There’s a struggle happening inside our heads everyday. A battle between doubt and belief, between our fears and our abilities.
It’s almost like having a devil and an angel on our two shoulders, constantly bickering and determining what we do and don’t do on a daily basis. Actually, it’s exactly like that. I’d like you to meet Self-doubt and Self-belief.We could just as easily talk about them in abstract terms, but I find putting a face to those feelings is a lot more relatable (and I get to practice my amateur drawing skills).
These are the two voices in our heads that tell us whether we should take action or stand pat, whether we should take a risk or stay on the sidelines. Naturally, Self-doubt is bigger, louder, and rougher around the edges. He’s aggressive and blunt and doesn’t shut up. Do you recognize him?
He’s the one that tells you your ideas are crap. He tells you that you’re not talented enough to achieve your goals. He tells you not to waste your time on trying to be better. He tells you to not take chances. He’s loud as all hell and unfortunately, he tends to win more of these arguments than he should.
On the other shoulder, you find Self-belief. She’s smaller, quieter, and probably a little too rational at times. She makes a lot of good points, but she’s not as in your face about things, when maybe she should be. She’s humble and thoughtful and calm. She’s the one that says you should chase your dreams, that you should fight for your ideas, and that you should strive to be better.These are the players in the daily struggle that goes on in our minds, every single day. And yes, our enemy Self-doubt tends to win most of these bouts. The question is why. The answers begin with fear.
Fear of Failure
The biggest driver of Self-doubt comes from our fear of failure. We handicap ourselves into all sorts of excuses and ideas. We tell ourselves we’re not worthy. We tell ourselves we don’t have it in us. We tell ourselves we’ll disappoint our friends and family. We procrastinate instead of working hard and pursing our goals.
What’s even worse is that we spin stories about ourselves and what we can and cannot do. Orchestrated by Self-doubt, we even start to believe them.
All of this because we are afraid to fail. We don’t know what may come. We don’t know what would happen if we take a leap into the unknown. And so we stand still.
Lacking in _____.
Many of us have this and idea of what success ought to look like. We can see how a person is successful, from their talent to their background to their network to their fame. The reasons are obvious.
The problem is, this picture we paint in our head hardly ever looks like us. Either we’re not talented enough or don’t know the right people or don’t possess the resources. We don’t fit the model of what a successful person would look like.
How can we be worthy of doing anything great? We can’t be so arrogant to think that we could solve problems or lead people or change the world.
We’re lacking in one way or another, so we don’t even try.
Avoiding the Uncomfortable
Putting yourself out there, taking a stand, or sharing an opinion leads to change. It ruffles some feathers and pushes us out of our comfort zone and into the unknown. Being uncomfortable and straying form our routine is downright scary.
It’s much safer to stay on our little islands, where we know the way the world works. Pushing beyond it can only mean being uncomfortable, not only with ourselves, but with other people too.
Doing anything worthwhile will lead to both supporters and dissenters, but it is the dissenters that scare us most. We are terrified of what other people will think and say and do. So we don’t think, we don’t say, and we don’t do.
Self-doubt is the anchor that keeps our ships from sailing.
elf-doubt isn’t messing around. He’s certainly got the upper-hand, but how can we turn the tables. How can we empower ourselves and overcome our doubts. How can we make Self-belief stronger? The truth is, we can help Self-belief by simply being more aware.
Doubt means we’re onto something
First and foremost, we need to realize that when we’re experiencing doubt, it probably means that we’re onto something important. It may make us uncomfortable, it may push our boundaries, but it will also lead us to growth.
When we are feeling doubt, we need to be aware that it is a sign that we’re on the right track. We need to use doubt as a guide, as a call to arms to push forward, to fight the resistance, and take action.
Turn the tables on doubt and use it as motivation.
Remember the victories
All of us have victories. Times where we overcame Self-doubt and things turned out not just OK, but great.
Whenever we’re facing Self-doubt, we need to revisit these victories to help us realize that doubt doesn’t give us the full picture. We need to realize that we’re capable of overcoming doubt and all it’s negativity. We need to realize that we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. We need to realize that no matter who we are or where we’re from, we’re capable of winning.
Review your accomplishments, talk to your friends and family, and recall the times that Self-doubt was beaten by Self-belief. Use those stories as strength to do so again.
Stop thinking and start doing
Most of our doubt is born in the mind, from thinking and re-thinking what could happen or what we can’t do or how we might fail. It is in these times that thinking may be the wrong approach and simply taking action will change everything.
Vincent Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” The simple act of doing what we believed was not possible, can completely destroy the doubts that were previously blocking our way.
We’ll never know what we’re capable of until we try. When doubt starts to take hold and your thoughts begin to overwhelm you, stop thinking and start doing.Taking on Self-doubt is a full time job, but the more you defeat him, the stronger Self-belief gets. By being more aware, you’ll start to find ways of winning this daily struggle and the best part is, it’s a compounding practice. You build momentum and get better and better at betting for rather than against yourself.
You start to level the playing field, which leads to a more empowered, productive, and creative self.
You can never completely get rid of doubt, as it does keep you in check at times. You’d probably turn into a narcissistic, over-confident snob without some doubt here and there. But you can turn it down, so that it’s not preventing you from fulfilling your potential.
The next time you’re experiencing this daily struggle in your mind, remember Self-doubt and Self-belief and how they work. Realize that Self-belief can win, it just needs a little help.