“My worth is not defined by other people’s perception of me.”
The majority of us hate to admit that we have voices of self-doubt or insecurities that gnaw away at our moments of success. Self-doubt highlights our flaws. However, these voices also challenge us. They allow us to change our perception of how we think people define us and how we see ourselves. We all have had setbacks. That moment when you’re sitting in a meeting and realize that you forgot to submit a project by a specific timeline, or you submit a proposal, and it doesn’t get approved. Sure, they might be minor mistakes, but it does not mean that you’re a failure or that you shouldn’t continue making strides forward.
Insert cheesy quote about failing and making mistakes in order to succeed [here].
However, real talk, why is it easier to believe the voice of self-doubt, than to accept praise? Is it because of humility? You don’t want to seem prideful or like a know-it-all? Sometimes it is easier to think that you’re not worthy when you are. Let’s be real, on those bad days, you resort to Googling reasons for self-doubt and tips on how to overcome them, while watching the Hallmark channel's Christmas movies... or maybe that’s just me.
Our self-doubt and insecurities tend to exaggerate how bad the situation can be. No one else is harder on ourselves than ourselves. Having self-doubt is normal, but there needs to be a balance. Do that funky Natalie Portman dance a la Garden States when you land that sales meeting or sing in the car on your way home! When you challenge your voice of self-doubt, it may make you weak in the knees, but you come out stronger and more knowledgeable than you anticipated, whatever the outcome may be.
Am I too optimistic? Let’s get back to the reasons why we listen to the voice of self-doubt.
It’s easier to believe that you can’t do something that you can. Fight or flight. Your voice of self-doubt is telling you to back out before making a fool of yourself. You know those romantic comedies where someone ends up confessing how he or she feels on the stage in front of all their peers, hoping that the one he or she loves will reciprocate? The majority of the time, the love interest returns the sentiment, but that doesn’t always happen in real life, unfortunately. Even I cringe during those scenes in the movie; it’s excruciating, embarrassing, and mortifying to watch, am I right? So, instead of facing rejection, we choose to flee because the voice of self-doubt is always telling us so.
Why did it take me so long to update my website or my resume? Partly due to procrastination, but mainly because the voice of self-doubt is telling me that it is never going to be as good as I envision it. Why does it take me so long to write a blog? Because I don’t think what I have to say is essential. It is always easier to let the voice of self-doubt come up with an excuse for you. It’s easier to get complacent and not face rejection, than to squash that voice, put yourself out there, and be vulnerable.
So, how do we squash this sucker?
1. You need to know that you are not alone. Side note: Michael Jackson’s song just started playing in my head and I am singing along to the YouTube music video as I’m writing this. In all seriousness, you really are not alone. I have countless friends, family members, and loved ones, who have confessed that they doubt their abilities because they are afraid of what the outcome would be. Of course, they jump to the worst case scenario when considering a challenge. I’m not telling you to quit your job or to confess your love at the top of a Ferris wheel; I’m just saying, you can start by revamping your digital presence to highlight your work abilities and telling that special someone they have a nice haircut.
2. Do your research and be prepared. This applies to your self-doubt in the workplace, in particular. If you’re unsure of how to do a presentation and the voice of self-doubt is preventing you from practicing, then watch YouTube videos and TedTalks that help calm your nerves about presentations. Start practicing in front of a mirror. The more prepared you are, the quieter the voice of self-doubt will be. Work meetings can be intimidating, but if you set aside time to research what you’re going to say, organize your to-do list so you finish projects on time, you will be increasing your confidence and silencing your insecurities.
3. Write things down. No, this doesn’t mean journaling. Although, if you love doing that, please continue! Writing can help you get your thoughts down on paper; therefore, you can visualize what your wants, needs, to-do’s, and pros and cons are. Making lists helps you imagine where you want to be and how to achieve it. The physical act of writing down your goals helps make it that much more concrete.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...
You are the fairest of them all. “Just because you think, “I’m going to mess up,” doesn’t mean you can’t succeed or that you shouldn’t try. A little self-doubt is good for you.” If you don’t try, how will you know if you will succeed or not? Take a moment, get out a pen and paper, and write down all the things that you are good at. That will show your voice of self-doubt who’s boss! Remember self-doubt is normal, just don’t let it make all the decisions for you.
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