In the previous article on self-doubt, Understanding Self-Doubt , I discussed how self-doubt shows itself and stops us from living our purpose. In this article I want to explore self-doubt a little more deeply and techniques I’ve found useful to help overcome it.
Let’s step through this from my experiences. Self-doubt causes us to believe we’re not good enough. We all want to be accepted, liked. To do this we certainly don’t want to look silly, or make mistakes, in front of people. We need to look confident and assured. How do we do this when we’re not feeling like this? With self-doubt our sub-conscious is telling us our security and safety will be threatened. Our sub-conscious is protecting us – acting in our best interest. It is part of our protective system to help us avoid feeling miserable, anxious, disappointed, humiliated or sad. Isn’t it safer to stay in our comfort zone by listening to our voice of self-doubt and keeping us comfortable, rather than experiencing those feelings?
So, Self-doubt = Protection mechanism.
How does self-doubt help us avoid feeling bad? It throws up images of failure which translate into negative feelings. We don’t want to feel like that. Safety and security are primary human needs. Of course this thinking will stop us.
“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” – Anonymous
Here is something to try that may surprise you. It really surprised me when I embraced it. You are good enough and more than capable of doing this. Try it. You’ll be really surprised. I picked it up from a Dr Russ Harris book – really excellent.
The first thing to do is don’t dismiss any negative thoughts that come in to your head. You can never ever get rid of negative thoughts coming into your head. They will just pop in whenever they like. You can’t stop them. Don’t fight it. Be accepting. Some of the thoughts, even negative ones, are there to keep you safe, even though they come from a primitive part of the brain that in my opinion needs an update.
When such thoughts enter my mind now, I don’t let them get a grip of me and take me on a negative thinking and brooding downward spiral. If I get a thought like “you won’t be able to do that. If you do you’ll look ridiculous. Your friends will laugh at you. Who do you think you are?” Not helpful thinking. In the past I would spend time rationalising this thought. “Is this true. Will I trip up? Will my friends laugh at me? Which ones? Which ones won’t? What should I do so they won’t?” I would then read some motivational and inspirational quotes or passages from people I respect to get me into a positive frame of mind. It would be a long drawn out thinking process that would inevitably, in many cases, end in doing nothing.
Now my immediate approach when such a thought enters my mind is so much simpler. It is so simple it blew my mind. Instead of going down that whole process I simply say, “Is this thought helping me get to where I want to be?” If not I stop it. Wow! So simple. Instead of trying to dismiss it with positive affirmations or getting into a debate with it I just accept it, ask whether it is helping me achieve what I want, and move on. Conversation over. I found I needed to be conscious that my subconscious was working like this. This took effort, and is still very much a work in progress. Continued practice. But wow, am I feeling better for it, and also experiencing the benefit that I am more conscious of what I am thinking and doing. The world is looking and feeling increasingly better.
I know this isn’t going to resolve all the self-doubt issues that arise, however it can be a powerful tool in your tool box to be your best.
“When in doubt, just take the next small step.” – Paulo Coehlo
Another thing to do, which really is unavoidable is act with courage. Because self-doubt has killed your confidence, courage is all you have. Once you act – believe me – confidence will grow. I read somewhere that you must act confident (with courage) before you will feel confident. Act and then feel. This is so true.
There is no short and easy way to overcome self-doubt. It takes action. Act then Feel.
The only way I know is to take small steps forward and keep persevering. Something really powerful that I learned was you must act confident, before you feel confident. Thank you Dr Russ Harris.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran
Thanks again for investing time in reading this – my hope is that it will achieve our goal of supporting you to grow into the best “you”. If there is anything you would like written about, please let me know. If there is anything you would like support on or to discuss, please let me know. As always, if you believe this was of value, please share it with those who you feel will get value from it. All the best.
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