What does it mean to doubt yourself?
Most have it some of the time and some have it most of the time, self-doubt. It is a byproduct of fear, the fear of failure, of losing, of non-achievement. It is not always something you can just brush aside. Sometimes, it is borne out of a reasonable conclusion, a logical construct, a valid assessment. It may well be a state of mind acquired after cogitation. Ignoring your fear does not dispel it.
False assurance does not remove the possibility of failure, and a lack of success in your endeavor will lead to deeper fear and greater self-doubt.
So, what causes self-doubt and what can you do about it?
The process of winning over your fears and eliminating your self-doubt depends on the type and basis of such doubt. Without further ado, let me decipher and categorize it for you. Self-doubt can fall into one of the three non-exclusive categories:
1. Self-Doubt based on Non-Action
For example, a university student did not pay attention to his studies, he lagged behind in his coursework, and in a week from now are his exams. He is rushing to cover his syllabus but remains worried and doubtful about his passing his exams. He sits down to study but can no longer concentrate or persist because he has developed this fear of failure.
Well, he has given himself every reason to develop self-doubt. In fact, it is not just that but his intelligent mind warning him. Chances are, under ordinary circumstances, he is not going to pass his exams. He cannot regain his confidence by artificially consoling or pacifying his mind, a false assurance can only take you so far; ultimately, reality is going to raise its head.
The best way to overcome self-doubt of this type is to sincerely work towards your goal. Observe, learn, adapt, adopt, understand, persevere; do what you have to do to stay the course, to hold your fort. Action brings about results, it is action alone that will lead you to your goal, and as they say, nothing motivates like success. With practice, you attain perfection.
Practice. Persistence. Patience. If you work on these three, self-doubt will leave you forever, in the potent presence of success, it promptly loses its existence.
2. Self-Doubt based on Past Experience
A sense of self-doubt based on your past is a common scenario. Each time you fail, you register an emotion, an experience in your mind. Millions of years of evolution have transformed the human mind to cling to negative emotions and fears. Some do it more than others. I do not know of anybody who has never failed. Some get back into action and attain success, eliminating their fear while many hold onto their failures limiting themselves from exploring their full potential.
The conscious mind is calculative, it is analytical, that is how humans have risen to the top of the food chain and this is the reason they have developed conscious and conditioned fears. I will elaborate on this term another day. For now, you can also read the Source of Fear. Where does it come from?
Coming back to self-doubt. For example, let us say, years ago, you tried to lose weight. You were supposed to control your diet and spend four hours at the gym every week. Disregarding the discipline, you did not work as planned, you went to the gym for six days in a row one week and only once the next. The weighing scale did not budge from its original reading. You started to lose interest and began doubting if you would ever be able to lose the weight. And one day, you gave up and went back to your old lifestyle, causing even more damage to your physical and mental well-being.
When you allow yourself to fail, you weaken your mind, especially if you were not honest with yourself. Fear, doubt, and other negative emotions thrive in a weak mind. If your sense of self-doubt is based on your failure in the past, all you have to do is reflect on the reasons for your failure. If you do not repeat the past actions, the past results will not manifest. History can only repeat itself if you start living a historical present.
Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
3. Self-Doubt based on Innate Fear
Self-doubt based on fear is more common when one wants to tread unknown waters, some even have a ripe opportunity, but they are either settled in their comfort zone or too afraid to try anything new; the latter is my present focus.
The ability to take risks varies for each individual. If you have been contemplating embarking upon a new venture, trying something different, but self-doubt and the fear of failure keep holding you back, you can only address them with contemplation and strategy. If you are keen on learning how to swim, eventually, you have to jump into the water. There comes a time when you have to let go of the floaters and swim on your own.
The best way to overcome fear-based self-doubt is to write down your answers to the following questions:
a. Why do I want to change?
b. Am I ready to embrace change?
c. What is the worst that can happen?
d. Do I feel competent enough to handle the worst?
Reflect on your answers, prioritize, and act accordingly.
When you experience self-doubt, get to its root to remove it. Do not just ignore it, especially if it persists. It could just be your fear or it may well be your intuitive faculty guiding you. You will only know the truth upon self-reflection. And I reiterate, the most potent question you can ask yourself to overcome self-doubt is: What is the worst that can happen?
Take it easy. Do not spend your time brooding over the past, over-anticipating your future, or making elaborate plans devoid of action. It is a precious life, do something priceless with it.