Self-doubt shouldn’t be a thing, but it is
3 ways to beat it that have personally worked for me.
Self-doubt breaks self-discipline.
It lets the plethora of thoughts overwhelm you causing you to feel inferior and maybe just bang average.
Have you ever had the feeling that maybe all you have been doing is living in a pool of unrealism coupled with over-optimism?
Let me tell you this, there is nothing known as being over-optimistic. Not possible.
People may tell you otherwise.
I was told by someone very close to me that I am sometimes over-optimistic. He meant no harm, he was just being genuine and I respect that but that sat with me.
I thought maybe I am over-optimistic and ultimately unrealistic, and that made me rethink things a lot. Is it a curse or a blessing? That time it did feel like a curse.
So let me tell you something you can always keep in mind. Always stay positive.
The unrealistic expectation is not that of big dreams, it is the combination of huge expectations coupled with a lack of effort.
So if you are making an effort, no expectation is unrealistic.
The two components of self-doubt
Self-doubt is the end product of the summation of two problems. One is self-confidence and the other is a feeling of incapability. These are, of course, intertwined.
Feeling capable is strongly associated with the completion of tasks. Small tasks that you complete make you feel more and more capable. Difficult tasks unsurprisingly do wonders. At the same time, when you fail at certain tasks it makes you feel less capable and weakens your confidence all the while too.
Origin of Self Doubt
This is a strong notion and it all begins with society.
The truth with self-doubt is that it is more like an attack. It attacks you when you feel unproductive so in a way to bury you when you are down.
Moreover, when people tell you that you won’t or in some cases can’t amount to much, that also results in you questioning yourself and ultimately results in you doubting yourself.
If you have a small and meager goal the chances of you doubting yourself are not going to be high. Similarly, if people around you do or have done certain things you dream of, again you might not have high self-doubt.
In other cases, when people overwhelm you with success all the while reminding you that they are better as they seem to be that way to the onlooker, they can have you doubt yourself.
We must understand what causes self-doubt. Is it falling from a high position to a lowly position, or is it simply being in the shadow of some outrageously towering buildings?
I believe that the answer is not one or the other but both.
The first one makes you think that maybe you achieved what you achieved out of luck and the second one makes you think that you have simply been dealt with a poor hand and can not do anything about it.
Both are precarious positions to put yourself into but none are unresolvable.
How to beat self-doubt
Have a routine
One I would personally recommend, which has done wonders for me, is to have a routine.
By routine, I don’t mean strictly closing yourself in a box and not having any flexibility whatsoever. This is where preference plays its role.
The first aspect of your routine is sleep.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
The important thing to know about yourself is, are you a morning person or a night person.
If you think you know which one suits you best, chances are you don’t. The reason most people think that the night suits them better is simply because it is uncomfortable to wake up early.
That is a lame excuse.
One thing you can do to test this is by utilizing both times of the day.
If you are in a habit of sleeping late and waking up early, well then one way to check is to see what you like to do during the late hours of the night.
Keep in mind, the question is not, what do you do, it is what do you want to do.
People typically sleep late because they are watching movies or are depressed but that is not always the case. Some people just work better at night. Are you one of those people?
If you feel like you want to rest at night, do nothing, then you are probably a morning person.
A routine that has really improved me involves sleeping twice a day.
The effectiveness of two sleep periods has outmatched that of one and this is not a new discovery.
The Centre of Sleep Research at the University of South Australia found this through a 2016 study. Two periods of sleep result in increased activity and creativity throughout the day. In the case of one sleeping period, the problem is that ever since you wake up, your energy is decreasing.
What I do is sleep at 10 pm, wake up at 4 am, and then sleep again at 8:30 am for 3 hours or less. I try to sleep at cycles of 90 minutes. So the first time I sleep, I sleep for 6 hours and the next time, for 3 hours.
90 minutes to 110 minutes of constant sleep complete a sleep cycle and sleeping with such divisions in your mind can be very beneficial for you. This means sleeping for 6 hours is better than sleeping for 7 hours as 7 hours results in one incomplete cycle of 90 minutes while 6 hours complete 4 cycles.
The next thing to consider is what to do when the working day starts for you.
Don’t just dive in
It is easy for doubt to spring in if you just dive in headfirst. What you should rather consider doing is get into a mindset where you complement yourself (keep in mind, complement, not compliment).
Let yourself know the truth behind a certain task you have to complete. You should effectively communicate it with yourself. If it is going to be a long and hard one, let yourself know. If it is going to be easy, it is even more important to let yourself know that.
The thing with easy tasks is that people generally do them with distractions. Because they are easy, they don’t need your full attention. This belief is very naive.
Jim Rohn when talking about the number one reason some people aren’t successful responded, ‘Neglect of easy tasks.’
What is easy to do is also easy not to do
Practice perfection where you can. Even if that is in the easy tasks, practicing perfection will grow into other areas of your life.
When it comes to doing hard tasks, let yourself know the task is going to be very hard but you will stick at it until it is done.
This especially has been a miracle worker for me.
I used to run in a park next to my house. One round was 715 meters. I personally saw that I couldn’t get past the 4 round mark because my legs felt as if they were aching outrageously, and the struggle to keep going was heavily outweighed by the ease of stopping.
One day I made a commitment to run 6 rounds. I confessed to myself how hard it was going to be but meant it when I said I wanted to do it and knew that I could as well. The next day I ended up running 6 rounds. This was after a plateau I had hit. It felt amazing.
The trick behind confessing the difficulty of the task does not instill in you magical powers that all of a sudden make you capable. Rather, they change your mindset and prepare it for what is to come, so when it comes you feel ready.
Other than this, it gives you the confidence to keep going when you don’t want to.
Both are essential!
Get to work!
Now that you are ready, whether you do this by positive self-talk or by meditation or affirmation, that doesn’t matter. People tell you it does and they might be right, but it hasn’t done me any rock-solid, clear as day advantage.
When you get to work, make sure you are all there. Don’t leave until you get done what you set yourself off to do.
Of course, if it is a long task, the logical thing to do is break it down into small subtasks and take it on periodically. Whatever works!
When doing it, it is easy to feel stuck. In those cases, you can look at people who are the best in your niche and understand why. Try sending them a question. You will be amazed how much some people look to help others, sometimes all you need to do is ask!
Celebrate the small wins
A study was done to see whether collective celebration played a role in a team’s success.
A season of NBA was studied to see how does high-fiving your teammates affects how you perform when you do well.
The result showed a positive correlation between the two.
High fiving really worked as a positive motivator!
Similar is the case with you alone. When you feel pissed off after losing or failing at something, it is only human nature to criticize yourself and think about what you could have improved. The opposite though is not common. When you record a win, you should celebrate it. It gives extra motivation.
Championship-bound teams in the NBA showed this trend. It is no surprise.
When you celebrate heavily, you carry everything with you. You perform as a unit.
You yourself also must perform as a unit for the brain to be at optimum capacity.
It is okay to derail sometimes
The thing with a routine is, there is always the risk that you will go off course, that is ok if you learn from it.
This has happened to me many times.
Initially, this would result in me abandoning the routine as a whole. This coupled with feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, that was no surprise.
This time, the same thing happened, but I decided to change my response.
When I derailed from my routine this time (I did that by using my phone for 3 hours after I woke up, I was unable to do anything else that day, and the whole day became a mess) I decided to write how I felt when the emotion was fresh. All the anger I felt with myself, rather than letting that combine in self-doubt and hit me when I was down, I decided to keep a written record of the experience.
Next time, when I was about to do the same, I can always read that and prepare myself first hand about how to deal with it.
I would highly encourage anyone to do the same.
Learn from the minor setbacks, whether it is sleeping late, resulting in you being unable to wake up early or it is wasting time rather than making use of it. Learn from it.
What if you making progress allows self-doubt to creep in?
This is not an alien to me, it has happened.
What I have learned about this is, and that will only work if you have specific things to do during the day, focus on completing your tasks nonetheless, ignore the feelings.
You have plenty of time to doubt yourself after the tasks are completed.
So every day make an honest commitment to complete the tasks and then see where those feelings go.
Mostly they vanish, but sometimes, they don’t.
What I do then is, I sleep. Sleep is a miracle worker, I tell you. It resets your mind and energy. This works especially well if you are sleeping twice a day.
Learning a skill
This is another way to get rid of that feeling of low self-confidence and/or lack of capability.
Learning a new skill develops more neural pathways in the brain. This is known as neuroplasticity and can improve anxiety and other mental issues. It can also improve confidence, unsurprisingly.
Surround yourself with successful people
Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future
The trillion-dollar man knew what he was talking about when he said this.
It is a popular saying that you are the average of the people you hang around with and it might as well be true.
So what do you do in situations where it is simply impossible to commute to Wall Street (I am just kidding).
Well, try identifying people at the top of your niche and understanding what makes them so good. Sometimes asking them can cause them to help you out!
I myself read Tim Denning's articles every day. I try to model my articles based on his while communicating my thoughts too. He truly is an amazing writer and an inspiration for me.
Spending just an hour studying people at the top of your niche can be very useful.
You immediately understand and identify the hundreds of things they do that you don’t even consider.
In today’s online world, there truly is no excuse why some people don’t make this a habit.
Why self-doubt doesn’t make sense, yet it is there.
Imagine being the only person who sabotages oneself to be that same person.
It just does not make sense to me, yet I have experienced it and I am trying to get around it.
It is outrageous to think that you can beat anyone if you just beat yourself. You truly are your own villain while having the capacity to be the hero.
Taking control of oneself is really the most sought-after superpower, or at least should be.
A wise man once said, ‘If you learn self-control you can master anything.’
I think the biggest contributor to self-doubt is society, the opinions of others shape our lives. We are social creatures there is no hiding from that, but we should all do a better job trusting ourselves, and our intuition, we could go a long way and accomplish what we dream of.
You would be surprised to know how close you are to someone you idolize. All that is necessary is consistent effort and perseverance through persistence.