Self-doubt...we all have it! Olympic Champions have it. Heart Surgeons have it. Artists have it. We all have that self-doubting voice inside that constantly tells us we're not good enough. Just as the hopeful gold-medalist takes to the ice, her inner voice says, "You're not as good as the other skaters!" Or the surgeon hears, "What if you can't save this person." Or, the Artist listens to the same old message, "You'll never make any money with your artwork."
Sometimes the voice aims at one specific flaw over and over again. It reminds you that you'll never get a great paying job, you won't be able to write that best-selling book, or you simply don't have what it takes.
So how do we get beyond that self-doubt monster that shows up just when we are ready to take action in our lives? How do we get beyond our high school counselor's words that we'd never make it through college, or our parent's admonishing words that we aren't attractive enough?
We're finally ready to play BIG and go for the "gold" and the monster within shows up. She reminds us that we are not capable of handling our problems, not clever enough to speak up, or don't have what it takes to get through tough times.
If we all have self-doubt, why do some people seem like they don't? Why do some people seem like they have either conquered their doubt or never had it? Why are some athletes able to compete and win the "gold" even though they're shaking inside? Why are some prospective candidates able to ace an interview while others decide not to even try?
Allowing self-doubt to keep you from going after what you want in life is unnecessary and avoidable. Here are three strategies to help you turn down the volume of self-doubt and turn up the volume of self-confidence:
Strategy #1: Recognize your fear. Do it anyway. When you can truly see that FEAR is the culprit underneath all of your self-doubt you can begin to take the action necessary to override it. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being good enough, or fear of not being able to handle life are common fears that underlie self-doubt. Once you can acknowledge the underlying fear that is keeping you stuck, then you can do what is necessary to take the steps to push through it.
Joyce had a dream of finishing college. Everyone around her had earned their degree. When Joyce would go to dinner parties with her husband, she always felt inferior to the other female lawyers and doctors. At the age of 47, she wondered if it was too late to go back to school and doubted she could ever achieve her dream. Once, Joyce, realized her self-doubt was based on her underlying fear of failure, she knew she had to face her fear and do whatever it would take to earn her degree.
Strategy #2: Stop comparing. Be your own best friend. Self-doubt often comes from believing you don't measure up to others. You believe yourself to be inferior to everyone around you. You find yourself internally saying unkind things about yourself. "If only I was as organized as Nancy," or "I wish I could make friends as well as Sarah." In the comparison game, you find yourself always on the losing side.
The key to stopping the comparison game, is to make the decision to be your own best friend. This means that you will practice treating yourself in a kind and respectful way. Begin to notice when your self-talk is negative and practice reframing it. For example, when you catch yourself negatively comparing yourself to someone else, such as "If only I was as organized as Nancy," simply stop and restate it in a way that better serves you, such as "I have a creative spirit that serves me well, and I can look for some creative ways to get more organized." Treating yourself with kindness and positive support will help diminish your feelings of self -doubt.
Strategy #3: Take a chance. Allow yourself to fail. When you feel self-doubt creeping in take a chance. Allow yourself the opportunity to fail. People who seem to exhibit little or minimal self-doubt, often override their fear of failure. They'd rather push through their fear and fail, than not try at all. They don't allow the opinions or criticisms of others stop them from going for what they want. They are determined to live life on their terms...win or lose. They do not allow others or even their own fear to keep them down.
They'd rather push through their fear and fail, than not try at all.
Cheryl wanted to be an actress more than anything. Her parents and school counselor tried to steer her towards a career that would be financially more stable than acting. Though Cheryl loved her acting roles in high school, she doubted her ability to make it as an actress and instead went to law school. Cheryl hated law school and knew she had to take a chance on her dream as an actress. She realized that she would be miserable if she didn't at least attempt an acting career, even if she failed. Cheryl chose to override her feelings of self-doubt and go for her dream.
"If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." -Vincent Van Gogh