Self Doubt is those sneaky, stubborn little thoughts that we all experience from time to time.
It’s the opposite extreme to self-confidence, which we need to nurture and protect to feel content, and achieve our most meaningful goals in life.
It’s natural to a degree. Our brains are wired to protect us to avoid “risky” behaviours, whether that’s risk of failure, discomfort or uncertainty.
However, if self –doubt has made itself comfortable in your mind, it will be sabotaging your self-confidence to take the bold, brave actions you know you would love to take and need to.
Whether that’s to begin dating again and attract a lovely new relationship, or to take your career and business to the next level, or to find your voice and express your opinions and needs with confidence.
It will be the underlying cause, preventing you from trusting your abilities, feeling worthy, being the most magnetic version of you, and living a life you love.
That’s why it’s essential to have a smart strategy to work through it when it arises, so that you take complete control of your self-doubt, instead of it controlling you.
I recommend thinking about it as a decision to embrace new rewarding habits to replace an outdated one that doesn't help you most of the time.
All it takes is a commitment to small steps every day to see and feel a significant effect.
The Most Common Self Doubt Traps
While we all know self-doubt doesn't help us. It needs some understanding, before skipping straight to the solutions.
I believe it’s useful to identify and challenge (respectfully), how you experience self-doubt in your daily life, to be able to find the best long-lasting method for you, to work through it effectively.
These are the most common types of self-doubt.
Hesitating is triggered by uncertainty.
If you find yourself waiting, over-thinking, prone to “perfectionism” and keeping busy to avoid dealing with a situation, this may be your default self-doubt behaviour.
What do you tend to tell yourself?
What activities do you to avoid acting?
What do you tend to over think about?
What are you waiting to be perfect?
Hiding is triggered by fear of others and overwhelm.
If you find yourself avoiding, procrastinating, shrinking back, playing small, staying behind the scenes and tend to be on the quieter side, because you fear being judged or disappointing others, this could be your default self-doubt behaviour.
When are you more prone to hide and procrastinate?
When you find yourself hiding and procrastinating, what’s the fear that causes it?
Why does the thing you’re afraid of matter?
Does it ACTUALLY matter?
Hypercritical is triggered by fear of being hurt, disappointed, or failing.
If you’re likely to argue against yourself, be self-critical, complain, focus on flaws, why you can’t do it and what can go wrong, this is your default self-doubt behaviour.
What are the reasons (and excuses) you’re using to hold yourself back?
What are you afraid is going to happen?
Helplessness is triggered by insecurity or low self-worth and can be a fear of success.
If you tend to fall into “victim” mode, blaming, don’t trust yourself, have a defeatist attitude you may fall into this version of self-doubt.
You may find yourself believing that “nothing ever goes my way” or tend to blame outside circumstances, and have a false sense of incompetence that you can’t handle your problems, and perhaps an unwillingness to be vulnerable.
Perhaps you're dependent on others who fulfil one of these roles fixer, rescuer, advice giver, enabler, caretaker, guru.
What areas in your life do you feel helpless ?
What do you believe about yourself that makes you feel helpless?
Identify what you're afraid of that leads you not to want to take responsibility.
What are you afraid of losing if you were to be self-sufficient and accept personal responsibility for yourself?
Do you identify with one or more of these behaviours?
When you have self-awareness about your instinctive self-doubting habits, it's easier to chart a personal plan to move forward.
8 New Habits to replace Self-Doubt
There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach for every person with self-doubt. When I work with my clients, we dive deeper into some of the resistance and challenges they experience individually and each client is different.
However approaching your self-doubt, with compassion, some objectivity and a smart method will start the process of replacing it, with more action, and momentum which activates more self-confidence. Here are few habits you might like to try.
1. Make a decision that you’re going to commit to your best efforts for a set period of time to start. Fully engage in it, to give yourself a chance to prove you can do this, which you can.
2. Remember your Why and what it means to you to push past your self-doubt, each day.
3. Remember what it's costing you, and your future reality NOT to overcome self-doubt. Will it have been worth not overcoming it?
4. Start with small steps.
Take the situation you’re experiencing self-doubt about, from the big often daunting picture and the details, and what could go wrong. and break it down into tiny steps, and schedule those steps.
Only focus on the next step each day. All these actions matter, because they contribute towards your bigger heart goal. A Harvard study also found that making progress (not perfection) in one thing that matters to you most, motivates you to move you forward.
5. Plan how you will mitigate the avoidance and obstacles that will take you off track.
Work with your natural tendencies, and priorities to manage inevitable distractions and self-doubting behaviours.
Expect them in the beginning and plan for them.
Incorporate steps in your schedule that you’ll take when these arise.
Perhaps give yourself a time limit for the avoidance, then commit to taking action when your time is up, or as soon as you can. Find the best solution for you but do take the action you committed to that day!
6. Use your Resources and Support Network.
Ensure you're giving yourself every opportunity to succeed, by using the support and resources that will help you. Whether it's sharing with a trusted friend or family member for extra support.
Or seeking professional support to guide you, keep on track, accountable and out of your comfort zone.
This isn't the time to remain timid about your needs, or asserting boundaries, if it makes the difference to you overcoming self-doubt.
7. Keep accomplishments you’re proud of alive in your thoughts and visible to remind you of your superpowers, and that you can have and do what you’re self-doubt is now holding you back from. i.e. photos and momentoes.
8. Self Love Rules each step of the way.
However small you feel the step you’ve made is, it’s necessary to create a habit of celebrating your progress and mini-triumphs each step of the way.
Often it’s in the smaller steps that the magic happens, so stay kind to yourself in the process.
Think of the little treats you will reward yourself with after reaching each milestone, and enjoy them.
You’re building a new habit, and it will take some time to gain traction and find your rhythm and new routine. But keep going.
If you think about the Heart Goal, you have been delaying taking action on now, what one step are you committing to taking in the next week?
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