Do you doubt yourself?
There are many people that believe self-doubt to be a bad thing.
Well, I disagree. I think it's good to doubt yourself – a little. I believe it's good to have doubts, to question everything - challenge is healthy.
A little self-doubt can lead you to think more critically and gain more clarity before taking the next step. It nudges you to prepare more, which creates familiarity, gives you more confidence and ultimately improves your performance.
But too much self-doubt can be paralysing.
There is a saying “measure twice, cut once” which is to encourage careful first steps to avoid extra work later. I would argue that it could also mean exercise caution, but not too much!
Too much self-doubt can be painful and have a limiting effect on you. It can impact your performance by means of procrastination, low motivation and effort, and poor results.
It can make starting and finishing things harder than it needs to be.
With too much self-doubt you'll find ways to sabotage yourself. You'll find ways to blame circumstances for your failure rather than your lack of ability.
But what causes this amount of self-doubt?
There may be several factors.
- If you're unclear whether your ability or your effort contributed to your success, then you will experience self-doubt and it may press you to work harder to prove yourself.
- Criticism can also lead to self-doubt, and it can lead to self-criticism. Maybe when you were a child someone told you that you were stupid, and you haven’t been able to forget it. This is now a belief that you secretly hold, and it creates self-doubt.
- Imposter syndrome is linked to self-doubt too. This is when you feel a fraud despite having achieved success already. You doubt yourself so much that you worry someone will discover you’re a fake.
So, what can you do about this level of self-doubt?
Focus on the present moment rather than the past failures. Erase thoughts of your history that do not serve you and start with a clean slate.
Be aware of your thoughts and the power of pause. Notice what you are thinking and question the truth of it.
Use affirmations to retrain your brain. A lot of self-doubt comes from the belief that you are not worthy, so an affirmation such as “I am enough” can be used to counter this.
Be kind to yourself. The way you talk to yourself is critical, as these thoughts can hard wire into your brain. The brain is an efficient machine which runs on programmes that need to be interrupted if they are to be changed. So, interrupt them with kindness.