Wondering how to overcome self doubt? Self doubt should really be an oxymoron in my opinion. I mean, strangers can doubt me all they want, but I’m all I have! Shouldn’t I believe in myself no matter what? The truth is I should – but sometimes I don’t.
As an entrepreneur, female, partner, friend – you name it, there are times I doubt that I’m enough. It’s never intentional but it sneaks in quietly and has a tendency to bring me down before I realize what’s happening. Chances are, if you’re breathing, you’ve experienced self-doubt too.
Even people who may appear to have great self confidence and make a great impact on others can sometimes struggle with self-doubt. So the goal shouldn’t ever be to expect yourself to be completely free of self-doubt but to have a healthy self doubt that everybody experiences now and then. Too much expectation and unhealthy self doubt can be bad for your mental health.
Feeling self doubt is part of human nature and in and of itself is not a bad thing, neither is embracing it. It is only when you get paralyzed to inaction when it can become a problem. Overcoming self doubt sometimes is as simple as jumping into action while acknowledging what you’re doubtful about. Vincent van Gogh said it best, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
Sometimes it comes when you start to practice self compassion a little bit because truth be told, oftentimes we self sabotage and we’re our worst critics.
So what can you do to overcome self doubt and get our self esteem back ? How do you turn off the ever-persistent inner critic (self doubting thoughts) to inner champion with self compassion?
Here are three quick tips on how to kill self doubt (before it gets too far):
Pick up on the cues
The key to stopping disease is catching it early and the same thing could be said for self-doubt. Learn to identify your own cues so when they start you can shift gears. The first sign for me is that I’m suddenly questioning myself and my ability to get something done. That can quickly turn into comparing myself to someone around me (physically or on social media, tv, etc.) that appears to be “getting everything done”. If left unchecked, my next step is a little bit of despair or depression because I may start with comparing myself to one person but pretty soon I’m doing it with everyone, widening the gap between where I feel I am and where I tell myself everyone else is.
Shift your focus
Once I notice that I’m starting to question my own abilities, I shift focus before the vicious cycle of negative thoughts begins. Log off of social media, get out of your head and change your energy so that the downward spiral can stop. It’s the perfect time to go for a quick walk, mentally list the top three things you’re thankful for and stay in the present moment or spend time with supportive family members or a good friend (always a great idea) and ask them how they are doing that day. That may sound elementary but can go a long when it comes to building self confidence again. Self doubt can’t stay the focus when YOU aren’t the focus so a quick mental and physical shift makes a huge difference.
Celebrate the small victories
If you’re still feeling down after making a move, remember your last victory (no matter how big or small) and prepare to check another off the list. It could be as small as honoring your commitment to go to the gym when you really just wanted to binge watch Netflix or launching that company you’d planned for three years. Either way, focus on what you have already accomplished. Think through how it made you feel (accomplished, powerful, in control) and then decide what one step you can take next.
I keep a running tally of to do’s for myself and my business and some of the tasks are daunting – but some aren’t. On the days I am dancing with self-doubt I choose to accomplish one – even if it’s the simplest, easiest, five second task – and celebrate it. Once you feel a forward momentum you can use it to look where you’re going, not where you think you may be stuck. Don’t be your worst critic, celebrate small wins.
Look beyond yourself
Sometimes we find ourselves, and our confidence, only when we lose ourselves in the service of others. Service to others can not only heal you but can improve your perspective and help you realize your self worth. Looking beyond yourself can also mean appreciating how far you’ve come.
I am sure you’ve heard people saying stop comparing yourself with others. While its true that this can have negative consequences, it so not so easy in application. But what you can do is this: rather than comparing yourself to others, compare yourself with past versions of yourself. Looking beyond self can also mean getting professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that can help you find true self.
Go on Living Your Best Life!
When you have goals in life there will be times when you experience feelings of being incapable, which everyone does, including successful people like Michael Jordan or Johnny Depp or whoever your hero is. In other words, the fact that you do have self doubt could mean you’re onto something big.
Self doubt is a pretty normal part of being a human but it doesn’t mean you should welcome it in like an old friend. Learn your cues, shift your focus and celebrate those small victories. Pretty soon you’ll be back to the fierce boss babe you truly are!