Have you ever experienced self-doubt?
Perhaps that seems like a silly question as most people have self-doubt at some point in their lives. Many people suffer from self-doubt when they are faced with a new challenge or when they’re asked to step out of their comfort zone, and this is a major obstacle in achieving success.
Why do people experience self-doubt?
Self-doubt is the result of limiting beliefs which were most probably created in childhood. They are the result of experiences that shattered self-confidence by being made to feel ‘not good enough’ or stupid by people in authority such as parents, teachers or other authority figures. These beliefs are help deep within the subconscious mind and may be triggered whenever a person has to face a new experience, a new challenge, or even meet new people.
Self-doubt also arises as a result of comparing yourself against others – ‘so-and-so’ is so much better at (fill in the blank) than I am, is more successful, makes more money, is better looking, is better-known etc etc.
It is often easier to doubt yourself than it is to believe in yourself and that something is possible, especially when believing in yourself challenges those powerful limiting beliefs.
How does self-doubt affect you?
Self-doubt leads to self-sabotage…
- Negative self-talk
- Avoiding attention
- Small goals
- Meager achievements
- Financial problems
- Dysfunctional relationships
and so on, and so on.
Self-Doubt and Fear of the Unknown
Self-doubt is a form of fear – False Expectation Appearing Real. The word ‘expectation’ is the key because you are focused on some imagined future negative outcome – you are imagining that you won’t succeed, that you aren’t capable of achieving your goal or overcoming a challenge.
When you set a goal, it is something that hasn’t materialized yet. It is unfamiliar territory for you. Our protection mechanism (the ego) tells us to stay safe and stick with something that is familiar. We use this as a reason to quit.
The unknown also helps us to come up with excuses. It’s easy to say it won’t work because… and then insert whatever reason will set your mind at ease. Other people may also come up with excuses for you if your goal is outside their comfort zone too or they feel threatened by it. It’s a sign that they are suffering from self-doubt too!
Don’t confuse self-doubt with healthy skepticism. For instance, if someone said that you could jump off a high cliff and not get killed, your skepticism will question this and conclude that this is a bad idea. Skepticism can also sometimes guide you to not get into something like a business opportunity that sounds too good to be true.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt
Self-doubt is not something that will advance your life. It will hold you back, and you need always to be aware of that, but there IS a solution.
You can deal with it in a tactical way – by preparing yourself as much as possible for the unfamiliar situations, making detailed plans, gritting your teeth and pushing forward.
But, approaching self-doubt this way is only a temporary measure and every time you face a challenge or set yourself a major goal to achieve, that crippling self-doubt is going to raise its ugly head!
The best way to tackle self-doubt once and for all is to go back to the source – the limiting beliefs I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It is only by clearing these false beliefs about yourself that you will achieve a lasting solution.
“How?” I hear you say.
Limiting beliefs are created by our perception of a situation. When we change that perception, we change that belief.
Let me tell you a story…
When I was 5 years old my school teacher asked the whole class to bring in things that could be sold at the school fundraiser. I asked my mom several times to get some things together for me to take to school but when the day came to take in the donations my mom still hadn’t got anything out so I decided to do it myself. I rummaged through my toy cupboard and pulled out some toys and books and took them to school.
At the morning assembly the head teacher called me up to the front and proceeded to tell me off in front of the whole school for being stupid because I had taken in books that had been crayoned on and toys that were unsaleable. I felt embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated and my belief that I was stupid and not good enough was born.
I embodied that belief for 50 years until I was guided by my mentor to see a different interpretation (or perception) of that event.
Instead of being stupid and not good enough, I was able to see that I had shown initiative, taken responsibility and taken action to complete the task at a very young age. These were all positive qualities that I had been unable to see in myself until someone else helped me see a different interpretation of the experience. It was a major turning point in my life and I never looked back.
As a result of learning this technique, I created a process to help other people transform their limiting beliefs into powerful self-belief and overcome self-doubt so they are free to achieve their most ambitious goals.
If you would like to sample this process to help you overcome your limiting beliefs and self-doubt, you can download a free copy of my Break Your Beliefs Workbook here.