“Don’t let the noise of others opinion drown out your own inner voice.” – Steve Jobs
I stumbled on the quote above and it resonated with me or we say, ‘I felt that’. In so many ways, we have all encountered self-doubt, some more persistently than others. I have had my fair share of questioning my abilities and decisions and I still do. From as far back as secondary school, when I’d come out of the exam hall and my classmates would go over how well we had done, I’d usually pause to think-what if I didn’t kill it, even though had no major reason to think otherwise. When I’d be asked to read a chapter of Gary D. Schmidt’s “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” in front of the class, I’d fear that I’d mispronounce an unfamiliar word; or when my mom asked me to make Semovita for the first time for a visitor, I thought surely this must be the end of me!
Even recently, when I was about to go live with this blog, I thought of several reasons why I shouldn’t:
- Why not Youtube? People will rather watch a 45-minute video than read
- Isn’t this blog at least 7 years late?
- What makes you think people will be interested in what you have to say?
- Why not just stick to Instagram and wish people happy birthday? I mean no pressure right?
Every day, we are faced with tons of decisions relating to relationships and careers. However, self-doubt often holds us back from launching forward because we worry about failing, lacking skills and knowledge or not being taken seriously. In overcoming self-doubt, we must recognize that its presence is not necessarily harmful as it gives us room to analyze situations a little more critically. Where it becomes a problem is when we allow it to take up more headspace than necessary.
Here are some steps I’ve taken and I still take every time I am faced with self-doubt:
1. Be patient with myself: I’m learning to give myself room to be flawed. This is because I find it easy to empathize with others but often forget how to do the same for myself. I’m learning not to dwell on my failures and inadequacies but to rise above them, refocus and strike again only this time with more patience and kindness.
2. Remember why I started: I choose to focus on the bigger picture – the raison d’etre – rather than the seemingly persistent and dare I say sometimes relevant fear. Understanding that self-doubt is one of the many things that make me human and that I do not possess the exclusive rights to this feeling, I’m learning to look beyond myself and my current fears of failing or not being enough. Instead I think of how much bigger my dreams are compared to my fears and all the things that I’m capable of achieving if only I take that first step.
3. Look within: I’m learning to quit making excuses that hold me back because people only believe in me when I believe in myself. I try to set my bars and standards, not allowing myself to drown in the noise of others’ journeys or opinions. Even when I find myself drifting, I’ll always find ways to sieve through the noise and recentre.
4. Inner Circle: I believe you define your circle and your circle defines you. Surrounding myself with people who are aligned with my overall goals (people who know my worth and believe in me) can not be underplayed. These people act as confidence boosters and rein me in when self-doubt begins to overtake. They remind me that it’s better to try and fail than not to try at all.
5. Cultivate a new mindset: I’m learning to feed my mind with positive thoughts, sharpen skills that are lacking and make me question my abilities, celebrate small wins and keep showing up.
2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified Bible (AMP)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].
This was one of the very first scriptures I committed to memory thanks to Sunday school and oh how I run to this scripture every time I hit a road block.
I’d love to learn from you how you’ve overcome self-doubt.