Last week a friend called me to share the story of something that happened to her, which she described as ‘horrible’. While in a meeting at work, she was put in the difficult position of having to make a quick decision that could have serious ramifications. She said that she was presented with two possible choices, each valid, but each with a downside. Without much time, she weighed the options, acknowledged the potential problems, and made her decision.
In public, she remained confident and self-assured, but in private, she was anxious, unsure, and scared.
By the time she called me, she had worked herself up into a frenzy, having spent many hours beating herself up. She wondered if she had made the right choice. She questioned her decision-making skills and if she had what it took to stay in the job. She questioned her judgement. She allowed her self doubts to take over and belittle her capabilities. My friend is an intelligent, educated woman with many years on the job, and yet, she doubted herself.
Does this story sound familiar? Have you ever allowed the voice inside your head to question your abilities and cloud how you viewed yourself?
Self-doubt is part of the human experience. While it is good to self examine and analyze action, the problem arises when you allow the fear that fuels your doubt to consume you. When that happens, it’s easy to become over cautious and inactive. Self-doubt makes many sell themselves short!
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Whether on the job, managing children, or handling a personal situation, it’s easy to question our abilities. The key is to not allow the questioning to keep you stuck. When in doubt, try these strategies:
Doubt your doubts. Understand that having doubts is part of being human and that they are not the truth, but rather stories you create about yourself. Stop writing the story. The voice within is skilled at telling you what is wrong. Doubts are fear driven and most of what we fear never materializes. Before running with the fear, evaluate its legitimacy. Challenge the doubt and call out your inner critic. Ask yourself: What if you are more than prepared for the promotion? What if you had everything needed to launch a business? What if your advice was right on point?
Surround yourself with support. The people you hang out with will either fuel your doubts or fuel your confidence. Build a tribe of supporters. When you surround yourself with the right people, you can be more, achieve more, and give more. Choose wisely.
Be brave. The best way to overcome doubt is to take action. With baby steps the more action you take, the less fear will govern your life. When you dare to do the very thing you doubt you can do, you will realize how little you needed to doubt yourself. As Dale Carnegie said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
It doesn’t take much to go down the black hole of self-doubt. And there will always be situations in which you will question a decision or your ability to make it. The important thing to remember is that as long as you use your best judgement and do what you believe to be the right thing with the right intention, that’s all anyone can ask of you.
Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. Don’t allow it to kill yours!