Overcoming Self-Doubt: Ways to Conquer Negative Thoughts
I’m sure we all doubt ourselves all the time, and I am faced with it constantly in all aspects of my life. In fact, it took me about 3 weeks after writing this post, to decide whether or not I should publish it. That pretty much explains why I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to.
Over the past years, since I’ve embarked on this intentional journey of self-development, I have discovered many ways to deal with self-doubt and manage it so that it works for my benefit and not against me. I want to share these thoughts in the hope that someone will benefit from my experiences, which brings me to the first point:
1. What do you think you lack?
I went on a hiatus from blogging over several years, mostly because I started having all sorts of limiting beliefs, but once I identified them and addressed them, then it wasn’t so bad. I’d worry that I’d be wasting my time because no one would want to read what I write, that I’m not good enough / don’t have the experience or skills to write, etc.
When I think about it now, it’s pretty ridiculous because writing is free and like everything, gets better with practice. So I acknowledge that my standards aren’t where I want them to be in order to write in a public forum, but the only way I can improve is to keep doing it; make it a habit.
Don’t be ridiculous!
It was also ridiculous because I was blogging for 3 years on separate hip hop and dancing blogs which were pretty popular back then (2006-2008) and I really elevated my status and authority in those scenes as a result of my writing. I actually had evidence that I could do it, but I chose to ignore and it dismiss it. That’s a real insult and disservice to myself. The blogs also helped me score my last two jobs so actually, that’s quite an amazing thing for someone who ditched their undergrad studies and still scored two dream jobs in a row.
So it came down to lacking experience that I believed I should have and the only way to address that is to blog, everyday, as much as possible, enjoying the process and appreciating the learnings along the way.
Remember your previous wins
Look at any of your past successes in whatever you think you lack experience in. Celebrate them, acknowledge them. Then seek ways to consistently achieve small wins; if your success rate is 10% then you need to do it 10 times. Not just once, not just a few times. Make it a habit. Integrate it into your lifestyle.
If you want to become physically fitter and leaner, start with one push up in the morning. Just commit to one every morning. Take a 5 minute walk outside. You don’t need to change clothes, just have comfortable walking shoes.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
With small steps, you start to build confidence and you start changing your mindset to focus on what you can achieve (no matter how little the effort might seem to you) rather than on whether or not you can do 100 push ups a day to achieve your ideal fitness level.
Solution: It’s a simple gap analysis where you align your expectations/goals with reality then take consistent action to close the gap.
2. Is your self-doubt preventing you from doing something to help others?
Despite the positive feedback I get from people, both familiar and strangers, I still don’t realise that what I create can actually help people. So it doesn’t become about me anymore, it’s about them and how I can help them get what they want in life. It would be selfish of me to hoard all this wisdom and knowledge form my own experiences to myself, when someone else can benefit from my mistakes and hopefully improve their journey.
Don’t be selfish
I don’t want to be selfish; I want to give and keep giving, not really expecting anything in return because knowing that I’ve indirectly or directly helped someone is what life is all about. I really have nothing to lose from sharing my experiences.
It might be hard for you to imagine helping a faceless person; so think about people who you really care about and wonder if they would benefit from you releasing yourself from your self-doubt to share your talent with them. I always think about my family and friends, knowing a lot of them go through these limiting thoughts all the time. I know what amazing things they can do with their lives if they just believed in themselves. So they are why I do what I do.
Make someone laugh
My favourite way of helping someone is to make them laugh. So I’m silly, I poke fun at myself and I respect people who pursue careers in this. You never know whose day you’ve brightened up from a simple joke, from something that you’ve created.
“I want to meet the man who saw a turtle and said, ‘People will LOVE the ninja version of that.’” – Jonah Hill
Solution: Remind yourself that it’s not about you, it’s about the people you care about who may benefit from what you create/provide.
3. What’s the worst case scenario?
I get really creative when I think about this. I think my mind is really messed up, to the point where I don’t want to share most worst case scenarios that I’ve imagined. Let’s just say a lot of them end in death or selling my body for a living. My friends help to bring me back to reality though and reassure me that they’ll never let it get to that.
So really, if I have good intentions and just want to help people, I shouldn’t have to worry too much about violent ends and seedy lifestyles.
We started out with nothing, so we have nothing to lose.
Growing up poor in the early stages of life, and hearing about my parents’ struggle, I remind myself that I started out with nothing; in fact, we all did. We all came into this world naked and screaming, so if one day I lose everything and end up naked and screaming at my situation, it’s not so bad. I can start over.
There are people out there who make-do with less than what you have.
A lot of the most successful self-made people have gone through this, even a few times over. From Donald Trump to Michael Jackson going bankrupt, Steve Jobs getting fired from a company he created, Paralympians who are fitter and more driven than most people who have less excuses than them, solo parents who raise a family when others can barely take care of themselves…
“You will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss
Are you really scared of losing your ‘stuff’? Do you really need all these material things? Since they’re material, you can acquire them again eventually, if you really wanted to.
But what about the intangible things in life? The experiences that you’ll miss out on if you don’t get over your fears and take a chance in doing something that feels right for you, that you would gladly lose sleep over? That’s the worst case scenario.
Solution: Figure out realistic worst case scenarios and have contingency plans for them.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath