Self-doubt. Nobody is completely free of it. In fact, many people do battle with it daily.
That heavyweight opponent, doubt perches on our shoulders. It whispers sweet nothings in our ears about failure and weakness and “can’t” until we believe in it more than we believe in ourselves. Though it speaks softly, its voice is often louder than the voices of confidence, trust or belief.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt
When I started this blog and my novel-writing project almost a year and a half ago, I only shared them with a few close friends and family (you know, and the worldwide web). Most of the people who knew me had no idea about this double-life I was leading. Self-doubt was at the heart of it.
I thought, my friends and acquaintances might think I’m weird. I might fail, and that would be so much more embarrassing if I had to face my readers on a day-to-day basis. Those thoughts brought out all of my social insecurities.
To overcome self-doubt takes time, and you can do it too. Here are just a few of the ways I retrained my brain toward confidence and self-acceptance.
- Make friends with your doubt. You may not think you need any more friends in your life. Think again! When you make friends with your doubt, you listen to it, spend time with it and if you’re a true friend, you challenge its bullshit in gentle and caring ways. You don’t have to stay friends with it; you just have to know it well enough to see it clearly for what it is. When you dig into it and understand it fully, you own the power to make healthy decisions about its place in your life.
- Look back at its place in your past. Hindsight being 20-20 works to our advantage, if we occasionally take a look back and learn from it. To be clear, this is not an opportunity to go back again and again to beat ourselves up for past mistakes. This is the time to figure out what we did well and what we could have handled better. Then, we pack up all the lessons we learned in a cute little carry-on bag for our future journey, leaving our doubts in the dust behind us.
- Play the odds. Our doubtful imagination leans toward the worse-case scenario. It’s human nature, and yet… Admit it! Nine times out of ten, things turn out better than our doubting minds think they will. Those are pretty good odds. So try it, whatever it is! You might fail; if you do, see #2 above. Odds are, it will turn out far better than you think.
- Focus on your strengths. If you don’t know already, find out what your strengths are. If you need help identifying them, I guarantee, the people around you know what they are. Then, when your doubts rear their ugly heads, turn your attention to what you’re good at. Emphasize the strengths, and your self-doubt loses its power.
- Test your limitations. We all have limits. All of us. Self-doubt tries to define them in some “safe” zone of not trying. Except, we don’t know what our true limits are until we test them. Push the edges of your own boundaries. No one ever reaches perfection, but the outer limits of our abilities are almost always far beyond what our doubting mind thinks it is.
- Take one step. Doubt can swamp us. It makes us believe we can’t reach our goals. They seem too big, too far away. Foggy thinking obscures the end game. Yet, we don’t have to reach the the finish line today or tomorrow. No, today, all we have to do is take one step, and we can see exactly where our foot will land. Then tomorrow, we’ll take another. The next day, another. Before we know it, we’re closer to living the dream.
After all, not every thought you think is true, and not every thought you think is you. Make it a habit to question your doubts about yourself. The answers you find – your own truths – will blossom and fill your life.
This past week, I had conquered self-doubt enough that I shared my blog profile on my Facebook page to all my friends and acquaintances. I told them I’d written the first draft of my novel. I shared that I was starting to edit that novel.
It’s still possible that they think I’m weird. Now, after befriending and accepting the self-doubts that kept me small, that’s okay. They can think what they like, and I still feel good that I put it out there. One wonderful friend even congratulated me on “coming out of the closet.” I put my shame and doubt behind me and stood up for who I am.
Because it’s not just about being who we WANT TO BE. It’s about being who we ARE right now.
Whatever self-doubts may be plaguing you, you can overcome them.
This is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. My suggestion for this year? Skip all the rest of the resolutions, and commit to just one thing.
Banish your self-doubt!
Do that, and all your other hopes and dreams become infinitely possible.
What are you worried about right now? What step(s) will you take to overcome self-doubt?
If you liked this, you might enjoy these related articles:
- 13 Approaches to Overcoming Obstacles
- Short Term Goal – Long Term Vision
- The Stories We Tell Ourselves
- Getting Rid of “But”: How Changing One Word Can Change Your Outlook