So what can we do about it?
Lots actually. Read on…
It Happens To Us All
Roger Federer is one of the best tennis players ever to walk this planet. He’s known for his calm demeanour and superb control and temperament on the tennis courts even when faced with the most difficult conditions – and I’ll bet you 1000 camels that he has suffered self-doubt just like the rest of us.
Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Ghandi, Meryl Streep, Jackie Chan… choose your celebrity. They’ve all had moments of self-doubt. Just like all of us.
The advantage that they have is not getting rid of the self doubt but dealing with it – probably helped in no small measure by being able to take some reassurance from looking back at how they dealt with it when it happened to them on previous occasions – what they did next when the doubt hit them.
It’s About What You Do Next
So it’s not about whether or not you get feelings of self-doubt.
It’s not about that at all (because everybody does).
It’s about what you do next when those feelings of self-doubt hit you.
In the previous article on Limiting Beliefs – and there’s a great exercise in that article – Isabelle gave you one way to deal with these doubts by turning any negative voices in your head (your limiting beliefs) into positive statements. For example, instead of I can’t do it, change that to How can I do it?
But as this is such a huge topic, we’re going to explore it a little further and I’d like to introduce a new way of looking at it.
The previous article is excellent for analyzing your long-standing doubts and limiting beliefs. This exercise is more useful for use in the moment when self-doubt hits you.
In this article we’re going to give you another tool that you can use to deal with self doubt simply by giving you two distinct and different places you can be and asking you to choose one of them.
This strategy is great because it has some of my favorite attributes:
- it’s (scarily) simple
- it’s effective
- it’s immediate
The good news is you literally can only be in one of these places or another so this way of looking at things makes it really simple.
Which ‘Place’ Are You – Another Way Of Dealing With Self Doubt
Remember – we all have dips in confidence from time to time; doubt our ability or questioning whether something we do is worth it or is going to work.
In another article, ‘The Only Two Trends That Matter‘ we looked at how to simplify how we look at any change or trend – is it getting better or is it getting worse?
This time, looking at self-doubt, we’re concerned more with your internal state than with any external factors but we’re looking at it in a very similar way to the two-trends article – we’re going to talk about two places, and you get to choose in which you want to be.
Consider this: When we’re talking about our mental space, our internal dialogue, our thoughts… we can only occupy one mental space at a time.
Simply put: at any given moment you’re either being of service and you’re working on your business (or your health or your success) or you’re not.
So the two places we’re going to talk about are as follows:
Place 1 (The Studio)
Place 1 is a nice place. Like a studio. It’s productive – in this place you are being of service to your business. In place 1 you have focus and you are in the moment.
An example of being in place 1 for a business is when you’re in creation mode – you’re producing content, interacting with customers, answering questions, you’re marketing, networking, handling your accounts… anything which actually helps your business (if you don’t have a business and we’re concerned with your health or success then this place is the place where you’re helping/furthering your health or success).
Place 2 (The Maze)
Place 2 is distracting and unproductive. Like a maze. This is the place where you are not being of service, whether you are procrastinating, distracted, afraid, disengaged, wasting time or deliberating – it’s a place where you are letting some form of self-doubt hold you back. In place 2 you are most likely spending too much time in the past (worrying about what has happened) or in the future (worrying about what might happen).
Keep Moving Forward – Put Yourself Back In The Studio
As we’ve already said, no two thoughts can occupy the same space at the same time so at any given moment of the day you are either in one place or the other.
So effectively training yourself to beat self-doubt is as easy as reminding yourself to stay engaged in the present moment and actually creating the work that needs to be done for your business, health or success – i.e. get yourself out of place 2 and hop over to place 1 instead.
Note: we can often fool ourselves too with what we need to be doing. For example, spending hours on social media sharing jokes and funny pictures and calling that ‘networking‘ for your business is a bit of a stretch. Some of that is OK, but too much is more likely to be procrastinating than networking!
It Gets Easier With Practice
Addressing feelings of self-doubt with this strategy is something that gets easier to do with practice but for more details on how to form this into a habit, check out the second article in our habit series on how to effectively form habits: How To Learn ANYTHING (by Understanding How We Form Habits – Pt 2 of 2 (Note: in our case the trigger would be the first moment you noticed that feeling of self-doubt, the response would be to put yourself into Place 1 instead and the reward is pretty obvious – more productivity, less stress… less… self-doubt).
Note that sometimes we can over-think things too.
So recognizing that your thoughts are putting you in the wrong place above may be as simple as telling yourself just to think less about it.
This exercise is all about being rational and objective with yourself.
Sometimes the best choice is not to think. Not to wonder, not to analyze or obsess or imagine. Just accept calmly. Positive thinking is as much about accepting where we are as objectively deciding where we want to move to from there. Sometimes it is best to just breathe, relax and figure that things will work out for the best.
Often when we have self-doubt we are living in the past (worrying about what’s happened – which we can no longer change) or the future (worrying about what might happen). It’s true that we do have some influence over what happens in the future but only through what we choose to do now. What we do now is all we really have control of (which also makes things really simple, right?).
When you experience those feelings of self-doubt, it’s about recognizing that and taking action right away to deal with those feelings. The feelings are like a trigger that spark the choice:
Which place do I want to be?
If you can switch off the negative thoughts altogether (because they were vastly over-exaggerated) then you have achieved putting yourself in a more productive place. If that’s too difficult and instead you need to deal with those negative voices by asking the question ‘How is this helping? How can I instead be of service to myself/my business?’ then that’s what you need to do. Only you will know given your situation which is the best choice to make, but that choice is a simple one: It’s between two places – and for extra help, bear in mind that these places are here and now, not in the past and in the future either (especially not too far in the future).
So you have some self-doubt.
What are you going to do about it?