whatever you do. Do your homework! Lift rocks straight up in the air! Study your opponent or lover's techniques so you can best counter them! Don't just be the best you you can be. Be the best that two of you, one perched atop the other's shoulders, can be.

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Face Your Fears ... Or At Least Pretend To

If you're not actually awesome, if you're merely terrific or worse, what can you do then? Well, if you have the right sort of mindset, once you recognize you're in a state of self-doubt, you can begin thinking of it as just another challenge to overcome.

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You attractive, fully self-realized fucks, you.

It's kind of a hollow piece of advice, I know; people with this sort of mindset don't get into long spells of self-doubt (they also don't read advice columns on Cracked). But for the rest of us, there's still something to be learned here. If you're not the kind of person who can confidently face new challenges, are you at least the kind of person who can pretend you're Batman for a little while? Does that appeal to your sad little mind? You could be the Batman of giving a presentation on outstanding accruals or the Batman of getting back into the dating scene. That's at least a little badass, isn't it?

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"It sure is! You do your best, champ!"

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Man, fuck those handsome, handsome, justifiably confident people.

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Fake It

OK, so you suck, and there's no getting around it. But you probably don't suck at everything, do you? Like, you've managed to get wherever you are without being found out for a fraud. Maybe you can fake it just a bit longer. One trick is that you don't even need to fake being good at what you're doing. You can just fake the self-confidence. Strut a bit. Strutting is easy, way easier than actually being good at something.

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You'll soon notice some funny things happen when you fake self-confidence. With your focus on feigning competence distracting you from your lack of it, your self-doubt fades away and you often do just well enough to get by. And if you keep that up for awhile, your continued non-failure will inspire real confidence. So go ahead and fake it. Focus on style and not substance. More sizzle, less steak! Give them the razzle-dazzle instead of just the regular dazzle you were planning.

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-thunderous applause-

Distract Yourself

If you can't distract yourself by faking competence, if your terribleness is too overwhelming for even you to ignore, the same principle of distraction can be achieved another way. Think about something other than your imminent failure for awhile. Find a simple, mindless puzzle game for your phone and play that. Work on some unrelated task; just bury yourself in it, if you can.

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Workplace masturbation remains a time-honored tactic.

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You remember that old advice offered to nervous public speakers about imagining everyone naked? That's what this is all about -- giving you a mental distraction that allows you to avoid pondering your own inadequacies. And if your imagination isn't up to par, simply speak at nudist camps. Everyone is already naked, so the distraction is right there in your face, and your mind gets a break from all that "trying to imagine" bullshit.

Distract Everyone Else

If your self-doubt is deserved, loser, and there's nothing you can do to distract yourself from it, we can at least try to minimize its effects. The most important thing is to ensure you don't draw attention to the self-doubt you feel. Once your peers, audience, and sex partners know you're uncertain, they'll respect you less and possibly eat your food.

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"No sandwiches for Greg. He smells of fear and bad ideas."

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There's an old piece of writing advice that encapsulates this idea. When writing, you should almost never use the phrase "In my opinion." Not only is it unnecessary -- it should be clear from the context that you're expressing an opinion -- it conveys weakness. Right as the idea is presented, you're inviting your reader to disagree with it. Instead, just state your opinion as forcefully as possible, regardless of how terrible it is. Then move on to your next point.

Barring that, revert back to the old "naked" advice from the previous point. But, in this example, it's flip-flopped. You're the one who is naked, thereby distracting the audience. Not imaginary nudity. Actual nudity. Trust me, they will absolutely not be focused on your words ... unless you've nicknamed your genitals "Words."

Commit To Your Terrible Decision

The concept of a point of no return might be useful here. It's an acknowledgment that, yes, you are a stupid garbage baby, and yes people are going to find you out really soon, and take your sandwich, and mock the little Batman mask you have in your briefcase that you put on in the bathroom to give yourself a pep talk.

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But now, having admitted to the sad facts of your life, you can commit fully to whatever stupid thing you're about to do. And sort of like that fake self-confidence thing we talked about earlier, by committing fully to your folly, you'll free yourself from the weight of self-doubt holding you back, and you might actually pull it off!

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That son of a bitch did it. That beautiful son of a bitch did it!

And, failing that, you'll at least go out in a blaze of ... not glory ... let's say a blaze of Batman bemasked weeping. Also, you're naked. You're welcome.

Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and has had his bathroom privileges revoked by three past employers. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and YouTube, where you can catch all our video content, such as 4 Small Changes That Make Awkward People's Lives Way Better and other videos you won't see on the site!

For more from Bucholz, check out 8 Things That Would Inevitably Happen If I Had A Dinosaur and So You've Been Asked To Land A Plane.

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