If you have an honest conversation with any human being who is on the threshold of leaving their comfort zone, you’ll more than likely hear them express some self-doubt.
It comes up with every person I mentor and coach, and I experience it too when I’m preparing to do something new. In my opinion, the bigger and more public the growth step, the louder the self-doubt.
Here’s an example. You’re making a complicated desert with a recipe you’ve never used before. Nobody else is going to see or taste the end result, so you’re fairly relaxed throughout the process and about the outcome. Now compare it to this… You’ve been asked to bring a particular desert to a dinner party. It’s a complicated recipe you’ve never used before. A bunch of your friends are going to be there who are exceptional cooks. All of a sudden you’re imagining the desert is going to be a complete disaster, you’re going to be so embarrassed and feel like you’ve let down the host, and everyone is going to judge you for showing up with a sub-par plate of food.
When our attempt at something new and unfamiliar is being witnessed by others, it’s common for the level of self-imposed pressure and self-doubt we experience to increase. However, self-doubt is not the enemy. It’s a protective mechanism, there to keep us safe from feeling unpleasant things like judgement, rejection, failing, disappointing others or embarrassing ourselves. The issue is that we often allow it to stop us from pursuing what our heart truly yearns for.
It’s important to understand that self-doubt is linked to a belief (which may or may not be true) formed from a past experience, and is not in any way a predictor of future outcomes. Our self-doubt has no idea what the end result of our efforts will be.
So how can we work with it so we can step into what’s possible for us and reach our most expansive potential? Here’s a process I’ve used myself and taken many clients through, with much success.
Recognise when you’re feeling self-doubt. It usually shows up in resistance behaviours such as procrastination, paralysis or perfectionism.
Thank it for being there to keep you safe from experiencing unpleasant feelings and also for showing you how important this new thing is to you.
Create a neutral statement of fact around the new thing you are trying without attaching a story to it. Example – I am making a desert.
Write out your existing belief and how you are feeling. Example – I’m not great with new recipes and I’m scared it will be a disaster and everybody will think less of me at the dinner party.
Write out your statement of fact again, and this time create a new belief. It must be something you can get behind. An example of what might not be believed by you – I’m an incredible cook and my desert is going to be amazing. An example of a statement you can subscribe to – I’m going to do my best with this recipe and I know my friends will appreciate the effort and love me no matter how it turns out.
Take your first small, doable step towards the thing that’s stretching you. Read your new belief every time your voice of self-doubt arises. Continue taking small, doable steps. Over time you’ll build evidence to support your new belief and the old, limiting one will be shifted.
I’ll leave you with these encouraging words taken from the Toyota Start Your Impossible
advert that has been airing throughout the Tokyo Paralympics:
YOUR DON’T HAVE TO BE AMAZING TO START,
BUT YOU HAVE TO START TO BE AMAZING.
When one considers what the Paralympic athletes overcome in order
to achieve such awe-inspiring levels of success, it reminds us
of all that is possible, and our own unlimited potential.
If you would like some help identifying and releasing self-doubt,
I invite you to book in a 30 minute complimentary chat
(cost and obligation free) to see how I can support you.
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