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Fighting Self Doubt : Your Worst Enemy

19 April 2016

Don’t spend your lifetime underestimating yourself. Confronting words. And when I saw this phrase recently, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was guilty of allowing my self doubts to undermine what I’m truly capable of.  

All of us struggle with self-doubt at some point. It’s part of being human and it has a role in helping us grow and stretch our limits. It’s when our self-doubts hold us back that we become our own worst enemy.

The dictionary defines self-doubt as ‘a lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities’. I find it amazing that when we were young, we believed we could do anything. Yet along the way, as we grow up, self-doubt creeps in and we begin to pay more attention to that annoying little voice in our head. 

Here are some ways you can dial that voice down to a barely imperceptible whisper ….

Remind yourself that it’s all in your head

A fact that’s pretty obvious but something we often forget. No one is actually saying that ‘you’re not good enough’ or that ‘you’ll look (or sound) stupid’ or that ‘you’re in over your head’… at least in most cases. If you are however, in a situation where there is someone actually saying those things to you, get out of that toxic environment! Remove yourself from that negativity and get objective feedback to clear your head.

Look for the evidence

Is it really true what your inner critic is saying? Get out of your head and look for the actual evidence. The actual evidence is reality. While it’s true we can always do better, does the evidence show that you’re really as hopeless as your inner critic claims? I highly doubt so.

Focus on the specifics

Don’t generalise and label yourself as completely ‘bad’ at something if it’s only one specific area you need to improve on. If you lack confidence leading cross-functional teams, that doesn’t mean you’re not a good leader overall. It’s one specific area. Get training or mentoring to help you build that specific capability.

Celebrate ‘wins’

No matter how small they are. Constantly striving to be better is a double edged sword. It elevates your performance while at the same time, can create a habit of noticing only the negatives … which provides much loved fuel for your inner demon. Before you start beating yourself up over how you could have done better, ask yourself what you did do well. Did you even excel in some areas that surprised you? Self-compassion goes a long way. Give yourself some well-deserved credit and celebrate those wins.

Confront your inner beliefs

Quite often that voice of doubt in our heads comes from a deeper held belief we have about ourselves or the world around us. That underlying belief creates a lens which filters how we view the world, and influences how we behave, whether consciously or unconsciously. Dig deep to understand the root belief driving your self doubt. Greater self-awareness is the first step towards changing a limiting belief.

Progress comes in small steps

The key is to take action. Using positive affirmations and imagery are great ways to create a more positive mindset. But it needs to be followed by action to create the desired effect. Identify 3 things that will help you be the more confident ‘you’ and start taking small steps out of your comfort zone.

Self-doubt plagues us all. The key question is - will you allow yourself doubt to underestimate who you are and what you are capable of?

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