Do you have moments wondering, “What on earth am I doing?” or observing a serious lack of trust in yourself? If there’s one sentence I’ve heard a lot lately it’s, “I have self-doubt.” Whether I’m networking, working with clients or chatting with friends, it seems we all have moments of self-doubt running parallel with a case of the speed wobbles. Many of us become paralysed by it, leaving us running around in circles.
Self-doubt is defined as a lack of confidence in one’s self and one’s abilities. So why is it that self-doubt is making such an appearance at a time when we have content galore to help grow our confidence, positive mentoring a phone call away and apps at our fingertips to solve every problem?
I did some research and delved into what I know from hours of coaching, and here’s what I learned.
- Self-doubt comes in all shapes and sizes: “I’m not sure I’m smart enough to get ahead at work. I’m not good at maintaining friendships. I’ll never be able to reach my goal weight.” But what it all boils down to is to that old chestnut, belief and fear of, “I’m not good enough.”
- You are good enough, of course, but right at this minute you are very much not buying that story and instead choosing to not back yourself.
- “Imposter syndrome” is a classic phrase closely linked with self-doubt—I feel like I’m completely winging it and one day everyone will find out I’m a fake. It’s the ultimate in doubting ourselves at work, and not trusting or believing in our abilities.
Sure, there are folks out there who are totally winging it but most of us have the knowledge, experience and practical know-how to be in a role. So why put energy into believing we’ll be caught out? Well, my friends it’s been noted that this doubting business also appears to function exceptionally well as a phenomenal excuse card for not stepping up, pushing harder or going further.
Is there a quick fix for self-doubt? Not exactly, as it often stems from stories from our past that we’re holding onto. Whether they be real or imagined, if we’re holding onto resentment, guilt or shame for mistakes, they will lead to self-doubt. Often many people fear they’ll repeat their own past mistakes or something a parent has done. And as we know, the more we focus on this fear, the more likely it is to come to fruition.
How do you overcome self-doubt? We need to consistently practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion, and do ourselves a big favour—drop the judgement. How harshly we judge others is a direct reflection of how harshly we are judging ourselves. The same goes for those of us with perfectionist tendencies.
To move away from self-doubt, we suggest you direct your attention towards self-empowerment. Acknowledge you create your world and own your choices. No external approval or apologies required. We would also want you to focus on self-expression—how open are you with your communication style? Do you have a creative outlet? How authentic is it?
The way our minds are wired for survival, we will always find a bit of self-doubt popping up but how much power will you give it?
It’s your choice.
Written by Bec Williams, owner of The You Project