All of us experience self-doubt, but it doesn’t have to hold us back. Working mindfully and courageously with self-doubt is the doorway to greater self-belief.
I well remember the first two weeks after I’d opened Momentum as a centre, I was plagued with self-doubts. I remember sitting at my desk, in the lovely new space, trying to think positively because I’d created my dream and there was so much opportunity ahead. Yet all I could focus on was this awful, gut-wrenching ball in the pit of my stomach. Along with that feeling was a heap of voices telling me: What do you think you’ve done! You can’t do this? What if you fail? How will you pay the bills? You won’t manage! Theses voices taunted me day and night. And try as I may to avoid them or quash them with positivity, they stayed put. It was a biggie. Life was keen for me to really get-to-know self-doubt like never before. Self doubt breeds fear.
Like a greedy beast, self-doubt zaps our confidence and steals our joy. It breeds insecurity and fear. Why? On the physical level, our pre-historic limbic brain that’s responsible for the stress response of ‘fright and flight’ senses that we’re going into new territory and wants to do its best to ‘keep us safe’. However its unlikely that we’re about to get swallowed-up by a saber-toothed tiger – but on a systemic level, unfortunately we run like a machine and we don’t know the difference. We all have our own self-doubt triggers – when we feel overwhelmed or under-resourced. When we step outside our comfort-zone, or sometimes even when we just think about it, we can expect that some fear and self-doubt will arise, it’s only natural. Self-doubt is part of being human.
However, as adults if left-unchecked self-doubt has the capacity to over shadow self-belief. It can completely sabotage our chances at creating happier circumstances, at leaving unhappy relationships or at the very least, about feeling confident and good about ourselves. So, if resisting or fighting self-doubt doesn’t work, then what does?
It starts with understanding.
Like joy, like anger, like sadness, self-doubt is a part of us. Treating it like a friend, rather than an enemy, it needs our acceptance and understanding. If we pay close, gentle attention to our fear and self-doubt and be willing to explore it, rather than running away, then we’ll have the best chance at being happy and moving forwards, despite it. Self-doubt doesn’t have to hold you back. The following tips will help you to manage yours.
Notice your red-flags.
Learning to recognise your self-doubts starts when you become mindful of your negative self-talk, that I like to call ‘red flags’. Start by looking out for your particular red-flag sayings, easily recognised as all-or-nothing statements, things like: ‘should’ ‘can’t’ ‘never’ or ‘always’. Which ones can you relate to?
When you do this, your might notice many more than you bargained for – that’s normal! Don’t be put-off by what you observe in yourself. Being aware is a very powerful first step that you can build upon. Transform the energy.
Self-doubt voices often have the pitch and tone of a child. A bit like a tantrum. As you notice a fed-flag, child-like self-doubt voice, transform it’s negative energy into a positive response. For example, if you hear “I will fail’ respond to it (in your mature adult voice) with ‘If I fail, then I’ll try again.’ You might even try making a list of your top 10 red-flag sayings. Be sure to also write your adult response beside it.
Doing this transforms the self-doubt into an opportunity for growth. And it gives you a chance, even if it might seem like a small thing in the moment. Over time, your capacity to transform self-doubt into self-belief will strengthen.
Listen to your supporters.
Surround yourself with like-minded, positive and purposeful people who can inspire you and help to bring out your best. They will remind you of your dreams and help to uplift you when you forget your self-belief. Remember to call them or get in touch when you need to – and be committed to returning the favour.
Be mindful of your family members. We love them, yes. But sometimes, although well-meaning, our siblings or parents unconsciously want to keep us safe, and this retards our growth. Accept their opinions, respect their views, but don’t take on someone else’s fear as your own. Be discerning and recognise the difference.
Remember your skills and successes.
Whenever you get lost, do your best to remember the valuable skills that you’ve learned along your journey already. For example, if once you had a problem with angry people and have learned to be more confident around them, remember that you do have the ability to learn and succeed, when you choose to.
Remember your successes, what you’ve accomplished, even the small ones. Milestones that you have had in your family, personal life, career and business so far. A bit like stepping stones, each one has, in some way, led you to where you are today. Have confidence that you are not at the end of your journey and will continue to learn, develop – and succeed.
Let go of perfection.
There is no state of perfection, except where you are right here, right now. This life is perfect for you and all that you need to be happy, self-doubts included.
Let go of thinking that perfect happiness will only be there if you can overcome your self-doubts. Self-doubt will always be here, in some shape or form. We just get better and better at seeing and dealing with it.
So, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself well. Learn to slow down and relax your expectations. You are more capable and worthy than you give yourself credit for.
Get in touch with your essence.
Beyond the limited-self-doubting you, there is a wise, peaceful presence. The witness, the observer, spirit, God, your essence or your higher Self, whatever you choose to call it. This is the part of you that is not touched by fear or self-doubt. Trust THAT about you. This part of you is eternally here, is always peaceful and available, even in your toughest hour.
Self-awareness practices like yoga and meditation help you to get in touch with this aspect of yourself. And the fellow students and teachers in your community will understand and be happy to remind you and support you.
Self-believe emerges through self-doubt. It’s a journey.
Over time, as you apply the above approaches, and adopt others, you will develop a healthy perspective on self-doubt, and self-belief will grow. Your self-doubts are only your thoughts, they do not determine your worth – and they are not WHO YOU ARE. Be prepared for the journey, exploring and learning along the way, with self-doubt just part of the terrain and not as the driver.
Healthy self-belief says:nI can try new things, despite my doubts.
I can be happy, despite my doubts.
I am worthy, despite my doubts.nI believe in myself, despite my doubts.
I can succeed, despite my doubts.
And I have the potential for a wondrous life, right now, despite my doubts. If you’re ready to step beyond self-doubt and be supported to shine, then read more about what I offer through Life Coaching. Go mindfully, with courage!