In Part 1 I wrote about what can contribute to self doubt and the effect it can have. Everyone makes mistakes especially if they are leading a full life and doing lots of things including trying out new activities. Mother Teresa said, ‘God doesn’t require us to succeed. He only requires that you try.’
What can we do about self doubt? Over the course of one day take note of your negative thoughts and note them down. Take note of any pattern or theme. Do you doubt yourself more with particular activities or when you are in certain places? Is it when you are with particular people?
Now try to work out where the particular self doubt originated. Was it from parents, other family members, school, coaches, friends, or society in general? Is your self doubt due to your own perfectionism? Do you set yourself an unrealistically high standard?
Do you think any specific criticism which has been stated by someone else (not something you think another person may think) is true? If the criticism was made years ago, is it still true? Do you want to do something about it or do you think it doesn’t matter? This will be a personal decision. If you decide to improve your skills in a particular area you may read a book, watch something on You Tube or do a course.
There is no point paying attention to criticisms you feel are untrue. The negative statement may have come from the other person’s feeling of inadequacy or from their unrealistic expectations. They may not know what they are talking about! Write down any such criticism on a piece of paper and then rip it up or burn it. Let it go forever.
Think about the negative thoughts which have come from within and decide if they are true or false. Replace false beliefs with a positive statement or affirmation. You may choose to say your affirmations as you look at yourself in the mirror. You might find it more effective to say an affirmation that suits a particular situation just before the event. For example, instead of walking into that interview thinking, ‘I always do badly at interviews. I won’t get the job,’ tell yourself, ‘I am calm and well prepared. I am a good person for this position.’
When you are paid a compliment, write it down in a journal. You may like to use coloured pens, stickers and glitter to enhance the statement. Remember this is your private journal and no one else will see it so be as creative as you like. Glue any thank you cards or letters of praise in this journal. Print off any congratulatory or positive emails and add them to your collection of positive memorabilia. Look at your journal regularly and memorise it.
If self doubt is an ongoing problem which is having a negative effect on your life it could be worth getting counselling, consulting a life coach or doing a class in positive thinking or raising self esteem. Perhaps it is time to cut the contact with anyone who is frequently critical. Spend more time with positive people. Stop watching television programs that promote an unrealistic standard and watch a comedy instead.
Sometimes we try something and we fail or don’t do as well as we wanted. That is quite okay. I read somewhere, ‘Believing in yourself means thinking you are a capable person, not that you will never make a mistake.’ It is something I try to remember when I am filled with self doubt.
Hi Janet, I am happy you found the article useful. In the past I have been overly critical of myself but now I make an effort not to be. I do find it easier to be understanding of someone else who makes a mistake than I am of myself. I'll keep working on it.