SELF DOUBT: The one thing you need to know to get unstuck.
Self doubt is something I believe we can all relate to. If you’ve ever dared to try something new, set yourself a goal or aim high, then you’ve almost certainly experienced self doubt.
Which are you?
Some of us are really good at sharing our self doubt; “There is no way I could do that, you’re so much better at this than me” or “I’m not good enough for that, I’ll never achieve it”. If this sounds like you then you’ve probably developed a habit of putting yourself down before you’ve had a chance to take your first steps on the path to your goal.
Then there are those of us who keep our self doubt quiet, or save it for one or two people we’re closest to. You might be embarrassed to speak up or feel like you’re the only one who has these thoughts. Maybe you’re a blend of both, sharing lots in some situations and sharing nothing in others.
The important thing to know is – it’s normal.
Why do I say that?
We’re hard wired to avoid discomfort.
If you want to do something new or different you’re going to need to learn something in order to achieve it.
New can be exciting, adventurous and thrilling, but it can also be a little scary, or if not scary, maybe it’s unknown or unclear.
It’s in the space between standing still and moving forward that self doubt can rise; “What if I can’t do it?” “I’m worried I’m not good enough” “maybe it won’t work” “What might they think?” “What do I do if it all goes wrong?”
Self doubt has a role to play. It’s a protective role.
If standing still is comfortable and easy, and moving forward involves risk and learning, your body and mind react to that but saying something like – “WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THIS TO US, WE’RE OK, IT’S COSY HERE, DON’T TAKE ME OUT THERE….”
This is why many of us will stay in jobs that we no longer enjoy or love, because we know we’re safe, there’s no risk in standing still. If, by the way, this is you, check out this blog on finding passion and purpose for the next 30 years. you might find what you need in here to get unstuck.
Our mind can’t tell the difference between a real threat and a perceived threat, that’s why we may get scared watching thrillers or horror movies. We know we can’t come to any harm but our bodies are reacting to what we see on the screen.
Self doubt crops up to try to protect us from harm and prevent us from moving forward with goals that may make us feel uncomfortable.
So how do you push through the self doubt and reach the other side? Here’s some ideas I’ve seen work when self doubt is an unwelcome visitor:
1. Recognise that learning may be uncomfortable
As you prepare your goals and plans, give some time to think about what the process of achieving these might be like. Prepare to stumble, to find things hard and know that this doesn’t mean that you’ll fail. It’s all part of the journey.
If you do struggle with fear of failure and find that this holds you back then check out a previous blog I wrote. In it I share some top tips on how to overcome a fear of failure.
2. Think the self doubt through
“What if I can’t do it?” Then I’ll seek some help and guidance from someone who has done this before
“What if I’m not good enough?” How will I know? Is this a real fear? What does ‘good enough’ look like? “Good enough compared to what or who?”
“I’m scared, what if it doesn’t work?” Then I’ll keep trying until it does or I’ve exhausted all my options and want something else instead.
“It’s probably all going to go wrong anyway, maybe I shouldn’t try?” I need to be prepared to learn from my experience, I might need to seek help from others or try several times before I work out what will work..
Whatever your responses to the questions, don’t let the self doubt stop you in your tracks. Challenge it and explore it.
3. Keep it in check
Self doubt may be normal but you can overindulge in it. Where doubt crops up, make sure that positive thinking also does too. What’s the likely outcome? What can you tell yourself that will counter the doubt? Can you visualise the success of your goal? Imagine what it will feel like and be like when you achieve what you want to. J
Remember we talked about your brain not knowing the difference between real or imagined. The same is true for imagining success. It ignites endorphins that will support you in your goal achievement.
MENTAL HEALTH NOTE:
If you struggle to control your self doubt or it’s causing you a real challenge in your life, be sure to prioritise your mental health. You’re the best judge of you so if you’re concerned speak to someone. This blog is not suggesting that high levels of anxiety or self doubt are OK. This is about the typical levels of doubt that we all experience when faced with something new.
4. Talk to someone
Get some perspective. Talk your goals and ideas through with someone and share with them the doubts you’re having. Ask them for their honest opinion. Be sure to seek someone out who you can trust and who won’t just pacify you or collude with you to make you feel better. Seek out an honest opinion from someone who holds you in good heart.
Self doubt is normal it can also be an indicator of where your mental health is at.
5. Take action
Sometimes you just need to take action. The difference between where you are now and where you want to be simply comes down to action. So whatever doubts you have, buckle up for a bumpy ride and plough on anyway. If you want something badly enough you can push through to the other side.
My top tip for this is to break your goal down into step by step mini goals. Often we get overwhelmed because we’re so focused on the last step. Start by focusing on the first step, the rest will fall into place as you take action.
The Leaders Guide to Finding Passion and Purpose in your work