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Many people think the difference between success and failure is a combination of luck, talent and resources. But experts say success depends much more on our complex brain processes and how we harness them. The good news is that success is within our reach.

Research in science, psychology and education shows that self-doubt and fear—powerful impediments to progress—can be overcome with focus, careful practice and knowledge of brain chemistry.

Magnetic resonance imaging and brain mapping show us exactly how the brain’s filters process information, including our thoughts, opinions, beliefs and attitudes—for better or worse. Where doubt is concerned, "these filters create medical, electro-chemical and bio-physical self-fulfilling prophecies. We put the limits on our own potential," said Andrew Wittman, a mental toughness and leadership expert.

Our brains can change over time, for the better. Knowing that doubt is one of many normal human emotions running through our brains, learning how to manage and transcend any negative feelings is the key to overcoming doubt.

Mindsets frame the running account that’s ongoing in people’s heads, said Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. The internal monologue of a fixed mindset is focused on self-judgment, while a growth mindset is more likely to apply positive and negative information to learning and constructive action, Dweck said.

​Joel Ingersoll, psychologist and founder of Take On College, agreed. "Become familiar with these negative personal thinking ‘traps’ and develop a routine through inspirational reading or meditation to immerse yourself in positive thinking and self-reflection every day." Ingersoll encourages people to challenge themselves "to seek opportunities for personal growth in adverse situations."_

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