Ugh, self-doubt. It’s defined as lack of confidence in oneself or in one’s abilities. But it seems so much more than that, or at least it feels heavier than that. When we’re doubting ourselves, we’re thinking we’re not good enough or we’ll never succeed because …. Insert reason here. But we are good enough and we will succeed. Those doubts are plain wrong.
Many of us, myself included, spend a lot of time swimming in self-doubt. William Shakespeare once said, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Meaning, we will often chose to quit or not start at all when we’re doubting our abilities. We don’t even want to try for fear of failure.
Often self-doubt comes from feeling unworthy, or having imposter syndrome. Then there’s self-sabotage, where you purposefully undermine yourself, your values or your goals. And it could come from indecision – the lack of making decisions for fear of making the wrong one.
However, with any of these, the actions one takes when doubting oneself aren’t typically helpful. When doubting oneself, you’re unlikely to accept compliments, or give yourself the credit you deserve. You may also have low self-esteem and feel like you’ll never get ahead. And you might find yourself constantly seeking reassurance. None of which are useful.
Here are a few helpful tips or ideas on what to do when you’re doubting yourself or your abilities:
1. Take Julia Cameron’s idea of Morning Pages and journal every morning to reflect on yourself and your accomplishments, as well as put down in writing what’s happening in your head. It is a game changer.
2. Quiet the inner critic. We’ve all got the negative voice inside our heads and the more we are aware of its power (none unless we yield to it) and its purpose (to keep us safe as if we’re three years old) we can turn down the volume to be more productive.
3. Review past achievements, recall the times you struggled through projects or jobs only to be massively successful in the end.
4. Be more compassionate with yourself. Cut yourself some slack, try not to be so hard on yourself, and do your best to be as kind as possible.
5. Compare and Despair – catch yourself when your mind is in comparison mode. That is never a good thing, instead, go back to chalking up your accomplishments, and keep in mind that everyone is on their own path, and you have your own to forge.
6. Question your doubts – be that non-judgmental being that steps outside of your thoughts, and question them. Byron Katie teaches us to ask “Is it true”? More often than not you’ll come to understand those doubtful thoughts just aren’t true.
Give a few of these tips a try whenever you begin to doubt yourself. Within time you’ll find the doubt much less heavy, and your confidence much more present.
And remember "You’re busy doubting yourself while others are intimidated by your full potential".