How to Make Peace with Self-Doubt

Battling with Self-Doubt

Are you tired of battling with self-doubt? 

Have you found the mindset of ‘boundless postivity’ to be a relentless pursuit and an unachievable aim?

If so, I want to tell you there’s another way. You don’t have to battle any longer; you can use self-doubt to make peace with yourself instead.

Your attempts to crush or conquer self-doubt could be exhausting because you’re attempting to deny an important part of yourself. Self-doubt won’t go away because it’s trying to serve an important purpose in your life. 

Eckhart Tolle says; “whatever you fight, you strengthen”. In fighting your self-doubt, you are only serving to strengthen it.

He also says; “whatever you expose to the light becomes the light”. 

But how can you expose self-doubt to the light without it overwhelming you and keeping you stuck?

I have been working deeply with this question in my coaching practice for over a year. My clients and I have learned to shine the light of positivity on to self-doubt; not to extinguish it out of existence but, instead, to embrace it and make it welcome.

Self-Doubt Links to Your Desire

The first thing I noticed when I began working with self-doubt was that when I asked people the question; ‘where does self-doubt show up in your life’, they replied with what they wanted. 

Here’s an example; “I doubt my ability in my new role at work and I’m fearful of doing it wrong”.

So, what that tells me is that you want to be able to perform in the new role and to get it right.

Or, “I doubt my ability to communicate in front of people at work”.

So, you want to be able to communicate in front of people at work.

Consider this, if there wasn’t something you wanted to achieve; you wouldn’t doubt yourself.

Here’s the next thing I noticed. The more important the desire was, the more overwhelming the experience of self-doubt became. 

As neatly explained by one of my clients; “I’m not overwhelmed with self-doubt about my ability to play football. I can’t play football, but I don’t care that I can’t play football”.

Once you have discovered the desire linked to your self-doubt, you have identified a gap in your life. From where you are now to where you want to be. This gap can serve as a space for growth but in order to do so, it must be managed well.

Self-Doubt is a Positive Indicator

It’s very easy to identify how self-doubt can be negative because we’re so used to doing so. But if we recognise self-doubt as a positive indicator, it gives us a much greater ability to embrace it and work with it. 

I ask my clients to identify how the presence of self-doubt in their lives is a positive indicator.

This can be a mind-bender of a question! This is not a natural way to think about self-doubt. But spending some time to consider this perspective has brought some beautiful and quite unexpected responses.

Here is a selection of real-life examples that will help you to recognise the positive side of self-doubt.

“The presence of self-doubt indicates that I am outside my comfort zone but that tells me I’m not stuck. It shows me where I want to get better and propels me to keep improving”.

“Self-doubt gives me the opportunity to change the perspective on a situation”.

“Self-doubt helps me to understand my strengths and weaknesses and it’s like a measure of my self-worth”.

“Self-doubt shows me that there are no guarantees for what I want, and it helps me not to be overly optimistic or foolish”.

“Self-doubt demonstrates my desire to bring my best self to something. I want to do something really worthwhile and I desire quality and value”.

“Self-doubt links to my deep desire to be authentic but competent and professional at the same time”. 

“Self-doubt shows me that I am not making decisions lightly. I care about the outcome so it’s worth considering carefully”.

“Self-doubt allows me to understand and anticipate how other people may be feeling, rather than blindly charging in and doing things wrong. It helps to avoid unnecessary mistakes”.

“Self-doubt drives me towards connecting with other people who are important to me, to get their perspective on a situation”. 

“Self-doubt shows me that maybe there’s something not right. It is my intuition telling me something, to hold fire and sit with this for a bit longer”.

“Self-doubt helps me to strengthen my relationship with my intuition and tap into my inner wisdom”. 

“Self-doubt is an opportunity for greater flexibility and engagement with others – you can be responsive to each other if you’re not having to have an exterior show of being invulnerable”. 

“Self-doubt is the ability to pause and avoid emotional and sporadic impulsiveness. It is an indicator of deeper wisdom”.

And my favourite response was from a young man in his early 30s. 

He said, “the reward of looking at self-doubt is the opportunity to embrace and give love to another part of myself”.

(By the way, it’s a myth that men don’t experience self-doubt).

A Route to Meaningful and Sustainable Growth

Bringing self-doubt into a positive light makes it a space for growth that is meaningful because it is linked to something that is deeply important. 

As demonstrated in these examples, the solutions brought about through working with self-doubt, rather than against it, are consistently based upon deeper creativity, wisdom, intuition and humility, as well as greater empathy, connection and collaboration with others.

Most of all, in the absence of that internal battle, you discover greater self-acceptance and inner peace.

Why is Self-Doubt So Difficult to Experience?

The etymology of the word ‘doubt’ is simply ‘to hesitate’. The trouble is with us humans is that we’re not always very good at hesitating. Forward momentum is satisfying, and it feels good. Hesitation doesn’t always feel good. But if you’re simply moving forward without checking where you’re going every now and again, it’s very easy to get lost or to get swept up in the crowd.

When we hesitate, the harsh, judgemental and punishing voices have an opportunity to start getting loud. It is not your self-doubt that is holding you back, it is your internal judgement. When you learn to hesitate well, you can finally find a space to separate out these judgements and see them for what they are. Turn up the volume on the ones that are valuable and turn down the volume on those that are not.

‘The Purpose of Self-Doubt’ book is due for publication in early 2020. 

If you would like to transform your experience with self-doubt and expose it to the light, there’s still time to to take part in my coaching trial. Apply by completing this questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8HXTNSP

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