You know that self doubt is “made in the head”, don’t you? What’s it going to take to replace it with self-confidence? Want to know how?
Self Doubt (Audio)
Have you ever doubted yourself? You know – that feeling of uncertainty? A fear of whether you will be able to do something? Doubting whether you were “good enough”? Doubting your capabilities? Worrying about getting a decision wrong?
Self doubt defined
I have seen self doubt defined as a lack of confidence in the reliability of one’s own motives, personality and thoughts; a lack of confidence or belief in oneself or one’s abilities.
Self-doubt is a fear of making a mistake, which often arises from other people’s expectations of us and sometimes even their criticism of us when we’ve made mistakes.
Responses, or feedback, from those around us, helped, and still does, shape and develop our self-perception, part of which involves our decision-making abilities.
I have seen (and experienced) self doubt killing off the most rewarding of initiatives; preventing the “owner” from even “having a go” in the first place. And thereby foregoing the possibility of achieving the most magnificent of outcomes
Self Doubt – Fact or fiction?
Would you agree with me how ironic it is that like fear, all these self doubts are made in our heads? Using other language, I could say that they are “made up”, implying that they may not actually be reality, but just perception or worry, which in my blog Dealing with Fear I suggested is using your imagination to create something you do not want.
Speaking of fear, there are 3 universal fears applicable to everybody:
- Fear of being found out (including fear of failure & not being good enough)
- Fear of belonging (including rejection – also called fear of people) )
- Fear of being loved (including fear of allowing vulnerability)
Which suggests that they always apply to all of us, implying that different outcomes can be achieved by the different means by which we “manage” these universal fears. I have often written and spoken about how “action cures fear” and also referred to Susan Jeffers’ book “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Now before you walk away if this is too “warm and fuzzy” for you let me illustrate a “real business” example I experienced recently.
I facilitated a workshop of a group of mature, senior leaders representing their respective company’s positions into the achievement of one collaborative and mutually acceptable project outcome they were all individually contractually committed to. It was amazing how, when focused on true leadership attitudes and behaviours just a couple of indications of some “vulnerable honesty” allowed not only a better understanding or appreciation of the real situation to emerge, but enabling empathy, which opened up the degree of dialogue (and trust) for others to respond in the same way. It was the breakthrough everyone didn’t think possible, but knew was required that paved the way to a very collaborative, pragmatic and successful outcome for everyone. The initial catalyst cast any doubt aside and took a risk. Any self doubt in that moment would have prevented that, and possibly avoided the quality of the outcome it paved the way for.
Of course we will be quite circumspect in which situations we consider it “politically safe enough” to do so, but knowing when to “show vulnerability” can be an important catalyst to “move any negotiation along”.
Keeping this in a business context (but nonetheless allowing it to be equally applicable in any broader “life” context), we might look at how we make decisions.
Isn’t this where our self doubt manifests most often; particularly if in a situation where we might be dealing with something unfamiliar? Where we might doubt ourselves of making the “right” decision because we fear the consequences of “getting it wrong”?
You know, (and as a Libra I have quite some experience in this situation) I have learned that making a “wrong” decision is usually better than making no decision at all. We can still correct or adjust a “poor” decision, but not making one at all is like putting short in golf – you know that it will not get to the cup.
Whilst asking “what if” questions can be is useful in managing risk so as to work through all possible scenarios, I have found that If we keep asking ourselves “what if…?” aren’t we usually seeking out all the things that can go wrong? What we focus on is often what we get, right?
In my blog Planning in scenarios I speak of looking for the “worst case” and also the “best case” scenarios, knowing that neither extreme positions on that spectrum is likely to eventuate. We then look for the more likely scenarios between those two points and assess how we can mitigate and also how we can influence the outcomes more towards the desired outcome. I believe this to be far more pragmatic an approach that doesn’t just look at the “negatives”
I have learned that this often helps remove or mitigate doubt and generate more confidence in making better decisions.
In my blogs Managing Your State, Trusting oneself, Self Talk, Beliefs, Procrastination, Hope and Managing Expectations I address various aspects of recognizing and addressing self doubt in many different ways and from many different perspectives.
Just the number of blogs around this topic would suggest how often I have encountered and worked with it with my clients and prevalent it is in our lives and interactions today – both in business and in life.
In there I also mention Henry Ford’s famous quote: “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are dead right”.
The common thread? Believing in yourself; backing yourself; trusting yourself that you are OK. That you can.
You can you know?
One of the most inspiring clips I watched recently was of Nick Vijicic at:
Talk about attitude in the face of obstacles…. Please watch it – I am convinced that whenever next you might face a situation of having doubts over yourself being able to do or cope with something, it will help you be able to reframe them very powerfully.
Have I still got your attention? Has this article struck any relevant chords for you? Is your self awareness strong enough to recognize when you allow self doubt to manifest for you?
In our work as coaches we often recognize patterns of behaviour that the client isn’t aware of. It can often be picked up from the language they use or from reactions to certain challenges. Sometimes they can point to all sorts of conditioning related “obstacles” including feelings of a lack of significance or self worth.
The most fundamental message for those of you that this has “struck that chord” with is that you understand that most of these beliefs or feelings are “made in our head” and can subsequently be adjusted or adapted and their re-inventing contribute strongly to your re-inventing yourself.
What if like Nick Vijicic above you were to simply accept who you are and believe that you can be, do and have anything that you want, if you want it badly enough. In no way wanting to be patronizing, but would you agree with me that after that video there can be very few excuses for most of us?
Please join me in celebrating our life for who we already are today and what we already have achieved and see the power of building on that even more.
And if there is still self doubt on whether you can do this by yourself, why not engage a coach to accompany you on this magnificent journey.
You can you know? Imagine what you could achieve if you really thought you could?