Mistakes are part of living, learning and growing; they are necessary in attempting anything new or difficult. We can’t get good at anything if we don’t first push through the beginning of “sucking” at whatever it is we are doing for the first time. We learn through repetition and through our mistakes – however, through our inevitable mistakes a sneaky thought can creep in – self-doubt. Self-doubt is a normal human thinking process, but it is also a slippery slope. It is easy to get caught up in the fear of failure and become paralyzed by self-doubt. Self-doubt also leads to feelings of loneliness, sometimes we feel like we’re the only people who can’t grow/accomplish/succeed in any given area. We look at our classmates who seem so put together and seem to be comprehending class material so much easier than ourselves. I promise you that those classmates have also experienced failures and self-doubt.
We can’t completely rid ourselves of self-doubt, but we can certainly manage it. Here are 5 tips that you can start today in working towards coping with self-doubt and not letting it rule your choices and limit the possibilities of your life.
1. Pause and Reflect
Spend some time looking at your past choices and behaviors and try to notice if there are any patterns in the way you may react to certain life stressors. A good way to do this is to record feelings a few times per day, either in a notebook or on the notes application on your phone. You will notice patterns in your reactions throughout the week associated with various activities you participated in and with whom you have interacted. Increasing this awareness of your feelings and the triggers associated with them will help guide you in making decisions that are more aligned with your true self. Don’t obsess over negative journal entries; these are mostly learning opportunities highlighting certain areas of your life that may be ripe for change. We all have the ability to accomplish great things when we behave in accordance with our natural strengths and draw upon our community of support.
2. Check Your Evidence
Counselors always tell people to write out our thoughts and feelings, this is because when they stay in our head they become exaggerated and written out become more clear and manageable. To challenge these exaggerated thoughts and feelings, get a pen and paper out and draw 3 columns. Write out the doubtful thought on the left column. Then in the middle column write out the evidence to support that thought. In the right column write out the evidence which could disprove thought. You will find more often than not, that your thought of self-doubt is an unfounded and fear-fueled idea founded on little or no actual evidence.
3. Call Your “Peeps”
Your close friends and family members know the truth about you. They can give great support and insight in reminding us of the truth about our strength, resliency and ability to overcome and learn from mistakes. They can throw us a rope when we are sliding down that slippery slope of self-doubt. Now, we all have those friends and family who can get pretty negative; these are not the people to call when we are experiencing fear of uncertainty and problems with self confidence. And if you find that you are surrounded with negative people, maybe it is time to start spending more time with more positive and encouraging people.
4. Keep A Success Calendar
Get a calendar, hang it up and write down at least one of your successes every day, even small things count – gold stars are appropriate. Did you smile at that girl or guy you like in class that you normally try to avoid making eye contact? — GOLD STAR. It is hard to ignore how accomplished you are when you recognize your strengths daily and post your successes right in front of your face. It is easier to make bolder moves and take bigger risks when we make ourselves very aware of our regular risk taking and successes. We start to trust ourself and our ability to succeed in our true reality.
5. Celebrate Your Success
Hey, every time we learn something new, improve a skill or make a positive change in our lives, it is worthy of some celebration. We don’t always need to throw a party (sometimes we should), but we should, at minimum, spend a little time acknowledging our success and telling ourselves some positive statements about what we just accomplished. It is also not a bad idea to share these successes with people who care about us. It is encouraging to see people who are struggling and overcome their barriers; it fosters hope that we can all accomplish great things.
Follow these tips to banish self-doubt and you will become bold in confronting your self defeating thinking and powerful in destroying your self imposed limitations — It’s time to find out what you are really made of.