Fear and self-doubt — we’ve all been there. At some point in our lives, we’ve had to wrestle the little voices in our heads that chip away our confidence and dial up our doubts.
These emotions occur when we have low self esteem, lack of confidence and feel incapable of doing things we need to do. This then causes you to lose motivation and concentration and feel indecisive and worthless, which hinders you from progress.
Having a healthy amount of self doubt can be good as it helps you learn what you need to improve on, but persistent fear and self doubt can massively affect your life in a negative way. Overcoming these emotions can be a tough nut to crack but with a little shift in perspective, you can learn to be more confident and grab opportunities as they come!
#1. Don’t pick goals where the stakes are low
“I probably shouldn’t pursue journalism. I don’t think my writing skills are great.”
“Photography is just a hobby for me. I’m not really that good at it.”
“I think I’ll skip the debate competition. I don’t want to miss any points and fail the group.”
Are you undermining your abilities by muttering these phrases? You might not realise it but self-doubt has a way of creating excuses for your behaviour and putting limits on yourself. This is just another way of underachieving where you aim low enough so that you don’t feel like you’re taking a bad hit when you fail.
Failing in your comfort zone is just another way of holding yourself back. In reality, you’re not learning from your mistakes nor are you growing to be better when you never feel uncomfortable with changes. Quit thinking that you only have a specific set of skills and talents for specific tasks and instead, understand that you’re meant to grow. You’ll not know what you’re capable of until you venture outside of your own familiar world.
#2. Nobody is rooting for you to fail
There’s no denying that being self-conscious can hold you back from accomplishing your goals. It’s easy to feel like the whole world is waiting for you to fail, whether it’s losing a few kilogrammes of weight, picking up a new language or acing your presentation.
Self-consciousness is a self-inflicted state of mind where you believe that you won’t measure up to the people in the room. According to the editor at PsychCentral Margarita Tartakovsky, we become self-conscious because we worry that others will confirm our own negative thoughts. But the truth is, no one really cares. Chances are, they’re all too occupied with worrying about themselves! So quit putting people on a pedestal and feeling like you’re lesser than them.
Shrugging these negative thoughts may be easier said than done, but you have to start disagreeing with them in order to truly overcome your self-doubt. Acknowledge that these negative thoughts exist but simply choose to believe otherwise. Maybe you’ll succeed with your goals and maybe you don’t, either way, it’s not up to the people to judge how you did. You’ll know what you bring to the table once you accept that your “failure” doesn’t mean that you’re lacking.
#3. Not being good at something in the beginning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start
Have you ever tried your hand at something new with much excitement, only to fail miserably and telling yourself that it’s just not your thing?
The truth is that no one is good at anything in the beginning — but that’s what practice is all about. Even successful people are constantly learning and expanding their knowledge to improve themselves and their craft.
Don’t hold yourself back and put off what you’re capable of doing just to maintain where you’re currently at. Getting started on what you want to do is the first step to getting your foot in the door. With practice, patience and persistence, you’ll surely master the craft as you go along.
#4. Stop making uncertain things, certain
So you’ve just witnessed a brilliant classmate get turned down for a scholarship and since you think you’re not as competent, you’re certain that you’ll be rejected too. But nobody said you’d fail. Perhaps your classmate didn’t prepare ahead of time for the interview or had a bout of nerves — this doesn’t mean you’ll repeat the same mistakes as they did.
Self-doubt can often turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Essentially, merely thinking or expecting to fail can eventually result in failure as your performance and behaviour can be affected by your emotions. For instance, if you don’t believe that you’ll ace the scholarship interview, you might stumble on your words, avoid eye contact or worst, go completely blank when you’re asked a question.
Self-doubt is made up of irrational and exaggerated negative thoughts and there’s a good chance your insecurities will hold you back if you believe them. So, stop believing and acting like failure is a certain thing when it’s not.
#5. The only real failure is not taking any action in the first place
Have you ever missed an opportunity because you let your fear and self-doubt get the best of you? You start coming up with excuses to convince yourself why you shouldn’t do it in the first place. While feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability are normal, we shouldn’t let them dictate our actions.
The truth is, you don’t need to be great at what you do. Instead, you just need to be the one who decides to do it. You can plan all you want but you’ll never know the outcome if you don’t try. So work on that exercise regime you’ve been meaning to start, take on that internship you’ve been eyeing for or go for that workshop that you know will benefit you in the long run.
Even if you don’t get it right the first time, these experiences can help you prepare better in the future. Start reframing your perception of failing as a first attempt in learning because taking risks, regardless of the outcome, are growth experiences.
It may seem overwhelming to step into the unknown. But instead of thinking of the “big picture,” break down what you want or need to accomplish by making small changes. And most importantly, pat yourself on the back for every achievement that you make, no matter how small.