Manage Self Doubt and Negativity

Whilst most people think founders and entrepreneurs are thick skinned and have a bravado of “fake it until you make it”, the opposite side of the coin is that they are often plagued with feelings of self-doubt and negativity.  These thoughts are often non-productive and can cause anxiety, depression and burnout.  


An entrepreneurs journey is often full of ups and downs – according to xxxx  for every happy experience there are 10-12 upsetting moments. Hurdles will be encountered across all stages of a start-up — ideation, prototyping, testing, commercialising, funding, marketing and scaling.

Developing coping mechanisms to manage negativity and self- doubt.  Self-doubt may present itself in questions and statements such as these:

What if my idea fails?
What if someone easily copies my idea?
What if they crush you before you take off?
Should I go back to full time work and just keep this as a hobby?
Everyone knows so much more than you, why am I continuing down this path?
Someone is going to beat me to the market.
Manage negativity

Research Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz (UCLA) refers to unhealthy or unproductive habitual responses as ‘deceptive brain messages’. 

Schwartz developed a four-step model based on the premise that the brain generates deceptive brain messages and that ‘you are not your brain’.







Relabeling deceptive thoughts, urges, impulses, desires and sensations for what they are. It is important to identify deceptive thoughts, urges, impulses as they arise and to be vigilant in using awareness to pull back from endless loops and spirals of thinking that can get out of control. This is where mindfulness and other self-regulation strategies can be helpful.


Reframing means to change your perception of the importance or meaning of your negativity and self-doubt. Explore why these thoughts, urges, impulses and desires are bothering you. Having a growth mindset is really critical as it allows you to reframe ups and downs into learning goals – i.e. it’s not failure if you have learned something.  


Refocus your attention in healthy constructive ways by directing your attention toward an activity that is productive.  This is often a distraction technique but you can always come up with strategies such as “if I have this thought then I will do X”.


See the thoughts as being untrue and have little or no value — something to dismiss rather than focus on.

And here is the best reframe of all – it’s not all bad news. Self-doubt can actually be beneficial to founders/entrepreneurs and innovators. In her book, “The Self-Confidence Workbook”, Barbara Markway, Ph.D says the following:

Self-doubt can help you create your best work
Self-doubt can help you get the information you need.
Self-doubt can help you prepare.
Self-doubt can help you know when you need to ask for help.

Vali8 Innovations is a cheerleader for founders, entrepreneurs, product managers and business owners who are looking to innovate and commercialise new products or solutions.  We have designed a framework to accelerate success for businesses in the startup and scale-up phase by building tools such as the Valid8 Readiness Score, the Valid8 Compatibility Matrix and the Valid8 Proof of Concept trials.

Are you ready? Increase your chances for success and mitigate founder risks by contacting us.

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