How To Overcome Self Doubt

Published on: March 27, 2011

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The Story Of Unworthiness

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare

Have you experienced this scenario before? The silent self-talk grows louder, reminding you of your destructive thoughts. The voice is unrelenting, retelling you the story of your weaknesses. It continues to harass you until you surrender. Finally, you give up, knowing it has taken hold. Welcome to self-doubt, the intimidating inner critic that lives in your mind. The modest detractor determined to undermine your success. You know it’s there, so why won’t it leave you alone? You can’t vanish doubts from your mind, despite your best intentions. Doubt is part of our nature. It’s learned during our growth into adulthood and begins with loved ones telling us to avoid dangerous situations when we’re young. We heed the advice, knowing our loved ones know what’s best for us.

For example, I was a mischievous child growing up, as I’m reminded by my parents. I pushed the boundaries of what they considered safe for children. The words ‘no’ and ‘don’t were often repeated at home to save me from my peril. It is no surprise that children need such boundaries. I’m aware of it with my young nephews. They are at an age where they: grab, touch, pull apart and destroy most things in their line of vision. It’s satisfying to watch them learn and discover new things and I am mindful to be certain they play safe. I am careful with my communication, choosing to avoid commands such as: ‘no,’ ‘can’t,’ or ‘don’t.’ Instead I distract them when they are destructive and offer something of better value which they seem to respond favourably to.

I mention child-like behaviour, since much of our actions results from our childhood programming. Adults are notorious for creating imprecise stories about themselves and doubt is a story often repeated through adulthood. It is healthy to have some doubt because it allows us to decide all possible scenarios. It lets us be selective about other options because we examine ideas more thoughtfully. There is another side to doubt which is more sinister and self-deprecating. One tells themselves stories about certain qualities they lack. I’ve witnessed self-doubt in my line of work coaching clients. They create a story of unworthiness and believe it with such conviction. They adopt these beliefs into adulthood and it is difficult to dismantle it without a therapist’s intervention. How about you? What is your inner talk like? Do you feed your doubts or ignore them?

Feeding The Doubt

“Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”—Les Brown

Self-doubt requires examination if it prevents us living an authentic life. Most people are content to never live for something. They store their emotions under a rug hoping it will go away. Unfortunately, years later the emotions resurface in the form of: illness, destructive relationships or addiction to substances or behaviour, etc. In his book Spontaneous Evolution, author Bruce Lipton states that 95% of our behaviour is controlled by our subconscious mind. In an earlier post titled: How To Master Your Subconscious Mind, I discuss that most of our learned behaviour from birth to eight years is in a subconscious learning state. Most of what we learned about the world is done so during those formative years. A great deal of articles, books and resources have been written on self-doubt. Most use the term ‘conquering’ dismissively. What I would like to impart in this article is that doubt is part of our nature; it is part of our shadow self. We needn’t deny nor repress aspects of ourselves we don’t like, for doing so means it will find ways and means for expression.

Self-doubt means listening to the inner critic yet choosing to take action, despite the doubt. Watching a documentary on accelerated free falling recently, the interviewer asked the adventurer if he felt fear during the jumps. His response: fear is always present during a jump, however he turns down the volume on what the fear prevents him from achieving. Knowing this, I’d like you to take some time to examine what your self-doubt is asking of you? Is it concealing something you denied long ago? If your dream is to sing in front of thousands of people, yet you entertain self-doubt, perhaps it is teaching you to have faith in yourself. Often, you might need to experience an inner shift, to reveal growth to reach your goals. Doubt can be the wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Whilst it looks sinister and overpowering, it is merely a guise to distract us from knowing ourselves.

Take inventory of your goals and visions for the future because doubt is a speed hump in your journey. Speed humps should slow you down, no stop you from taking action. If you’re facing self-doubt, examine the reason behind it. Don’t allow it to overpower you. Your vision should be greater than the obstacles in your path. Be kind to yourself because what you believed at one point was based on the information available to you then. Beating yourself up over past failures and mistakes leads to more of the same thinking. Take action toward your goals and remove any doubts that are holding you back. Seek guidance from loved ones or close friends, if you’re unable to navigate your way around it. Remember: your journey toward success will be filled with detours, obstacles and lessons. Don’t retreat from the challenge, embrace and face it with open arms. Draw valuable lessons and insights about yourself along the way. For only then can you claim to have overcome your self-doubt and turned your tragedy into triumph.

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