Defeating the Demon of Self Doubt
Self-doubt undoubtedly plagues us all. While we all experience it much of the time, most of us are afraid to admit it. Yet, self doubt is not always a bad thing. Actually, when used in the right way, it can help us to evaluate life’s risks and lead us to make good decisions. However, when it becomes excessive, it can immobilize us in a way that freezes us in indecision.
Self-doubt is that voice in your head questioning many of your decisions. When you believe the right call may be to take a risk, it throws out 1000 reasons why that’s a bad idea. Even though we do not want to admit we have self-doubt, we go to great extremes to quiet it. Bravado is one way. Drugs and alcohol another. Failure to take a risk, playing it safe, being cool – all ways to alleviate self-doubt. It’s especially tough for men who never want to admit any form of self-doubt, in fear of being perceived as less of a man. Women also experience self doubt which especially inhibits them in the workplace from speaking up or seeking positions of leadership. When women do achieve success in the workplace, they often report feeling like an impostor.
Self-doubt has always been a major problem for me and continues to be, even as I grow older and experience success in many spheres of my life. Over the years, I’ve learned to recognize a pattern. It’s worse in the fall and winter, when the lack of sun dampens my mood. It could play out on the big stage, or even on the small stage of every day decision making.
While I am far from successful in coping with self doubt, here are a few ways I try to manage it. I hope these suggestions are helpful to others:
- I tell myself that self-doubt is part of the human condition and that I should not beat myself up over it.
- I try to learn to recognize when I am doubting myself and try to get myself to stop or to consider a more positive alternative.
- I keep track of the positives in my life: every day I write down what I call daily abundances.
- I try to track daily lessons learned from the days experiences.
- I am fortunate to have an understanding wife who is not only tolerant of my self-doubt, but also encourages me to feel more confident.
- I try to teach others about the power of self-doubt to inhibit our happiness and performance.
Today I will be teaching my class at University of Michigan about self doubt.