I was interviewed for a virtual summit this past Tuesday. I told the host that I am the “Slayer of Self-Doubt.” Without missing a beat, she asked me, “How do you Slay Self-Doubt?” It’s a great question. Self-doubt is so prevalent, it’s safe to call it an epidemic. I discussed some of this in my April 10, 2021 blog, “Slay Your Thoughts: Is Imposter Syndrome Real?” As American writer, Suzy Kassem says, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” While Imposter Syndrome is largely comprised of self-doubt, self-doubt is larger than Imposter Syndrome ever will be.
Self-doubt often begins in childhood. There’s an old poem, “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte that says, “When a child lives with criticism, they learn to condemn.” The condemnation may be targeted toward others, but often it’s targeted toward the self. Criticism is one source of self-doubt, but so is not being acknowledged or heard as a child. Most of us remember being picked for sports teams. Those memories of being picked last, or not chosen at all can impact self-esteem far into our later years. As we move through life, habits like perfectionism or hanging out with overly critical family and friends can also feed low self-esteem and self-doubt.
So how do you slay a habit that’s taken so long to develop? Here are my tips:
- Acknowledge your feelings. Many times, we cannot work through problems because we are unwilling to confront them. Face your feelings.
- Pull out your journal. Ask yourself where these feelings came from and journal your responses. What happened in childhood to make you doubt yourself? How does self-doubt serve you now? Does it protect you from embarrassment or failure? Who in your life now benefits from your self-doubt? What can you learn to improve your confidence? What resources can you access? Don’t stop with my list of questions. Keep going. World-renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you ask yourself.”
- Get in a supportive community. Work through your feelings with encouraging friends and mentors. Consider professional teachers, therapists or coaches. Stop hanging out with haters, naysayers and Debbie downers. Level up your tribe.
- Clean up your self-talk. There are plenty of people in this world who will tell you what you can’t do. They may say you’re not good enough or smart enough. Don’t be your own worse enemy! When you hear that voice saying, “I can’t,” change it to “I won’t.” When you tell yourself anything negative, find a way to turn it around. The negative voice lies. It might say, “I’m a failure,” when the truth is “I didn’t reach my goals, but I learned from my experience.” Get to the truth behind the lie.
- Use affirmations. Write down the statements you want to manifest in your life. Much like in Yung Baby Tate’s song, “I am healthy. I am wealthy. I am rich. I am that bitch!” Declare your greatness. Repeat it until you believe it. You can search online for affirmations to get you started. There are also plenty in my self-help memoir, Thinking Outside the Chrysalis: A Black Woman’s Guide to Spreading Her Wings and online at TrishAhjelRoberts.com/resources.
- Keep track of your accomplishments. In moments of self-doubt, maintaining awareness of achievements will keep you grounded in reality and boost your spirits. They can be anything your proud of, whether it’s your high school or college graduation, birth of a child or giving a great speech to a round of applause. Write down all of your accomplishments, big and small.
- Question limiting beliefs. Write a list of limitations you believe about yourself, then go back and examine if they’re really true. Your list might look something like this: I’m not really smart. I don’t come from money. I don’t have access to resources. I don’t know wealthy people. I’m not pretty. I’m too fat. I have a bad temper. I’m not a salesperson. Take each statement and challenge it. Maybe you have average intelligence, but so does everyone else. That’s why it’s average. How is intelligence measured, anyway? What are your special talents that you tend to be better at than others? Is it cooking, singing or writing? When you say you don’t come from money, what resources do you have access to? If you live in the United States, you are wealthy compared to people in many other parts of the world and have access to abundant free resources through libraries, government agencies and non-profits. You can Google your way to just about any information you need. Take time to challenge your beliefs about yourself.
- Keep track of your progress. My favorite new activity is keeping what I call the “Magic 7” journal inspired by my Beyond Barriers executive coaching training. You can use a traditional or digital journal. Each week I answer 7 questions:
- What did I accomplish in the past week?
- What am I thankful for?
- What did I learn?
- What am I most proud of?
- How will I celebrate?
- What am I most excited about for the upcoming week?
- Out of everything on my to-do list, what one thing will I make sure to accomplish in the week ahead?
- Work on new skills. Obtaining new skills and experiences is a great confidence booster, as is personal development work like the steps outlined above. Schedule time each day to work on yourself. Give up an hour of television or social media scrolling to invest in your biggest asset, yourself.
Self-doubt is incredibly common, but it doesn’t have to limit your joy, fulfillment or potential. Like a gnarly garden weed, it has a root and can be pulled and tossed from the beautiful garden that is you.
I wish passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo one of my quotes. It speaks to our limiting beliefs. Often we say we “got nothing done,” when the truth is we got a lot done. If you are looking to blast through self-doubt, let’s talk about it! Schedule a free call at the link below.