Self doubt and 5 effective ways to deal with it.
I read this quote somewhere -
When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.
Self esteem or what we generally believe as self confidence, is made up of two things - Your belief in yourself plus your belief in your skillset. Many motivational speakers tell you - Believe in yourself, don't think negative, do not give into any doubt. In most cases this does not create a long lasting change.
We all need some amount of doubt in order to grow. It is healthy to know that we’re not always right. With some amount of self-doubt, we have humility and can relate better to others. Self doubt becomes a problem when you “stand in your own way”. You believe that you will never achieve your goals, you don’t have the talent or you are not worthy of your position or partner.
The most important conversation is the one you have with yourself.
When you speak with yourself in the mirror do you use these four phrases?
“I can’t”—The Self-fulfilling Prophecy
When we’re convinced we can’t, we make less of an effort. Why bother at all?
It emerges from a fear of failure. Reminds you all the ways in which you had failed in the past.
“I shouldn’t”—The Impostor Syndrome
It describes the unreasonable feeling of being a fraud in disguise, with your achievements gotten through luck rather than personal ability or effort. You feel that it’s only a matter of time until people around you discover this and reveal your true self.
“I’m terrible”—Lack of Self-kindness
While we usually are quite supportive and nurturing of friends in need, we tend to be much harsher with ourselves.
Take a moment to pull out your notebook, diary or any notepad where you have already written something or if that is not handy then write 8-10 lines.
Now look for the lowercase t. When I teach graphology, I always refer to the letter t as the Almighty. We have 52 ways in which this letter depicts how you look at yourself. So find a lowercase ‘t’. As you will observe closely, you will know that this letter has two parts: a vertical line and a horizontal line. Now look at the vertical line and divide it into two halves. Top half and bottom half. If the horizontal line is placed in the bottom half then that is a sign of self doubt. I know what you are thinking. You would say Aditi but I write my ‘t’ in multiple styles. I agree. Most of us do. Pick any 5 of them and find an average. If this is slightly confusing then, refer to our funsheet for this episode. I have shown the diagram for you to understand better. You can download it from my website - www.aditisurana.com/podcast
Remember, graphology is not a conclusive but an exploratory subject. If you see this stroke then make sure that you explore it. See what it means for you to doubt yourself? Which are the areas where you do it?
What Doesn’t Help
I am going to say something that you may not agree with. However, my job as your high performance coach is to give you tools that can genuinely help you and not the ones that will make you feel better in the moment and won't create any actual shift in the long run.
So here it is:
As our self esteem is built on two factors - 1. Our belief in our self and 2. Our belief in our ability or skill set. Thereby things like positive self-talk, affirmations, visualisations, don’t get us too far. They don’t get to the root of the issue. These techniques remain at the surface level of the mind.
For example, if you walk into a room that is stinking, a bit of air freshener won't solve the problem. It sounds like a lot of work but you will have to find the source of the foul smell and throw it out for the smell to truly disappear.
Also, changing your letter t won't help. Letter t is only one of the 5 indicators of understanding self esteem. Graphotherapy is an effective tool. I have seen some phenomenal results with it in my practice but using it in a haphazard manner won't help. It will only create more self delusion without actually solving the real problem.
Let's look at 5 really effective ways to overcome self doubt.
Writing is a powerful tool for cultivating self-awareness. It forces us to pin down our internal journey. Take out 15 to 20 mins to journal every day. You are the only person who knows your self doubt and thereby you are the most important player in changing it too.
Ask any one of these questions and write whatever comes to your mind. Do not edit, do not try to be correct. Just write.
Do you believe that you don’t deserve it? Why not?
Do you believe that you should not be aiming higher? Why?
What would happen if you fail?
Observe all your limiting beliefs and how they affect your conversation with yourself.
Another powerful way of dealing with our limitations is to feel them in our bodies. Whenever you catch yourself giving into the self doubt pattern, pause. Ask - Where in your body do you feel it? Belly? Chest? Back? Focus entirely on the feeling and not your thoughts. What does it feel like? Is it a heaviness? Contraction? Discomfort?
Wait. do not try to change it. Does it come and go? Does it move anywhere?
I feel tension in my neck and upper back. This sensation can be your guiding tool. If you observe closely for a few days then you will notice that you feel the sensation much before you get trapped in the downward spiral. The other day, I was going about my regular day, nothing looked different. Suddenly I noticed my upper back was being slightly stiff. I wondered what was bothering me. I took a break & asked myself if something is really getting to me. And sure it was. I was not sure if I could do a good job of one of the collaborations I agreed to do. I caught myself halfway through the spiral.
3. what if vs if - what Questions:
Most people give into self doubt by thinking about what ifs - what if I can't do, What if I fail.
I am a big fan of solution provoking questions. I look at them as google search engines. Even if or especially when you do not have any answer of how to deal with your doubt, ask questions like
If I accept this challenge, what will change?
If I can change this situation, what will I choose?
If I choose this collaboration project, what will I learn?
4. Take small action.
The only way out of this disabling pattern is to move forward. Even if that means you inch forward. Focus entirely on doing the task and not on the thoughts about the task, its outcome, or how you feel about it.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh