There are many challenges that may stand between you and achieving your goals. But the biggest one is not money or opportunity - it’s the little voice inside your head. Chances are you sometimes get into a psychic wrestling match with that voice inside your head that chips away at your confidence and fills you with doubt. ‘What if you mess up? What will people say? You’ll make a fool of yourself’ etc.
Self-doubt is part of being human, and everyone has to deal with it in some way or another. Van Gogh is reported to have said, "If you hear a voice within you say ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced," and aren’t we lucky that he did?
While no one is immune to self-doubt, we still have the ability to keep it from directing out decisions, shaping our lives, or holding us back. Here are 6 ways to reclaim the power self-doubt may have over you, and overcoming it.
There is no one-step, easy way to switch off self-doubt and turn on self-confidence. The latter is built gradually every time we have the courage to take action despite our predicaments. Think of courage like a muscle, the more you act with it, the braver you become, and the easier the next time will be.
The best way to start ‘practicing’ bravery, is starting with small ‘bite-size’ actions, that may not change your life immediately but will make a lasting impact. Whatever the problem or the opportunity you’re facing right now, ask yourself “What would I do right now if I were being brave?” Chances are your doubts will scream at you to do the exact opposite. This is your mind trying to protect you, and that’s okay. But no one can live life to the fullest while always being safe. So, visualize your success, take a deep long breath, and just do it. Every time you take action despite your doubts telling you otherwise, you dilute their power and amplify your own.
As we said, self-doubt is a defense mechanism that is there to protect you from humiliation and failure. Follow the advice of Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion expert and a psychology professor at the University of Texas, "Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up."
Self-doubt is an intricate part of being human, as is making mistakes. Accepting and embracing these things as a natural part of life is crucial to reclaiming the power self-doubt has over you and overcoming it.
If you can doubt yourself and your abilities, then why would you accept doubt as unquestionable truth? Doubts are fear-fueled stories you create about who you are, what you’re worth, and what you’re capable of achieving. That is all. They are not the truth.
In fact, more often than not, they’re just the opposite. So the next time you feel like this negative voice is starting to take over, take a moment to challenge that thought, and to doubt your doubts! What if, in fact, what you have to say is extremely important? If you’re more than ready to take on a new role? Why should your doubts take the upper hand?
Doubts often come in the form of inner self-criticism. And oftentimes, our inner critic is the harshest one we have to face. It’s constantly pointing out your faults, questioning your worthiness, and urging you to play it safe. While you can’t permanently silence it, you can learn to recognize its voice and maybe even give it a name. That scared part of you may want you to stay safe by living a small life, but it doesn't mean you have to comply.
Some mental health experts even suggest you can write that inner critic a letter, letting it know you’re in control, you’re not going to let it run the show, and things are going to work out.
Why would you bother to speak up, rock the boat, or get rejected? Only when the ‘why’ becomes clear in your mind, you can truly tackle self-doubt. You need to be able to find a clear and compelling answer to what your goal is, “For the sake of what am I willing to be brave?” Doing so will crystalize why you must take actions despite your doubts, and give your actions, and even your failures, value.
No man is an island. Everyone needs a tribe, and your tribe shapes you. The people surrounding you have the power to either fuel your self-doubt or fuel your self-confidence. You know, deep inside, who brings out the best in you and emboldens you, and who doesn’t. So if you want to make a change, make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you and have a positive impact on you. Foster deeper and lasting relationships with those people. It’s perfectly okay to avoid those who do the opposite, for your well-being.
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