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How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence

Lesson 13 of 16

Overcoming Learned Helplessness

Mel Robbins

How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence

Mel Robbins

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Lesson Info

13. Overcoming Learned Helplessness
Triggered by insecurity and low self worth, you actively play the victim. Mel advises that we need to focus on the things that are going right, which is the key to overcoming learned helplessness.

Lesson Info

Overcoming Learned Helplessness

So helplessness, this is when you feel completely at a loss. You're a victim. It's typically triggered by insecurity and low self worth, which again, is something you learned. You either play the victim, and these aren't bad things, I don't want you to hear, "Ew, that's me, I'm a victim" (groaning) No, it's just a flavor of the same thing. You're no different than the lawyer that Zane is, you just have a different tone to how you do it. You're still taking actions that stop you. You know the solution, but you just feel helpless in actually making it happen. You might find yourself being the kind of person that thinks nothing ever goes your way. You might feel like you've got every excuse in the book. And this isn't a bad thing. I want you to understand that. I want you to start to laugh at yourself and the kind of stupid stuff that you're doing. Truly, Jenny look so freed up because she's like, "Man, I'd like to spill them from here and from here, "I've got a show coming out of this th...

ing. "This is amazing. "You know, I was being such an idiot!" All the stuff that I used to do? So dumb, So dumb. So this is not a bad or a weak label, it is just the stupid stuff you do, and we all do stupid stuff. So, Amy, not that you see yourself in this, but why don't you come on up, and let's talk about this one. And how you stop yourself. Alright give her a round of applause. (applause) Hi, I have to give you a hug. Oh, please! For all the Mel fans, I hugged her for you. So what is this chapter? What is this chapter about? Because I think Zane's chapter was actually about being passionate about his life again. That's what that chapter is about. And so what do you think this next chapter is for you that you want to start and create for yourself? I mean, I'm totally changing my career. I'm changing my life. I'm going from a career that's "check this box, check this box" to Tell everybody what you did. What you used to do, or what you'd like. Tell everybody about the transition so we can Okay, so 24 years ago, I began as a Kindergarten teacher, and it was my passion. I loved it! I taught, I made a difference. I was actually doing consulting early in my twenties. I got my Masters right away. I was so fulfilled. I didn't get married until a little later, but that was my thing. Then, when I did get married, I quit. Stay home, have kids, but I was still doing a little consulting on the side. I just lost myself. You know, some people love staying at home, that's their thing, they're awesome, they're wonderful. I felt like I was failing as a mom. It's alright, just let. It's easier to just let them out than holding them back, I mean honestly. Failing as a mom, part-time consulting, but not making enough to do anything, and my passion was just gone. So, now, why do you think that hit you so hard? I don't know. Let me explain, because it actually spins off of what we were just talking about beautifully. You know, we all thrive on energy, and what happened is when your life, and the energy, and how energized you feel, gets pulled from you you lose that sense of self, and it becomes this big heavy thing, when the truth is that all it is that the tank got depleted. That's it. And so we go to these big concepts like, "I was defined by this, and I was bad at that," and the truth is that it literally is just that the thing that energized you got taken away. That's it. And I have this opinion, so we have three kids, Chris and I, eighteen, seventeen, and twelve, and there are phases of their lives where I was the worst mother on the planet. There were phases that I was a great mom. I think at certain ages, certain people are awesome at that age and certain ones of us are not so great at that age. And so it might just be, it doesn't make you a bad mom, it took me a long time to figure this out, that you're kind of energetic alignment for kids this little, even though you were teaching other peoples kids, not that great. And so you can either go to work to shift how you relate to that period of your life, and shift your relationship to what you need to be doing, or you can shuffle the cards and bring something in that energizes you every day. Does that make sense? That's what I'm doing. Awesome, so tell me about it. So with my background in education, I also have a love of fitness. I've always worked out, and I call it my Prozac. I work out, I'm energized, I feel good. Ask my husband, if I don't work out, I'm kind of grumpy. (laughter) I hope they got that on camera, the cut to him. I love it. I love it. It energizes me. And I felt that kids need to see that fitness can be fun, because when you're an adult, there's not many people playing baseball and kickball on teams. It's you do your own fitness, and you've got to go, usually it's at a gym. And I thought these kids, all they see are teams, all they see is "oh I hate P.E because I get picked last," Nowadays as a parent, So have you launched the program? I did! Awesome, okay! So it's at schools. I don't know a fitness background, but you know what I did? I found someone with one, that I thought was amazing, and she trains trainers all over the U.S., She's sponsored by Reebok, and I said, "so here's my idea, I've got the educational background." Wow, so what's the problem? It sounds amazing. I'm starting, I've never been business, and now I've got this idea that when people hear it, they either love it, or they're like "you can't do that". Okay, so are you having trouble dealing with the pushback? Yes, yes. Okay. And just starting something that I'm so passionate about, seeing it work for kids, seeing the need, and then having someone. Who is the someone? Like a Superintendent. Okay, well first of all, let me tell you something. Schools, possibly other than the government, the hardest place to sell into. Only because of the, whatever. So you need to be prepared for the fact, that you are going to get a lot of nos. It's a numbers game, just like we were talking about. You've got to be willing to have 25 conversations with schools to get one to say yes. And it has nothing to do with your program, so remember we were talking earlier about how when somebody criticizes you, it's about them. So when you pitch an idea and somebody says no, it's because it doesn't fit into what they're currently focused on. It has no bearing on what you're doing. And what you need to focus on doing is not letting a no from a business standpoint stop your momentum and enthusiasm. And what I would do is I would try to spend a lot of time, because it clearly energizes you, I would spend more of your time focused on collecting the success stories and the things that are going right and putting those out into the world, so that you inspire people to start talking about it. See, you're in the helpless aspect, there's two things that you're doing, and you guys probably all heard. When it's you, you don't see it. When we listen, it's easy to spot it. Number one: you've got a story that you're not a business person. And that's not going to serve you. If you've already sold it into schools, if you've already got schools on board, you're a businessperson. I do. If you've recruited somebody that's sponsored by Reebok, you're a business person. And by the way, business, you guys, it's not some fancy thing. Are you talking to human beings? Are you focused on doing projects? Are you collecting money? That's it. You don't need a degree. In fact, most of us don't have one that relates to business. So, number one, I want you to catch yourself when you look at all the reasons why all the people aren't, forget about what other people are doing. Focus on this project and amplifying it. Because I really suspect that when you get into that frame of doing the things with this business that deplete you, that's when you lose your momentum. When you focus on the aspects, and you're in the build mode, that energize you, that is when this thing starts to explode. I also want you to look at a program, you must know Spark, do you know Spark? No. So, there's a book by Dr. John Ratey at the Harvard Medical School, that's all about the science behind exercise. It's called Spark: The New Revolution Around Exercise. He's a huge advocate around exercise and all of the research that makes it so critical if you suffer from anxiety, ADHD, dementia, anything. He really believes, and I believe this too, that it should be part of any care plan for somebody that is dealing with stress and ADHD or anxiety, any of this stuff. He partnered with Greg LeMond, the famous Olympic cyclist, and they have created a program that is run by volunteers, that is in schools, that is an exercise program in the mornings. You should look at their model, and what you should not do is say, "somebody else already did it. "Somebody else already did it." That's not what you should do. You should say, "cool, this works!" You should say, "Cool!" You know, I was talking to my husband Chris this morning, and he gave me an interesting perspective, because I was all wrapped around the axle that somebody else in the influence space was feeling something, (bickering noises) So I had my little freak out, so I "5-4-3-2-1", and then it didn't work, so I called Chris to talk to him about "okay, what do I do?" "what do I do?" And he said "listen, think about it like exercise. "You like this yoga instructor, "I like that yoga instructor, "I also like this one. "Some days I need a spin class, "sometimes I go to CrossFit," I don't, but he does. "Some days I do this." The world is a huge place. There's room for everybody. There really is. Your brand is going to appeal to people that are attracted to what you're promoting, and so when you catch yourself going down the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to what's already been done, or hyper-focusing on the nos, go back to focusing on the thing that energizes you. Okay? Any other questions? Are you sure? You are an excellent businesswoman. That will be my new story. Yes, seriously. The second you catch yourself doubting that, when we talk about worry, I want you to use that, the stuff we're talking about, to literally re-train how you think and not allow yourself to go there. Because like other people have said, I'm doing this, I want to make a difference in kids' lives. It's fitness, and we can and with yoga and meditation. Because kids are so stressed out and anxious. What's the program called? Empower Fit Club. Empower Fit Club, very cool. Where was the first one launched? What city? We are in one county, we're in Placer County, starting at my son's school. Listen, you. Did you hear this? Did you hear that? Like the invalidating of it. Yes, you got into a school in that county, that is your test case, and now you go from there. Okay? Yes. Awesome, awesome. You're awesome. (applause) I want a hug. Anybody else struggling with feeling really helpless? Yes, come right up here, you. Come sit down, darling. Alright, so how are you acting helpless? I can hold it if you want. You got it, you got it? Okay, I love it. Well, helpless would be probably because a lot of life situations have put me where I am today. Are you Tiffany? I'm Tiffany. You read my little card. Of course I did. I stalked each and every one of you. I met a lot of you here this morning. You wouldn't know that three years ago, well almost three years ago, more like two and a half, I lost my husband to a heart attack, and it was very unexpected. How old was he? 38. Wow. Yeah, so we were married for 10 and a half years, and totally out of the blue, shocking. I've had to just somehow figure out how to move forward. What's changed about your life since what was your husband's name? Jason. What changed about your life since Jason died? Well, right after he passed away, unfortunately, I also lost my job. And so losing my husband, losing my job, having to move home was three really hard things all at once. They say that death and job change and moving where you live are the three biggest life changes anybody can go through, and you basically survived them all. Yeah, and definitely survived. I don't count myself as a victim, but you know, you have to do what you have to do to move on. Well then there's also the piece around just grief, and so going through an experience like that, and giving yourself the space to move through all of those feelings that are natural and normal, and you know giving yourself the space to run through is super important. So here we are, two and a half years later, and what is it that you came to this course to get? Well basically, before my husband passed, we were happily married, I had a job, it was similar to the job that I have now, just data entry, Monday through Friday, but I felt like I had a good life. I had a partner, I had good friends, I had good family, but now I took some time off, and I did my healing journey, but then I went back to work, and guess what? It's not fulfilling anymore. Just data entry all day long. I read lots of books in the year I took off after he passed, and just trying. "What's my purpose? "What's my passion? "What is it?" And I'm still trying to find out what that is, but I don't turn down opportunities since my husband passed, I have to look at things like if he hadn't have passed, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't meet people the way I've met people, I wouldn't do things that I never would have done. Obviously, I wish my husband was still here, but he's not and I can't change that. Have you started dating? Online dating is so not so not for me, I can promise you that. I just said dating. Oh yeah, well, I'm just saying. To me, that's like, where you meet people. 'Cause like, if you're not gonna go hang out in a bar, you don't have an activity you like to do, you just don't meet people. What do you want the next chapter of your life to look like? Well, I mean. You want to fall in love? Well, of course. I'm serious. No, I'm serious, I don't want to be alone obviously. I mean that's not the way I want to spend the rest of my days. You need a partnership, and I mean as far as, I just don't like getting up and dreading that, "oh I gotta go to work" kind of thing. Like Zane said, "it might be great if I didn't have to work anymore, and I could grapple all day, but that's" But actually, it wouldn't be that fulfilling. No, I don't think it would be either. I know that there's things for sure I don't want to do, obviously, like I'm doing now. I'm trying to find what the right direction. So, do you still live with your folks? Yes. Okay, and is that a godsend, or is it now Well, yes, no thank God, thank God for my parents. Yeah, but I mean at this point. So here's the opportunity is this, because you've experienced such painful loss and you are now at a point where the grieving never ends and your life is never the same, but you can make it whatever you want it to be, and so we know you hate data entry. Yeah, sorry for my job there. That's okay. We know. I do like my coworkers. We know that there's a part of your life that was social. Yeah. Is that gone? No, I mean, I'm still very social. I have a wonderful network of friends, thank goodness, with everything that has gone on, and my family. What was it that had you raise your hand? The feeling hopeless. Yeah, because especially in this unique circumstances, when you lose your job, you lose your partner, you lose your home, and then you don't know, well I never saw myself living back in the Bay Area, but now I'm back here. Okay, well now what? Is this where I'm supposed to make a life for myself? How do I make that life for myself? Okay, well I'll go get a job. Well I don't like my job. Okay, great! (laughter) See, you're gathering data. Here's my advice to you because the thing that's super cool about you coming up here is that you basically are explaining what it feels like when anything is possible. And you have no idea how to take the first step, or what direction to go. And sometimes that's harder. I think it's much harder. To have like this completely blank slate. I mean, my friends were right at the beginning, like, "well I mean look at this, you could go just like "live in Hawaii and sell lemonade, you know? "Or you could be a cruise ship director." I think that's the exact advice Sheryl Sandberg said not to give in her book Plan B. I don't know, I'm reading that too by the way. It's a good book. It's almost when you have too many options it's like ugh. You need to pick one area of your life that you're going to move in a different direction. So pick one right now. Well it's definitely going to be my job. Okay, then what I want to see you doing because again everything snowballs when you start to try a little every day and you see yourself moving in small ways on something that matters to you, and if the job is really the thing that matters, don't try to figure out what your calling is. First, look around. Who are you jealous of in terms of what they do for a living? That's a really good indicator of something that you're attracted to. Something that energizes you, something that you wish that you were doing. And start to explore it. The best way to start to explore it: take a class about it, volunteer, intern. I always thought that I wanted to own a bakery, and so I worked at one on a Saturday, and it took me about three hours to realize I actually don't want to get up at four o'clock in the morning and smell like carrot muffins and replace the napkins all day. That really, the bakery idea, was the fact that I loved walking into a bakery and having people go, "morning, Mel!" "You want the whatever?" and I also wanted the life where I had flexibility to go in whenever I wanted and I also wanted the income so that I could afford the latte habit that every financial advisor says we shouldn't have. So those were the things that I was attracted to, and it's only through the exploring of it that you will find it. And so I want you to take on the next chapter could be just the next six months, that every day you're going to wake up, and you're going to go in this exploration of just figuring out what are you curious about, take a step toward it, explore it, stop people, take a class, and tune into that inner wisdom. Does this energize me? If so, do more of it. And things will start to happen. And more importantly, you'll start to feel a little bit of momentum. I like that. Okay? Okay. Awesome, thanks Mel. Thank you for coming up. (applause) My pleasure, my pleasure.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 


  • Use Mel Robbins’ five-second rule to stop negative thoughts and change your life for the better.
  • De-escalate anxiety and agitation.
  • Create mental scripts that help you overcome typical situations that get you into trouble and prevent you from acting.
  • Overcome your mental blocks and change the way you think about things.


Are you plagued by the imposter syndrome—thinking that your accomplishments aren’t real and that you’re secretly a fraud and a failure? Do you have crippling anxiety and bad habits that are ruining your chances of achieving your goals? Does your low self-esteem and negative past experience influence your thought patterns? Do you fall into the trap of self-pity that keeps you from seeing positive outcomes? If so, you’re definitely not alone.

If you want to get over these persistent, sometimes agonizing problems so you can gain a new perspective and make real, positive changes in your life, this course can help you do it. Mel Robbins is one of the most sought-after motivational instructors in the world. She’s been trusted by global brands to design and deliver life-changing, interactive experiences that inspire change, challenge thinking, encourage self-love, and accelerate personal and professional growth.

This class will help you:

  • Understand the science behind how self-doubt effects you.
  • Learn and discover ways to overcome self-doubt and have fewer negative emotions.
  • Build your self-esteem and competency skills.
  • Shed your irrational fears, stop undervaluing yourself, and quiet the inner critic.
  • Get out of your comfort zone, quiet the negative voices, and stop practicing habits of hesitation.
  • Stop hiding, being hypercritical, and feeling helpless so you can move forward and discover the path to achieve your creative endeavors.

Mel will give you concrete, actionable advice and steps you can practice to help you stop living with the constant worry that plagues and cripples your daily life. By showing you how to overcome self-doubt and build self-confidence, Mel will help you build the confidence you need to realize your dreams, whether it’s starting your own business, losing those 15 pounds that are weighing you down, or finding true love from a partner. After this class, you’ll better understand your patterns, what to do to break unhealthy habits, act with courage, self-compassion, and overcome self-doubt so you can get what you want out of life.


  • People from all walks of life, even successful people, who want to overcome the self-doubt and the fear of failure that is holding them back and preventing them from accomplishing their dreams.
  • Those who want to gain more self-confidence so they can go after what they’re worth in their career.
  • People who want to develop stronger, deeper and more meaningful relationships and be their best self.


Michal Levi

Let me start by saying I bought a book of hers and could not get through it. I just tuned in live today out of curiosity.. with low expectations. BUT WOW. THIS WAS FANTASTIC! As someone who teaches professionally (and has won teaching awards), I have to say I was in AWE of what a great teacher she was. Also, while she is not a licensed therapist, which some have complained about, she is so gifted in this area. WOW she has a talent! Watching her with individuals from the audience was moving, informative and inspirational! UTTERLY AWESOME! Truly glad I took the time just in case there was any value to it. THERE WAS IN FACT A LOT OF VALUE! Thanks Mel! Hey, I may even try to pick up that book of yours again. BRAVO!

Go2 Norway

Wow! The science-behind-typical-human-behaviors that fuel self-doubt AND clear ways to understand how to acknowledge those, and move into confidence-through-action. Easy and interesting ways to remember the points! Marvelous presenter skills -- a real model, and inspiration. Actual coaching sessions within the class to make it real. Mel is totally herself, and vulnerabilities become her strength in real-time, which class participants also lived out in real-time as well. Very memorable. And, the explanation of anxiety as a high energy state matching excitement more than calm was significant, as well as the myths about confidence (such as confidence is not about a personality; rather, action). Well organized, made sense, and I will integrate multiple parts daily! THANKS, MEL!!!

Wild Flower Murals

I'm training to be a life coach and have been a public muralist for years. I've been researching creativity, self initiated empowerment and positive psychology from various angles for many years- in hopes to make it accessible to many. I initially came across Mel's book and was wholly impressed by how effective yet simple the 5-4-3-2-1 book was. I am so glad I took this course, it is the best of the best of the best!!!