Self-doubt is, perhaps, the most common form of ‘tearing ourselves apart’ that we humans inflict upon ourselves. There are no statistics to show how much harm is done by self-doubt & there are certainly no pills that can be taken, but it is widespread & harmful if not controlled.
The good news is that it is not contagious. It is rarely passed on from one person to the next although it spreads like wildfire through individual thoughts, beliefs & behaviours once picked up.
We are not born with self-doubt. If it was in our DNA we would never progress from crawling babies to walking toddlers. Self-doubt is most definitely self-taught! As with all things we teach ourselves, we come to the point where we can teach ourselves no more as we reach the limit of our knowledge. We cannot teach ourselves what we don’t know. Now, here’s the question:-
Can we be sure we have taught ourselves all there is to know about self-doubt?
I doubt it!
As it happens, I’ve just had a bout of self-doubt myself. Will anyone be interested in this blog? Is it the right subject to choose this month? Should I bother with blogging at all? Should I carry on with coaching? What is the point of it all? The 20 mins or so it took for me to get over the bout resulted in me picking up rotting apples from the garden, eating a slice of fruit loaf that I really didn’t need or want & attempting to fix a light for the 4th, 5th or 6th time, when really, I know it’s beyond repair. The most time wasting, procrastinating & negative time I have spent all day.
Fortuitously, I can self-coach & am sufficiently ‘in touch’ with myself to get over it. Equate it with a sneezing fit. Yes, I was a bit exhausted after it but a good blow to clear the nasal passages convinces me that I am not going to develop flu. I am fine, everything is OK, let’s get on with it ….
This is what most of us do every day. A regular attack of self-doubt keeps us safe. It makes us think about what we are doing & checking that it is safe to proceed. Self-doubt tests our immune system & ensures we are strong enough to fight off whatever life throws at us. Normal stuff!
When allowed to fester untreated, self-doubt works its way into our weak spots. It reaches the parts of us that didn’t get enough sleep last night; the parts that are cracking under pressure from work or family; the parts that are ache because we haven’t had the time to look after them properly. It greases the easiest path & makes it so easy to go down that we slip into it despite it (knowingly) being the wrong one.
From this point, were so caught up treating the symptoms (not completing work, achieving very few personal goals, making poor decisions etc.) that it’s nigh on impossible to recognise the cause, let alone treat it.
You can stamp out self-doubt but there are risks involved, particularly if you’re not feeling 100%. There are two criteria that lead to a successful stamp: Force & choice of footwear. Too much force & you can squash a little bit of self-doubt into something unrecognisable or irretrievable. To balance things up (& you know I love a good balance), using a flip-flop to squash serious self-doubt is useless. Choose your footwear carefully & only apply as much force as you can handle. I do not recognise stamping out your self-doubt in bare feet. It can lead to injuries. I can provide you with the correct footwear.
When life is going swimmingly there’s little need for help with dealing with your self-doubt as you will probably have enough resources to deal with it.
If self-doubt is becoming a bit of a problem then try the three tips below:
1. Separate the facts from fiction/opinions/hearsay.
2. A. Write your self-doubt on paper & read it back. Does it make sense? B. Record your self-doubt on your phone/lap top & listen back to it. Does it make sense?
3. Set a goal & find ways to achieve it, rather than find ways not to try.
When self-doubt is seriously interfering with your daily life, then get help without delay. Damage is being done to your confidence & self-esteem & the longer you put off dealing with it, the more difficult it is to stamp out.