I recently read a great blog post over at Don’t Settle Group, 11 Ways to Murder Self Doubt. This really spoke to me after my last post about finding small victories during your day. Doubt has a way of sneaking into your life in all sorts of little ways. And a little doubt is helpful. Doubt can help us examine our actions and our dreams. Doubt can keep us from following the lemmings off a cliff. But crippling self doubt? When you doubt yourself all the time? When you can’t find the small victories in your day because you have no faith in your abilities or your strengths? That is when doubt has become a problem.

How to tell the difference

Telling the difference between healthy skepticism and crippling self doubt can be difficult when we are going around in circles in our head. One of the key differentiators though is how long you are sitting in your doubt and how often it occurs.

For instance, maybe your having your annual review, and you get some not so great feedback. That can be really hard. It is hard to hear, and process, and then use constructively. Especially if you struggle with believing in yourself. After the review, if you take a day or a week to really think about the criticism, to think back on your behavior and ways you might be able to do things a little differently, then you have just used doubt about yourself constructively. However, if after the review, you are analyzing every interaction, wondering if this is true everywhere, and keeping yourself up at night, you have now crossed the line. We can all improve in small and large ways. But our weaknesses are often our strengths depending on a situation. Spending too much time circling how and why and if we should change can lead to depression and anxiety.

How to get a grip on our doubt

One of the best tips that I took from Travis Robertson’s post was about writing out your doubts and then refuting them. He mentions the value of seeing the refutation on paper so then you have an internal mantra when they pop up later. That tip really resonated with me. But even more than having a go-to response for our inner critic who is taunting us with our doubt, in writing the refutation, it forces us to look for how our behavior or thoughts work for us. Human beings can be illogical. However, at our core, we usually act from a place that seems logical. In sitting down and writing out the value or the reason we behave or think a certain way can help us to understand the value we are achieving.

For instance, maybe someone criticizes how often you speak up in meetings. This is a criticism that can often feel like your own personal goldilocks. One person’s too much is another executives too little and no one ver mentions when it is just enough. And then every time you are in a meeting, you start to think about it, and instead of focusing on the content of the meeting, all you can think about is if you should or should not speak up just then. Sound familiar? If so, try writing out the doubt, “Am I speaking up too little during meetings?” Then write out all the reasons that the amount you speak up and out right now has worked for you. Because I guarantee you that the amount you speak up has a direct relationship to your past. Maybe you’ve found that you retain the information better if you listen to everyone; maybe your shy and speaking out once instead of four times allows you to control your anxiety; or maybe you’ve found that you gain more respect by being a listener instead of a shouter. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change or that it isn’t time to examine your beliefs and values and make some tweaks. This does allow you to examine the doubt from a place of confidence instead of anxiety. Because changes should come from where you want to go and not a place of doubting yourself.

Reaching for some help

Whether you’re having a bout of self reflection or a massive crisis of faith about yourself, reach out to someone who is going to support and encourage you. Doubt has it’s place, just not in making you doubt your self worth. And if you need a little help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or someone close by. You can schedule an appointment through our website, Request an Appointment, or by calling us at (650) 395-7295.

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