‘If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced’
Vincent Van Gogh
As humans we are always going to carry some self-doubt. Add on top of that a sprinkle of the ego accompanying us, then there is very little chance of us completely escaping it.
No one enjoys feeling self-doubt, but at times I think it needs to be welcomed when we experience it. In my opinion and experience, it needs to be felt. We need to bathe in it properly at times, which probably sounds counter-intuitive to most.
Self-doubt, in my opinion, needs to be investigated gently in order to understand where it originates from and why we feel it as often as some of us do.
If it is investigated and understood it will take us to higher levels of awareness because we get to a place of understanding ourselves deeply, noticing incessant mind-patterns and the emotions that attach themselves to these thoughts.
If we do not look into the reasons why we habitually revert to self-doubt in many of life’s situations then how are we meant to eradicate it? It will not go anywhere otherwise.
We feel self-doubt because we are unsure, lack confidence and have a lower self-esteem than we ought to, and we have lived with this collaborative uncertainty all our lives.
From Infant to Adulthood
I think our self-doubt was developed into us from infant-hood. Well, I am certain mine was.
Our subconscious mind is constantly taking things in and processing whatever it hears. These then turn into our beliefs, so imagine what you may have been processing as a baby and an infant, unaware of the meaning of any of it.
As infants we are largely fearless. We obviously are not as aware in general, so the potential consequences of our choices and actions are lost on us, but we are not infected by the fear of self-doubt personally; we would attempt anything, yet our parents and loved ones are the ones preventing us from trying new things because of their fear.
I grew up with parents who were filled with self-doubt, which inevitably passed its way on to me too. I can think back to situations when I was four years old hearing repetitive cycles of self-doubt from them, so I can only imagine what the previous three years was like.
Infants are impressionable, and this carried on through my teenage years where I was influenced very easily too. I was like a sponge. I believed everything I heard in my household, and I know I am not alone when I say this.
‘I cannot do this or that’, ‘This will never work out’ etc were phrases I heard regularly. I now see how this language completely rubbed off on me with the clear eyes I have now.
There was always a problem, and there was always a self-dissatisfied solution to the problem.
If you think back to where the heavy self-doubt that you carry on your shoulders stemmed from, it likely goes back to being an infant and all through your teenage years too. And if you look at the environment you were in, it is probably not very surprising why you may suffer with self-doubt. It is learnt behaviour which is now an instinctual reaction. It is second nature for many.
But still, we must try to refrain from blaming those who conditioned us this way as they learnt their self-doubt from their upbringing. Also, it is worth noting that as humans we do generally have a natural self-doubt fear button in us as we are human and have an ego.
With adults who have the awareness they are suffering with self-doubt issues, then this is where changes can be made. This is the first step.
We become aware of the instinctual, conditioned reaction and question why we feel this way, where it came from and we have an understanding that we now have a choice not to be this way any longer and have belief in our own decisions and in who we are.
In order to get to the bottom of our self-doubt and ultimately change our thinking, we need to investigate it. The following questions may help offer some clarity:
- What exactly is this self-doubt that I am feeling right now?
- What feeling do I get associated with self-doubt?
- Where do I think the real reason stems from as to why I feel this way?
- How will I let this go now I know the reason?
- Will letting it go benefit me? If so, how?
- If I cling to this self-doubt, what impact will it continue to have on myself and others?
- Am I worth letting self-doubt go? If I am, why specifically?
- Can I forgive myself for feeling self-doubt and allow myself to move forward? Why can I?
The aim of this is self-inquiry. We can write the answers down if preferred and look back over them when we choose. It is also evidenced.
Steps to Conquer Self-Doubt
1. Be courageous.
Take a leap into whatever it is that is causing self-doubt.
If it does not turn out as expected, this is fine – you are not a failure. You will have learnt something from the experience and can try again with a different approach. Your worth is not measured on your achievements or in if you get something right or wrong.
Take the plunge as you will never know otherwise.
2. Work with the voice in the head.
I would recommend befriending the ego-mind (voice in the head) and not to try blocking it out or entering into a battle with it.
Observe it and let it do its thing. Watch it, see how often it crops up when you want to do something. See how it jumps at you immediately. By doing this you will see how deeply conditioned and automatic the response is.
Hear it, feel its reaction inside your body – work with it. But, try your best not to follow it. It is trying to protect you that is all, but it got a little too comfortable for too many years!
3. You are not your past.
You can gently remind yourself that you are not the person you were who clings on to self-doubt. That person has gone now and can be let free.
The very fact you have the awareness you struggle with self-doubt is everything. This in itself is a shift bigger than you may think.
Remain present and remind yourself you are here now, and not back then, so with this in mind it can be left alone.
4. Imagine the feeling of a step forward.
We all like progress and we enjoy the feeling it gives us, so we can try to imagine the feeling of ridding ourselves of self-doubt and basking in our esteem rising.
This feeling can be experienced with just changing your thoughts.
If you enjoy my articles, why not sign up to my free weekly newsletter so you can keep up to date with the latest information? Enter your email address in the box below!