To be who we really are. To get what we really want from life. If you can’t do this – what else is there?
Being who we really are is our purpose in life. But there is no free lunch. It takes effort to uncover and become who we really are. It is a journey of self-discovery and there is work involved. Everything that is worth anything takes effort. Sometimes we forget this. I do. All the important stuff we take for granted like reading, walking, talking – all took effort and practise. The greatness that lies within us is immeasurable. I always find it interesting that we may have lofty ambitions, or more modest ones and yet our own minds seem to work against us from achieving them. Our own minds – against us! How is that? Why is that? I have these dreams yet I find myself putting them off, thinking I can’t do it, there’s something wrong with me, I’m not good enough, making excuses like I’m too busy. The list is long. I’ve been in this position many times! Shouldn’t my mind be on my side, doing everything in its power to help me achieve my dreams. What I’ve discovered, by working through this is that my mind is actually working for me – even though I feel it isn’t, but not in the way I think it is. From my understanding it goes a little like this.
No one is born with self-doubt. Yet I reckon most people have some self-doubt. In fact I’d go so far as to say everyone has had an occasion where they’ve said to themselves “I’m not sure I can do that” or “I wonder how long it will take before I’m discovered as a phony!” We question and second guess ourselves. Hands up who’s been there before. We develop self-doubt continuously from when we’re small. We’re affected by our environment, experiences, choices and nurturing. Self-doubt is a lack of confidence. It affects our self-acceptance and self-confidence.
I’ve done some fairly big projects for companies, as well as helped out smaller businesses and not-for-profits. I’m surrounded by smart people, doing great things, and I’m supporting them to improve – yet I’ll have times where I’m listening to them talking and thinking to myself – “Wow, these guys know what they’re talking about – who am I to support them.” It is a classic situation where I doubt my own capability. On some occasions, depending on my frame of mind, I will also descend into self-doubt and self-sabotage mode. A classic here is when I was having relationship issues. I doubted myself in that space. That then carried itself over into my work space. Everything is connected. It was a terrible place to be. I didn’t have the confidence to make the decisions and do the work to the level I expected of myself, or do the best for my clients. I doubted myself. This was not a good place to be. Self-doubt fed upon itself. I didn’t have the tools or awareness at that time to take corrective action.
“When nothing is sure. Everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble
Self-doubt really is a massive issue. It kicks into action when we’re in a new situation, wanting to do something new, stepping out into the unknown. Even in familiar situations but we’re not in a positive frame of mind. It kicks in when we’re working toward those dreams and goals we’ve got inside us. This includes all the new things we need to do as we progress toward them.
What is it and what does it do to us?
Self-doubt is the voice in our subconscious saying “you can’t do that. You’re not good enough.”
Sure you can keep living, but it will cut you off from making improvements, because improvement means change. Stepping out. Outside from where you’re comfortable. Safe. It tells you that you’ll fall, you’re not as good as the other guy, you’ll look silly, be ridiculed and laughed at by the people who you want to love and accept you. So it raises fears. What does this mean and how do we overcome it?
First I want to look at how self-doubt shows itself. What happens as a result of self-doubt?
There are many ways self-doubt affects us. Some of the biggest ways are:
Procrastination. If I don’t have to do something there is always a reason (excuse!) not to do it. Why put myself out there, outside of where I’m safe comfortable? I’ll do some more thinking, analysing, waiting, practice to reduce the chance of me tripping up or failing. Been there? I sure have – many times.
Lack of Focus. Because I’m doubting myself I lack focus. I get involved in doing many different things. I can’t commit and focus energy in one place.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steve Furtick
Negative thinking. Self-doubt causes negative thinking which starts the whole process of not doing anything. We’ll discuss later on a really effective technique I’ve been using to stop simple negative thoughts. Negative thinking raises fears of being found out that you’re a phony, second-guess and self-sabotage yourself. Some of the negative thinking includes:
- Building obstacles in our mind about what we’re doing. There are just too many things to do. That is much too hard or complicated.
- Comparing yourself to others. Our mind is so good at looking at how much better others are when we need to step out. We’ll never be able to do that, or compete with that.
- Self-judging ourselves by having perfectionist expectations, so that nothing is ever ready because it just isn’t good enough. I’m not good enough.
- Predicting the worst. This will all fail and then I’ll look stupid, nobody will like me, I’ll lose my income stream or my house.
Poor decisions. We make our decisions based on fear rather that hope. Decisions that keep us safe. Make choices based on fitting in and what others want for you. That’s what I was doing. Keeping friends and family happy was critical to me. It was also killing me.
Do any of these things affect you?
“Peace is not merely the absence of conflict in your life. It is also the defeat of the self-doubt that was in your path.” – Dodinsky
In the next article, Overcoming Self-Doubt, I explore my experiences and how to overcome your self-doubts to be the person you were meant to be and achieve your dreams. I’ll share with you a really surprising but effective technique I’ve learnt to use when the voice of self-doubt makes itself heard in my head.
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