Do you sometimes feel that you’re not good enough? Won’t be able to step up? That you’re not worthy? And, don’t deserve to be where you are, no matter how hard you’ve worked?
You’re not alone! Many successful people experience the same feelings.
A loss of self-confidence, and subsequently a loss of others’ confidence, starts a downward spiral. It may prevent them from reaching the level of success that otherwise could have been achieved or cause existing success to fall away.
Self-doubt is destructive and can manifest itself in health issues like stress, depression, and anxiety. It can even be completely debilitating. Problems with anxiety and depression may lead to serious physical ailments such as chronic fatigue, weight gain, high blood pressure and even increased mortality rates for people with heart disease.
Self-doubt is immobilizing. It causes us to think small and impacts our confidence. It can cause individuals to shrink inside themselves or, conversely, to appear overly confident and arrogant. Self-doubt may be a persistent, lingering, nagging feeling or come up very quickly. What’s key is recognizing that it is happening and quickly taking action to counteract it.
Are you stuck in a cycle of self-doubt?
Try these 5 strategies to help get yourself back on the path to success!
1. Live in the Present
Feelings of self-doubt are often tied to the past. Do you remember the time that you got 96% on your math exam and your mother asked you what happened to the other 4%? Or what about the time that someone in your life told you that you would never amount to anything?
You’ve carried these thoughts with you for all of your life. They tend to come up at inopportune times when you feel threatened or weak. Dwelling on them distracts you from what you could be doing to ensure your success!
There is nothing that you can do to change the past. People who spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the past or hypothesizing about ‘what could have been’ are stuck there. However, we can change our perception of, and reaction to, what happened by acknowledging that these incidents did happen and that they had an impact on us. Often, naming the elephant in the room helps us come to terms with it and move forward.
Ask yourself, “Why am I letting this control my life?” and “Why does it have this hold on me?” Denial doesn’t help. It only hurts us; not others. The “lost 4% on your exam” has more to do with your mother than you!
Ground yourself in the new. Just because you weren’t able to accomplish something previously, doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to now.
Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with people who will support you and structure the situation for success rather than failure.
There’s an old saying “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “one bite at a time.” Applying this same logic to a situation, taking things one step at a time will help create small successes along the way and not make the large goal overwhelming.
2. Believe in Yourself
We often don’t try things because we fear failure. We think that failure will make us look bad and that others will judge. Better not to try, we tell ourselves. Better not to step up. After all, who are you to be doing this?
Having faith in yourself is key. Find others who will support your aspirations. Often, when others believe in us, it helps us believe in ourselves.
Build confidence by celebrating success, even if they are only small victories. We often fail to celebrate success, preferring to move on to the next activity. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
“What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
3. Find the Source of Your Self-Doubt
If you find that you are constantly telling yourself that you are not good enough and find that it is holding you back, you may want to reflect on the cause of your self-doubt. Journaling and silent reflection may help you come to terms with why you are experiencing self-doubt and the impact it has on your life. Once you’ve identified the source of your self-doubt, you can work toward eliminating the negative thought patterns. Should this be a persistent problem, you may want to seek professional assistance.
4. Recognize the Triggers
Feelings of self-doubt are usually triggered by certain things – a memory, a remark, a word, feeling unsuccessful. Sometimes even the weather is a trigger!
Personally, I hate dark, overcast days without sun. It is challenging to be at my best on those days. To counteract that impact, I have a sun lamp that helps with the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) on my desk. It’s not quite the same, but does improve my disposition and mood.
If you can recognize the trigger, you’re able to stop the loop that takes you to that place of self-doubt. The loop is as follows: trigger, action, response. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit describes how the brain wiring works. There is a cue that leads to a routine, that then creates a reward. If we can catch the trigger right at, or before, the cue, we can rewire our brains and change that loop to a positive one!
You can check out Charles Duhigg’s book, ‘How to Change a Habit’, to learn more about identifying and managing triggers.
Remind yourself about the positive things in your life – what you are grateful for. Practicing an attitude of gratitude helps keep the focus on positive things.
Positive affirmations may also be helpful. Affirmations are proven methods to create a greater sense of positivity. Like exercise, they raise the level of feel-good hormones and make our brains form new positive thoughts.
5. Spend Time With Others
Spend time with people who reinforce the good in you… Particularly those who provide strength, reassurance and encouragement. Research indicates that people who have strong social support systems have fewer medical issues as compared to people with weak support structures.
Having conversations with others about self-doubt issues can help put the situation into perspective. In addition, others may offer support and guidance that will help motivate you and provide the confidence you need to get back on track!
Self-doubt can have a debilitating and devastating impact on people’s lives.
Believing in yourself, trusting the process, and being confident can greatly relieve your self-doubt. Practice staying present in the moment and try not to regret the past or worry about the future.
What are the techniques that keep you from the self-doubt trap?
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