This morning I saw a quote that really resonated with me. “The light you see in others is shining brightly within you”. So simple, yet logical and indisputable. Everyone has a light within them. And all of us find it easier to see it in other people than within ourselves. This is at its most obvious when it comes to our abilities. No word of a lie I think nearly every person in the world (excluding Trump) doubts their own ability.
The funny thing is that the things we feel the least confident in the people around us, have no doubt in our ability to succeed.
This past weekend I had an experience just like this.
I had really challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone and teach a workshop in an area I would not consider myself an expert. In front of my peers, people I know well and my wider social community I volunteered to put myself out there. And boy you can believe me when I say I was hella scared. Like heart pounding, blood pumping, butterflies in the stomach and wanting to be sick nervous. Yet my lovely Mr T, and my right hand dwarf, just laughed and reassured me. They were cooly confident in my ability to pull it off. They were, to my surprise right. And afterwards the feedback I got was great. (Whilst Mr T and the dwarf grinning as baboons both said I told you so.) Everyone loved it. I had succeeded. And yet as I think back over the whole experience I know I would be just as freaked out and full of self doubt the next time round.
This is something that happens to me, and almost everyone I know on a regular basis.
Why is it we doubt ourselves so much?
Is it due to an increase in low self confident and comparitus with the rise of social media in our lives? Possibly. However I don’t think self doubt is synonymous to the 21st century. I was alive in the analog 20th century and I am pretty sure it happen then too. Almost everyone struggles with self-doubt at some point or another. And almost everyone thinks they’re the only one who does. I believe it to be part of our survival mechanism. Part of the system that judges whether or not we will make it through a challenge. And at the same time I see i self doubt as part of our ability to learn process. Now I know some of you out there have truly terrible and life crippling self-doubt. And if you do please reach out for support.
But is self doubt really a 100% negative thing?
I don’t believe so. I like to see my self doubt in my abilities, as a positive trait, rather than a negative trait. As a guide and alliee instead of an enemy. Just imagine this if you will. How about you start to see your self doubt as:
- A gut instinct telling you this is the way you need to challenge yourself to grow.
- An acknowledgement of how much you have to learn
- You really care about whatever it is you are doing and want to do it well.
Now when you look at self doubt in that light it doesn’t seem so negative. Right?
It is amazing of how a shift in thinking, seeing self doubt as a friend can change the ball game. Instead of being all consuming it becomes something you can work with and do something about. These days if I feel the depths of self doubt forming in my stomach I 9 times out of 10 will say yes to whatever it is that I am being challenged to do. After all one of my life’s philosophies is:
Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is having a fear and doing it anyway
However, I know it can be hard to boost yourself up sometimes, even when you know self doubt is your friend. Its at times like this you need to see that reflection of belief in your ability that everyone else has. Basically be able to see yourself through even one else’s eyes
Confidence is all about feedback mechanism
What I mean is that in order to feel more confident you need to change the negative loop running around your brain and turn it in to a positive feedback playlist. At times like this I have 3 tips that can help you believe in yourself just a little bit more.
I am not good at …………… I am good at ……………..
This is one of the simplest tricks I have found to kickstart a positive playlist in my mind. Basically you tell yourself I am not good at …………… I am good at …………….. So if it was a Maths test I had to do (ugh – who actually enjoys those if they are not called Sheldon Cooper?!) I would write I am not good at algebra, but I am good at addition. It is reassuring and calming, and ultimately makes you smile!
Ask for moral support
Remember the light you see in others they can see in you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and tell people I am freaking out I don’t think I can do this. And although it is amazing to hear “you go this” It is ok to ask for more of a boost. You can ask them why they think you can do this? Why do they believe in your ability. Its okay at this point to ask what they can see in you because you need to believe in what you can do to overcome your doubt. So callin your own personal cheerleader squad.
Dive in and do your best
Ultimately, you can only ever do your best. You don’t have any more to give. So prep as much as you can. Get your cheer squad to egg you on and take the dive. If you let self doubt be the reason you don’t do something this is going to be a life regret. No matter how scared you are the thing you are doing, it won’t last forever. At some point it will be over. You will have learnt, grown and stretched your comfort zone a little. Even if it takes you 20 times to feel good in that zone. It will get a little less scary each time you do it so just do your best.
“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” — William Shakespeare
So to conquer your doubts just enough to get you through remember to treat them as a friend and motivation. To create the positive feedback you need internally and externally and lastly do your best and dive in. No these are not long term strategies to curing self doubt. But at times where you are feeling challenged, like an exam, an important presentation or even daring to do something different in front of your peer group, these 3 tips will help you through. And you will find that self doubt can become your friend that supports you to widen your horizons.
How do you cope with self doubt in your own abilities – let me me know in the comments below
Have a great week <3