You might assume that those high profile people you admire always have their act together, that they are decisive about every choice, never have regrets, and always know what to do.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality? Self-doubt is oh so human. Everyone, even the most put-together leaders, second-guess themselves.
Self-doubt is oh so human. It’s a natural response to the challenges of business and life.
That said, self-doubt doesn’t have to stop you.
The worst thing you can do is get all cozy with your self-doubt. That familiar feeling that will stop you in your tracks every time if you let it.
Humans have an adaptive mechanism whereby we tend to stick with what’s familiar, even if it’s no longer working for us, or even downright bad for us. It’s the devil you know, you know? After a while, it becomes a habit that is hard to shake.
That self-doubt habit can have detrimental effects.
Self-doubt can stall you, so that you miss important opportunities.
Self-doubt can lead you to make decisions that are not in your or your business’s ultimate best interest, as you cater to your fears.
Self-doubt can stop you altogether, so that you and your business don’t grow.
For those reasons and more, snuggling up to your self-doubt is something you want to avoid. This is where your conscious brain comes in. Here are 7 ways you can put your thinking brain to good use when it comes to self-doubt:
- Know you’re not alone.
Everyone has doubts. It’s not unique to you, and says nothing terrible about you. It’s your humanness in action.
- Worry less about what others are thinking and doing.
In this social media-influenced world, you can start to feel pretty inadequate when your day-to-day reality stacks up against what people choose to share on social media. Or against another company’s press releases. You may also be tempted to compare your present to someone else who’s been doing their work for much longer. To avoid getting stuck in an inadequacy loop, don’t benchmark yourself against anyone.
- Boost your self-confidence.
Make your self-confidence a high priority. Confidence will help you get past your self-destructive doubt, so do everything you can to legitimately boost it. Here are 8 tips to build your confidence:
- Celebrate your successes.
- Remind yourself of previous successes.
- Surround yourself with people who accept you as you are and encourage you, and seek out their feedback.
- Avoid those who routinely bring pessimism into every situation.
- Pay more attention to positive feedback and positive interpretations of situations. Our brains are wired for the negative, which at an evolutionary level has kept us out of some big trouble. So focusing on the positive more selectively requires conscious effort.
- Distract yourself from your doubts with a walk or another project. Breaking the mental loop keeps self-doubt from spreading.
- Look for inspiration. Voraciously read books, listen to podcasts, and watch videos that inspire and energize you.
- Find a mentor or coach who listens, understands you, and helps you put your feet back on the ground.
- Step back and see the big picture.
Even when you do everything right, things may not work out the way you’d like. When you start to dwell on what went wrong, interrupt that thought flow with what may have been served by the way things turned out. Did you learn something you wouldn’t have otherwise? How can you use that knowledge moving forward? You’re not the center of the universe, so how can you expand your perspective to others and what may have been gained?
- Face your fears.
Self-doubt comes from fear, so know what your fears are and face them. Fear of failure. Fear that you’ll be judged. Fear that you’ll do the wrong thing. Whatever your fear, don’t let it dictate your decisions. As Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book, Big Magic, fear is “absolutely forbidden to drive.”
- Be decisive.
Dithering about decisions only amplifies your self-doubt. Collect all the information you need and make a choice. Move on. Even if it turns out that you need to change course later, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good decision-maker. You can’t always see everything from where you’re standing now. Sometimes, you have to move (make a decision), and the change in the landscape will show you something new you would not otherwise have seen.
- Expand your world.
Your failures and successes don’t constitute all of you. Your personal identity doesn’t have to be tied up with what happens. Find other ways to be fulfilled, to nourish and be nourished. Having an expanded view of the world helps you forgive yourself for blunders and practice self-compassion.As entrepreneurs and leaders, we face self-doubt every day. We tell ourselves we’re tired, we’re not good enough, and some days, that it’s easier to quit.
We’ve chosen work that isn’t comfortable or easy. We’ve chosen to bring a vision to life, to have impact.
To continue to do that, you have to step up. Find a way to turn down the volume on those voices of self-doubt, and listen instead to what is calling you. Believe in your journey. You’ve got great work to do.
Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.
Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.
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