So Who Are You... Really? 4 Steps to Saying Good-bye to Self Doubt
If you are doubting your ability to follow your dreams, the problem isn't that you are not capable... the problem is that you don't know how capable you are.
"Freedom from doubt is simply waiting for you."
I recall that, even into my early 30’s, I thought very little was possible for me. No matter what others said, their support and encouragement didn’t sink in. I still felt like I was less-than, like I would be a failure.
A few weeks ago I walked into the space that will become Whole Health Collaborative. It was unfinished, needed some cleaning up, a touch of paint and a little love. I looked around, walked from office to office. I could see it all so precisely; hopeful people sitting in the waiting area, busy practitioners filling the offices; the collaborative working as a united front to improve the lives of our clients. It was as clear as a photograph in my mind’s eye.
Yet, when I talk with others about my start-up collaborative, I’ve noticed something very eye-opening; many people have said in unsure voices, “I don't know, it’s hard starting a business” or, “hope it all works out for you”, and then the conversation moves on to other subjects. In the past, these insecure comments would have hit me hard, it would have made me doubt my own ability. I may have second guessed my decisions and even my capability… but… that doesn’t happen anymore.
"Ultimately, the doubt of others makes me feel inspired."
When I hear tentative comments I feel.... Appreciative; appreciative of my confidence and complete absence of doubt, appreciative that I know exactly where I am going and what I am capable of. But then I also feel sad. I feel sad for all of those millions of people who don’t know how amazing they are. They have no clue what they are actually capable of; wrapped in self-doubt, they simply never try. I felt sad because that had been me too.
Ultimately, the doubt of others makes me feel inspired. I just want those people to see who they really are. I want to tell her that great things do work out if you believe in yourself; tell him that it’s only hard if you don’t have a clear vision. When faced with the doubt of others I feel more driven to help people see that they too can fly as high as they want to in life.
I understand that letting go of doubt and fear of failure may seem like no easy task. Maybe even impossible. Yet, I can tell you with absolute certainty, with just a little consistent effort, it’s more than possible; freedom from doubt is simply waiting for you.
Here are the 4 strategies to begin living free of self doubt that I used, and continue to use everyday.
"The very first thing we need to do is become conscious... of automatic thoughts."
1.Start getting Mindful. Often times when we have an emotion, we react to the emotion before really being clear about why we are doing what we’re doing. For example, a feeling of fear or shame may bubble up if you get a negative review at work. Thoughts may arise such as, “I can’t lose my job”, “I know I’ll never get promoted now”, or “I’m never going to get this right”. The very first thing we need to do is become conscious of these kinds of thoughts, which are called automatic thoughts.
If you are conscious of these automatically negative thoughts, then you can choose how to respond. The thought, “I’m never going to get this right” may once have lead to making more nervous mistakes, refraining from jumping on opportunities, or even leaving the job. Yet, if you notice the thought pop in, you can take a step back and wait before taking any action, giving you the chance to use the next 3 steps before simply reacting.
"In order to retrain your mind and avoid the trap of self doubt, we must be engaging in empowerment on a daily basis."
2.Find all the support you can get. So now you’re aware that you feel afraid and you’ve noticed the automatic thoughts… now what? You need a cheer-leading team. This may or may not be your friends or family. You need people who will help you put your thoughts into perspective, help manage emotions and ultimately make clear decisions. These people may be speakers, trainers or teachers that you watch or listen to. These people may be a life coach or therapist that you meet with. These people might be found in social media groups that gather in support of making positive life change.
Once you have your team, listen to them, reach out to them, engage with them Everyday. Everyday. I’ll say it again… EVERYDAY. Why everyday? Self doubt is a slippery little bugger. It can slide its way back into your thoughts very easily. In order to retrain your mind and avoid the trap of self doubt, we must be engaging in empowerment on a daily basis to continue growing and moving forward.
"people in your personal and work life are on a strict need-to-know basis."
3.Don’t tell everyone your plans. If you have ideas that are still in their dream phase, or just in their infancy, people in your personal and work life are on a strict need-to-know basis. The people who are totally aware of your goals are those on your cheer-leading team only.
Right now, as you heal from self doubt, you are still very susceptible to the criticism and judgements of others. The more people you share your dreams with the more you are opening up to negative input. If you still have lingering doubt, those negative words or attitudes will only fuel fear of failure and may even lead to giving up, “she’s right, who am I to think I can do this. What was I thinking anyway”.
Negative input from others is toxic to creating inspiration and motivation. I am not suggesting to shy away from constructive criticism, that is, embracing thoughts or ideas that may help steer your dream in the right direction. This kind of input comes from your cheer-leading team. They totally believe in you, but they are also willing to point out ways to improve.
"No one is against you."
Most people who offer non-constructive, negative criticism are totally well-meaning. They do not want to sabotage you, fear of failure may be an issue they live with, too. What I mean here is this, no one is against you. Yes, even those people who seem like they have nothing good to say are not against you. They do not believe in themselves and therefore, cannot believe in you either. You have nothing to prove, so there is no need to try to convince them of your capability The only way around this is to follow this strategy, don't tell them your plans!
"What is the smallest, most basic step you can take RIGHT NOW?"
4.Just start. There is no perfect time. There never will be. The time is now. You may exclaim, “how can I? I don’t have the money to do it”, or “I don’t have enough time right now, I know I’ll be able to make more time next summer”. I say, yes, both of these may be completely true. Money may be short, time may be tight AND you can still get started.
What is the smallest, most basic step you can take RIGHT NOW? When I had the inspiration to begin my private practice my husband was in school full time and a stay-at-home dad, my daughter was two and a half, my two step kids were with us frequently on weekends, and I worked full-time as the sole breadwinner. Doesn’t sound like the best time to start does it…
"One building block at a time... just Start."
The first thing I did was begin this blog. That’s it. While I was not ready to lease a space or see clients independently yet, I was able to engage in my larger desire, to help others, everyday through writing. I started small and, as time passed, I began to get inspirations for the next small step to take. One building block at a time... just Start.
So who are you... really?
This is for you to discover. No longer blinded by the beliefs and doubts of others, no longer questioning your capability, no longer giving into the fear of failure; free of it all because of total clarity. If you knew exactly who you are and precisely where you’re going… well, then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else says, does it.
Sarah is a psychotherapist and life coach. She specializes in anxiety, body image, eating disorders, and trauma. If you're interested in working with Sarah, contact her for a free consultation.