No doubt about it, self-doubt can cripple you faster than kryptonite can cripple Superman. Those little monsters can stop you in your tracks and all your grand plans about becoming the person you were meant to be and fulfilling your greatest desires all come to nothing as soon as they rear their ugly, little heads.
It can be incredibly frustrating. You know you should be able to overcome them and in fact your life depends on overcoming them. If you're never able to paint or write or do the thing that you so desperately desire to do simply because you doubt your abilities, then those monsters are destroying your life.
So, how do you overcome self-doubt?
One of the things you might do when you feel self-doubt is to instantly think you "shouldn't" feel that emotion. You probably also see self-doubt as being a flaw or a weakness. Something that makes you less of a person and that you don't want anyone else knowing about you. You might even think you're broken or need fixing because you have self-doubts. So, then you try to stuff down the feeling or ignore it. Or you try to push past it by sheer force.
The problem with doing this is that the emotion is still there hovering in the background. As Andrii Sedniev says in his book,
So, denying your feelings of self-doubt isn't going to work. Just trying to make the feelings go away also isn't going to work.
Instead, tell yourself:
Allow yourself to accept the feeling and have no judgement towards it. It's just a feeling you're feeling.
Simply become aware that you're feeling self-doubt at this very moment.
You can even pay attention to see how it's affecting your body. Do you feel a blockage in your chest? Do you feel heavy? Or do you have a foggy mind? Or maybe overwhelmingly tired? Or do you have a strong desire to go and do something else instead?
Notice the reactions in your body as soon as you become aware that you're feeling doubt. Don't try to push the feelings away, just be aware of them and let them be.
As soon as you do this, they lose a lot of power over you.
Also, accept that it can be a good thing. If you're feeling self doubt, you might take more time with the task and avoid making silly mistakes or you'll take more time to find out any information you need.
Accepting it rather than trying to tell yourself that you shouldn't be feeling self-doubt allows you to be aware of it yet not become entangled in it. But, it's okay to feel doubt. Nothing wrong with it. It's not something you have to overcome. You just have to accept it.
If you like to visualise things, you could also visualise it as big, stuffed animal and put it on a chair in the corner. Or, if you look at the image at the top, it reminds me of the movie, Monsters Inc. and how the monsters were really like Skully, soft hearted really but just trying to scare the little kids because that was their job. So, think of it that way, doubt is there to keep an eye on you and keep you safe but you're good for right now and don't need its help.
The important things with self-doubt, or any negative emotion, is that you can't let it shut you down. So, let's move on to the next important step once you've accepted the feeling.
What Needs To Be Done?According to the book, Constructive Living (Kolowalu Books) the next key trick to overcome self-doubt is to then ask, "What needs to be done then in this situation?"
You then decide on what one step you need to take right now. You take action in spite of still being aware of your feelings of self-doubt.
By doing this, you're aware that you're feeling doubt but you're also taking action.
Taking action is a key aspect of moving past the self-doubt. You can't allow yourself to become paralyzed into inaction by your thoughts.
It's important to point out that you're not taking action to distract yourself from the feeling, you're taking action in spite of having the feeling.
You bring yourself to the present moment and clearly think about what you need to do at that precise moment in time.
As the Constructive Living book says, "That's what maturity is all about - not feeling confident all the time but doing what needs doing regardless of your feelings."
He says the feelings will eventually fade because you won't have time to notice them because you'll be too busy living.
Another good quote to explain this idea is, "I am not suggesting that you deny or ignore your anxieties. I am saying that going on about your business of living, bringing your attention back to the tasks at hand (the requirements of the situation), will result in the pleasant side effect of less [self doubt]"
The main thing to remember is that it's okay to feel self-doubt. It's normal and to be expected. Accept that you're going to feel self-doubt at certain times. It's a good thing. It's a sign that you're trying something new or pushing towards your important goals.
You then bring yourself to the present moment and decide what has to be done right then. You then move forward regardless of feeling self doubt. It's there but it doesn't stop you.
The toughest part if you're doing an activity that requires thinking like writing or painting, might be to make yourself sit down and allow yourself to feel the self-doubt. It's very easy to try to push the feelings away before you even allow yourself to feel them. You do this by telling yourself, "I'll write later" or "I can't do it right now." Or you may find something else suddenly requires your attention. Or you need to do research instead of actually working on your project.
You do this because you don't want to feel those feelings. They're uncomfortable to feel and you'd rather avoid feeling them at all. So, to keep you safe, your mind will come up with anything it can to get you to do something else besides feel those feelings.
Make yourself sit, feel the emotions, and then move your focus to what needs to be done right at that very moment. There's nothing else but that moment and what you need to do.
You should then be able to move forwards despite still feeling self-doubt.
You just have to get past those first moments of allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable. You can do it.
A Slight Variation
If you're still finding it difficult to focus on what you need to do and find the doubt overwhelming, then try to find something fun about the task to do first. What would be fun to work on first? Once you get started with a task, it's easier to keep going with it. Often it's just that first step to get started which is the hardest part. So, focus on what would be fun about the task. Just some tiny piece of it is all you need. For example, sometimes I find it hard to write articles for this site. I do find it fun making the images at the top of the article though. So, sometimes I'll start there and play around with those and that will get me moving and I can work on that first and then move towards the actual writing. The trick though is that you don't focus on your doubt, you focus on just one part of the task.
Don't Let Self-Doubt Ruin Your Life
This technique is definitely worth a try. What do you have to lose besides all your life's dreams?
<-- Back to Confident Thinking
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