Have you ever wanted to achieve something big but your self-doubt starts sways your faith and holds you back?
Chances are, each of us has ever felt doubtful and anxious at some point in life. Be it meeting new people, speaking in public, or expressing ideas, we might hold our tongues back as our inner self tells us that, “This is not a good idea after all”, “I’m just too shy to talk about the idea”, or “No, I cannot do it”. As a result, we prevent ourselves from speaking our minds and prefer to stand away from the crowd.
While self-doubt is a normal thing for us – human being, it can hinder our way to success. Commonly, self-doubt is categorised as an imposter phenomenon or procrastination. Imposter phenomenon occurs when you feel that your high achievement is fake and you feel like a fraud. You constantly think that you are lucky instead of capable. On the other hand, procrastination is self-doubt that holds your activity back because you are too worried that you might not be able to finish the task.
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However, there is a moment when self-doubt can help you bloom. It can help you grow as a person. The key is by embracing them and not ignoring them. A master coach and trainer at Columbia University, Melody Wilding in her TED Talk emphasised that ignoring your self-doubt is a big mistake because self-doubt can be useful. It keeps us safe and helps tackle a difficult problem.
“The more we resist self-doubt, the faster we sink” – Melody Wilding
Therefore, rather than think self-doubt as a fraud, weakness, or destructive behaviour, you can think of them as an instructive reaction by naming and reframing it.
For example, you are asked to present a presentation at a meeting. But you feel that you cannot do it because you think that you don’t have the capability or just too shy to do public speaking. In this regard, you can name your self-doubt as ‘I am too shy story or I cannot do it story’. When you name your inner critic, said Wilding, it helps you realise that it is a thought pattern and not an evil force which in turn helps you build positive and productive response by using the reframing strategy.
In the reframing phase, you should embrace your inner critics rather than just fighting it with positivity. For instance, your inner ‘negative’ told you, “What if I fail at my presentation or what if I make a funny mistake and am seen as unprofessional?”. In this case, you should come up with a plan and if the problem arises you can spring it into action. Let’s say, you accidentally fell on the stage. So, what is the worst scenario that might happen? And what should you do next? Plan is, you will pick yourself up, dust off your clothes, and continue presentation like usual.
Another strategy to turn self-doubt to our benefit is by improving self-efficiency. And how to improve our self-efficiency? We can improve self-efficiency through something we already do: “talk”. Richard Karlgaard, a lecturer and author of “Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement”, discussed that self-talk is an efficient technique to shape our relationship with ourselves, allowing us to try seeing things more objectively.
Karlgaard mentioned that referring ourselves as another person will help us a lot at making an objective judgment to ourselves. It also results in better performance and less stressful situations. Using a pronoun ‘you’ rather than a first-person ‘I’, wrote Karlgaard, can help us escape from a tough situation of self-doubt. In addition, you can harness the advantage of self-doubt by any sort of verbal encouragement. You can develop as a person by developing statements that support a realistic self-image.
“The key to harnessing self-doubt starts with self-efficiency or our confidence in our ability to set ourselves up for success. And we can improve self-efficiency through something that we all already do: talk to ourselves.” – Rich Karlgaard
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