Doubt. It’s something we all experience, dare I suggest on a regular basis in many aspects of life and business. A client recently said to me, “I was having a great couple of weeks, feeling amazing… then out of nowhere, I woke up the other morning and felt deflated and began doubting myself. “How do I stop that from happening?” You can stop the doubt, but it’s about adjusting your mindset. When doubt creeps in, you recognize it immediately. You start to question your abilities, your belief-in-self falls to an all-time low and you often feel hopeless… and before you know it, the negative thoughts start to shake your confidence.
So how do you crush doubt?
Studies show that there are somewhere between 65,000 and 85,000 thoughts flowing in and out of our minds every day! So how do you filter all of these thoughts and focus on thinking positive? It’s about retraining your brain to be more positive. The most powerful way to think and feel more positive, is to practice positive self-talk and is to write out positive I-messages that resonate for you. Some examples of positive I-messages are: “I am talented and I have the ability to do anything I put my mind to.” Or “I believe in myself and know that I can accomplish anything, if I am prepared to do the work.”
Do you second guess being able to cook a meal? How to drive a car? Create a spreadsheet at work? Process entries or put together a presentation? Not usually? How come? It’s simple right? These are tasks you learned to do. You may not even recall a time when you didn’t know how to do these things, because in time they become second nature. So why do you doubt your ability to, for example, launch a new business or start a new career? Chances are, it’s because you are moving from doing something you have been able to do with success and ease. You have been provided the tools, processes, and resources along the way, you had the skills to perform your job and do it well and you received guidance and feedback from a manager and/or team to know that you were on track. There was always a system or metrics in place with which to measure success. When you felt doubt creeping in, you could ask for feedback or support to get through each step of the way.
Now you going down a different path, taking a new direction. Whether you are working on a new task, starting a new career or opening a business, you are going to go through some level of change. You will be doing something that requires new…well, new everything? You may be in a new environment, drawing on existing skills and potentially having to learn new ones. You will be learning or creating new processes, policies and procedures. You will engage with new people and networks. Everything as you know it will change or be different. What are you feeling now? Overwhelmed, stress, tension and most likely DOUBT!
So, how do you crush doubt? Here are what I believe to be 5 simple steps to crush doubt fast:
- Think of doubt as a compliment to your persistence. In other words, doubt has arrived because you are about to do something extraordinary and doubt feels the need to distract you or get in your way.
- Acknowledge it. When you acknowledge doubt, it doesn’t mean you’re giving into it or allowing it to overtake. You are simply looking at it and acknowledging that it exists. Often you can remember when you have felt self-doubt before. This is when you recognize that doubt isn’t so much a thing, as it is a feeling, an emotionally charged feeling, fed by past experiences, negative input from others and/or an inability to see the vision clearly. Once you are able to acknowledge doubt for what it is, a compliment to you and your persistence and that doubt will visit you from time to time, you can use it as a stepping stone and move past it.
- Identify what is at stake. There is a temptation to accept doubt and allow it to consume you. The key is to understand that doubt is simply part of the process of any change. Once you acknowledge this, the vision or goal usually becomes clear. Doubt was simply there to distract you temporarily and when you no longer want to dwell in a place of doubt, you start to replace negative self-talk with more positive self-talk. For example, you may say to yourself, “I am doubting myself and having negative thoughts because I am trying something new or more challenging than usual. I am doubting my ability right now, but these negative thoughts and feelings are not serving me. They make me feel lousy. What I do know, is that I can move past doubt, because I have done it before. I am able to achieve this goal.” So, what is at stake? What’s at stake is that self-doubt is distracting you and taking you further away from your goal. Once you identify what is at stake, you will crush doubt and your goal will be clearer and attainable, and you will be more focused.
- Say goodbye to doubt. Yes bid doubt good-day and resist the temptation to give it space in your head or heart. Again, self-doubt is driven primarily by your mindset and negative self-talk. You only have room for one thought in your mind –will you think a positive thought or a negative thought? The more you can override that negative self-talk with positive self-talk, concentrate on believing in your ability to achieve your goal, doubt will have great difficulty existing in your mind.
- Decide what you want and move to action. In fact, once you have completed the previous 4 steps, deciding and writing down what you want next is the best way to overcome doubt and move to action. It is not a tangible thing that stands in our way. Doubt is a mindset and can only thrive, if we give it energy. Instead, focus on emitting positive energy and imagine yourself deciding to move forward to that desired change.
What does this look like?
I recently had a situation where I was doubting my ability and I asked myself “When was the last time I had felt this way or experienced doubt?” I went through these steps, first recognizing that doubt was a sign that I was pushing myself to new heights or going for a bigger opportunity. I then acknowledged that I was feeling doubt which actually helped me to identify what was at stake… which was, “If I stay in this state of doubting my ability, I will be so disappointed that I didn’t give this opportunity for new business a real shot!” That was a pivotal moment for me… I would be so disappointed. It was then that I realized, not only did I want to “say good-bye to doubt”, but I would crush it by giving this opportunity everything I had. That’s what I did. I pushed doubt aside, listed everything that I bring to the table and decided I was going for it and moved to action –and you know what? I did it. I sent off the quote and they accepted.
Once again, doubt is all about mindset. Doubt exists or creeps in when you allow negative thoughts and feelings to override your strengths and abilities. Want to overcome these feelings? Breathe, lean into your strengths and follow the above 5 steps. You can crush doubt –believe in yourself, trust your abilities and move to action. Notice what happens!
Written by: Heather Wilson of Spark Your Vitality