In my last blog we focused on fear and how it can take us from a feeling of joy to intense fear in just a blink of an eye. We covered strategies to love ourselves through those moments when the fear is talking louder than love. But, what happens if fear leads to feelings of self-doubt and how do we navigate those feelings? What do we do in those moments?
A lot of times people struggle with feelings of self-doubt. If you are a human on this planet you will have times in your life where you will struggle with feelings of self-doubt. When people think of others who struggle with self-doubt they often think, “Oh, they must have low self esteem.” However, this does not mean you are necessarily a person with low self-esteem. Many highly successful people have encountered defining moments where they have high self esteem and they have been plagued by self-doubt.
Each and every day provides us with opportunities to challenge our self-doubt. In therapy we often use the phrase the “inner critic” when describing self-doubt. This inner critic shows up when we are taking a risk, often when we are feeling vulnerable with ourselves or with another, when we are going to take our next right step, or when we are stepping outside of our comfort zone, etc.
Have you often noticed how harsh our self-doubt can be? The first step is recognizing your self-doubt and how it talks to you. This inner critic is usually negative and chimes into your head in the most negative and evasive ways. It’s often there to remind you how you are not doing something right or how you are failing. What does your self-doubt say to you? Does it say things like, “Who do you think you are?” or “Why would nyone want to listen to what you have to say?”
In these moments you can take a step back and realize that self-doubt is just a thought or a feeling. You can learn to neutralize the inner critic within you. Self-doubt is something that everyone has experienced at some point in their life, but we need to keep it in check. Below are some tools to help you to move forward despite those thoughts and feelings.
Tips for Dealing With Self-Doubt
1. Live in the Present
A lot of the time, feelings of self-doubt are attached to memories in the past when you did not achieve something or when somebody else told you that you were wrong or that you were not good enough. Try not to dwell on those moments. Instead, recognize the voice of your inner critic and become aware of what it says about you (usually false). Try to ground yourself and think about the now. Take a deep breath.
2. Trust in Yourself
Ask yourself, “Is what the inner critic saying true?” Listen for an answer. If the answer is not kind and loving, tell that inner critic to be quiet and move forward. Sometimes we can be the hardest on ourselves so by asking this question it will bring you back to the present moment and you’ll begin to trust in yourself.
3. Counteract the Negative
If what the inner critic says could be true, then ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” By bringing awareness to this question you come to terms with the worst thing and begin to neutralize it. For example, “Hey, if nobody stays to hear my lecture, then I’ll learn from this experience and will make it better by marketing it differently next time.” All the while knowing that at times it may seem the inner critic is stronger than the positive however by staying aware of when this happens and making a concerted effort to counteract the negative, you will be taking control of your reactions.
4. Take Care of You
Remind yourself through prayer, positive affirmations, or even reaching out and spending time with others of who you truly are. Friends and family are an invaluable source of strength, reassurance and encouragement. By simply turning to God or a dear friend and voicing your self-doubt, it can often quickly put into perspective for you how critical this self-doubt is and provide you with great emotional support.
5. Find the Source of Your Self-Doubt
Lastly, if you hear yourself constantly telling yourself that you are not good enough or will never be enough, you may want to delve into the root of the issue. With the help of a therapist you can get to the bottom of where these feelings originated in order to heal them. Once you identify and understand the source of the issue, you can begin to work toward healing this inner critic that keeps you from being your authentic self. As Norman Vincent Peale famously said, “What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve.”