Dealing with self-doubt
In the last post, I briefly touched on some of the ways this year has felt like a roller coaster. Here lately, not only have external events happened to shake things up. But also, internally I’ve started to experience something I think most people feel at one point or another. Self Doubt.
Typically being a person who believes anyone can achieve anything, the feeling of self-doubt is strange. Unsettling is one way to describe it. Some recent articles call it imposter syndrome. Label it what you may, its awful. During this period of self-doubt I’ve struggled to find any comfort. Being self-critical over every choice current and past. Trying to establish some form of baseline feeling that I’m doing anything at all right. It’s been a really tough time.
Those said to suffer from the Impostor Syndrome struggle with the sense that their successful outcomes are not an accurate reflection of their underlying abilities.
Braslolw, Matthew. et al, “Self-Doubt.” , Social & Personality Psychology Compass. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2012, pp 477-478
Knowing that many people deal with this on a continuous basis, I decided to share some of the research I’ve found. And also share some of the things which have helped to at least redirect my thoughts to see myself in a more positive light.
One of the most helpful things I learned while researching this topic is that YOU CAN OVERCOME it! In the moment it might seem debilitating, but on this blog, the author, also a clinical psychologist states:
Self-doubt isn’t a personality trait. It’s simply a mental habit.
Nick Wignall, Clinical Psychologist
Habits can be changed, improved and built. It should also be known that not all self doubt is bad. It can be healthy and motivating to have a tad bit of self doubt when going into a new situation, or taking an exam for example. When the doubt creeps in almost as a push to study more or edit an article again, it plays an important role.
The problem with it comes into play when it starts to limit activities or causes a hesitation based only on fear. In these instances, studies show that individuals begin to distance themselves from people or activities they may actually enjoy in fear they will fail. Another negative symptom that could potentially be rooted in self-doubt is underestimating your loved ones care for you.
Interestingly, self doubt creeps in when one person compares themselves to another. I say interestingly, because studies have shown that no two people measure success in the same way. Meaning, the importance placed on any aspect of a person’s life differs from person to person. Therefore, unless competing in the same sport, the comparison rarely matters. Not to mention, there isn’t just one way or approach to take when doing something! While you may admire how someone else does something, it does not mean your way is any less, it just means it is different!
Some Tips to help manage through self doubt
- First, realize that self doubt is common, normal and can be productive in some instances.
- Second, write down a few things in the past year you did that were worthwhile. This could include helping others, completing a work project, cleaning out a closet. All the way to writing a book, giving to your local charity or maybe the work you do everyday.
- Think of the ways in which you nurture yourself. Have you taken the time for self-care, started a conversation you’ve been meaning to have? Or maybe you’ve made a point to take a calming bath from time to time or eat your favorite meal. Even if you’ve been hydrating well lately, acknowledge it.
- Refer back to when the people around you have genuinely thanked you. Sometimes it can be tough to take compliments, instead remember the last time someone sent you a thank you note, or wrote even a sentence of appreciation. When I was first starting my career, a training instructor suggested having a folder set aside for emails where people are genuinely giving you positive feedback. For the simple fact, referring back to it and reading through will remind you of when your contributions not only made a difference to the bottom line, but also to another’s day.
- Make a decision. One of the best ways I overcome self-doubt is to make a decision. Potentially a small one, like whether to eat Five Guys or Clean Juice for lunch. Or, potentially a huge one, like whether to move to a new city or not. The small decisions help to reinforce your self-awareness over decision making. And, the big ones allow you to get over a hurdle, sometimes weighing you down.
- Take time to think of all the good decisions you’ve made up to this point. It’s a fact that we make decisions based on the information available and understood to us in the moment. Yes, sometimes our decisions go hay-wire if we let too many emotions or fears creep in. For the most part, we do the best we can with what we have. Give yourself that credit.
- Perhaps not as intuitive is to think of the decisions you made that you regret. List 3 at the max and write down next to it what you would do differently next time that same decision comes up.
- And, one last tip is to go try something new. Do something completely out of your ordinary, something that has any % of fail rate. Just simply give it a try. EVEN if you fail, it will be empowering!
And, if all else fails. Advice straight from my own father: give yourself a hug.
What are some of the tools you use to overcome the feeling of self-doubt? Are there any you’d add to the list above? How have you helped your loved ones overcome this feeling?