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Ah self-doubt, hello darkness, my old friend. You come when I least expect you to and stay far longer than you are welcome. You seep into my very being, infect my ideas, sour my projects, and plant disease into my soul. No, that’s not an exaggeration. Self-doubt is truly evil. Often it begins with the impostor syndrome, using our own inner voice against us to plant these seeds of doubt. We begin to question everything; our ideas, our projects, our very being. And the infection spreads if we don’t squash it quickly. That’s one of many reasons why I firmly believe in befriending the Impostor, using it as a tool for overcoming self-doubt, so it can’t use it as a vehicle to spread its disease!
But more to the point, self-doubt happens because we don’t trust ourselves. We are already internally questioning something and it feeds off that mistrust. Self-doubt finds its way into our lives because ultimately, we don’t have the confidence required to fight it off.
Because let’s face it, everyone has self-doubt. Everyone is constantly faced with the same limiting questions and internal concerns when they launch a project. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first short story or your 15th novel. It doesn’t matter if its a movie you are producing, a collection of paintings, or a campaign at your advertising firm. It’s always there, always just under the surface waiting for a moment to strike. Waiting for a glimmer of failing confidence or mistrust in ourselves to be able to wiggle itself in.
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Can self doubt be good?
This is a tricky question. Can it be good? Where is the line drawn between the impostor and self-doubt? The odd part is, there isn’t a line. You can befriend your self-doubt, just as you can befriend the impostor. But it’s deeper than that. Befriending your impostor can overcome self-doubt in its tracks because you now have a strong ally at your disposal.
The difference between the seed of self-doubt and the impostor is the intent. Our inner voice is simply trying to help us (in a painful, tactless way), while self-doubt exists simply to put a stop to what we are doing.
This difference is key. If you can control the variables, self-doubt can be helpful because it forces you to prove it wrong, to conquer it and achieve success. That fear that it creates can be a powerful motivator, it shows us our comfort zones so we can push past it. But if you can’t control the variables, self-doubt is a force to be reckoned with. But have no fear, we’ll get more into overcoming self doubt soon.
Why do we doubt ourselves
So why do some people seem unaffected and others debilitated by it?
Confidence and trust in yourself, in your abilities and strengths and ideas. Confidence sets the tone for your life and achievements and it’s crucial for success. If you don’t have the confidence or find yours particularly shaky – now is the perfect time to start building up those perimeters.
Building your Confidence
First, take a look at your habits, these 8, in particular, are common for destroying your confidence. Next, start building it back up! Incorporating these easy 17 confidence-building strategies into your daily routine will change your life. Finally, download my 365 Days of Positive Affirmations (FREE!) and you will see changes in your life you never dreamt possible!
Building your confidence is the perfect way to combat the fears that self-doubt brings, in fact, confidence can help you fight the majority of the battles without ever knowing they were there in the first place! But what happens if your confidence isn’t enough, or hasn’t been built yet?
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6 Tools for overcoming self doubt
- Lay down the ground rules: When you feel your old buddy bubbling up to the surface, stop it immediately. Tell it no, stomp it out, and tell it why. Why it doesn’t deserve to be there and has no right to say anything. Sure self-doubt doesn’t usually listen, but laying down rules and boundaries is something that takes time. No one said this would be a quick process!
- Talk it out: Talk to yourself, talk to your cat, record it on your phone and playback, talk to your best friend or your partner. Just hear the words out loud and hear the truth of where they are coming from. Is there value to the doubt? Or fear? Bonus: talking to someone who can talk back can help give you feedback as well!
- Journal: Journaling is similar to talking it out, being able to write out all of those negative thoughts and feelings in a safe place free from judgment is a great way to get them out of your head. Once they are there you can lock it up real tight and never worry about them again. OR even better, write about you deal with them as well, that way in the future you can look back at if needed to remind yourself how you dealt with those feelings “last time”.
- Light it on fire: Okay a little dramatic, but pretty cathartic as well. Take a moment to write your negative self-doubting thoughts on a piece of paper. Then (in a safe place) light it on fire! Watch those thoughts go up in smoke (literally!). Then forget them, and move on with your life. Who needs the drama of self-doubt anyway?
- Reminisce: When you feel those negative thoughts gearing up for attack, think back to similar situations you’ve been in. How did you overcome them then? If you didn’t, what do you wish you would have done to overcome them? Reminiscing can be quite insightful if you give it a healthy chance!
- Creative Superpower: Using your own creative superpowers and gifts can be a great way to get your emotions out of your head in a productive way. Write if you’re a writer, paint if you’re a painter, make a movie, design a fake ad campaign – whatever YOUR creative superpower is, use it to create for your self-doubt instead of a client. Who knows what you may come up with, and how that could change your life…
Take control of your self-doubt
Remember, overcoming self doubt as it comes is a great way to push forward with your fantastic ideas as they come, but it won’t stop them from coming back. Learning to trust yourself by developing great habits, removing the ones that destroy your confidence, and ultimately building up your self-esteem is the only way to take control over your self-doubt and beat it to the punch (or least keep it at a responsible level)!