Why Not . . . Extinquish Self-Doubt?

Oct 25, 2017

“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.” —Mary Kay Ash

Welcoming the quality, one month at a time, is the focus of TSLL blog each month in 2017. Now, noticably, the topics of the summer months were not addressed until now, but today we’re tackling the need to first understand self-doubt and then have a clear means to remove it from our lives. By eradicating the self-created (sometimes unconsciously . . . well, most of the time unconsciously), we can open up the doors to possibility of all that we wish to welcome into our lives, and walk away from, or sternly ask demand to leave, what is no longer aiding us as we build a life that will enable us to reach our fullest potential.

In order to understand self-doubt, it is important to understand self-efficacy as well.

Self-efficacy, as defined by renowned and oft cited psychologist Albert Bandura, is the belief in one’s ability to influence events that effect one’s life and control over the way these events are experienced.

As with so much of what enhances the quality of our lives, self-efficacy is a skill. It is learned and it reduces our self-doubt.

But first, it is important to understand where self-doubt comes from, and to also understand, it is a human response to the unknown as we think we are keeping ourselves safe or free from harm by not stepping toward something we do not know. The truth is self-doubt begins when we are young as we unconsciously absorb the ideas, comments and beliefs around those who protect and guide us. Now, at the same time, self-doubt can be reduced by this very same scenario, but either way, we have very little control over it.

If we were discouraged from trying or doing something we were curious about, if we acquired a belief system that involved a lack of expansion, growth or a means to search and follow our curiosities that tickled our fancy, when we grow into adulthood, it may become more difficult to trust ourselves when we explore outside of our comfort zones. Similarly, if we’ve never had the experience we are curious to try and therefore, it is completely unknown, we may doubt our abilities. And if our past has incidents of bad experiences or disappointment without positive nurturing that helped us navigate successfully, our self-doubt will strengthen.

The good news is, now that we understand what and where self-doubt comes from, as I was recently reminded, resilient individuals build a toolbox and understand when they need to seek it out. So let’s add one more tool to the toolbox: self-efficacy. Even when we do run up against any of the following shared above as we go through adulthood, we know that we can curtail the negative by reaching for a tool that will help us navigate successfully through toward the other side.

How can we cultivate self-efficacy? Let’s take a look at eight tools that will help extinguish self-doubt from our lives and strengthen our confidence so that we can indeed arrive at our desired destination, no matter how difficult it may seem.

1. Have a clear vision of your “desired self”

Studies have shown that individuals with a clear idea of their desired self (realistic goals you can achieve with time and effort) have less self-doubt. Due to the clarity, the means by which the individual must travel were detailed, measurable and capable of being highly organized step by step.

2. Take on challenging goals

If we only set simple goals that can be achieved in a short amount of time without much effort, on the surface it may seem as though we are building our self-efficacy and reducing self-doubt, but in actuality we are building a false sense of our abilities. Understand that when you choose a challenging goal, a goal that may take years or an immense amount of focus or discipline, you are actually enabling your ability to eradicate self-doubt.

Along the way you may have moments of self-doubt, but as you see yourself make progress, you will be remeinded that the little voice of self-doubt is full of empty worries. Psychologist Bandura points out, “Easy success with little effort can lead to us to expect rapid results which can in turn make us easily discouraged by failure”.

3. Find the right mentor

Finding a mentor is something that takes time and also depends upon timing. Just because you meet or are introduced to someone who you think will be the ideal mentor for you, doesn’t mean they will want to take on the role.

The right mentor is someone who can truly see you even if you can’t see your strengths or tendencies yourself. The right mentor will encourage and push you, but always provide an environement in which it is safe to try and stumble. The right mentor creates or sees and welcomes you to opportunities for growth and encourages you to practice being the desired self you wish to become.

4. Provide yourself nurture

If your life has just been through a whirlwind of emotion and upheaval, step back and care for yourself. Self-doubt can rise up when we refuse to acknowledge that we need to regroup, recharge and be reminded that while such unwanted events can happen, they don’t always happen and in fact may be happening for a good reason to set us down the right path to accomplish what we truly desire. It’s hard to see such a truth when we are emotionally frazzled, so be kind to yourself and gentle until you are ready to get up and step forward again.

5. Small steps made regularly

Especially since we’ve determined a challenging goal is better than a simple, easy destination, create small, daily habits and routines that ever so gradually inch you toward where you want to end up.

6. Be selective with your company

Just as choosing the right mentor is crucial, so too are the people you welcome into your life. If their approach to life, their words, their support, deteoriates your confidence, weighs you down and gradually takes away the energy to strive forward, begin to limit or entirely eliminate your time with them.

7. Set clear boundaries

Boundaries enable you to step away from what erodes your confidence, energy and ability to grow in the direction you wish to expand. Boundaries also offer a buffer to strengthen your courage and recognize where you feel most stressed and overwhelmed. By reducing the instances in which you feel these negative emotions, you place yourself in situations in which you have the opportunity to be more successful.

8. Find an individual who offers objective advice

While this individual may be your mentor as well, it also may be an entirely different person. Perhaps a counselor, a friend who passes no judgment what-so-ever, anyone who will allow you to vent if need be and enable you to move forward to the solution. Sometimes this person is a sounding board, but it usually will be someone who has been where you wish to go or sees very clearly where you wish to go and wants to help you travel to your destination safely and successfully.

I often find when I speak to my person whom I can trust will offer objective advice that it is in the talking it out that I hear myself more clearly and I discover new ahas that I had not been able to see on my own. When we let go instead of holding in our worries, doubts and fears, we are saying I know I can move forward, I just do not know how. Seeking out someone to help us is a sign of strength and the sign of being someone who is resilient.

Self-knowledge is crucial for recognizing when we need a little assistance to nudge us over the obstacle that we have just run into. When we know which tools to reach out for, we can more readily do so and more quickly become unstuck, moving forward rather than being held captive by our self-doubt.

“Belief in oneself is incredibly infectious. It generates momentum, the collective force of which far outweighs any kernel of self-doubt that may creep in.” —Aimee Mullins



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