We don’t often give a lot of thought to self-doubt, that is, until we’re in a situation where the feelings of doubt keep us from achieving our goals. Then it suddenly becomes a problem … and potentially a big one.
But what is self-doubt and where does it come from? Self-Doubt according to the Cambridge English Dictionary is “a feeling of having no confidence in your abilities and decisions”. In other words, self-doubt is closely related to confidence or the lack of it.
When we don’t have the confidence to do something, we start to doubt ourselves. And that often happens from fear or inexperience. The good news is that both of these can be overcome. The first step is to figure out what’s causing the self-doubt. Without this crucial piece of information, it will be much harder to know how to tackle the problem.
If the feeling of self-doubt is caused by inexperience, or because you don’t know how to do whatever it is you’ve set out to do, the solution can be relatively simple. Get some help and gain some experience. Ask someone who’s doing what you’d like to do for advice. Get a book, take a course… do whatever it takes to gain the experience that will give you the confidence to reach your goals.
Sometimes, introverts believe they should already know the answers or how to do something and worry what other people will think if they ask for help. Introverts can also think that they won’t succeed if they ask for help because they believe it’s a sign of weakness or poor performance. If that’s what you believe, what evidence do you have that makes that true? Most people will be glad to offer support and advice and will willingly help when they know what it is that you need. Just ask!
Asking for and accepting help will often result in achieving much more than trying to reach your goal alone.
If the feeling of self-doubt is caused by fear, this can be a little harder to overcome, but it can be done. Depending on what your fear is, you can try one or more of these strategies:
When we are trying to accomplish a lot of things all at once, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. However, when we get overwhelmed, we tend to do one of two things; either we give up or we delay. We shouldn’t do either of these things. What we should do is stop looking at everything we have to do and start focusing on doing just one or two specific tasks. This will allow you to gain a little bit of composure and help you make greater progress. You may doubt that you can get everything done, but you do know you can do this one small step. Go and do that and then move on to the next step.
Imagine The Worst Case Scenario
We all have fears. Sometimes those fears keep us from doing something that we really want to do. It’s human nature. When we are afraid of something, we try to avoid it and that’s why facing our fears is so important. It’s a key ingredient to success. Instead of giving in to fear, try to embrace it. By facing our fears, we overcome them faster and more surely than any other way.
If you’re still worried about how things could go wrong or that you won’t succeed, sit down and imagine the worst possible outcome. Can you live with that? Can you make it through? Once you identify and face that fear it suddenly doesn’t seem as scary as the unknown does.
For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, your worst fear could be losing your voice and being unable to speak. Can you live with that? Can you make it through? Of course you can! So, get up in front of a group of people and speak. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. Just the act of trying will eliminate a lot of your fears. It’s the act of doing that eliminates the rest. Don’t be afraid of failing because if you do, you won’t learn anything. The real fear is not trying or failing; the real fear is not getting it right. Look at it this way: If you try and don’t succeed, you will have still got something out of it; you will have expanded your experience and knowledge.
Remember, you only think this is the absolute worst that could happen. It’s far more likely that it won’t happen so don’t allow your fear to get in the way of achieving your goals.
Focus On The Positive
Last but not least, focus on the positive. If you think you’re not good enough to do something, think of all the compliments and great feedback you’ve received in the past. Introverts struggle with receiving praise but accepting them will give you the boost of confidence you need to overcome just about any case of self-doubt.
Don’t allow self-doubt to stop you from taking any sort of positive action. If you do, you will find it much harder to accomplish your goals. Instead of thinking about the “what ifs”, think about all the good things that will happen when you reach your goal.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your own abilities. Believe that you are a person with confidence and self-assurance. Believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. Believe that in spite of all the obstacles in your path, you will overcome them. Don’t let a little bit of self-doubt stop you from doing what you need to do. Go on and do it! You can do it!
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Photo by Tim Collins on Unsplash