How to kick out unhealthy self-doubt and make a U turn to greatness

Self-doubt 2
Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. (John Wooden)

I could tell that the news about the merger did not go down well with Davi.  This was two months after he had told me about it, and we were having a quick lunch at the Mall.  Seated across the table from him, I listened keenly as he repeated for the tenth time (…so I thought to myself but understood where he was coming from…) speaking in a deliberate low tone, about how the company he worked for had merged with another, and what this meant in terms of some people having to be let to go.

“There is no guarantee that I will be among the people who will keep their positions after the merger,” Davi said, as he looked at me straight and deeply into my eyes.

This was a typical case of unhealthy self-doubt.  And we talked about it as we ate, both of us in agreement that it happens to everyone.  After we had finished eating, there was a long moment of silence.  None of us spoke a word until after Davi had stopped stirring sugar in his coffee, and put down the spoon beside the cup.  As I watched him take the first sip, I couldn’t help but notice how troubled he was as he kept staring at the ceiling with his eye brows raised, and three deep-skin-folds formed on his smooth and shiny forehead.  It was at this point that I asked him what could be the worst thing that could happen to him if he lost his job, and suddenly Davi sat upright and with bright eyes, he burst out to explain all the options he had, and which ones he would consider as the top two.

Before parting ways, Dav and I concluded that self-doubt has two levels.  Healthy self-doubt which puts you in a position of questioning and challenging yourself, and this in turn helps you to recognize that you are not always right, thus creating room for you to be motivated to improve on your areas of weakness, by learning new things in order to grow.  Good.  Unhealthy self-doubt on the other hand makes you feel like you will never achieve your goals, that you don’t have talent, that you are not worthy of what you have—and this makes you to start looking at small failures in your life as proof.  Not good.

Depending on whether you are dealing with healthy or unhealthy self-doubt, there are different ways to regain your confidence and be in charge of your life.

  • Healthy self-doubt. If you have made great achievements in certain areas of your life and you are having ‘healthy’ self-doubt, don’t think about how to replicate your past successes, instead, think about how to out-perform these successes. To do this you need to focus on amplifying—instead of replicating—what you did in the past, by motivating yourself to do better, so that you can become better at what you are already good at.
  • Unhealthy self-doubt. If you are working towards attaining your goals and you constantly keep having ‘unhealthy’ self-doubt, the first thing to do is to list down two-to-three things that you are grateful for in life.  Doing this will build your confidence.  Second, write down the times when you feel unsure about yourself, and reasons behind it.  Could it be that you keep comparing yourself with others by focusing on what they have that you lack?  Stop doing this, instead, focus on your strengths—what you do better than other people.  Third, list down ways of overcoming what triggers the unhealthy self-doubt.  At some point in life you have to decide what is good for you, and what not good for you.   It also involves taking action to sharpen your skills in your areas of weakness through doing a research, talking to a mentor, or taking a short course.  Four, keep track of the progress you are making to overcome the uncomfortable feeling of unhealthy self-doubt, and how this makes you feel.  Don’t forget to give yourself credit where credit is due (not to be confused with bragging and being arrogant).

Unhealthy self-doubt forms mental barriers that hold you back from attaining your goals.  It also leads you to keep making excuses that sabotage all your efforts of wanting to improve your life. Kick out unhealthy self-doubt today and make a U turn to greatness.  I wish you every success!