Self Doubt: What Can Be Done About It?
We all know what self doubt is. It’s the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities. I don’t know many people who never have these feelings. Perhaps you’ve heard the quote “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” I’ve seen this attributed to a few different authors, but it’s a powerful quote no matter who said it.
Self doubt comes in many forms. Sometimes we sabotage our own efforts, sometimes we become paralyzed with fear and sometimes we just tell ourselves that it simply isn’t worth the effort.
But the message behind it is always, “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” or “It’s too hard.”
Life is about moving forward, sometimes in a big way and sometimes in a small way, but we always want to be moving forward. Doubts and fears have no forward momentum. Doubt is a thought and a feeling, not a reality.
I’ve thought a lot about my own doubts and fears. I have had many over the years and am sure to have more in the coming years. But I find that now the doubts and fears are not so loud. I wondered if that was a function of getting older or of something else. While some of it may be because I am older, most of it is because I have learned over the years a few techniques that have worked for me...
Acknowledge the fear or the doubt and then put it aside.
It’s important to acknowledge our fears. The more we try to ignore them, the bigger they seem to become. Doubts and fears can be a healthy part of being human. They can save us from real danger. Acknowledging these feelings and thoughts and then placing them in the right category takes a little effort, but is well worth it. Asking ourselves if this is a real danger to my well being or am I letting my doubts take over unrealistically, will help. Taking the time to ask yourself these questions can put you in the right frame of mind necessary to logically assess the situation.
Take baby steps to move forward through the doubts…one step at a time.
Don’t try to change everything all at once. For some people “going all in” may be the key, but for most of us it’s the small steps taken every day over time that make the difference.
Change the “I can’t” to an “I can” or the “I’m not” to an “I am.”
This one may sound simplistic, but changing what we say to ourselves is very powerful over time. Often times, those negative thoughts and words come from a very deep place in our experience and psyches and it takes time to change them. But it can be done. Changing the negative thoughts to positive ones changes the circuitry in the brain over time and we begin to feel, think and behave differently. The brain is an extremely powerful entity. We really can do anything we set our minds to.
Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
These negative thoughts and words become comfortable to us over time. It is what we know. Changing those thoughts and words to a more positive message can feel uncomfortable at first. So we resort back to the old comfortable “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough.” We don’t really want to be there, but it’s what we know and so we feel comfortable. We lull ourselves into a feeling of safety and complacency. That’s a much easier place to be… in the short run. We take no chances, so there is no rejection. But it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Self doubt is powerful and can undermine us to our core.
The trick is to feel the discomfort of changing those thoughts and feelings, moving forward and putting ourselves out there….in the beginning. It gets easier as this becomes the new normal and therefore comfortable in our new way of thinking and being. This is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. We begin to change as our behavior changes and our behavior changes as we begin to change. The more we do this, the stronger we become.
Lastly, think of it as a chance to grow and improve.
You are in the driver’s seat. Only you can change the course of your life. What a wonderful opportunity this can be to get closer to your authentic self and live in that expansive space instead of that tiny little box that says “I can’t.”
These are just some of my techniques…I invite you to share yours!