PODCAST EPISODE 12: Self-Doubt
Hello my wonderful friends! What a beautiful day it is today. It’s officially fall but lemme tell ya, it looks nothing like fall right now. It’s been in the 90’s all week. We’re still sporting shorts and flip flops while riding out the last bit of summer. I hope you’re doing well wherever you are. I’m sending you love and positive vibes, my friends!
Especially with the topic I’m bringing to you today. I’m going to teach you about self-doubt. This is no doubt one of the most prominent topics that comes up with everyone really. I spend a lot of time coaching on this subject and I want to help you out. Because self-doubt can lead to a whole slew of problems and show up in your life in a variety of non-productive ways.
First off, everyone…EVERYONE experiences self-doubt. Sometimes we have this misconception that once you reach a certain point that you grow out of it or are exempt from it. But everyone, famous people, rich people, skinny people, everyone experiences self-doubt. It’s normal. I remember being surprised to read articles where Sandra Bullock, Emma Watson, John F. Kennedy, and even world-renowned artist and sculptor Michelangelo all experienced self-doubt. Michelangelo when asked by the Pope, to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel refused, doubting his abilities and insisting that he was merely a sculptor not a painter. And good thing his self-doubt didn’t win because he did go on and completed that amazing work to which millions and millions have admired and benefited from his unique talents.* (https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/304340#2)
Self doubt pops up in just about every area of our lives. Some of my clients get coached on making friends and getting passed their self-doubt of what if they don’t like me, what if I say, do, am the wrong thing? And what’s so fascinating is that while they’re worried about themselves you can almost guarantee that the other party is experiencing something very similar too.
While self-doubt is a normal aspect of human development and our mortal experience here it can turn out to be detrimental and defeating if we let it escalate. Several years ago we went to our ward talent show and there was this adorable little girl, she looked just like a little pixie. So, so cute. She was going to sing, “Let it go” from Frozen and she was all decked out in her Elsa costume and seriously, just the cutest thing ever.
So she stands up there at the microphone all confidence and excited to sing and she blows us away because she was really good. She knew all the words, she sang them with gusto, she was just, oh…so cute. So as the song progresses we’re all stunned and just blown away by this little thing that we’re all giggling and smiling and loving this little performer but all she hears is giggling.
I don’t know what her thoughts were but I tell you what, her countenance changed. Her once strong voice became quieter. Her once tall stance became more inward, her shoulders slumped a little, her head once beaming was now pointed downward. It’d be easy to say she got shy but I have to wonder if some self-doubt didn’t creep in there.
I can imagine her thinking, why are they laughing at me? Maybe they don’t like me singing. Maybe they think I’m silly. And as those thoughts go, they generate feelings of insecurity, shyness, doubt.
We, the audience, loved her singing. She was the highlight of that night and I so hope she continues to sing and shine bright but no matter what age you are, what you’ve accomplished, how talented you are, self-doubt effects us all.
Now I’m not telling you all this to minimize what you’re feeling by any means. What you’re feeling is valid, real, the pain you create is real. But I tell you this to let you know that you’re not alone and that there’s hope, relief, and a way to rise above it.
Self-doubt is what it takes to grow. It’s part of the discomfort and currency for personal growth. My mentor, Brooke Castillo always teaches that, “Discomfort is the currency for growth.” And it’s true. Part of the discomfort is feeling self-doubt and being able to rise above it, to continue to grow despite those thoughts and worries.
Your brain, your primitive, built for survival lower brain is always on the look out for potentially scary and painful things. It doesn’t want you to do anything new because new could be scary. So it serves up doubt and questions and all kinds of thoughts in an attempt to keep you safe. But safe sometimes means small and stuck and even though it’s trying to protect you, it does it in the most unlovable ways sometimes. Like these questions and doubting thoughts:
What if they don’t like me?
Who is going to listen to you anyway?
Remember that time you totally blew it? You’re just going to blow it all over again.
And on and on the thoughts trail leaving you feeling low, doubting, and insecure.
Think about those thoughts you have sometimes, sending a text sometimes doubt pops up. You start thinking, what if I said the wrong thing? What if they misinterpret it? What if they think I’m stupid? What if they don’t want to talk to me anymore? So you go back and read it and reread it just to make sure you’re okay and if the other person is busy and doesn’t respond right away…whoa…your brain has a field day with these types of doubtful questions, right?
So whether it’s something big or small doubt is there to greet you.
Notice when you ask yourself these questions you don’t answer them. We just like to leave them lingering there.
We don’t really want to take the energy to answer them, to know the answer to what if no one liked it? Because if we do start to answer it, it could be painful too. Then that might mean something about you, that you’re less than, that you’re not good enough, that people will look down on you.
So most of the time this doubt creeps up and asks a lot of what if’s and then leaves it hanging to avoid potential pain in answering it.
But it’s really important TO answer those questions, those what if’s. Because when YOU are intentionally answering them it’s not as painful as the fear of the unanswered question.
Okay, so ask yourself this, what are you thinking about when you’re getting ready for the next step in your life? Wherever you’re at right now. What you’re working on, what projects you’re creating, what things you’re involved in, what’s the next step and what are your thoughts about it?
Notice what kind of thoughts you’re having about it then notice what your thoughts are about YOU? About your capabilities? About you being able to do it? About you in general
When I started my business I wasn’t tech-y at all. I didn’t know how to do any kind of coding, how to create a website, how to market, anything and all that new stuff freaked me out. I’d postpone doing things, the next step, because my brain was really good at selling me that this could be potentially painful.
My thoughts were, who do you think you are? You’ll never figure it out. You’ve never been good at this kind of stuff before, what makes you think you can do it now? It’s too hard.
This inner chatter can be quite convincing too if you allow it. But I also knew what was happening and I could talk to my inner me and say, “I totally get it. I don’t know how to do this yet but I’m smart. I can figure this out. I’m learning how to become better at this stuff” and it helped. I still felt discomfort and went forward anyway and I’m so glad I did.
That internal chatter is normal but what you choose to let stay and set up camp is optional. Those thoughts will pop up all the time, probably always while I’m on my mortal journey and because I know
and expect that they will I also know what I need to do to be prepared for it. Just because your brain offers it to you, just because it comes to the door so to speak doesn’t mean you invite them in to stay. You can acknowledge them and then send them on their way. Thanks for dropping by, your opinions are noted. Take now, goodbye! Then you get to deliberately decide what you do want to think about you and what you’ll think about the next step.
~Honore de Balzac once said, “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”
Don’t downplay yourself just because those thoughts are offered to you. You don’t have to take them. Keep your power and don’t give it to your doubts, to that primitive part of your brain that thinks that danger is imminent. Inner self talk is crucial to what you’ll create and contribute. Your thoughts generate a feeling within you, which motivates you into action or inaction.
When I’m entertaining my inner dialogue of, “Who do you think you are? No one will like you” what kind of feelings do you think I’m creating? Certainly not confidence, creativity, or excitement. I’m creating, doubt, disappointment, insecurity. What kind of actions do you think those feelings will create? Let’s go and do! No, it’s going to motivate me to stay small, stay in bed if I can, don’t contribute, don’t create, don’t grow.
Your inner dialogue matters. I like to think of it as a playlist. On my phone it has the 25 most top played songs option. So all my favorites that I tend to listen to and play the most are all saved and recorded for me. Sometimes it surprises me what songs I play the most. When I look at the list, I think, “Hmm..I do tend to play those pretty often. I must like them!”
What if you had a playlist of your thoughts. What would your 25 most frequent thoughts be for yourself?
If you had to compile them in genres, do you call music groups genres like books? Categories maybe. If you had to compile them into categories what would most of your thoughts stem from?
A peppy list? Upbeat, happy?
A Chopin category? Dark, lonely, depressing?
Where would you categorize majority of your most frequently played thoughts be in?
Really think about this because the thoughts you keep, the things you tell yourself matter.
Because what you think, what you hang onto and believe creates how you feel.
What kinds of feelings would your playlist create? Happy, inspirational, confident, fearless? Or are they creating, doubt, insecurity, fear, worry, anxiety?
It’s important to recognize, to become aware of what you’re creating because how you feel motivates you into action or inaction.
If you really want to do something, to create something, to contribute something, to make a new friend, to have that conversation and take that relationship passed the shallow surface area you need to feel something more prominent than self-doubt.
Self-doubt will always pop-up. It’ll come to your door and knock but you get to decide whether you’re going to let it in and entertain it. Whether you’re going to invite it to stay for dinner or for a few days, or even as a new live in guest. You get to decide the duration of it’s stay. It’s normal that it’s there. It’s normal that it’s knocking. It’s your brain’s way of protecting you – even in a not so helpful way – but you know better. You get to use your higher brain to decide what you’ll do when that self-doubt arrives.
What I want you to realize is that just because self-doubt arrived at your door it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. Self doubt isn’t an indicator that something has gone wrong. It’s an indicator that you’re growing.
But this isn’t our first thought. Our first thought is, “Oh no, what if…” and then immediately we fret and fear that something is wrong because we’re not super confident about it. And really, HOW can you possibly be confident especially when it’s something new. Something you haven’t really done before. Self-doubt doesn’t mean stop. Self-doubt doesn’t mean something is wrong. Self doubt means your growing. It means you’re putting yourself out there and doing something new.
I’d be more concerned if I didn’t feel anything. You know that saying, “If it doesn’t terrify you you’re doing it wrong” – what that means is basically if you’re not feeling any fear, discomfort, doubt then you’re too comfortable and you’re not growing.
So don’t look at it as an indication that something is wrong. See it as a sign that you’re growing. And how to do you overcome that fear? By moving forward. By doing the thing you’re scared of. By having that conversation, by raising your hand in class, by sending that creation into the world whatever that is. Then when self-doubt comes knocking and asking questions, “What if they don’t like it? What if they think I’m lame?” You get to decide whether or not you’re going to entertain that thought. Are you inviting it in? Are you going to sit down and have lunch with it? Or are you going to answer the door, say, “Noted, and no thanks. Not today.”?
It’s up to you. You get to decide. But think about this, WHO CARES if they don’t like it? Who cares if they think things about you? What they think is NONE of your business. Truly. That’s the not the question worth entertaining. The question is DID YOU LIKE IT? Do you love who you are and what you’re doing, saying, showing up as?
If not, that’s a different conversation and only one that you can answer but please don’t make in contingent upon others and what they think about you.
Are you willing to wade through discomfort on your path towards becoming? Towards growth?
People going to the gym know ahead of time it’s going to be hard. There’s going to be discomfort but they go anyway because they want the change in their bodies that comes from going to the gym. They’re willing to wade through a little discomfort. They go into it deliberately knowing it’s going to be hard but also knowing that they’re going to be so glad they did afterwards.
Are you willing to deliberately feel discomfort, to encounter self-doubt in order to grow?
Remember, when self-doubt knocks, it doesn’t mean anything other than you’re growing. Why make it mean anything other than that? Why make it mean that something is wrong with you?
Nothing is wrong with self-doubt. Really, it’s normal. Everyone has it, experiences it but whether you let it stay and take over your evening, week, life is up to you.
I want you to know that it’s optional. You don’t have to entertain those thoughts. Try this, I hear you. But not today or noted, but no thank you.
And then answer this question, what DO YOU WANT TO THINK ABOUT YOU? What do you want your playlist to be, to sound like?
Try this, I want you to think about this. Grab a pen and paper and write down the thoughts that are sticking around. The thoughts that you frequently have.
Maybe it’s, “What if they don’t like me?” Or “What if they don’t like what I do?” Or “I’ll never…” or “I’m not…”
Write all those down. Not to be judgmental but to open up that playlist and become aware of what’s happening.
THEN, I want you to write out 10-15 thoughts you WANT to think about you and what you’re trying to do. Then practice those. When doubt knocks on your door and tries to offer up some negative thoughts, acknowledge it. “Noted. No thank you. I’m focusing on this right now.” And fill it in with those thoughts you DO want to think about.
It needs to be thoughts that you want to think about the situation. Like, if I’m struggling in my role as a mother of teens. I could think thoughts like, this is too hard. The teen years are awful. They just don’t understand. They won’t listen anyway, why should I try?
Listen to that type of thinking. What category would that fall under? Debbie Downer’s delightful duets? I know, that was terrible. But you get where I’m going. That line of thinking isn’t going to help me. So what DO I want to think about it?
What if it’s easy? What is it’s not any harder than any other season of motherhood? What if they really are listening and want to listen?
Then notice what thoughts you’re entertaining about you as well, I’m a failure as a mom. I’m not a good mom. If I were a good mom then they’d love every minute living here. I’m not a good mom like Betty Sue. I still yell, I argue about the mess. I shouldn’t do that. I should be better. No wonder they don’t want to be around me.
Wow…how’s that for a playlist? How will keeping those kinds of thoughts make you feel?
So what DO you want to think about yourself?
I’m learning. I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ve never had a ____________(insert the specific kid’s name here) before. I’ve never had a Sally before. Even if you’ve raised 10 other teens, it’s always new because each person is different. So when doubt comes up it’s not an indication that something has gone wrong. It’s an indication that you’re growing, you’re learning, you’re evolving, and becoming. Push forward.
I want to think that no matter what happens I can figure it out. I want to think that I can do this. I want to think that I’m capable and more than enough.
How’s that for a playlist? better, right?
You CAN do this. Self-doubt is part of the deal. It’s part of our human experience. It’s supposed to be there. It’s your lower, primitive’s brain way of trying to protect you and you get to let it know that you’re okay. Nothing has gone wrong. You’re just growing, becoming, and evolving.
Okay, my friends. I gave you a lot this week. Let me recap:
1.) Self-doubt is normal. Everyone experiences it. Nothing is wrong, it only means you’re growing
2.) When self-doubt knocks decide whether you’ll turn it away at the door or if you invite it in for lunch. Please don’t allow it inside. Remember, say: Noted, but not today, thanks.
3.) What are your most frequently played thoughts? Write down your playlist, notice how those thoughts make you feel. Is this how you WANT to feel? How do you want to feel about what you’re doing and how do you want to feel about you?
Lastly, remember you have agency. You get to decide what you hold onto and what you believe. I’m going to wrap it up with this quote from Elder L. Tom Perry. He said:
“One of our greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves. One of our common failings is to depreciate our tremendous worth.”
Stop doubting yourself. You’re amazing. You have TREMENDOUS worth. I’ve shared this before but I’m sharing it again because it’s my favorite from Gordon B. Hinckley,
“You are a child of God of INFINITE capacity.”
Infinite. Never ending. No room for self-doubt in that statement. You are infinitely capable of whatever it is you wish to accomplish, great or small. You’ve got this my friends!
Have a beautiful week!