Show me a person who claims never to suffer from self-doubt and I will show you a liar that will give Pinocchio a run for his money.
Everybody suffers from self-doubt in some way, shape or form at some time, and it is a double-edged sword which can both help and hinder us.
Do I have bouts of self-doubt? Every. Single. Day.
Self-doubt is not something that we are born with. No baby makes its way into the world and immediately says to itself, ‘I will never be able to feed properly! What if I can’t cry in the right way? Oh my goodness, what if I poop wrong?”
They don’t worry about learning to eat solid food or getting the hang of walking. They don’t compare themselves to others or think, ‘I keep falling down! I’m so stupid! Stupid, stupid me! I’ll never be able to walk!”
They just do what they do.
The food goes in, they spit it out, it goes back in again, they roll it around and splurge a little more out and eventually they get the hang of it.
They take a wobbly step forward, they fall down, they scramble up and try again, they fall down. They don’t think, ‘Meh. Tried it. It didn’t work. I’m not cut out for walking. I’m just going to sit here and never try again because I’m just no good at it.’
We often think of it as a negative thing we need to overcome but what if I told you that you can actually use self-doubt to your advantage?
What causes self-doubt?
Self-doubt is learned behaviour we pick up over time through negative past experiences, criticism from others and confidence-destroying moments that play over and over in our heads. How on earth is it possible to use self-doubt to your advantage?
Not only is it the effect of treatment of others that contributes to our self-doubt, but we can be our own worst enemies too. How many times a day do we find ourselves consciously or subconsciously comparing ourselves to others? And how loud is that voice of the inner critic anyway?
We don’t even need to strive to be perfect. Sometimes we struggle to reach a simply okay. And even then that’s not enough because from one day to another we find ourselves doubting who we are, what we are capable of and what we do. Is anything ever going to be good enough?
Even Maya Angelou suffered from self-doubt. Can you believe that?
“I have written 11 books but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
Can self-doubt be a good thing?
Without self-doubt, we can’t challenge ourselves. Self-doubt doesn’t have to be the evil negative in life we often believe it is. We can use self-doubt to our advantage.
Instead of leaving self-doubt to simmer away in our psyche, we can use it as the little matchstick to light a fire in our belly.
Self-doubt can be used as our motivator. It provides us with an opportunity to question ourselves and our capabilities.
Self-doubt reckons you can’t do something? Try it. Do it. Repeat it. Fall down. Try it again. Until you achieve it.
Like when you were learning to walk.
Self-doubt questions your business idea that’s been incubating in your soul for years? Make a plan of action.
The truth is, self-doubt is a tool that piques your curiosity and curiosity leads to growth.
How to use self-doubt to your advantage
Self-doubt can be positive.
Self-doubt is a tool.
Like all tools, use it the right way and it will work for you. You can’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail and a washing machine can’t wash your dishes.
Self-doubt can hinder you… if you let it. Or you can use self-doubt to your advantage.
You can choose to allow self-doubt to cripple you, or you can choose to use it as a tool to challenge you to explore your potential.
When you address your self-doubt rather than ignoring it, you take the first step to realising what you are truly capable of.
And there are no limits to your capabilities.
We aren’t talking climbing Everest when you can’t get to the top of the stairs without puffing.
We don’t mean dropping 20lbs in weight in two weeks.
We aren’t talking about starting a new business on Tuesday and handing in your notice as you salsa out of the door on Friday lunchtime just because, well, you don’t need a boss anymore.
It’s not about major leaps and bounds.
It’s about challenging self-doubt in smaller, bite-sized and manageable ways, learning and discovering how you can challenge and overcome them and using them to make a plan of action to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.
The choice is yours.