self-doubt

Wise man onece said about self-doubt. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why. We can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.

Steven Pressfield

Understanding Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is the feeling of uncertainty regarding one or more aspects of the self, such as capability or likability. When self-doubt encourages introspection, it can be highly beneficial; However, it can also negatively impact on your performance.

  • Self-doubt is not always connected to low self-esteem.
  • Your genetic makeup is as responsible as your life experiences for a self-doubt.
  • By the time you reach adulthood, you’ve heard the word no’ 50,000 times, compared to just 7,000 repetitions of ‘yes’.

According to British psychotherapist Adam Phillips, self-criticism is essential for our sense of self. He suggests that nothing makes us more critical or appalled that the idea that we should drop all our persistent criticism and start loving ourselves. And yet, continuing to believe negative statements such as “I’m just not good enough” only turns our self-doubts into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Conquering Self-Doubt

While it’s impossible to banish self-doubt entirely, there are several techniques that can help keep it under control.

1. Consider the worst-case scenario

Self-doubt is fuelled by catastrophic and often unrealistic predictions. Even if things do go terribly, they are unlikely to be life-altering. Keeping things in perspective is crucial.

2. Raise self-awareness

If you can recognize situations that trigger self-doubt, you can actively do something about them. Ask yourself what you can do to become better, and seek training or support to help you succeed.

3. Practice self-compassion

Being kind to yourself can help you develop emotional resilience. Recognize when you are being self-critical, replace the negativity, and remember that imperfection is a part of the shared human experience.

4. Stop seeking validation

Seeking advice from others can be helpful. However, if you continuously need others’ opinions before making a decision, you are weakening your faith in yourself. Begin to trust what feels right for you.

5. Keep a diary

Writing down feelings of self-doubt, followed by any evidence you have to support them, can help you see things more realistically. Although not a cure, examining the facts will help reduce your insecurities enough to enable you to take action.

6. Forget what others think

It often feels safer to do nothing and avoid judgment, than to do something and risk criticism or failure. Worrying about other people’s opinions of you will only hold you back from doing something positive for yourself.

7. Follow your instinct

Spending too much time deliberating whether you should choose option A or B is a guaranteed way to nurture self-doubt. Often your first reaction will be the best since it characteristically comes from a place of intuition rather than from the ego.

8. Focus on the present

Whatever the challenge, telling yourself that you can’t, only will distract you from your performance. By remaining yourself that all you can do is your best in the present moment, you will be able to put all of your energy into the task at hand.

Overcoming self-doubt requires taking affirmative action while being attentive to the inner critic. Choosing to take action in spite of pervasive doubt is the first step towards success. With self-doubt gone, you can improve your productivity to be more successful.